Local SEO is key to any small business’ success in the online sphere.
Here are a few stats to back me up on that.
Did you know 46% of all Google searches are local?
And, 88% of these searchers call a store or visit it within 24 hours.
Moreover, 12% of mobile searchers look for local business information daily.
Without local SEO, you miss out on an opportunity to get yourself noticed by your local audiences and generate more qualified leads to your website.
This article helps you understand what local SEO is about and how exactly your small business can benefit from it.
What Is Local SEO and Why Does It Matter?
To understand local SEO, you first need to know what SEO stands for and why it is important.
Statistics show that 93% of online experiences start with search engines.
However, not all results are equal in the SERPs.
More than 70% of your online searchers never click through the first page of search results, while 55% of searchers click on one of the top three listings.
Given these facts, it’s obvious that ranking as high as possible should be your paramount.
And, this is where SEO steps in. This is the process of boosting your organic rankings for specific keywords through numerous on-page and off-page optimization tactics.
Local SEO is a more specific form of SEO, helping local businesses address searchers in their city or region effectively. Just like its mere name implies, local SEO uses the above mentioned SEO tactics like keyword research or link building, but still focuses on targeting local customers.
What are the most Important Local SEO Practices?
When optimizing your site to rank in the local SERPs, it’s important to understand which factors will impact your rankings and how customers will find you. Now, Moz recently analyzed Google’s Local Pack and here are some critical local ranking signals they identified:
Keywords are the nerve center of every SEO strategy. Google uses crawlers to analyze each page on your site and understand what it is about. Keywords determine which search queries your pages will rank for.
They not only let you rank high for relevant searches, but also serve as a compass for your content creation strategy. Keywords help you understand your searchers’ main needs, expectations, and frustrations and help you create relevant blog posts to address them.
Now, how to choose the right local keywords?
First, you need to understand that the way we do keyword research has changed. Packing your pages with lots of exact-match keywords and their synonyms will only get you penalized. Instead, you need to understand search intent and optimize your pages according to it. In other words, you need to know what kind of content your users expect to see when typing in a certain keyword.
For example, optimizing for locally relevant keywords is the basis of your local keyword research. For example, if you’re a Brisbane-based plumber, then you want your site to show up in front of customers near you. In this case, keywords like “plumbing services in Brisbane” would drive more qualified leads than just “plumbing services.” In this case, working with a local agency focused on doing SEO for Brisbane businesses is the safest move. Local SEO agencies understand your target market and can help you choose the keywords users really use.
You should also keep in mind that voice recognition technologies are changing local SEO. Namely, users now communicate with search engines naturally. Using voice search on their mobile devices, they use entire sentences and even questions to find the desired information. This is why your keywords also need to be highly conversational. Aside from some traditional keyword research tools, you should also use Google Autosuggest, Google’s “Related To” searches, as well as Q&A sites, forums, and social networks to find long-tail and natural keywords for your site. Make sure that your title tags, headings, and body copy are user-friendly and even create F&Q pages that are a true treasure trove of relevant questions and conversational keywords.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a fundamental part of your local SEO strategy, as it helps users find your site and inspires them to click on it.
Now, you first need to claim ownership of your GMB listing so you can add all the information your customers expect to see. For instance, you need to include your exact business name, contact information, address, hours of operation, as well as information about specific products, price range, and business categories. You should also add maps and directions to your business, as well as the photos of your staff at work, projects, or products. Finally, you should also leverage customer reviews, as they build trust with your target audience and make them more confident in buying from you.
Local Business Directories
Online citations are also a significant element in Google’s Local Pack. This is why you need to register on all major local business directories. Apart from helping you with your rankings, these platforms are a gold mine of customer feedback and a great opportunity to get yourself noticed by local customers. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Angie’s List
- Bing Places
- Chamber of Commerce
Your Backlink Profile
Backlinks are still Google’s major ranking signal. Unsurprisingly, they’re critical for your local SEO tactics, too. Earning high-quality links from reputable local websites will give your site greater authority. Above all, by contributing to reputable sites in your niche, you will reach out to wider audiences, engage them, and drive more qualified traffic.
Sure, the quality of your links, as well as the quality of your content on these sites matters. Publishing low-quality articles on spammy sites with a low domain authority may only get you penalized.
Now, there are numerous powerful tactics to build quality local links.
The most popular of them is certainly guest blogging. Namely, you need to do thorough research to find highly credible local websites and bloggers that accept guest posts. When analyzing them, pay attention to their relevance to your business, domain authority, rankings, target audience engagement, as well as the quality of content they publish. Next, start building relationships with them by following them on social networks and leaving meaningful comments on their blog. Once they get to know you, reach out to them with a highly personalized email pitch and a guest blog proposal they cannot afford to refuse.
Sure, your content marketing strategy can also be a valuable link building opportunity. Namely, by publishing link-worthy content on your blog, you will position yourself as an authoritative online resource and gain more links and shares. Some of the most viral forms of content are comprehensive guides, detailed lists, podcasts, and case studies, as well as videos and infographics. Support your blogging with a solid PR strategy, too. Your product releases and coverage of the hottest local industry topics and events may also gain lots of backlinks from local sites.
The Benefits of Local SEO for Your Business’ Online Presence
Localizing your online presence can be extremely rewarding for your small business in multiple ways. Here are a few key benefits of local SEO for your company:
- Local SEO tactics provide potential customers with the business information they’re looking for. For example, if they’re searching for your brick-and-mortar store, providing your address or directions may be super-helpful.
- Even if you still don’t have a functional website, local SEO practices like Google My Business listings or your presence on local business directories will drive more people to your store and increase your brand visibility.
- A solid local SEO strategy caters to your target customers at every touchpoint, inspiring them to call you or visit your store.
- When combined, the above mentioned local SEO practices build trust with your target audience and help you build stronger relationships with them. Most importantly, you will position yourself as an authoritative online resource.
Local SEO may seem like a daunting task right now, but it’s vital to your local business’ success. It gives you the opportunity to target local customers that are really interested in purchasing your products. Above all, you will increase your rankings, drive qualified website leads, and set yourself apart from local competitors.
How do you optimize your small business’ website for local searches?