You Google a product or service your business offers along with the name of your town, but your business doesn't come up in the search. If this scenario sounds familiar, you probably haven't optimized your content for local searches—and you're not alone. A recent study revealed that only 30% of small businesses have a search engine optimization strategy.
If your market is local, you'll want to focus primarily on optimizing content for local SEO. Local SEO is different than general SEO and has its own ranking factors. Read on to find out how to position your business above your competitors by improving your local ranking.
1. Set up Your Google My Business (GMB) Profile
Setting up your Google My Business (GMB) profile is the most critical step in local search engine optimization. Think of your GMB listing as the modern-day equivalent of being listed in the yellow pages. Even if you already have a GMB listing, you'll need to check that the information is correct and possibly add more. As you go through the self-explanatory process of filling in your business's information, you'll be updated on your progress. Press onward until your GMB profile is 100% complete.
2. Optimize Your Website for Local SEO
Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP)
The most important part of your GMB listing is your name, address, and phone number, or "NAP." If you want Google to see your business as both relevant and reliable, your NAP information needs to be consistent across all listings and websites.
Be especially mindful of this fact if your business has ever moved or the phone number has changed since you'll need to update this information everywhere. SEO experts agree that having more than one phone number for your business can be seen as a red flag by Google and hurt your ranking.
Another way to optimize your local ranking is by building NAP citations. Ideally, your name, address, and phone number will be listed on numerous websites. Having multiple NAP citations improves your local SEO by assuring Google that your business has a physical location.
The Map Pack, aka the Local Pack, consists of three local business results and their location on a map. Being in those top three results will have customers showing up at your door within minutes of their search.
The easiest thing you can do to optimize your website for the pack is to include "store plus city" keywords in your web content. Hair salon, Greenville, SC, is an example of a store + city query.
You'll need to include plenty of local keywords on your website, but coming up with them isn't hard. Just think of what people might enter into a search when looking for your type of business. You'll want to include phrases with not only the city where your business is located but also the surrounding areas it serves.
Some companies will go a step further than just including surrounding area keywords. Location pages are separate pages, specifically focusing on one area. For example, a business located in Dallas, Texas, might have a separate page targeting residents of Grand Prairie, TX, a nearby suburb.
3. Get in Other Directories
Once you've entered your GMB information and optimized your website for Google, it's time to focus on some other directories. Being listed in trade-specific directories is a tried and true SEO technique that's been around for years—and it still works.
Inbound links from other websites are beneficial for general SEO, but inbound links from directories are even better. Directory links are highly relevant and also serve as additional NAP citations, which we talked about earlier.
4. Manage Your Reviews
Ratings and reviews not only affect people's first impression of your business, but they affect your ranking. Studies show that consumers are less likely to be scared off by a negative review if the company responded to it. Responding to reviews is also great for your ranking. Although Google reviews probably have the most effect on ranking, other reviews probably affect it as well, so be sure also to monitor reviews on sites such as Yelp and Facebook.
5. Continue to Focus on General SEO for your website
When it comes to optimizing for local searches versus general searches, there's a lot of overlap. By optimizing your website for general searches, you'll increase your website's overall ranking, which will, in turn, help it come up higher in local searches. Having a well-organized website with plenty of inbound links and targeted keywords will go along way toward improving your SEO, but here are a few more strategies to consider for local SEO:
- Optimize for Mobile Devices
- Optimize for Voice Searches
- Start a blog that includes local keywords
General SEO is important, but local SEO is vital. Once you've implemented the above tips, you'll start tapping into the power of local SEO.