Search engine optimisation has become so unanimously useful that nearly every brick-and-mortar business integrates it as part of their marketing strategy. But as more companies start employing similar SEO campaigns, local business owners come to the realization that ranking high for competitive keywords isn’t enough to get nearby customers to spend money with them.
Despite its great potential, very few local businesses actually think of local SEO – that side of SEO that allows them to show up in local searches. When done correctly, local SEO can make your website outshine established nationwide brands that rank at the top of search engines, giving you more exposure so you can stand a chance at landing new customers.
Outlined below are the most important steps you need to take to make local SEO part of your website optimisation efforts.
1. Start with Keyword Research
Identifying the main keywords that people are using to find your company is the very first step of the SEO process. Online tools such as Google’s Keyword Tool are oftentimes great at showing the most popular keyword phrases based on a main keyword chosen by you. And along with these phrases, Google’s Keyword Planning Tool also displays the number of times that a keyword has been used to give you an idea about whether or not it can drive enough traffic.
Choose Long-Tail Keywords with Less Competition
The trickiest part is looking for low-competition keywords that still drive a lot of traffic. Long-tail keywords tend to be more specific than your main keyword phrase and also less competitive – examples include “best SEO tools 2015,” “why WordPress is better than Blogger,” and “how to drive traffic to your online store.” These phrases clearly show the intent of the person using the – to get the best SEO tools this year, to find the reasons that make WordPress a more desirable blogging platform, and to get a few tips to take his eCommerce store out of that obscure corner of the Internet that’s sitting in. Main keyword phrases are very broad, and they are more unlikely to be used by people searching a specific type of information.
Use the Same Language As Your Target Audience
Another benefit of keyword research tools is that they help you stick to the same language and usual phrasing used by your target audience. If you are a local dog groomer in Denver, Colorado, then you will want to optimize your website for “best dog groomer in Mile High” or “Mile High dog groomer,” as most individuals who live or have visited Denver in the past know that, due to some reasons, the city is oftentimes referred to as “Mile High.”
Optimise for Geographical Location
One last aspect to consider when it comes to keyword research is attributing your keywords the geographical location of your company. It makes sense to optimize your website for “removals company in Sydney” if your business is based in Sydney, Australia– this will make your website show up whenever a nearby user searches for the exact same phrase or a related one.
Since Google is getting smarter about understanding how a term relates to another, a page that has been optimised for “Sydney removals company” may be also relevant for someone searching for “best removals company in Sydney.”
2. Optimize Your Content for These Keywords
Once you have listed all keywords that you think will help your website show up in local searches, it’s time to optimize your content for them. But instead of focusing solely on keywords and very little on the actual information being provided, you should focus on a specific theme that one or more of these keywords identify with, and occasionally sprinkle your keywords throughout the content so that you won’t have phrases that don’t make sense.
You may want to include one or two internal links to other relevant pages of your website with these keywords as anchor texts so Google knows that those pages are relevant to your industry and the geographical area being targeted. Also, make sure that the most popular keyword shows up as close to the front of the title as possible, as only the first 157-165 characters show up in Google.
Meta descriptions are no longer as important as they were a few years ago, but they can still land you new visitors if you can create compelling summaries of your content. Given that they show up as a short description of a page, you should make sure to make them as inviting as possible – and verbs such as “check out,” “get,” “learn” and “see” are usually the best choices.
Don’t forget about the alt text attribute of your images. Recent studies have shown that as much as 20 to 60% of website traffic comes from image search, so it’s worth taking the time to copy and paste your main keyword in the alt text field of each image you publish on your website.
3. Get on Google My Business
Google My Business can make your business easier to find by online customers. Once you create a Google My Business page for your company, your listing will show up on search, map and image search, giving you more exposure and a better chance of landing new clients. The listing displays your contact information (phone number, email address, hours), physical address, other local directories where your business is listed (e.g. Yelp), reviews you have received, photos (uploaded either by you or your customers), and map location.
Having a Google My Business page can also encourage customers to write reviews of their experience working with you.
Quick Tip: Ask your customers to leave genuine reviews of their experience. Give them a direct link to the review page instead of a link to your GMB page, so they won’t have to wonder around to find it. If they don’t have a Google account, give them other options – for example, Yelp.
4. Leverage Your Social Media Profiles
In addition to Google+, brick-and-mortar companies should consider joining other social media networks as part of their local SEO strategy. Make sure that every single social profile you have for your business includes your physical location with city and state, your exact business name, and a URL pointing to your website. For the best results, these details must be kept consistent across all platforms.
Facebook offers plenty of opportunities to make your company stand out from the competition. If you list your company as a local business, you give customers the option to check in, so you stand a better chance at showing up in SERPs toward the top. The more clients check in, the more exposure your company will receive on a local plan – and although you will probably be popular for a slightly smaller population, you can at least make sure that you get loyal customers that will always come back.
Once you are done employing these strategies, consider going mobile, as a lot of people are now using their mobile devices, whether smartphones or tablets, to search for local services on the go. As your company starts showing up in local searches more frequently, you can certainly catch the eye of local newspapers and fellow entrepreneurs that may even approach you for guest posting, PR, or other such opportunities that will increase exposure and brand awareness even more.