Local SEO is a branch of SEO that uses special techniques to make your company website content more visible on Google when people are looking for a business in the geographic markets you serve — usually defined as towns, cities, zip codes, neighborhoods or counties. Understanding how to do SEO for local business is important if your business:
- Serves one or more specific geographic market(s) exclusively
- Serves one or more specific geographic market(s) predominantly
- Is looking to expand into a new geographic market(s)
- Is a national/global company looking to target strategically important local market(s)
Here are 10 important issues to cover in your local SEO campaign.
- NAP. In SEO jargon, NAP stands for name, address and phone number of your business. This information should appear consistently on every page of your website. It reinforces to Google’s crawlers (Googlebots) that your business is committed to a specific geographic area.
- GMB. This stands for Google My Business, a very important platform for every local business on which to have a presence. Companies with a GMB listing get extra exposure on Google search. A listing also makes it easy for Google users to find your location, learn more about your business, and see what customers have to say about your products and services. Think of GMB as a home-away-from-home website.
- Mobile-friendly website design. Mobile devices are used more than desktops to access the Web — and local searches, in particular, have a high and growing mobile volume. If mobile users can’t make heads or tails of your website, they will find another local business — you will lose many new prospects and customers, possibly forever. Mobile-friendliness is also an important ranking factor for Google and is certain to become even more important.
- Local listings. Having your business listed in BBB, local chamber of commerce websites, local business websites and local industry/related industry websites — ideally with links back to your website — again reinforce to Google your commitment to serving a particular geographic market. These listings tell Google you are not only serious about being in a local market, but you also are a good enough company to earn endorsements from people in the community.
- Local news mentions. Along the same lines as local listings, mentions of your company in local news stories improves your local search status. Stories need not have links (although links are always desirable), and they can cover news about your business, charitable activities involving and/or sponsored by your business, or other newsworthy actions your company takes within the community.
- Encourage customer reviews. Customer reviews on your website, GMB and other general or industry-specific review sites send Google strong signals about your company’s presence and prestige in a local market. Be sure, though, before launching an orchestrated effort to encourage reviews that (a) your business is likely to get positive reviews, and (b) that you understand the ins and outs of each website’s review solicitation policies.
- Make sure your keywords can move the dial. In theory, it makes sense for local SEO campaigns to target keywords with local intent, such as “widgets for sale in [location]”. Many times, however, these local keywords simply don’t have enough search volume to generate enough organic traffic to have any effect on your campaign. In such cases, you’re better off targeting more generalized keywords and using these other local SEO techniques to help you stand out on local searches. Remember, too, that Google can identify the geographic location of its search engine users (depending on the users’ privacy settings) — which means your generalized search phrases may show prominently exactly where you want them to, on searches being conducted in your market.
- Follow all SEO practices for website content and structure. Googlebots can’t make sense out of your website and rank its content appropriately unless you follow standard SEO procedures. This means, among other things, making sure you have product/service pages dedicated to each of your primary target keywords, site navigation is intuitive, internal links emphasize target SEO pages, title tags are properly optimized, content is relevant and valuable, and that there are no technical glitches on the back end of your website that prevent Googlebots from interpreting and properly evaluating your site’s content. All of these issues should be in order before launching a formal local SEO campaign.
- Build the right kind of backlinks. One of Google’s most important ranking factors — probably the most important — is a website’s backlink profile. Backlinks from credible websites tell Google the company is ethical, reliable and accomplished in its field — the kind of company Google wants its search engine users to see. Backlinks also are an area where many local businesses fall short, making link building a tactic that can separate your website from the pack in a big way. These days, most backlinks — other than the types described earlier in this article — are obtained by writing high-quality articles on topics related to your business and getting them published on other websites, usually in your field or a related field. Normally, these articles include a link to your website in the body of the article or in the author bio. It’s an excellent technique not only for link building, but also for expanding your brand awareness and credibility.
- Review and revise. SEO best practices change. User habits change. Google’s algorithm changes. As a result, your local SEO campaign can never run on autopilot. Make sure your SEO provider is tracking all relevant data, analyzing results and continually improving weaknesses. Over time, you’re likely to find that certain keywords work much better than others, that certain review sites are more productive than others, that certain niches of publishing sites are more fruitful for backlinks, etc. One of the best aspects of a local SEO campaign is the ability to improve it — and as a result, being able to enjoy continually growing number of sales leads and new customers.
To discuss a local SEO campaign, contact us now or call 855-883-0011.