SEO makes it possible for search engines to provide relevant information. It is also how businesses are able to attract prospects to their websites organically.
For local businesses, it's finding the people in their neighborhood that matters. The local population is the target audience, so those are the ones you need to reach out to through your website, content and general SEO efforts.
This requires a carefully crafted strategy.
Here are just a few ways you can add local flavor to your website to boost that organic reach.
Claim your Google My Business page
All businesses must claim their Google My Business listing, as it helps people find businesses through search, Maps or from within the Google+ social network.
With this page a business can find new customers even without a website.
Create a profile that provides all the basic and up-to-date information on your business. It should list directions to the store, a link to the website (if relevant), contact information and opening hours. The aim is to give users all of the information they need to contact you.
Garner customer reviews for visibility and credibility
Reviews are a big part of local SEO. To give you an example, here is a website that is doing local SEO very well: https://bluewaterseafoodsandiego.com/.
Keywords 'seafood restaurant' + 'San Diego' return this website at the top of the Google search in both the local pack and on the first page. The reviews of this restaurant also appear at the top of the results page from third-party sites.
Eventually, this is what you want for your business as well. Encourage customers to rate and review your business every step of the way. These are worth gold for small local businesses looking to make a presence.
Google reviews will make the most difference to the search performance of a business. Reviews on sites such as Yelp, Scoot, etc. will also help. You know now where to focus your efforts. Reviews elsewhere, such as on your website or on a forum, will also count since every positive word reinforces people's faith in a business.
If you invest in a robust social media presence, it will also enhance your SEO efforts by pushing the company's social page (and the subsequent ratings and reviews posted on it) toward the top of Google search. Social proof is a powerful weapon for local businesses.
Here's a business that emerges at the top of a local search with a very basic-looking website (which isn't even mobile friendly). They don't have a blog, or a particularly compelling design, but they have the local fundamentals right and undoubtedly attract all the business they can handle. A quick search of 'hair cut' + 'Boston' puts them at the top of the results, bolstered by Google reviews. This is the beauty of local search engine optimization.
Create a local content strategy
Quality content is about helping people. For a new restaurant, for example, this might mean informing people about healthy eating choices in the neighborhood, educating them about menu items and explaining how their dining experience is unique as compared to other local options. Other content ideas include community history and challenges. The whole idea is to establish a connection with your community.
Regardless of the business you operate, you can find a ton of ideas to create content around and which would speak directly to the people you want to reach out to.
With content, the devil truly is in the details. These details should guide your content strategy:
- Learn as much as you can about the target audience. Where do they reside? What are their income levels? What would be the demographics they comprise? Would they be willing to pay for your services?
- Create detailed personas of the local audience. Facebook Insights can pull up a lot of helpful data in this regard.
- Perform keyword research (Keyword Planner is a good free tool to begin with) to choose the keywords you want to rank the highest for.
- Look at the successful competitors to determine the keywords and content that provides traction for them.
Once you have this information, create topic ideas around the targeted keywords. But bear in mind you are writing for people, not for Google.
Write on local events as well. If there is a big holiday coming up, write a piece on it, bolster it with relevant keywords and promote it on social media. This should get your article noticed and by way of that bring new traffic to the website.
You don't necessarily have to have a blog, however, we do encourage it. It helps draw in greater traffic and starts conversations. Content refers not just to articles and videos on the blog, but all the material throughout a website. From About Us, to Contact information, to introductory videos - all of the content needs to be geared towards a certain audience with the right tags/keywords/meta titles in place. Here's a great read on all the factors that help a website with on-page local SEO.
Winning the local game
Local SEO is like any other SEO but with a local twist. Make use of your knowledge and understanding of the local market as well as the audience. Use reliable tools to unearth relevant data to create marketing strategies around. With market awareness, in-depth research, local link building and the right kind of SEO, your online presence can bolster your chances of running a thriving business.
Pete Peranzo is the CEO of Imaginovation, a full-service, turn-key digital solutions company serving Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC. He is a results driven individual with over 15 years in the IT and software industry. Pete's background in customer support is a driving factor in the company's long-term success and reputation. He has embedded customer service into the company's core culture, and feels that fast turnaround, great communication and high quality support are keys to long-term business relationships. Follow him on Twitter @PetePeranzo.