In case you are not familiar with the term “local SEO,” let’s start by defining it. SEO stands for search engine optimization or making it easy for consumers to find your content on search engines, such as Google. Local SEO refines that goal to a geographically local customer. For example, whether you are a mom-and-pop shop, a franchise owner or a regional business, you are looking to attract and invite returning and new customers into your brick-and-mortar location(s). Local SEO is designed to do just that, match local queries with the content that will drive footsteps into your store(s). So let’s see how to improve local SEO.
Local SEO Tools to Help
There are numerous tools to help you learn how to improve local SEO. One of the starting places is Google’s Search Console. Google is the largest search engine (surprise) and owns YouTube, which is the 3rd largest search engine. Therefore, Google is a good place to start your Local SEO improvement. Not all tools will help with local SEO, but you can work on general and local SEO at the same time. Within Google’s Search Console, there is an excellent help section which includes the following topics:
- Improve Your Local Ranking on Google
- Webmaster Guidelines
- Local Businesses
Another helpful tool more focused on general SEO is the Moz Toolbar or MozBar. This tool examines the metrics you need to optimize your listing properly.
Google Advanced Search Operator’s Tutorial is not a tool but finds the best content to write about and include on your website or blog. This is pretty advanced and good to use once you have completed the basics.
All of these tools are free to use and learn how to improve local SEO.
Get More Links to Your Website
There are a lot of elements that work together for SEO, some that we might not even know. Google and other search engines keep their search algorithms secret to prevent people from scamming the system. But even so, experts in SEO know enough elements to help your company rank well for local SEO. One of those elements is links.
Linking can be good and bad. Here’s why. Having a bunch of links in and out of your site that aren’t relevant or important to users is worse than useless. This type of linking is bad. You can be dinged by Google for doing this. To do linking the right way, your site should have the following:
- External Links – Links to outside sites with relevant and further information
- Internal Links – Links within your site between pages that are related
- Easy-to-use navigation that links to your page hierarchy
The goal for linking is to give both people and search engines clear pathways to visit related and relevant information. Links can break, so it is a good idea to assess your website periodically to check existing links. Google won’t ding you for a few or occasional broken links, but will if you have a lot of them.
Improve Your Website
Working on your website to learn how to improve local SEO is actually a two-part activity. The first step is improving your current website. Part two is creating or improving your listing online.
Much of what needs to be done for local SEO on your current website is the same as for general SEO. You need good content that you write with keywords for each piece. Your site should have good internal navigation, appropriate links, properly labeled and tagged posts and images, and clear and precise coding. You need to have a mobile-friendly website for easy readability on mobile devices. The better all of these elements are embedded in your site, the easier you are to find in the search. For local SEO, you need the addition of local and regional keywords and mentions in your content, which can include a map, coded contact information and address, and clear location-oriented pages.
The flip side of working on your site is working on making sure your website is listed properly online. Many companies find that their listing on Google and other online directories have incorrect or outdated information. Using the tools mentioned in the first section, update your business listings online on Google, Google Maps, and any other search engines and directories where your listing is found. If there is a local directory for area restaurants, for instance, make sure you are listed on it. This can be time-consuming, but it is definitely worth your time to get this right. After all, you want customers to come to your current location, not the one you were located in last year.
Start Posting Local Content
Part of working on your current website is posting local content. This is the fun part. On your website and/or blog, discuss local festivals you are involved with, local charities you sponsor, specials you have running at your locations, why you love being in your location, and a new recipe named after a local celebrity. The list of local content that you can create is endless. You can talk about staff members one day per month, the process that you take to create your product or places in the region you will be during the month. Write about any special events that you are hosting. Every time you post this content, make sure to include information about location and contact information. Include location in headers and meta description of your page. All of these mentions will show up in search when someone inputs your location. Other steps to take to improve local SEO are:
- Share your content posts on Google Posts
- Set up Location Pages on your website for each of your brick-and-mortar locations
- Consistently post updates, promotions, and events on your Google My Business page
Partner with an Agency
Does all this local SEO stuff sound overwhelming? It can be, especially if you are new to the game. Knowing how to improve local SEO is one thing. Making it happen is another. Working together with an agency takes the stress off of your shoulders and guides you in what to do first and where to do it. If your time is better spent on your primary business, hiring an agency to do the local SEO may be your best bet. Agencies that specialize in SEO keep updated with the rapid changes that occur on search engines. Google and other companies are always making changes to improve the quality of their search results. And search engine technology is getting more sophisticated every minute.
Mobile technology is also tightly intertwined with local SEO. Many local searches come from mobile devices as people travel around the region. Tourists use their phones to find the best place to eat lunch, and their GPS’ to get there. An agency, like MicroD, can help you learn how to improve your local SEO and make sure you are mobile-compatible simultaneously.
Check out what MicroD is doing for small businesses and big franchises to improve local SEO.