Search Engine Optimization or (SEO) is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools used today. Organic SEO is part of your digital marketing. It fine tunes your website to make it search engine friendly and rank for relevant keywords. You’ve heard the term over and over with your marketing team. In fact, it is one of the largest internet marketing strategies used by millions of online web designers, developers, and business owners. For the most successful businesses, SEO isn’t enough because local SEO services have taken a bigger priority this year.
Understanding Organic SEO vs. Local SEO
SEO uses keywords and allows your site to show up when customers run those searches in search engines. When keywords are typed into the search box (we do it multiple times each day), the search engines search across thousands of domains to find the right match. You should be one of the first! Information is retrieved from hundreds of databases from around the world.
Local SEO services are different from organic SEO because it helps customers find your brick and mortar address, rather than an online website. Local SEO is the practice of building relevance and reliability around specific locations so consumers can find your business when they are nearby. If you have a store or a local business your website should be designed to promote your products and services right when and where customers are searching for them.
Data, Devices & Directories
Local SEO services use different strategies and components that work together to achieve ranking high in Google and other internet searches. Google uses your website data and local business data combined to determine local results. The bottom online line is that if you have a store, shop, restaurant, office or any other establishment Local SEO is imperative for your business to appear in online searches.
SEO data indicates more than 60 percent of people expect search results to be tailored to their location. 76 percent of people who search on their Smartphones for something nearby, visit that business within one day. Even better, 78 percent of people who search on their Smartphones for something nearby end up making a purchase.
Pretend you are the best Italian Restaurant in Austin, Texas. A potential customer is on vacation for the first time nearby and is hankering for Italian food. What do they do? They pull out their Smartphone and start typing, “Italian restaurants in Austin, TX. Their results will be based on what local SEO work you and other restaurants have paid close and continual attention to. If you don’t include a location or address, then Google can’t do its job, resulting in a missed opportunity.
Finding Good Citations
There are several ways Google ranks Local SEO, but the most important is the quantity and quality of your business’ citations. A citation is any time your business name, address and phone number (NAP) is found online. And it is very important that each and every time it’s listed it is exactly the same. That means the same name, the same address, the same hours, phone number, etc. The more times these elements are listed correctly in directories, the more Google believes you are a real business and the more likely you are to rank high for local searches.
Some of the directories you should be listed in are Google My Business, Hotfrog, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Bing Places and Facebook, Angie’s List and LinkedIn. It’s better to be listed in many directories instead of a few. Review factors include the number of reviews, keywords within the review, and the diversity of listings (not just Google as listed above).
Getting Started With Local SEO
Millions of prospective customers use local search every day when they are looking for local businesses in an area. Google is the king when it comes to search engines and they have some areas they use to rank businesses in their world. Many brick and mortar business professionals neglect the importance of keeping content current and paying special attention to website details. First, make sure your website is mobile friendly. Research indicates that nine out of 10 searches for reviews, directions and contact info happen on a mobile device.
If your website isn’t designed to be mobile friendly, your information won’t be easy to read and the customer will click off in another direction. Here are some other ways you can position your website so it will work wonders for your local business 24/7.
Claim and Maintain Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is very important for local SEO. It is Google’s tool that helps your business show up on search. Google My Business is where you add all kinds of content. Local contact information including your business name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, pictures, videos and promotions. You can showcase what’s new and respond to customer reviews, too. The best thing about Google My Business is that it is free advertising but you have to claim it to get more online visibility from mobile shoppers.
- NAP: Nap stands for Name, Address and Phone Number, all very important for local listing in SEO. Here’s an important tip: Include NAP in the text, not just in an image. The web crawlers can’t find it if it is part of an image. Always include area codes and suite numbers too. Consistency in all content is important. All mentions of your NAP information must be identical.
- Directories: Every time you list your NAP, be consistent, make sure there are no typos in your content, don’t use abbreviations, include suite numbers, make sure your phone number is correct and all mentions are identical (We can’t stress this one enough). If you aren’t consistent, Google will consider the differences to be different businesses.
Optimize For Keywords
A keyword is a particular word or phrase that describes your website’s contents. Each time you add a new piece of content like a blog post to your website, use high volume keywords in all parts including the URL, title, headers, meta description and body copy. Tip: Consult a professional digital marketing company to help you optimize your content. It’s an investment that will pay you back over and over again. These tips will help you develop a keyword list:
- Think like a customer: Think like your target audience and create a list of keywords that they would use to find you. List words that you would type into Google. It’s also a good idea to ask friends, colleagues, and even current customers what words they would use. Study Your Competition: Knowing what keywords your competition is using on their websites, blogs and other content is very helpful to develop your keyword list.
- Use Keyword Research Sites: There are many onsite keyword research tools like Google AdWords and SEM Rush that gather keyword data, trends and other important analysis to assist your keyword success. With the advent of voice recognition technology like Siri, people are searching using long tail keywords, too. Consider investing in a professional marketing team to help you optimize your keyword strategy.
- Review Results: After selecting your keywords and using them in your marketing content, remember to analyze the results so you can improve your future efforts.
The Importance of Links
- Inbound Links: Links will definitely improve your SEO rankings by supporting your website’s navigation, ranking power, and other important key elements. Focus on the importance of getting valuable inbound links from relevant sources and optimizing your internal site links between your own pages. Every inbound link informs Google that you are a real company and can raise your domain authority. Some ways to get inbound links to work for you are guest blogs, affiliate programs, memberships, blog posts, partnerships, and sponsorships. Networking with other local influencers and asking them to work together with your website is a huge asset in local search SEO.
- Local Reviews: Google loves reviews and testimonials from customers. Constantly monitor customer feedback and online reviews. Encourage customers to share reviews and then you can respond in a timely manner. For example, if you are the Italian Restaurant and a customer leaves a good review, you might answer, “We appreciate your comments about our Italian Specialty in Austin, TX. We look forward to serving you again. Thank you from our entire Italian Restaurant Name team.
- Location Pages: Whether you have one or more brick and mortar store, adding location pages and a current About Us page can strengthen your local SEO. Local pages include your NAP, store description, parking information, sales, promotions and customer testimonials, all information that Google searches for.
How Local SEO Services Benefits Your Industry
Google changes their algorithms all the time. This means you must keep your content marketing current and updated all the time, too. Some of the tips are once and done like your NAP, but others require consistency and constant updates. Local SEO depends on local information from you. Write content that is valuable, creative and is relevant to your local community and industry. For example, if you are a gift store, write a blog about how to decorate for different seasons. Naturally add keywords that are, here’s that word again, relevant to your industry. Write blogs, how to manuals, emails, social media posts. Link them to your website to build traffic, reviews, and stay relevant.
Here are a few examples of businesses that will enjoy success from local SEO strategy.
SEO for Home Services
Need your house painted, new furnace, toilet fixed, lawn updated? These are all home services that can benefit from local SEO, and there are more. Not only are they service oriented, they’re competing for who is available to help right now. Home services depend on their local markets and can work local SEO by customer reviews and create content to help “stay in touch” with their customers when there isn’t an emergency.
SEO for Medical Practices
Doctors Offices, Dentists, Urgent Care clinics, Chiropractors and other medical businesses can successfully use local SEO. Their specialized “markets” allow them to use their websites to drive awareness in their community. For example, they can create informational blog posts and how to stay healthy content to not only stay fresh and relevant in Google’s eyes, but to add value to their clients.
SEO for Retail
Retail Stores, Restaurants, Pet Shops, Bakeries, Florists, Apparel and all other retail need local SEO to keep up with competitors. Many of these markets are feeling the effects of online competition so to be a staple in their local communities and get repeat business local SEO is very important. Again, using websites to drive customers with updated information, valuable, relevant content and customer reviews is key. Retailers will benefit by mentioning their location right in the product description, too to enhance local SEO. For example, “Philadelphia, PA home store sectional sofa.”
SEO for Real Estate
Community Real Estate agents, similar to the retail industry is feeling the competition from larger corporations so “hyper-local strategy” can help to target clients. Websites should target local markets and narrow keywords to small neighborhoods in communities. This teamed with valuable content is how expert agents and put their relationship building skills to work. Content that adds value like ‘things to do’ sets you apart from the bigger companies. Keyword optimization is very helpful in this industry. “Exclusive gated communities,”luxury real estate,” and other specific types will rank higher in Google searches.
This Is Just the Beginning of Local SEO Services
Whether you are new to Local SEO or are currently using it in your marketing strategy, it’s important to keep your eyes on it. There is a variety of moving parts that all work together to help customers find your brick and mortar location. Your digital presence is a powerful tool that will work for you if you use it to your advantage. It is constantly changing and so should you. This information briefly discusses Local SEO so you have a basic overview. For more details, consult the digital experts at Micro D to fine-tune all of your digital marketing needs.