If you’re a local business, brick and mortar and/or service orientated, you need to be thinking Local SEO.
Through a unique process of search engine optimization, Local SEO drives connections to potential customers in your geographical area at the right time in the right place.
We consider, this type of Search Marketing, Local SEO, to be the cornerstone of any local marketing strategy.
Why Local SEO?
Over half of searches on google are for local information or services. From local plumbers to a great local Mexican restaurant, people are searching every day for local businesses, just like yours.
Think the of the last time you needed to find a lawn care company, dentist or local shoe store.
Likely, you grabbed your smartphone or hopped on your desktop and searched for the needed service or product. You may have used a search term such as “lawn service near me” or “City+ Dentist” maybe "running shoe stores near me". Either way you likely told the device you wanted "something" Local.
These types of searches return local specific results on most search engines. Google being the most popular search engine, with other such as Bing still holding some ground.
Search Page Layout
No matter what search engine you are utilizing, likely, the results page will be laid out with "Paid Ads" on top, a "Map Listing" section and then the “organic search results”.
It is incredibly valuable to be positioned at the top of the page, and you will notice "paid ads" are almost always on the top and bottom of search result pages.
While paid ads are a great part of a larger, Local Marketing Strategy. When focusing on Local SEO we want to look at the “Map Listings” and the “Organic Results”
Local SEO = Long-term ROI
To build a long-term brand presence and have lasting results. Local SEO should be a focus of all small businesses. Offering a great return on investment. Some would argue local search marketing has the highest ROI of all, paid, marketing strategies.
Most online searches, end on the first page of results, with a good portion of those clicking through on the visible map listings.
The top organic pages (below the map) get the most overall clicks with percentages drastically dropping as you go down the page and on to the next page.
Local Business = Big Leverage
Having a “Local Business” is big leverage within communities as we see a growing trend across the US towards buying local.
Here in Boise we have a huge affinity for supporting local products and locally owned businesses. Rightfully so as us local business owners care about and want to serve our communities. Just as in the real world, you need to be leveraging "Local" online as well.
Much like in Boise that affinity for "local" is present across the west, Portland Oregon, Bend, Seattle and everywhere in between you will find local followings and buy local campaigns.
We as consumers like to get to know and support our neighbors. We like to stake a claim and show pride in our communities. We like quick responses and to find the closest business to serve our needs.
"near me" Search
The “near me” search is a great example of this. I have to admit when I search I often type something like " service near me" or "service+city" which brings me the best local results.
In fact, when searching I often get a suggestion for the "near me" version of my search and click on it.
Evolution in Local SEO
As we as a society adopt more voice assistant technology Local search will be increasingly dependent upon these and other "semantic" search phrases. Phrases we would use more in a conversation, or with certain intent rather than specific words. Think about how you would ask your "Google Home" device or better yet your friend for something.
Local SEO Tips: non-technical stuff
Okay as a business owner you likely understand the importance of Local SEO and the effect it can have on your success. So where do you start and what should you do? As a top Boise Local SEO company, we have found the following areas to be a great place to start.
As with any Search Marketing campaigns, you need to do the basics really well and stay up to date with changes within the dreaded algorithms of Google, Bing and others.
Local Algorithms are a bit different than traditional. However, both try to serve their "customer" the searcher, the best results possible. In local search, location matters big time, relevancy, trust and authority.
These are overarching principles and the actual algorithm incorporates hundreds of factors which are proprietary to Google, Bing or the search engine being used.
Keeping the overarching principles (location, trust, relevancy, authority) in mind you can dramatically increase your rankings.
Below are some of the non-technical Local SEO tips to consider starting with.
Local directories are important and having a consistent Name, Address, Phone (NAP) across all your listings will help ensure Google and other search engines don’t get mixed signals. Sending mixed signals lowers your overall rankings.
These might include a listing in your local chamber of commerce, BBB, Yelp, Four Square, Home Advisor, Local directories. You can usually find a number of directories in your city by searching "City+Directory".
There are 100's of directories in the US we recommend starting with local ones and adding others as you go.
tip: If you sponsor an event or non-profit in the area, you might be able to get them to mention you on their website.
Google My Business, (GMB), is the most important listing you need to setup.
Take the time to create, verify and optimize this listing. Your NAP, should match that of all your other listings, down to the character.
This consistency builds your credibility within the algorithms allowing you to rank higher. Other optimization factors include setting up the appropriate categories, hours, social profiles and adding as many great pictures of your business as possible.
GMB allows you to create posts and engage with your customers. We recommend taking advantage of this feature. The posts stay active for a certain period of time. So, make sure to stay up to date and keep yourself visible.
Along with posts they have recently released a website builder which is incorporated in your GMB. This is a great feature to create another property on Google. It’s a simple process and the system populates your info from what it finds online. This makes it simple to create and publish within minutes.
You have the options to edit the website and add pictures/content to better describe your business. In our opinion it should not be a replacement to a traditional website. Rather another Google property you own and manage. As they say Google loves itself!
Your social profiles allow for a couple things. They help you build a Brand online, with multiple touch points across the web. They also allow you to put fantastic citations back to your business. This builds trust and prevalence among the search engines.
Maybe just as important they allow for interactions and increase awareness along which can bring traffic to your website and business.
FaceBook, Google+, Twitter, Pintrest and Snap Chat are well known platforms you should be on and utilizing for your local business. While others such as allignable and meetup are gaining traction on a local basis and great sites to consider.
Reviews across your social and local profiles allows not only the search engines but the customers know a bit more about your business. They are becoming more important in ranking factors, in our opinion. Also, as Social Proof. This social proof can turn a searcher into a customer.
Think of this, you are on a trip to Portland and looking for a great Italian restaurant for lunch. After grabbing your smartphone opening your google app and searching for the "best Italian restaurant near me".
A number of results are served, while you would love to try them all you only have time for the best. Likely, the restaurants with the best review stars or ratings will get your attention first.
From there you open the page with the best reviews, see photos of the restaurant which looks inviting and decide to try it out.
We all do, it is human nature to take into consideration the opinions of others while making a decision.
While there are many services which can help you gain reviews, there is still a lot you can do as a local business owner. Be aware google does have user guidelines "Contributions must be based on real experiences and information. Deliberately fake content, copied or stolen photos, off-topic reviews, defamatory language, personal attacks, and unnecessary or incorrect content are all in violation of our policy. If you see this behavior, please report it." Google Policy.
Google also has some tips on getting reviews, here , this has their top 3 suggestions. All of these suggestions will help with your Local SEO efforts.
First, is to ask your customers for reviews. Make it easy for them leave these reviews either on your smart device or desktop. Maybe you have a client list you could e-mail them requesting some honest feedback for your company.
Their next suggestion is to reply to the reviews you have gotten. This builds connections at the same time shows more about your business to the outsider looking in. With positive reviews a quick response may be appropriate. As well responding to reviews gives you the opportunity to address negative reviews in a positive manner.
Their last suggestion seems like a no-brainer. To ensure your listing is verified, only verified listings can reply to reviews. The truth is most businesses either do not have or have not verified all their business listings. So, take it to heart and make that a priority.
On-page Local SEO and Web Design:
Just like with traditional Search Engine Optimization it all starts with your website. It needs to be structured in an easy to navigate way across all device types.
Responsive design and Mobile friendly websites have been a best practice for a number of years and with the majority of searches conducted on smart devices with varying screen sizes, it is becoming a more prevalent factor in the search engine algorithms.
Since mobile searches or searches conducted through a mobile device have surpassed those on a PC. Having a site that is easy to use and take action through across all devices is crucial to Local SEO.
Titles & Descriptions:
Your page titles and descriptions are important they are the first thing to tell the search engine what your page is about. Make this specific to your location and service/product.
It is not 2005 and "keyword stuffing" does not work and is highly frowned upon. However, great content that address both a service/product as well as a location is a best practice in Local SEO.
Your content should address your customers main concerns and what they would be searching for. Without getting technical, this plays into the semantic search which is becoming more pervasive. If your content address Who What When Where & Why it’s a great start.
The Search Algorithms are getting better at understanding search queries and the user. With this it is even more important to mention your main product/service along with location but not repeatedly or by stuffing in phrases. This won't help and may even get your site marked and penalized by Google.
tip: Think of adding FAQ's, Best Practices and a blog to your website. This allows you more area to place in depth content.
Contact us to find out more about Boise SEO and how we can help your business.