Do I need search engine optimization (SEO) if I’m servicing or selling in a specific area, like a city or local community? It’s a question many small-business owners will ask themselves at one point or another, and it’s a valid one.
While handing out flyers to passersby seems simpler, it’s not as effective as SEO. We live in a time where consumers go online to search for brands, products, or services before buying on websites or in physical stores. So, it’s a YES. You need SEO if you want to be visible in search results. Better yet, you should be doing local SEO if:
- a) You want to boost your online presence in your local area or community
- b) You have a brick-and-mortar store
Start gaining a competitive edge with this quick guide to local SEO. Each chapter contains the information you need to execute your first local SEO strategy or enhance what you already have.
Chapter 1: Local SEO Basics
Build a solid foundation by understanding the basics of local SEO. This chapter gives you a concrete definition of this digital marketing channel, some facts, and data that show its benefits, and an overview of its process.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the branch of SEO that focuses on improving your visibility in local search results. In turn, you increase site visits and connect with high-intent customers.
Combining the best local SEO tools, trends and tactics allow you to achieve your business goals. You have to put these all together in a strategy to produce sustainable results in the long run.
You know you’re doing it right if you’re ranking competitively and profitably for regional and location-specific keywords, such as “dentists near me” or “plumbing services in [city].”
Why Is Local SEO Important?
Search giant Google has revealed that 46 percent of all queries have local intent. This high number isn’t surprising, what with mobile searches edging out desktop searches. Today, people are whipping out their smartphones to look for their next meal, find a real estate agent or compare dermatologists in their area.
Further, a whopping 88 percent of mobile searches end up in a phone call or store visit in 24 hours.
If you have a physical shop, a franchise unit, or a multiple-location store, integrating affordable local SEO services into your SEO and internet marketing efforts should be a top priority.
Think about the opportunities you are missing out on if you’re not leveraging local SEO for your brand or business. You can drive leads to discover your existence, expanding your customer or client base. And you can ramp up your revenue by making your site, product or service easily found by consumers when they need it most.
How Does Local SEO Work?
What is local SEO services done the right way going to achieve? Mainly, it will amplify your lead acquisition efforts. Whether you strengthen your in-house marketing team or work with a trusted local SEO agency, the expectation is to garner enough qualified leads to bolster business growth.
Seeing how critical local SEO is to the conversion process, you should round up the right local SEO tools and steps. Make sure to include keyword research, Google My Business (GMB), listing and review management, on-site optimization, and local link building in your marketing efforts.
Other factors to consider when deploying a local SEO strategy include NAP (name, address, and phone number) citations and social media marketing. All of these moving parts align with each other to satisfy Google’s ranking signals.
To keep this guide beginner-friendly, we will continue to discuss five major local SEO components. Read on.
Chapter 2: Local SEO Keyword Research
So, you already have a set of keywords to target for overall SEO. Do you need to change them? Not entirely. But you should infuse your site, local directory profiles, social media posts, and other online business assets with locally driven keywords.
Geo-specific keywords are an excellent place to start. But apart from the “near me” and city- or country-specific keywords, try variations to cater to your target audience. For example, consider search terms that start with how what, who, or where.
Depending on your industry, the tone of queries may also differ. You’ll find the straightforward “question” keywords more appropriate for service-industry businesses. Product-related brands can check out lighter, conversational keyword variations.
Because it is 2021, you should also be targeting terms and phrases as they’re used in voice searches.
The bottom line is you should be compiling keywords that reflect the search intent of your prospects. Life should be easier with local SEO tools for keyword research like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, and Answer the Public.
Chapter 3: Google My Business Listing Optimization
No local SEO services starter kit is complete without GMB optimization. This free tool from the biggest search engine has many pros, chief of which is the easy management of your local presence.
Claiming your listing on GMB means you satisfy one Google ranking factor. Interplaying with other ranking criteria, GMB optimization lets you appear in Google Search and Google Maps results for relevant keywords. Potential customers can quickly access your NAP and other pertinent business information.
Other benefits of GMB optimization include raising brand awareness, consolidating your online ratings and reviews, driving high-intent leads to your website, and building customer trust.
GMB proves to be one of the most hardworking local SEO tools. On top of having a shot at organic search domination, you also have the chance to be featured in the Local 3 Pack. This search result component displays the top three results that are most relevant to a user query.
Recent reports have pinned down how many people click the first link in the search engine results page (SERP): over 25 percent. Say you’re gunning for the “organic grocery store in Austin” keyword: You can be placed above the fold as part of the Local 3 Pack. This gives you a huge advantage over the organic SERP entries.
Chapter 4: Online Rating and Review Management
While managing customer reviews fall under online reputation management, it’s also vital to your local SEO ranking health. Any reliable local SEO agency would steer your strategy toward consolidating your online reviews — which Google also looks at when ranking you in the local SERPs.
Publishing feedback on your site, GMB, and other directory pages helps people gauge your business. It builds trust, especially if they find more positive reviews and as many responses as possible.
It’s okay to encourage customers or clients to leave reviews on your website and the three main online review sites: GMB, Yelp, and Facebook. What you should avoid is soliciting them in exchange for money.
Chapter 5: Local Business On-Site Optimization
GMB and other listing optimization are off-site efforts. Another example would be link building, which we’ll talk about in a bit. Because of the name, you may already know that on-site optimization is optimizing page-ranking elements on your website.
In practical terms, you should check for your title tags, internal links, and content quality. For example, if you have multiple locations, create an original copy for each city page. Do this even if you’re talking about the same service areas or answering the same question, such as “What is local services development like in [City A]?” and “What is local services development like in [City B]?”
Chapter 6: Local Link Building
Any discussion of what is local SEO services optimization? is incomplete if we don’t touch on link building. It’s the process of getting backlinks from authoritative sources, such as news and press release (PR) websites.
Link building counts among the most affordable local SEO services, but it’s also tricky to execute. Following the industry standard and best practices, however, is worth it. When done correctly, Google will consider it a positive ranking factor. Why? Think about traditional academic papers with their verifiable references. Google deems your web page relevant for a particular topic if more reliable sites cite your content and link back to you.
For local SEO, you can tap your local chamber of commerce. Sponsoring an event may also earn you some link love from organizers, suppliers, and neighboring businesses. You can start with those you know or simultaneously do it with cold email outreach.
Chapter 7: Local SEO for Small to Large Enterprises
The previous chapters list all the steps in leveraging various local SEO services. Interestingly, all of these apply to small and medium businesses (SMBs) with a physical store. So, for the final chapter, we’d like to stress some of the points mentioned above while considering the case of large enterprises with, also with physical locations.
- GMB allows you to list all of your locations, provided you use a uniform naming convention. If you’re an auto dealer or healthcare provider, Google has separate guidelines for you.
- For multi-location and franchise businesses, ensure you have dedicated ratings and reviews pages for each branch or subunit to avoid confusion.
- On your website, create and optimize individual location pages.
- Obtain linking opportunities for your high-priority location pages.
The Next Step Toward Local SEO Success
If your team hasn’t done this before, it’s more strategic to partner with a local SEO agency that has broad and deep knowledge of this online marketing channel and can offer affordable local SEO services. But we’ll leave that decision up to you.
For now, the beginner’s line has been crossed, and you’re on your way to implementing the steps contained in this guide. Let the underlying principles lead you in maximizing what local SEO has to offer.
Be highly visible, draw visitors to your site and convert them into loyal customers with the power of local SEO.