Picture the scene: it’s a Friday night and you all of a sudden have a craving for some Mediterranean food. You don’t know much about the offerings in your area, so you do a quick Google. In this extremely common scenario, you just put local SEO to work.
Because the restaurant took the steps they needed to take, local SEO informed you of their location, menu, customer reviews, and more.
This is a perfect illustration of why it’s so important to get your business optimized for local online searches!
Let’s discuss a few critically important things you need to do if you have a physical business and you’re trying to drive more traffic to your location in a certain community.
Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Google will be the first point of connection for most people. Therefore, it’s beyond necessary to have a Google My Business (GMB) listing optimized so that people who are searching for what you have to offer can easily find you based on location.
To do this, first you either need to create a Google My Business account if you’re a new business, or claim your business if it is already indexed. Don’t skip any steps in populating your contact information, hours, social profiles, images, and so on. If you’re not very proficient in writing, hire some freelance help to make sure that you have everything you need online. It will be worth every penny.
You can also claim your business by using Google Maps directly:
- In Google Maps, enter your business name and choose the correct one.
- In the Business Profile, tap Claim This Business, and then verify that you are the owner.
- Select a verification option, and follow the on-screen steps.
The verification steps are usually either proving the address with other official documentation, or replying to a piece of correspondence from Google sent to verify.
Make sure to add all of the attributes and descriptions pertinent to your business. Write it as if no one knows anything about who you are or what you have to offer. Don’t assume that people will find their way to you. Make everything explicit and clear.
Add photos if you can, and add plenty of them. Businesses with more photos of what they have to offer will always stand out both visually and in terms of search indexing than businesses without photos. Show off the kinds of things you would want to see if you were a potential customer looking for the services or products you offer.
If you’re able to create high-quality photos, go through the extra effort you need to do that. Remember, you’re only as good as your weakest public information!
Claim Other Online Directories Such as Yelp, Bing, etc.
While Google is king when it comes to search engines, there are people who prefer to use other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing. Don’t lose out on those potential customers; create as many listings as you can on these sites as well. Whatever best practices they offer, which will generally be pretty similar to Google’s, follow them as closely as you can.
Keep in mind that different websites populate from different sources. Perhaps Bing doesn’t seem like a priority to claim, but remember that Yellow Pages online directory pulls data from Bing. If you don’t cover as many official listings as possible, you risk business data being populated online based on inaccurate crawlers.
Also remember how different search engines are used. If your business is a restaurant, there’s no excuse to not be active on Yelp. Yelp is often used for local food and beverages. If you’re a pool cleaning service, it is still important to claim your Yelp listing, but you don’t necessarily need to be engaged replying to questions and reviews there (although it never hurts).
Get Online Reviews
Online reviews are essential to driving local business. Review quantity can always improve your SEO, but of course positive reviews are always better for getting your business to the top of the results page. Reviews are most readily available and relevant on Yelp and Google, but are also important on Yahoo, Bing, and beyond.
Encourage reviews from satisfied customers. Letting patrons know how valuable reviews are is usually enough to get them to commit to posting for you. Even negative reviews can still be beneficial if you reply tactfully and can occasionally find ways to remedy the dissatisfied customer. Accurate information, photos, and reviews are the three big things you need to focus on as you build your online presence!
Create Local Content on Your Site for SEO
A local-focused content strategy is also essential for SEO results in your community. Use your blog to highlight community events, your impact in local neighborhoods, and more. Any community outreach will also go a long way as customers look for brands with strong ethics and morals.
Local SEO has plenty of fundamental elements such as claiming official business listings, but ultimately search engines still search your website the same way, which means a content strategy goes a long way. Writing some or most of that content to be helpful to specifically local audiences can make a huge difference in your search results.
You can also incorporate local copy into non-blog portions of your site. Taglines, phrases, or reviews on your home page that say things like “Best Burger in St. Louis” can go a long way in populating results.
Ensure Consistency with Business Name, Address, Phone Number, etc.
This one seems pretty straightforward, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses struggle with this. Why do they struggle? This comes from things like having employee/agent phone numbers on pages that bots read as corporate phone numbers, having your hours updated on Google but not your website from Covid changes, and all kinds of other things like this that make this an easy pitfall. Conduct searches on your own business to see when inaccurate results surface.
Simply put, it’s crucially important and other important contact information like your name, address, phone number, completely uniform on any online platform it has, between pages, and so on. If there is any confusion about this, it can make it difficult for people to get in touch with you.
Local SEO can be a challenging experience, but if it’s done right, it can work wonders for your brand. Talk to experts who know how to put your brand in the best light in order to get foot traffic going!