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As Google has become more focused on local search results, it’s more crucial than ever before for small businesses to use local SEO strategies to reach the right audience. The Pigeon update dramatically altered some local search results, so if you’re a business that relies on attracting customers from your local area, you should waste no time in optimizing your business for local search.
According to Search Engine Watch, 59 percent of consumers use Google every month to find a local business. Every small business owner should at least know the basics of local SEO. With that in mind, here are nine strategies to improve your local visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
On-Site SEO Tactics
Set Up a Business Blog
A blog is a great platform for publishing regular content related to your business. Not only is it a useful platform for sharing business news and deals on your site, it’s a useful way to encourage customer comments, sharing, and backlinks, which all help to improve your authority with Google and improve your search rankings.
Optimize for Mobile Devices
Most people today rely on mobile devices throughout the day to look up information and check their social media profiles. According to a Merkle/RKG digital marketing report, organic traffic from mobile devices rose from 34 percent in early 2014 to 45 percent in early 2015. What’s more, the recent Google algorithm update which rewards mobile-friendly websites is a clear signal to businesses to invest in mobile responsive design.
Create More Local Content
If your web pages don’t contain enough content related to your local geographical area, you’re unlikely to attract users that search using local search terms. Try to write content targeted at local queries, such as “digital consultant Orlando, Florida.” These long-tail keywords have less competition, but will attract more qualified leads. Also try to build relationships with other businesses in your area and you may get some valuable local links back to your website.
Optimize Meta Data
Page titles are not only important for website visitors, but also for search engine robots, so include relevant keywords in title tags. Meta descriptions don’t directly affect search rankings, but they do appear in SERPs along with page titles, so they can encourage people to click through to your site, which in turn can boost your credibility with search engines. If text in the meta description matches a search keyword, it’s also bolded, which makes it stand out more in SERPs.
Off-Site SEO Tactics
Get On Google My Business
Google My Business is the new dashboard for businesses to manage their online presence across Google platforms. It’s free to register and includes:
- Google Places
- Google Maps
- Google Plus and Google Plus Local
Once you’ve completed your profile, you can instantly become more visible to online customers through Google Search, Maps, and Google Plus. Just make sure you submit up-to-date company information, including your address and contact details, and add some business photos that will appear in local search results.
Get Active on Social Media
Search engines use social media indicators like shares, likes, and links to determine the relevancy and credibility of a business. Try to include local keywords and phrases in your social media profiles to boost your local search visibility. Apart from Facebook and LinkedIn, small businesses should check out services such as CitySearch and Foursquare.
Optimize Your Local Citations
Getting on local business directories is essential for local SEO. Some of the most valuable sites are Yelp, TripAdvisor, Merchant Circle, Whitepages, Yahoo Local, Bing Places for Business, and Manta. Just make sure each account profile features exactly the same name, address, and phone number for your business. If they don’t match, you could be downgraded by Google.
Use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC advertising is still one of the most cost-effective ways to get your business seen by more people. You can target specific keywords and other parameters in each campaign, so it’s perfect for capturing more local traffic. To learn more, visit Google’s AdWords Help Center.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Today, online reviews are essential for boosting your local search engine rankings, so it’s worth encouraging user reviews. Google regularly delivers local results that favor businesses with stronger reviews, so it’s definitely worth the extra effort. Don’t beg for reviews, just say to customers that you appreciate their feedback. You can even send out emails with links to your Google Plus or Yelp listings.
Local SEO best practices are constantly changing but these are some of the most powerful strategies you can start using today. It may seem difficult to start with, but have a little patience and over time you should start to see some positive results, including higher search rankings, more website traffic, and hopefully more sales.
Do you need help developing a website to get your business noticed online? Contact StevenMilanese.com today, and we’ll run through some options (no obligation!).