28 Dec 15 Strategies to Improve Your Local SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION) (7 Minute Read)
When you’re running a local business, it’s essential that customers in your area can find you. One of the most effective ways to do this is by making the right changes to your online presence. With the right techniques, you can reach local consumers online, making every single one of your website visitors count and translating more visitors into real-world leads and sales.
Here are 15 essential strategies to improve your local SEO in order to bring the consumer base from your neighbourhood right to your door.
1. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Image from Pixabay
Over half of all internet activity (52.2 percent) now takes place on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Sites that are not mobile-friendly are not only off-putting for the consumer, they also do not rank as highly on search engines so they make you less visible online.
When you’re a local business, a mobile-optimised website matters more than ever. Many consumers search online for a product they want while they’re actually out shopping. If you’re not searchable on a mobile device, you’re likely to miss out on a lot of business. If consumers can find you while they’re shopping in your area, and you’re offering what you want, this is a simple and obvious way to bring them to you.
2. Make sure you have all your locations covered
Does your business have more than one location? Perhaps you own a small chain of shops in various towns, or offer a mobile service covering a number of different areas. If this is the case, it’s important consumers in all the areas you cover can find you online.
The best way to achieve this is to have a separate page on your website for each of the locations you operate in. Each of these pages should have the right address and phone number for your business in that area, as well as a location map showing how to get there. Images of your premises in that area can also help. Include as much useful information as possible as the more informative a page is, the higher it will be prioritised in search results.
The most important thing to remember here is that the content on each page must be unique. It’s no good just changing the address and phone number, and copying and pasting the rest of the information so that each page is essentially the same. This is perceived as plagiarism by search engine algorithms and your site can be penalised for it. It’s essential to create new, relevant content for each of your location pages if you want to be found easily online.
3. Manage all your pages from one website
Some businesses choose to create a number of different microsites to cover each of the areas they serve or the products they sell. They often use similar domain names, such as “floristbrisbane.com.au” and “floristqld.com.au”, for example.
This isn’t really a good strategy – for a start, it makes things more difficult for you, as you are constantly having to manage and update several different sites at once, checking your stats, responding to comments and making sure all information is correct. This is extremely time-consuming, especially if you want to keep each site ranking as highly as possible in search results. It can also be expensive, paying for several different domain names each year.
In addition, this can be confusing for your customers as they may not realise your different sites all belong to the same business.
It’s far better to keep everything on the one site and just add different pages for each location, product and service.
4. Include all the right keywords
Image from Flickr
One of the most basic ways to ensure local customers can find you is to appear in the search results of the things they’re looking for online. You have to make sure your website contains the right words and phrases to make it relevant to your local target audience.
Performing some keyword research will show you the words and phrases that users in your local area are searching for online. A reputable digital marketing agency will be able to help you with this if you’re not sure how to do it yourself. Once you’ve identified the most-searched terms relating to your industry, you can then make sure these appear in the text on your website.
A word of warning here, though – stuffing your site with keywords will get you penalised by search engines. These days, SEO is all about creating relevant, useful content that answers the questions users are searching for. So by all means, sprinkle the keywords and phrases throughout your site, but don’t make them too obvious and don’t use them too often. Clear, well-written, useful content is more important.
5. Earn consumer trust
Today’s consumers are saturated with online advertising. They don’t automatically trust what brands are saying about their own products anymore. Instead, they want to see reviews and testimonials from real-life consumers who have tried the product or service before them. 84 percent of people now trust online reviews and testimonials as much as personal recommendations from family and friends when it comes to making purchase decisions.
When a local customer buys a product or service from you, ask them if they would mind writing a testimonial for you to include on your website – or if they’re ok with it, a video testimonial can be even better. This proves that the person is real. Viewers can see their body language and hear the inflections in their voice to prove they’re telling the truth. As they come from the local area, this will also build trust with local consumers and encourage them to purchase from you.
6. Aim your website at increasing conversions
How well does your website actually promote what you do? Does it make it clear how and why you stand out from your competitors?
It’s no good driving traffic to your website if all you achieve is a high bounce rate – you need visitors to take action while they’re there. This is why your website needs to be optimised for conversions.
Firstly, it needs to use clear, positive, powerful language to describe what you do and explain how you are superior to your competitors. Highlight your points of difference and the value you offer as well as your convenient local presence.
Secondly, each page should contain a clear call to action so consumers know what is expected of them when they visit your site – for example, “Contact us for more information” or “Click here to receive your promo code”.
Including contact forms on each page of your website will encourage people to complete them, generating more leads for your business.
Finally, make sure your address, phone number and email are displayed prominently on each page so nobody is in any doubt of where and how to get in touch with you!
7. Create useful content
Image from Pixabay
Search engines love useful, well-crafted content. Blogging and vlogging are great ways to add value to your business offering – they give your customers something for nothing, providing them with the useful information they’re searching for online.
Written articles, infographics and videos are all highly useful forms of content that will keep people coming back to your site for more information. To help you get started with content creation, take a look at the content your competitors are creating and try to do it better.
Obviously, you should keep your content related to the industry you work in – if you sell shoes, people won’t come to your site looking for information about plumbing, for example. But don’t be directly promotional of your business. Instead, offer interesting insights based around your industry. Again, keyword research helps, as this will show you the questions local consumers are asking about the industry you work in. Don’t pack your content with keywords, but include them subtly and infrequently throughout the content you create.
The more questions you can answer with your content, the more traffic you will drive to your site. You will come to be regarded as an authority in your field and Google will reward you with higher rankings.
8. Encourage other businesses to link to your site
Backlinks make search engines trust you more as they show that other businesses consider your content worth linking to. This means, you will rank higher in search results when you have more backlinks.
If your content is authoritative enough, people will want to link to it in their own articles. But there are a number of ways to encourage other businesses to link to your site.
Identify local businesses whose products and services complement your own offering. For example, if you’re a florist, these could be event planners, wedding venues and bridal stores. Speak to them about linking to their sites in your own content and see if they will be willing to return the favour. Local businesses all benefit from helping each other out!
You can also write guest posts for other websites in return for a link back to your own – this not only creates another link which signposts customers to your site, it also increases your online authority in your field.
Try to get featured in online magazine articles about your industry – contact the relevant magazines expressing an interest in being featured and ask how to achieve this.
Finally, every time you click on a link that doesn’t work on a site related to your industry, get in touch with the webmaster and let them know. Reporting broken links is often a great way of getting backlinks to your own site. There are even tools available which can identify broken links for you, saving you the trouble of endless clicking through hundreds of articles.
9. Set up a Google Business page
Screenshot by author
Businesses listed on Google itself automatically do better in search results. Creating a business page on Google is completely free, and it’s easy, using Google My Business.
Your Google Business page enables you to list the contact details of your business, including a link to your website and your opening hours. You can also add a description of what you do, upload photographs and videos, share posts and respond to customer reviews. The more reviews you can generate over time, the better for your business – if you get five reviews, your business gets a star rating next to its name.
As you can manage your Google Business page direct from your smartphone, it makes it incredibly easy to update your details and have conversations with your customers on-the-go.
Without this free resource, you are limiting your visibility in Google search results – it’s well worth taking a few minutes to create your entry. This will make you searchable on Google Maps as well as in general search results, improving your local SEO.
10. Make sure all your business directory listings are correct
If you want to generate local business, you need as many citations online as possible. Citations are mentions of your business name, address and phone number on other sites. They provide Google with the information it needs to classify your business.
This is why it’s important to get your business listed on as many online directories as you can. However, it’s essential to check that the details listed on every directory are correct and up-to-date. If differing details appear all over the web for your business, it obviously makes you pretty difficult for your customers to find! Even worse, it can make Google think you are a fake business. They may even penalise you in search results.
It’s worth checking all your citations regularly to ensure that your business name, address and phone number appear exactly the same in all of them.
11. Promote your business on social media
Image from Pixabay
Social media should really be at the core of your local SEO strategy. By building a local following and sharing useful information, you build “social proof” – if someone’s friends are following and talking about a particular product or service, that person will also want to know what it’s all about.
Set up a Facebook page for your business (like Google, this is completely free), and include your logo and contact details in your background image on Twitter and LinkedIn. Describe what you do and share relevant, useful content on all the social media platforms your target audience are likely to use. Whenever someone comments on one of your posts, respond to them and start a conversation. The quicker you respond and the higher the quality of customer service in your interactions, the more trust you will create around your brand.
Your Facebook page will also boost your local SEO as it makes you more searchable online. The reviews you get on this page will give an additional boost to your credibility, too. And of course, don’t forget to include links to your website in all the content you share on social media. This is how you create those all-important conversions.
12. Share other people’s content as well as your own
Obviously, you don’t want to be sharing content from your competitors. But useful content from other relevant local businesses, or from leading authorities in your field, can increase your social media following as your own followers will then share it with their friends.
Showing a broad interest in your industry demonstrates your commitment to it. This will make consumers trust you more. For example, if rules and regulations in your industry are changing, share the relevant information from the governing body. If a major breakthrough has been achieved in an area of your industry, let everyone know about it.
Even if you’re manning a stall at your local craft fair, sharing the organiser’s own publicity for the event will create goodwill and bring you to the attention of people who may not have found you otherwise.
13. Set up an email list
Image from Flickr
With all the advances in technology that have been made in recent years, this may surprise you, but email is still as relevant as ever. In fact, marketers still rate email as the most effective form of digital marketing, better even than social media when it comes to generating direct conversions.
This is why you need to create an email list for your business. Email is a highly personal form of communication – and in an increasingly impersonal world, customers value this more than ever. It’s the ideal platform for sharing interesting content, promoting offers, and even serving as an initial introduction to your business for people who have just discovered you.
You can explain all the different elements of your business in separate emails and introduce new products and services exclusively before you release the information to the wider public. This makes your email subscribers feel valued and encourages brand loyalty.
Capture as many email addresses as possible from your customer base, and include an “Opt In” button on your website – this is important due to data protection, which is currently a big issue.
Be aware though, you shouldn’t email too often. If you do, your customers will view your messages as spam and stop opening them or unsubscribe entirely. Keep your email content fresh, relevant and exclusive, and use it to add extra value to your offering.
14. Consider paid advertising
With so much competition now online, it can make sense to run paid advertising campaigns if you can budget for it. AdWords on Google can be a great way of boosting your local SEO as it automatically boosts your search rankings and drives more traffic to your website. You do have to pay every time someone clicks on one of your ads, though. How much depends on the popularity of the keywords you choose. However, you can set your own budget, and once it has run out, you can choose whether or not you want to top it up – there’s no obligation.
Advertising on Facebook can also be useful as the platform has made it more difficult for organic posts from brands to be seen. Sometimes, spending a bit of money is worth it to boost the visibility of your business. Again, you can set your own budget, depending on the reach you want to achieve.
15. Stay on top of your stats
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If you want to know how effective your online efforts are, the only way to gain this information is through analytics. Google Analytics will show you the stats for your website each week so you can see where your visitors are coming from, which pages they’re spending the most time on, and whether they’re converting or bouncing.
This gives you the information you need to make the necessary changes to your website so you can attract more customers, build a bigger online presence and have a huge impact on your local SEO.
If you would like more information and advice about improving your local SEO, please get in touch – we are always happy to help.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Williamson is the Company Director of Digital Marketing Adelaide. He keeps busy doing what he enjoys most – talking. He has a passion for social media and all things digital marketing.
Matt is an internet entrepreneur, social media expert, multiple business owner and digital marketer who specialises in assisting businesses to generate more revenue via the power of online advertising and digital marketing. Matt regularly speaks at events as a keynote speaker focusing on digital marketing & social media.
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