Local search is powerful for small businesses: 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. If your business isn’t optimized for local search, you could miss out on potential customers ready to shop in your area. In short, local SEO is critical if you want your business to stay relevant.
To help you optimize your business for local SEO, we’ve created a comprehensive guide covering local SEO tips and tools.
By the end of the guide, you’ll have a firm understanding on how to optimize your business to reach potential consumers who use local search to choose which products or services they’re going to buy.
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What is local SEO?
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving search engine visibility for local businesses, primarily those with brick-and-mortar locations. By following local SEO best practices, businesses can improve organic traffic from searches performed by customers in nearby areas.
Search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user to gather information for local search.
With local SEO, businesses can use this to position their products and services to local prospects and customers searching for them.
Local SEO Tips
- Optimize for Google My Business.
- Engage on social media and add posts to Google My Business.
- Ensure your name, address, and phone number are consistent online.
- Optimize online directories and citations.
- Perform a local SEO audit.
- Improve your internal linking structure.
- Optimize URL, title tags, headers, meta description, and content.
- Add location pages to your website.
- Create local content.
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Get inbound links with relevance and authority.
- Participate in your local community.
1. Optimize for Google My Business.
Google My Business has become the creme de la creme of local search. Since Google supports, verifies, and shares its own content generously, Google My Business is an ideal tool to help your business meet Google’s needs.
To ensure you’re optimized for Google My Business, you’ll want to:
- Create and verify a Google My Business page.
- Use Google Posts within your account.
- Encourage your customers to share reviews online.
- Respond authentically to reviews, specifying location. For example, “We appreciate your feedback on [product/service] in [city, state]. We value your input and look forward to working with you again. Thank you from the [full company name] team.”
If Google can verify your business as authentic, the search engine could potentially reward your business with a coveted sidebar space in Google’s local search.
Don’t just do this for the SEO, either. By having reviews and keeping your contact information and operating hours up-to-date, you’re improving the experience for potential customers to find you. Finding current data is essential to consumers, now more than ever, due to 2020’s disruption in consumer shopping behavior and business operation.
2. Engage on social media and add posts to Google My Business.
Google considers content shared on social media more important now than ever before.
Now that you’ve carved out a beautiful Google My Business page, share it on social media, further aligning social and search.
3. Ensure your name, address, and phone number are consistent online.
You’ve got to make it easy for people and search engines to find you, and to do this you have to set up your NAP.
What does NAP mean in local SEO?
The acronym, NAP, stands for the name, address, and phone number (with area code) of a business. Your NAP should be considered crawlable HTML text on your site for Google to display it better according to location-based search results.
Pro Tip: Avoid the common mistake of only including the NAP within an image — images can’t be crawled from search engines like HTML text.
The most common location for the NAP is in the footer or header of the site. Additionally, you should include your NAP on a “Contact Us” page, too.
4. Optimize online directories and citations.
For United States companies, these four map data aggregators provide many map data for Apple, Yelp, Bing, Google, Trip Advisor, and more:
Consistency is key: verify that your citations are consistent and complete across these four data aggregators.
Discrepancies like misspellings, abbreviations, lack of suite number, or wrong phone number can be problematic.
If Google can’t determine which information about your business is correct, it may not show your business at all in search results.
Pro Tip: Remove any duplicate listings you find in online directories. And while you’re at it, get a Chamber of Commerce membership in your community to gain an external inbound link specific to your area.