As a small business owner, you understand that running your own shop can be a struggle at times. How does a local coffee shop compete with coffee giants like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks? How can a cafe rival Panera Bread and Corner Bakery?
Through grit, determination, and local SEO.
You have the grit and determination down pat, but local SEO? What’s that?
It’s a way to help current and potential customers to find information about you online—and then patronize your business.
The What and Why of Local SEO
SEO is “search engine optimization,” a practice that is meant to help grow your company’s visibility through organic (or non-paid) research. Local SEO focuses on optimize local search, meaning they focus only on ranking in the specific geographic area in which they conduct business. This type of internet marketing helps current and potential customers find information about local businesses online. Local SEO helps:
● Make sure your business details (name, address, phone number) are correct
● Build your client base through other customers’ reviews
● Provide current and potential customers convenience
● Push your business’ visibility ahead of competitors
Considering that about 64% of local customers utilize the Internet to find information about local businesses and 78% of online mobile searches result in a purchase offline, local SEO has become more important than ever.
Ranking Factors for Local SEO
Ranking ahead of other local competitors is going to take some work. Here are some of the top ways to make sure that you rank ahead of your competitors.
# 1. Utilize Online Local Directories
Directories like Yellow Pages, Whitepages, Superpages, and Dex Media are a great place to start. Make a list of online business directories that you want to optimize. This list will be long, as you want to target every possible listing site that a potential customer may visit. Once you have your list, go through each and make sure that your information is correct; if not, go through the information and update it. This information should be consistent across all platforms. If any information changes in the future, such as location or phone number, update it immediately.
# 2. Claim Your Pages Online
Search engines Google and Bing offer their own type of online directory by providing listings for almost any business. These pages—Google My Business and Bing Places—can help you rank high in local searches. Claim your page now so your listing is accurate when people search for your business or similar business. Benefits of these online listings include:
● Provide information about specials or in-store offers
● Add photos of menu, menu options, interior, and more
● Respond to customer reviews
● Gain insight into how customers look for your business
You’ll want to claim as many of these online listings as possible to target all current and potential customers no matter where (or how) they search.
# 3. Write Localized Headlines and Content
If you have a business website (and you should!), you’ll want to write localized headlines and content for each page. Writing localized headlines means you include the city and state in an article’s title. A coffee shop may have a headline that reads, “Cuppa Joe’s Café in San Bernardino, California.”
The same applies to your content: You’ll want to include at least one mention of your city and stop in proximity to your business name or details of your business (clothing boutique, coffee shop, spa). Don’t over-saturate your content by constantly referencing your business’s location. A handful of times will do.
# 4. Optimize Your Content
In addition to your headline, you’ll want to optimize your content. Each page of content should reach a minimum of 1,000 words of quality content. You’ll want to host some type of blog that focuses on your business and the community in which you serve. Have fun with writing and show your personality. There’s a lot to discuss, such as:
● Exciting announcements about your business
● Upcoming store events, menu changes, or special holiday offerings
● Talk about your community involvement in local festivals or charitable events
● Introduce a new employee
To compete against other local businesses, you have to regularly write content. Not only does it provide your customers with more information and insight, it helps you rank high in searches.
# 5. Use Keywords
As part of your content writing process, you’ll want to include a list of keywords that you for which you want to rank. These keywords should be selected based on research and the phrases or words potential customers might use to find a business like yours. When using keywords, keep these items in mind:
● Use natural language and avoid industry jargon
● Use the keywords in proximity to your location (city or city and state)
● Include keywords in titles and meta descriptions
● Use keywords no more than five times throughout your content
● Include semantic keywords, or words that are associated/similar to your main keywords
● Keywords should be included in a way that is natural to read
By using keywords, you’ll be able to help your website rank and improve your overall visibility online.
# 6. Count on Customer Reviews
Did you know that approximately 74% of customers rely on online views when it comes to choosing to patronize a local business? That’s why it’s imperative to encourage your customers to leave you a review. While you want the reviews to be positive, you should not bribe or influence them in any way to leave you a positive review. Let their views shine!
If you happen to get a negative review, be sure to respond to it as soon as possible on whatever channel it was left. Apologize for the inconvenience and see how you can make it better. Not only are you taking care of an unhappy customer, you are showing others that their experience at your business matters. Even a negative situation can turn into positive results for your business.
Start Conducting Local SEO Now
Now that you have an idea of what local SEO entails, it’s time to get started! Make a list of everything that you want to get done and check it off as you go. It may take some time to do, but by choosing the right marketing strategy for your business, will benefit you immensely.