There’s no doubt that local SEO is and will play an important role in digital marketing for years to come. The problem is NOT that most businesses don’t want to acknowledge its value – it’s that most don’t know where to start. That, along with budgetary constraints as well as lack of skills, and local SEO seems more like a strategy implemented only by big firms or companies with large financial resources.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Although it’s recommended that businesses hire an expert for their SEO needs, there are a few things they can accomplish on their own. Whether you’re in the cleaning, robotics, or legal practice, why not implement these six local SEO strategies today and see the difference?
1. Claim your business on Google.
Sounds simple enough, but you’ll be surprised by the number of enterprises that still haven’t claimed their name on Google My Business. Claiming your business is very easy and takes only a few minutes. After that, your company would be eligible to appear on Google services, like Maps.
So if you want to be found quickly and easily by your customers – especially on mobile – but you’re not ready to spend big bucks on advertising, this is one of the first things you should do.
2. Verify NAP consistency across the Web.
NAP stands for name, address, and phone. Once you have a business, even if you don’t have a website yet (although that too, is recommended), you should find where else is your company listed online so you can verify that all information is correct and up-to-date. If you set up profiles on social media or directories, make sure you organize all your data so that they’re easy to pull up once you need them.
Lastly, do NOT forget to put NAP on your website! This could be on the header, sidebar, or footer. Ensure that this information is visible on ALL pages of your website.
3. List your business on local directories.
If you’ve been reading about black-hat SEO strategies, then you’ve probably come across the idea that submitting links to directories is a bad idea. When it comes to local SEO though, it’s yes and no.
Yes, because listing your business to irrelevant directories just to gain a link is WRONG and might get you penalized by Google. But at the same time, it’s a no because having your business on several trusted local directories should increase your accessibility to the market.
Before listing your business on a directory, ask yourself these questions as a guide:
- Is this a trusted directory?
- Do a lot of people use it? If so, how much is their web traffic per month?
- Is my category here?
- Is this directory mobile-friendly? Does it have an accompanying app?
- Are their services free? If not, is it worth it to have my business listed here?
As your cutting costs, find reputable directories that offer free services, such as Yelp. However, there are some listings that will ask for payment – in return for major benefits (like distribution to smaller citation sites). A good example would be Localeze. They distribute listings to over 100 directories, mobile apps, and search platforms.
4. Encourage customer reviews.
Think of customer testimonials as the new word-of-mouth advertising on the Web. In fact, the average consumer will read two to three reviews BEFORE buying. So if you’re not yet encouraging previous clients to leave good word about you, now would be a good time to begin.
Aside from inclusion on your website, you can also ask them to leave testimonials on your social media business pages, as well as on directories that allow for reviews (i.e. Yellow Pages and Yelp). Why not try video testimonials, too? These make great trust signals as it’s much harder to forge a video review than a written one.
5. Optimize images.
Although search engines like Google can’t technically “read” images, you can still use photos when optimizing for local search. Just make sure their filename, title, and alternative text (text that appears when the image is unavailable) contain targeted terms that you want your customers to find.
For instance: if you’re a legal practice and you have a blog that has several pictures, why not include your business name plus a unique description for each?
Note: As much as possible, DO use images that belong to you. If you can’t afford a good photographer, you may use royalty-free pictures (try Pexels or Pixabay) for the meantime. However, nothing beats getting professional, high-quality images to truly make your content pop.
6. Talk or share about local happenings.
If your niche business already has a blog or a social media page, one good way to attract your target market is to align your business with local happenings. As long as its relevant to your brand, is NOT controversial, and seems exciting enough to the public, it’s definitely something that you can share or talk about. Good examples are: annual BBQ neighborhood parties, awards for local residents, seasonal community gatherings, etc.
Worldwide events or dates, like New Year’s or the Holidays, are also another avenue for you to be visible to customers. In general, the more unique to your locality the news is, the better. Talking and/or sharing about them gets your name on the radar of your target market, while making your relevant in your chosen industry.
Get Started on Local SEO Now
These recommendations are only the beginning. Local SEO involves more complex strategies like fixing structured data on your website OR doing a thorough website audit; but that’s something your digital marketing expert should handle. Remember: if done wrong, such strategies could negatively impact your rankings on search engines instead of helping it.
Start with these six techniques first before moving on to more complicated tactics. What’s important is that you begin TODAY. The sooner you can implement local SEO into your online marketing campaign, the better. What’s great about these strategies is that they’re simple and cost-effective enough that most small niche business owners will have no trouble implementing them.
Still need more help? Don’t hesitate to contact an expert. Take advantage of FREE consultations to give your business the edge it needs on the Web.