Local SEO is by no means a new concept. It’s been around for a while, though it only gained prominence a couple of years ago. In 2019, it continues to enjoy its popularity as one of the must-know SEO trends of the year; especially for local businesses. So if you’re a local business, you might want to consider starting local SEO.
Definitely, it can be a daunting task to get started with something you don’t have much of an idea of or are doing for the first time. But worry not! I am here to help you. In this post, I will guide you through the concept of local SEO – the what, why and how to – so you can amplify your business and take it to the next level.
Local SEO – The basics
Let’s jump straight to the point. Local SEO is a sub-category of SEO that’s centered around website optimization so that it shows up in local search results.
So think of local search terms such as –
- Restaurants near me
- Doctors in (insert city name)
- Schools in (insert locality name)
- Salons near me
Such is the kind of keywords you target when you devise a local SEO strategy for your brand.
What local SEO aims to do is increase the web visibility of your brick and mortar store so people can find it easily and you can get more customers. That’s unlike traditional SEO, which focuses more on increasing website rankings more than anything else.
In fact, when you perform searches such as the ones mentioned above on Google, you should take a closer look at the results. Beneath the list of ads, you will find a map with 3 store names given below it. This stack of local business names and addresses is known by many names – Snack Pack, Local 3 Pack or Map Pack. Your aim should be to get into this 3-pack.
Local SEO involves certain processes, which I will be talking of in detail in the consequent sections of the blog. But first, let’s focus on why local SEO is important for your business.
The importance of Local SEO for brick and mortar stores
Local SEO is good for your business. The more you show up in local search results, the more visitors your store gets. And that’s kind of the whole point of having a physical store, isn’t it? Stats paint the same picture too and prove that local SEO is in fact very important for your business-
- 97% of people search online to actively look for local businesses with 12% searching for a local business every day.
- 50% of those who searched for a local store on their phones actually visited the store within 24 hours of performing the search.
- The percentage of computer or tablet users who visited a store after searching for a local business online stood at 34%.
- 1 out of every 3 searches for a local store was carried out right before arriving at the store concerned.
- 18% of the local searches carried out on mobile led to a sale within 24 hours.
- 50% of those who carry out mobile searches for local businesses generally look for an address.
- 78% of all local searches made on a smartphone end in offline purchases.
- In a survey, 71% of people said they search for the address of a local business online to double-check it exists before they go there for the first time.
The above statistics present a very solid argument in favor of doing local SEO for your business. With so many active searches being carried out each day for brick and mortar stores, you cannot lay back and let other stores have their moment in the sun. You have to make your online presence strong so that people are drawn to your store. And once they pay a visit, the chances of a sale increase dramatically.
How to get started with Local SEO?
Getting started with local SEO is not as daunting as it seems to be. If you follow a set strategy, you can actually get the job done in a fairly easy more. Especially now that you have some knowledge of what local SEO is all about.
But before you kick start your tryst with local SEO, there’s one thing you need to do-
Get ‘Google My Business’ optimization done
The ground zero of implementing a local SEO strategy is ‘Google My Business’. If you haven’t gotten your Google My Business listing yet, it’s high time you did. Otherwise, your store doesn’t stand much of a chance featuring in the Snack Pack of a local Google search result.
To register your business, you will need to fill out the My Business Listing, which you will find if you click here. Click on Start Now and you will be taken to the registration process, which you must carry out diligently. Registering and logging in with your business email ID would be ideal.
Once you get to the form, you will be prompted to enter the NAP (name, address, phone number) details of your business. The NAP you enter should exactly match as the one on your website. Consistency is very important here as even a single mistake can cost you.
You will also be asked to enter the category of your business so that customers know exactly what your business is all an about once you’re listed. Google gives you the option to enter multiple categories but be smart with the categories you choose. You don’t want to confuse your customers. So be as specific as you can.
Now that you’re done putting in the required details, you will be asked to verify your business in order to make further changes to your account. You get a total of three options to verify your business-
- Postcard in which Google sends the verification code to the address you register with.
- Email in which the verification code is sent to your registered email ID for instant verification.
- Phone in which the verification code is sent to your registered phone number.
Postcard in the mail is the best option if your business has a physical presence. You can get more info on how to get your Google My Business listing here.
Don’t forget to add pictures to your listing by the way. And remember; only real business owners can register for Google My Business.
Optimize your website for mobile
Bear in mind that most people use their smartphones to search for local businesses. Which means optimizing your site for mobile is of utmost importance.
Offer your customers intuitive user experience, responsive layout and more on the mobile version of your site. You can use Google’s tool Mobile-Friendly Test to check how well your site does on the mobile platform.
Get more and more citations
Here’s the thing – citations are crucial for local SEO. The more your business is mentioned online, the more citations you get, which is good for your business. However, for a business citation to count, it must include your store’s NAP.
This is the reason why consistency of NAP is so important. If it’s inconsistent, you lose out on valuable citations for your local SEO. Yep, Google triangulates data and clubs similar business names under the same name with the help of their algorithms; but it will still be safer for you to have the same NAP everywhere.
Get your site listed on business directories
Getting your business listed on online directories will add to your citations portfolio. Besides, it’ll increase your site’s visibility too!
The first thing you need to do is get your businesses listed on notable directories, and then create detailed business profiles on each of them. Ensure that you get your business listed on niche-specific directories and local business community websites as well. Newspaper websites will work too.
Be on the hunt for online reviews
According to a report released by Moz, 8.4% of your business’ ranking value depends on the reviews it gets. Yes, it sounds like a small number. But taking into account the fact that 88% of people use reviews to judge brands, businesses, and products, reviews make a deep dent.
To up your local SEO game, you will need plenty of Google My Business reviews. To start with, you need a minimum of 5 reviews so that they show up in your listing upon a Google search. Once you achieve that, target Facebook Business reviews as this help create trust among customers. You can also get your reviews published on review sites so that your local SEO game is as strong as it can possibly be.
Localize the content you publish
Search engines need to know that your business is local in nature for them to show your business’ name in search results. That’s why you should attempt to increase the local appeal of your business to the extent possible by optimizing your website content accordingly.
With localized content on your site, search engines will be able to identify the niche you cater to, thereby ensuring your local SEO strategy is on point. You could create a local news section on your site for the same purpose and target niche-specific as well as local keywords.
Go all out with local SEO schema markups
The point of adding schema markups to your site is to improve its search engine readability. Fortunately, plenty of local attributes based schema markup tags exist, which you can use to your advantage.
Local schema markup tags can be of immense help as for as your local SEO strategy is concerned. Firstly, they help search engines realize the local relevance of your business. Secondly, they allow search engines to show your business along with rich details in the Snack Pack.
There you go. Now you have all the information you need to get started with local SEO for your business. I’d urge you to start right away because even as you read this, other businesses might already be on their way to using local SEO to their advantage. Besides, who knows how many people are already searching for your business? So waste no time and begin your local SEO efforts right now.