With so much choice on the internet, local businesses can feel drowned out.
Many of us use the web to access things we can’t find locally. But does that mean local businesses shouldn’t worry about their internet visibility?
Not so fast! Local products and services are increasingly popular.
Some studies suggest hat interest in local stores is rising. But, in an age where almost everyone has a smartphone, even local companies can easily be found via a Google search.
If you want your business to be noticed, there is no better place to be than on Google Maps. 67% of all smartphone users find their way around with it.
And ReviewTracker estimates that 35% of search traffic is location-specific. What does this mean for local business owners?
Well… if you don’t appear, you’re missing out on an easy marketing win.
Search engines like Google rank their results depending on which entries are most likely to give their users what they need. This is why businesses do professional SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in the first place.
And don’t worry if you’ve never had to worry about SEO before. That’s where we come in.
First, don’t just set up your Google Business listing and forget about it. Help people find you by optimising your presence to the search engine’s needs.
When your business is atop the local pack, anyone in your local area can find your products and services at the click of a button.
By putting these four local SEO tips into action, your business can take over Google maps and start channeling that local search traffic to your door.
Be Relevant By Giving Off The Right Signals
Google assesses your business’s signals to work out where you should rank in the local search results. If you want to sit pretty at the top, you’re going to need to ensure you’re giving off the right ones.
The main things Google wants to know is whether or not your business is relevant, nearby, and prominent.
To find out if you are all of these things, they look at:
- How close you are to the point of search
- How relevant your business and its keywords are to what the person is searching for
- Whether you’re providing useful information – like photos, descriptors and a linked website – in your Google My Business account.
One of the most important things you can do for your local rankings, then, is to complete as much detail in your Google My Business account as possible.
The more information you add and the more regularly it’s updated, the greater chance you have of being ranked at the top.
Bonus tip: make sure your Google My Business details exactly match the details on your business’s website and are verified through Google’s verification process (otherwise Google will assume something’s amiss).
Get Your Business On Google Places
Google Places is the search engine’s answer to Yellow Pages, but it can be optimised for local search terms.
Places allows Google to bring up the most relevant listings when someone searches for keywords related to your business, when those keywords are combined with the name of your local area.
These multi-word keyword terms are called long-tail keywords. They’re vital to online local business success and your web pages should also be optimising for them.
The difference between long-tail and not long-tail is as simple as:
- Keyword = ‘dog-collar’
- Long-tail keyword = ‘dog-collar in Durham’
With Google Places, you can enter details about your business (as with Google My Business) and also add your most relevant search terms.
Storing your search term signals in this way, directly related to your business’s details, makes it much easier for Google to see you’re your business is most relevant. And giving you a much better chance of appearing at the top of the rankings.
Bonus tip: Bing Local and Yahoo Local are very similar. Although Google has the majority market share for local internet searches, your business will benefit from being on all three.
Build Up Reviews From Your Customers
Good reviews are essential to all businesses, both online and offline. But when reviews are analysed by Google as an important determiner of search rankings, online businesses should go the extra mile to get them.
You can encourage online reviews by:
- providing links with your receipts
- having physical signs at your till with your website or Google listing details
- asking your staff to suggest to customers to leave reviews online after their purchase.
You can get add-ons for website builders that help you to keep an eye on and manage reviews. You can even have them appear within your website as ‘testimonials’ automatically.
Bonus tip: Google looks at businesses that respond to reviews more favourably than they view those that don’t. You don’t have to respond to everyone, but if you make it a habit to post some responses each week, you will definitely benefit your business.
Get Ahead Of The Voice Search Trend
Looking into the future, you should always be optimising for upcoming trends. And the most important trend right now is to optimize both your website and business listings for voice search.
An increasing number of Google searches are being conducted by voice. The way we say things is different from how we type.
By optimising your keywords for voice commands now, you’ll get ahead of the curve – and your competition – on voice-based queries. This should help move you to the top of the pile when someone asks their phone where to find your products and services.
SEO is a rapidly changing space. The growing trends in mobile search and local consumerism are converging.
All local businesses should take steps to maximise their chances of profiting from these trends.
By putting these tips into action, you’ll be setting the foundations for an optimised and successful future on behalf of your local business.