What Is Local SEO and Why Is It Important?
If you’re looking for Local SEO tips, you’re in the right place. Local search is arguably a key marketing tool for SMB’s and also one of the most challenging search engine marketing strategies to implement. SEO strategies for a local business are much different than for any other business.
Combine this with the fact that Google’s Local Algorithm is known to change randomly, it makes it increasingly difficult for local businesses to rank high and near the top of the local SERPS (search engine results page). The Local SERPS, otherwise known as the “7 Pack”, is named such because Google chooses to show 7 local businesses for the given local search query in a prominent section on page 1.
At one time a local business could build a number high quality links and expect high search engine rankings. It’s not that simple these days. Link building is just one of many factors Google considers when determining which websites rank on the first page of a given search. To help your business get some edge in the rankings, let’s look at 7 easy local SEO tips.
7 Easy Local SEO Tips
These local SEO tips outline 7 steps to boost your website’s search engine rankings and increase the chances of it showing up in the local search results (7 Pack).
1. Proper Keyword Research & Implementation
If you’ve done proper and extensive keyword research you’re already armed with key phrase combinations that potential customers are using to search for your local business. You should check to see if these keyword search phrases trigger the 7 Pack – the local search results (see image below). Usually a search term with city + keyword will trigger the 7 pack. Keep in mind that not all businesses, products, and services will trigger the 7 Pack.
The image below shows a 7 pack triggered by the search query: “spa’s in Toronto”.
If you are a spa in Toronto or any city, take advantage of these local SEO tips if you want to show up in the Google local algorithm 7 Pack.
2. Analyze Your Competition
How does that 7 Pack get ranked? Why is your business at #5 and not #1 or god forbid not even included in the list? There are many reasons according to Google one of which is simply the Google local algorithm always gives preference to businesses located within a geographical area. Essentially this means Google gives the edge to the businesses located closest to the downtown core of a given city.
So to answer some of these questions and strategize you must determine how competitive your sector is. Search Engine Journal explains this nicely:
“Take the first business that is ranking #1 in the 7 pack. Now copy the name, address and phone of this result and place quotation marks around it. For example, “XYZ business 1225 Saint Regis Drive Houston, Texas 972-781-5656.” See image below for an example.
Make sure you copy the NAP exactly as it’s displayed in the 7 pack. Now put this in a Google search with quotation marks and see how many results show up. This will give you an approximate idea as to how many directories and citations you will need to outrank the top listing in the 7 pack.
Repeat this process for the lowest ranked business in the 7-pack. Write down the number of results that Google shows. Now repeat the same process for your own business NAP.
Your results would have to beat the lowest ranked business in the 7-pack to be included. Obviously, the quality of your backlink profile, customer reviews and various additional factors will come into play. This method is simply to gauge how much effort will be required to be included in the 7-pack.”
3. Add Your Business to Google+ Local (a.k.a. Google Places)
Adding your business to Google+ Local is one of the most important local SEO tips to implement. I’m truly surprised at how many SEO’s and SMB’s neglect this step.
More people search for businesses online than anywhere else, and adding your website and business information to the Google local business directory will help.
It’s free and simple. Even better, you can manage your listing information including business description, product/service details, photos, videos, and offers. This is a key area to use your targeted keywords. Be sure to fill out your information so it’s at 100%. I’ve seen many businesses neglect this as well.
Click “Continue” to read Steps 4-7
4. Create Social Network Business Profiles – Don’t Forget Google+!!!
If you’re trying to build your digital presence a simple and effective way to spread the word about your business or website is through social networks. Make sure you do the usual suspects; only of they fit your business, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but be absolutely sure to set up a well-optimized Google+ business page.
Another important factor that is often neglected is your “vanity url”. Make sure you claim your business URL. For example, facebook.com/mylocalbusiness
- =”https://www.facebook.com/business”>Facebook for business
- =”https://business.twitter.com/”>Twitter for business
- =”https://learn.linkedin.com/company-pages/”>LinkedIn for business
- =”https://foursquare.com/business/”>Foursquare for business
Not only is this free and easy, but you will also get trustworthy links from these high profile social media marketing networks. The more trustworthy links you get to your website, the better your chance of ranking high on Google.
5. Get Listed In Relevant Local Business Directories
This doesn’t just mean Google+ Local and Yelp. Source out business directories local to your city and specific niche. So if you’re a restaurant, get listed in all local, regional, and national restaurant directories for your city. Be sure to get listed at your local Chamber of Commerce as well.
Set yourself a goal to get listed in as many local directories as possible. Even if you cannot place links, just getting a plain listing can be beneficial.
6. Upload & Optimize All Images
Images and photographs are valuable Internet marketing collateral. Well-optimized media is invaluable. These images can show up on the first page of a search under “Images”. Pay close attention to this local SEO tips.
In order to increase your local search rankings, include the name of your city in the file name, image ALT tag and description. It’s also important to include your company name and a keyword.
Upload multiple images and name each of them with any combination of city/company name, keyword/city, or company name/keyword. This strategy should increase your chances of ranking high on the first page of the search engine results.
7. Launch a Digital Marketing Campaign
Since you’re already well armed with a treasure chest of relevant keywords and phrases you’re ready to launch a targeted digital marketing campaign using PPC (Pay Per Click), CPC (Cost Per Click), or CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions). Time now for a final of the 7 local SEO tips.
Google AdWords is the solution. This powerful tool, based on what customers search for, gives you the option to select keywords, optimize copy for marketing ads to ultimately increase visits to your website.
You only pay when your ad is clicked and you’re able to set a maximum budget amount before you launch your campaign giving you full control over your spend. You can start as low s $15/week and experiment with keywords and copy to see what combinations bring you the most traffic.
Key features of AdWords include the ability to geo-target where your ads show, as well as Ad Extensions, which include fields for local information, phone number, and Google+ page. Yet another reason to make sure you set up and optimize your businesses Google+ profile.