Taking measures to improve your local SEO has definitely become a critical step, not only for businesses looking to get a leg-up on the competition, but those looking to find success in a world that is quickly relying more and more on internet-based information. While word of mouth is great, it’s not going to be enough.
Let’s look at the facts. In their latest report for 2017, BrightLocal reported that 27% of consumers were searching on a daily basis on the internet for local businesses, while 56% of consumers searched online on weekly basis. This number jumps significantly when evaluating the 18-35 population, where 81% were searching online on a weekly basis.
That’s a lot of business you can’t afford to be missing out on.
If you’ve got a business to run and services or products to provide to your local community, you want to make sure that when a potential client grabs their phone to Google nearby providers, you certainly want to be one of the first businesses on their search list. How do you do this? Although local SEO can be challenging, specific, and fluctuating, and isn’t quite the same as regular SEO, it can be far more effective in ensuring your potential clients are able to find your business in the massive net of services that exists on the web.
- Claim your available online listings.
Make sure you take advantage of services that provide local consumers with reviews, phone numbers or other contact information, hours of operation, and addresses about various businesses near them. Before taking the family out to eat on a Saturday night, consumers are going to open their Yelp app and check out the most recent ratings.
Whether it’s Yelp, Google Places for Business, Yahoo, Bing, or any social media listings, you want to make sure you have registered your business with whichever online listings are available. Consumers use a variety of review and information providers, and you want to increase your visibility by hitting them all. Claiming your digital listings means their search is more likely to show your business.
- Encourage and respond to online reviews.
The nature of running a business is not always pretty, and it’s certainly no guarantee that the reviews will be either. These reviews matter: 86% of consumers check the reviews online before heading to a local business. Great reviews are a sure-fire way to ensure new as well as repeat business.
Encouraging sincere and honest reviews from your clients shows you care about quality and satisfaction. Don’t incentivize or offer discounts for it, but simply ask customers to post their opinions, for the benefit of others as well as your business.
On the other hand, negative or critical reviews should be viewed as an opportunity, an opportunity not only to find ways to improve your business, but also to demonstrate that you care and that you want to please your customers. Engage with them, acknowledge their concerns, and ensure you’ll do what you can to improve your business.
- Create a mobile-friendly website.
When your website functions as your first impression, for a majority of consumers, it’s important to make it a good one. When it comes to internet searches, 57% of consumers in 2018 used a mobile web browser, and nearly one-third use apps specifically.
If you’ve followed the first step and claimed your digital listings, that means the 57% of mobile browser users also have the potential to link from listing directly to your website. What’s going to happen when that link takes them to a jumbled, confusing, altered version of your website, which often happens when websites haven’t been made mobile-device friendly.
Your site doesn’t translate the same one on a customer’s phone as when they are on their laptop at home viewing it. It should be clear to read, easy to follow, and well-organized.
- Promote your business by managing multiple social media accounts.
Head to the home page of a successful business and you’ll notice a trend: businesses promote their services, engage with clients, interact with their community, and inform potential customers through not one, but multiple social media platforms.
For example, a Facebook page for your business also provides opportunities for digital listings, where customers can see your location and hours, read reviews from customers, or keep up-to-date on when you’ll reopen after the construction on your mega-expansion is completed. They can even follow along on the journey with you, investing their interest on a personal level.
Maintaining the Instagram account of your interior decorating business brings in fans of your work, who will eventually become customers themselves. And yet, as easy as it is to upload and post a photo to your platform of choice, businesses have to avoid random, uncoordinated postings.
Find the data and strategize your postings, from ideal times to post, to effective language and phrasing, hashtag visibility, or engagement levels with different types of content, modern technology allows businesses to use data analytics to make the most of each and every post. The same goes for running promotional offers and making recommendations to returning clients.
In addition, according to Kyros Insights, predictive analytics allow a business to use current data and research to determine the best times for starting a promotional offer to potential customers, as well as to make personalized recommendations for repeat customers.
- Optimize and localize your keywords
A powerful and effective approach to improving your local SEO, optimizing and localizing your keywords brings the customers in your area, directly to you. Even a greenhorn marketing professional knows the importance placed on keywords; for example, if you’re a digital agency based out of Chicago like us, experienced businesses know that their SEO relies on the importance of the key phrase, “digital agency”.
However, if you’re looking to improve your local SEO, then “Chicago” also becomes a critical component. Does your website include language that specifies your location? Does that location appear more than once? Including “Chicago” means that the local doctor’s office in the center of Chicago is going to type, “digital agency in Chicago”, hoping to find a business just like yours. Does your H-1 headline include your location? Is your city as well as any of your keywords included in your meta descriptions? Is your NAP (name, address, place) included on each page of your site? The frequency and intent (meaning don’t randomly stamp “Chicago” multiple times on every page) with which your name and location appear throughout your website increase the chances that potential customers in your area are going to find you.
You’ve got a service to provide to your community, and it’s important they know you’re a choice. Improving your local SEO means you’ll improve the connections and visibility of your business, as well as the frequency with which your local area chooses you over another business. Using the five steps today puts you one step closer to establishing a local presence within your industry.
This post comes from Codrin Arsene, CEO at Digital Authority Partners.