We’re told to appreciate the little things in life. One of the little things that I appreciate is the ability to search a single word, like ‘pizza,’ and be automatically connected to local pizza restaurants.
I don’t have to tell Google or Bing to search near me or attach my location to the query. It’s a small, yet fantastic thing. However, for businesses that fail to rank well in local searches, it’s far less than fantastic.
The importance of local SEO is obvious; people that search for businesses in their area are highly motivated to make a purchase.
When I search pizza, it’s because I’m hungry and craving a pizza. I’m not window shopping (can you even window shop for pizza?). I’m ready to purchase and want to purchase a pizza now.
Half of all local searches conducted on a mobile device result in an in-store visit within 24 hours and 18% make a purchase. That’s 4.5 times higher than normal.
Not to mention, local customers are going to be more likely to recommend your business to others, attend the events you organize, participate in a loyalty program, and return for future purchases than a customer that stumbles upon your products online.
Given the tremendous potential to be gained through local SEO, it leads to a lot of competition. Businesses that miss the local mark also miss out on potential customers that are already motivated to buy.
This 5-5-5 guide will provide you with some tools, trends and tips that you can leverage to climb those local rankings and take advantage of these money-in-hand audiences.
5 Local SEO Tips
1.) Location, Location, Location:
The first step to winning local SEO is incorporating your business’ location into your website, a lot. It’s not enough to only mention your location on your site’s contact page.
You should aim to put your business’ name, address, phone number and other relevant contact information on all pages of your site. Not only will this help improve your local SEO, but it will also improve many of your website visitors’ experience because finding a business’ location is the #1 reason that people search a local business.
Other location-based tips are incorporating your location into your domain name (in example, FranksPizzaNYC.com) and use location-specific keywords in your copy.
It can also help improve your SEO localization by talking about local landmarks, a nearby sports team and other businesses in the area.
However, it is very easy to over do it, as we’ll discuss later. So, make sure your copy is still readable and not overstuffed with keywords!
2.) Leverage Local Listings:
Aside from peppering your website with your location and general contact information, you also want to target local listing sites (Yelp, Yellowbook, Google Reviews, TripAdvisor and others).
Creating accurate listings on these sites that include any and all information relevant to your business and enhanced with pictures, videos, and other content will go a long way, especially in terms of increasing visibility and raising your local SEO game.
Review listings can also drum up some new business. That’s thanks to 85% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
So, make sure the listing is accurate and up to date with your correct NAP (name, address, and phone number), so people can visit after reading a positive review!
3.) Build Appropriate Links:
Links are an important element to SEO, especially local SEO. The more valuable links you’re able to build that connect your business to other reputable and relevant pages, the more authoritative your website appears, which leads to higher rankings.
Whenever possible, you should try and include website links and encourage other pages to link to your website, especially in press releases to local news sources, social media posts and on any listings for your business.
That said, you need to ensure that your linking strategy makes sense and provides actual value, a local angle. If the links don’t come from authentic sources that have to do with your region, it can actually have a negative effect on SEO.
4.) Partner With Local Businesses:
One of the best ways to build an authentic, local link strategy and really boost your visibility is to partner with other local businesses.
By cross-promoting one another and creating partnered events in your local neighborhood, you can very effectively create a valuable, authentic link strategy.
These collaborations aren’t just great at enhancing local SEO, they also help stimulate sales, by giving you access to customers of the partnered business(es), and strengthening your reputation in the community.
5.) Engage With Audiences On Review Listings And Social Media Platforms:
User-generated reviews and social media content can help boost your local SEO rankings, especially the positive reviews.
When possible, you should encourage customers to visit listing sites and leave a review (you can even give them ideas of which sites they can post reviews to).
The more positive reviews popping up in more locations, the more visible your business becomes in local searches.
It’s also crucial that you respond to any feedback, whether it is positive or negative, or on social media or a review listing site.
This demonstrates to customers, both new and old, that you want feedback and actively listen to what they have to say.
If the review is negative, a timely response is even more critical and you should quickly aim to fix the situation. For positive reviews, a simple thank you is a good response.
5 Local SEO Trends
1.) Optimizing Locally For Voice Search:
Voice search is on the rise. This has a direct impact on SEO because people search different via voice than they do when typing a search query.
The rise in voice search’s popularity is thanks to mobile’s continued climb in usage, as well as virtual personal assistants becoming more widely used.
Voice search creates an even bigger impact on local SEO because, according to Search Engine Watch, mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be location-specific than text-based searches.
Think back to that pizza query. I most likely asked for a pizza restaurant by talking into my phone. And, I’m not the only one doing so.
Structuring your website’s copy and content so that it answers frequently asked (and locally searched) questions in a verbal manner can help you better rank for customers using voice to look for local businesses.
2.) Google’s Featured Snippets:
One of Google’s latest changes to their search platform is the introduction of Featured Snippets.
Now, when users perform certain searches, their results page isn’t just a list of blue links, but any number of panels and snippets. These come in a lot of different formats, from text boxes to lists and table.
Creating content based around questions is also a good start for featured snippets because these often create text-style snippets. In fact, question-based searches are 480% more likely to have a featured snippet than other keyword strands.
So expect questions to be asked and be prepared to answer them with your keywords, meta descriptions, title tags, and content.
With more and more people using mobile devices as their primary tool to complete searches, an increasing number of “micro-moments” are taking place.
These are times when a consumer thinks of something and immediately searches it; a feat that was not always possible before mobile.
Businesses that are able to satisfy this sudden consumer need, whether it is a product (pizza), information or something else, can create big-win opportunities.
In terms of local SEO, winning a micro-moment is about getting as hyperlocal as you can. After all, when we get that tummy-rumbling that only pizza can satisfy, we don’t want every pizza restaurant in the greater metro area, we want pizza that’s in our immediate vicinity.
Thus, incorporating keywords related to specific streets, neighborhoods or landmarks can help you with these micro-moments and better serve your immediate audience.
4.) Conversational Content:
One of the biggest pitfalls for businesses looking to optimize for local SEO is they create content solely for SEO sake and not to provide customers with any value.
They slam location-based keywords into every corner of the copy until it’s barely readable. Instead of engaging content, they produce keyword-fattened paragraphs with no substance.
Not only does this fail to translate into better search rankings (search engines are smarter than that now), but it makes your business feel untrustworthy.
If a person visits your site because they have a question, but they can’t answer that question because they are drowning in seas of locational keywords, it’s a terrible experience for that visitor.
Local SEO expert Greg Gifford sums this up well:
“If you read your content out loud and it doesn’t sound like something you’d say to a customer over the phone or in person, then it’s wrong. Period…If I call your business to ask a question, would you lead off the conversation by mentioning that you’re in Dallas five times in the same breath? Of course not.”
5.) Testing Local SEO Is More Important Than Ever:
As mentioned earlier, with more and more businesses optimizing for local and hyperlocal SEO, there’s more local SEO competition.
In order to stay ahead of the competition and continue to rank well in local searches, you have to always be looking to improve. This means paying attention to what industry experts are saying and what new trends and technology are influencing local search.
It also means conducting your own tests and making small adjustments, sometimes just to see what effect they’ll have.
People are making local searches in your business’ neighborhood. The simple truth is that if you don’t optimize your SEO for local searches, then you’re missing out on the business of customers in your immediate area that are highly motivated to make a purchase.