Why You Need to Start Thinking Local

Location, location, location.

Some of your best customers are right outside your door, down the street, and around the corner. And instead of focusing on who’s directly in front of you, you’re spending countless marketing dollars and efforts trying to target the whole country, or the world.

It’s an overwhelming task trying to market your product or brand to the entire world all at once. So, why not start with the local community?

Local SEO can help you target and connect with the local community and increase a brand’s exposure, sales, and traffic dramatically. Not only is this great for business, but it’s helpful to customers.

More and more customers are using their phones to locate nearby businesses and specific services. Having a mini computer in the palm of our hands makes finding new businesses easier and more enticing than desktop. So much more so that almost 50% of consumers who use smartphones to do local searches are visiting a local store within a day of their search.

One of the biggest complaints in digital marketing is how difficult it is to measure foot traffic from marketing efforts. With conversions like above for mobile traffic, it’s simple to see direct results, like increased foot traffic, from doing Local SEO.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is an online marketing tactic that defines the basic business information of a company in relevance to it’s location. In simple, it’s a way for local customers to find local businesses, get basic business information, and engage.

Search engines want to provide relevant results to users and answer their questions accurately. So, by having a business’ local information, and the same information consistently published across the cyber world, search engines are able rank certain websites higher than others based on their local information and the location of the searcher.

What Does it Take to Setup Local SEO?

The most important information for Local SEO is the NAP – name, address, and phone number of a business. This is the information searchers need quickly when looking at local results.

What is the business called, what’s the best number to reach them, and where are they located?

The best way to tackle a task like this is to first list the NAP information on online directories. Then, do a thorough search through online directories for duplicate listings. Make an excel document and start tracking which directories you’ve updated and which ones you still need to. Keep track of this excel doc and reference it each year, and anytime your business information changes.

You also want to add location keywords throughout the website to optimize by location. The title of a page should include its name and location if it is trying to rank locally. For example, the homepage for an auto repair shop in San Jose should have a meta title like,

“San Jose’s Best Auto Repair Shop”

There are specific websites that you’ll want to update your business’ NAP to immediately, and make sure there are no duplicate listings existing:

Duplicate listings confuse search engines, especially when a duplicate has a different phone number than your new listing does. You can use tools like MOZ Local, Yext, Localeze, or BruceClay to search for duplicate listings for you and remove them, as well as send your NAP to directory websites. Or, you can manually search for duplicates and update the business information yourself.

Updating the business information yourself isn’t difficult, but it is time consuming. There are tons and tons of online directories that will list your business information for you.

How Does Local SEO Affect Rankings?

Having the NAP the same across the board will help search engines be able to rank your website correctly based on the listed location. But, that’s not the only ranking factor. The prominence of a business also has an affect on Local SEO.

What defines prominence you may ask? Having link authority and good link juice helps prove to Google and search engines that your business can walk the walk.

The amount of reviews and ratings a business has will also demonstrate it’s prominence to a search result. A lot of positive reviews shows how popular a business is to search engines. A popular destination will surely make a great search result, and Google wants to do just that – show popular, and relevant, results to searchers.

Do Reviews Help Local SEO? 

Having your customers review you on your local listings and online can dramatically help increase your Local SEO rankings. The best places to receive online reviews is on:

  • Google Business listing
  • Facebook Business page
  • Yahoo Local Listing
  • Yelp
  • Amazon
  • TripAdvisor

Afraid to ask customers for reviews or don’t know how exactly to ask? There’s plenty of ways to ask your customers to leave you reviews online.

Here’s a few ways to ask nicely:

  1. Purchase a tablet for the business. Having a tablet specifically for customers to access and leave reviews with will allow customers to leave a review while it is fresh in their minds. So often we leave a business intending to leave a review, but life happens and we quickly forget. The tablet can increase the amount of reviews a business receives solely based off of convenience.
  2. Provide an incentive. Sometimes all someone needs is a little incentive to do something. Offer a complimentary $5 Starbucks giftcard, or a percentage discount off of a product or service for leaving a review.
  3. Make it simple. Keep things as easy as possible for your customers by providing where people can leave you reviews. Make your review links extremely accessible on your website and email newsletters so people know where to leave reviews.

How to Improve Your Local SEO

If you’ve already done the first step of Local SEO by sending your NAP to online directories and updating citations, there’s a few more ways to optimize.

  1. State the location you want to rank for inside of URLs. Add the city name, state, or specific region you want to rank for inside of each of URLs to better convert the local message to search engines. For example, the URL: www.autobodyshop.com/about can be: www.autobodyshop.com/about-san-jose-auto-body-repair
  2. Add the NAP to each page on the website. The easiest way to do this is by adding the business name, phone number, and address to the footer of the website. This way it will automatically show on every page. Take it a step further and include the NAP information inside of content on the page, as long as you can make it read well.
  3. Feature local content in your blog posts. Find out what events or news is happening in your community and write about it. Publishing localized posts on a website will help enrich it’s local-ness.

Do you represent a local business? Start optimizing your business locally using these tips above.

About Ashley Ward

Ashley Ward is the Founder of Madhouse Marketing, a digital marketing agency in San Diego, specializing in content and social media marketing. Speaking both internationally and throughout the US, Ashley regularly teaches workshops and speaks at conferences like Pubcon, BrightonSEO, SearchLove, Digital Summits, Retail Global, and the prestigious SMS Sydney. Ashley has also co-authored the best-selling book “The Better Business Book V.2” and is a contributing writer to industry blogs such as Search Engine Journal and AuthorityLabs.

Filed under: Internet Marketing