Local SEO proved to be one of the biggest trends throughout 2016 and 2017, and is expected to continue doing so throughout 2018.
Businesses that have been able to optimize their on-page and off-page SEO strategies are already reaping the supreme benefits of local SEO. For others, there are undeniable opportunities to begin their local SEO journeys.
Google suggests that 80% users conduct online searches for local businesses, while 50% of users who do a local search on mobile for a business visit its store within a day. Yet businesses continue to miss the opportunities that local SEO provides.
Don’t be that business. Instead, use the tips and tricks mentioned in this guide to get started with local SEO.
Claim your Google My Business page and optimize it
Google+ might have mostly fizzled out, but Google My Business continues to be a cornerstone for implementing local SEO. If you’ve not claimed a Google My Business listing for your business yet, this is the time to do so. The chances of your business featuring on the front page in a local relevant search improve manifold purely by having a well optimized and filled out My Business Listing.
Go to google.com/business, start the registration and verification process, and wait for Google to send you a postcard to your physical store location.
Make sure you understand that Google only allows real business owners to have their My Business pages; so you need to work out an arrangement with your digital marketing consultants so that you continue to own the My Business listing even if they depart.
Your business name, address, and phone number (abbreviated as NAP) must match what you have been using for digital marketing till now. Also, lay special emphasis on selecting categories, business hours, types of payment accepted, etc.
Then, have top quality photographs of the office front and insides uploaded on to the profile. Digital businesses without a location can hide the address to still be able to claim their My Business listing.
Here’s what a well maintained and optimized Google My Business profile could look like on a search page.
Understand and master the art of citations
Here’s it, put simply – every mention of your business online is a citation. More citations are good for your business’ local SEO. How does Google consider a mention as a citation? Well, your business NAP has to be mentioned for it to be counted as a citation.
Too many businesses have already lost several months of efforts in getting themselves mentioned online, purely because of inconsistent NAP. Though increasingly there’s consensus among digital marketers that Google actually triangulates data and identifies slightly different business names as belonging to the same business using NAP, we’d recommend you play it safe.
Keep on optimizing your website for mobile
Though this is something every website owner must do, local business website owners need to speed up their game particularly well. That’s because a majority of local searches are done on mobile devices, and are intent-backed.
Responsive layouts, intuitive user experience and interface design, etc. are the basics; you need to step past them! Google’s Mobile Friendly testing tool is a great starting point. I did a test on a post I was reading recently, and was impressed with the tool’s validation.
Add business directories to your to do lists
Apart from giving you a valuable citation online, business directory pages for your business also garner more visibility for your business. Here are some action points for you.
- Start with the most notable business review directory websites such as Yelp and CitySearch
- Next, use this list of business directories and create your business profiles on each (target at least 7 complete profiles per week)
- Look for niche specific business directories and create your profiles there
- Look for local business community websites, and grab your listing there
- Check if the state government has a Chamber of Commerce or equivalent website, and look for a way to get a mention there
- Use the services of citation aggregators like Infogroup, Acxiom, and Factual
- Look for an opportunity for a citation via local newspaper websites
- Of course, remember to get your NAP spot on every time.
‘Localize’ your website’s content
You can do a lot to help search engines understand your business’ local appeal by optimizing your website for the same. Local content, for instance, can help search engines contextualize your website’s niche to its local service. Then, you could include an interactive map widget to further enhance the local SEO appeal of your website.
Also, consider creating a separate local news section on your website, wherein you could post content about niche-related local events. This will serve you well in terms of allowing the usage of local SEO relevant keywords.
Businesses such as restaurants, lawyer services, house repairs and interior décor, etc. have a lot to gain by using these basic tactics.
Be very hungry for online reviews
A Moz report attributes 8.4% of ranking value to online reviews. It doesn’t sound much, but considering how 88% users depend on online reviews to form opinions on quality of businesses, brands, and products, the eventual impact of reviews is significant.
Google My Business reviews are the primary source of SEO juice; you need at least 5 reviews for Google to start showing your reviews. Facebook Business reviews must be the next on your radar, because of the trust they inspire among online users.
There are several other review websites you need to take care of, to maximize the local SEO benefit from the same. To get more reviews, try out these tactics:
- Motivate store managers and field sales personnel to get reviews from customers on handy mobile devices, asking them log in to, for instance, Zomato or Yelp, and doing it on the spot (consider giving them a little discount for the same)
- Use email marketing, with a single link that takes users to the reviews page
- Consider using a social listening tool such as HootSuite to be alerted of your business and brand mentions, which you can transform into reviews
- It’s worthwhile seeking services of online reputation management agencies for this.
Invest effort in local SEO relevant rich schema
Schema markup can be added to your website’s code to enhance its readability for search engines. There are several scheme markup tags that specifically focus on local attributes of your website.
Local schema markup tags assists local SEO in two ways:
- First, it allows search engines to understand your business’ local relevance
- Second, it means search engines can show your business page result along with rich snippet info such as phone number, address, business working hours, ratings, reviews, etc.
Here’s an example of how web results with local SEO schema markup appear on SERPs.
Local schema markup is beyond the scope of this guide, but here’s a good tutorial from Schema App.
Don’t forget to run your website through Google Structured Data Testing Tool to understand if the schema markup is done correctly.
As you read this, there are hundreds of potential customers searching for businesses in your neighborhood. Your website could be staring at them through their desktops and mobile phones, as soon as you get started on local SEO with the tips, tricks, tools, and methods described in this guide.
Original thinking in the business world can be of great help, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from others. Remember the old saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, this may sound sneaky, but learning how your competitors do their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can…
Original thinking in the business world can be of great help, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from others. Remember the old saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, this may sound sneaky, but learning how your competitors do their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can really teach you a lot on how you can structure your marketing strategy.
Your competition is one of the obstacles your business will have to face in order to be successful. Keep in mind that in the world of SEO and digital marketing, there’s ideally no one closer to you than your competitors. In this case, why would you overlook learning about them when developing your strategy? You can find a wealth of information and achieve a competitive advantage by simply researching and analyzing your competition.
1. Identify your Real Competitors
When finding your real competition, I recommend that you include any website or company that you compete with for web visibility and traffic, regardless of whether you are selling the same product or not. A comprehensive competitive analysis is not a small task, but it will be worth it. Aim at making a list of around five to 10 competitors in your geographical location and your industry. Here is how I went about finding my top competitors:
- Use industry keywords to look for businesses similar to your on the major search engines
- Set up a Google Alerts to ensure you receive all the necessary updates on your competing products/services, and even keep up with industry news
- Find more competitors in your niche via associations’ member directories
2. Determine the Keywords You Compete For
Once you have determine your competition, it’s now time to analyze the keywords, including the long-tail keywords that you are competing for. You can actually begin analyzing who ranks for the same terms. The Google Keyword Planner tool is what I used for this, where you just enter the competitors URL and the tool will show you the keywords related to the topics and content on their website. You can even identify the level of competition and keyword volume with this tool.
3. Explore their Content Marketing
To improve your rankings enhance your brand awareness, and increase your organic traffic, you have to produce high-quality content regularly and consistently. This is one of the most effective tools in Search Engine Optimization, and gaining more leads. You can learn from the pitfalls of your competition, as well as from their strengths. Check how often they post, the quality of their content, whether they share on social media, and assess the number of views.
4. Social Media Behavior
What social media platforms do your competitors use? What kind of content do they post there? Are there any links to videos, articles, or infographics? Do they use keywords on their social media posts? Have a look at the groups they interact with and how they do it.
Some of the best information about your competitors you will find in blog comments. Comb through the comments you find and find out what the audience is saying. Work with the information you find to improve your product, so that it has everything the audience really want.
6. Product Analysis
Do a comprehensive analysis on the products they offer and find loopholes in the development where possible, this way, you will find features you can include in the products you offer. Or you can combine you expertise in their product, put an effective spin on it, and sell it at a competitive price.
7. User Experience
With online marketing, we are transitioning into the responsive formats to provide a consistent experience on all devices and screen types. The insurgence of mobile marketing means that user experience will still be key in customer satisfaction. Find out what your competitors are doing, so that you can keep up as the technology advances.
Before you start on your link building strategies, it pays to scope out what the competition is doing. You can find some potential link opportunities for your website. Use your detective skills to find out more about their high-authority backlinks, distinguish between spam and quality links, and to identify potential backlink sources.
9. Conversion Techniques
Some businesses utilize lead magnets or provide their audience with free offers to entice them to sign into their mailing lists. The kind of enticements and lead magnets they are using can provide you with an insight on exactly what you can do to increase the value of your offering, and therefore gain more leads.
10. Local SEO
It’s important to note the Search Engine Optimization efforts of your competitors in your local landscape, especially if you operate from a physical location. Find out if your competition has updated their local profiles in the popular online directories. Look for consistency in the contact information on their profiles and on their website, how well they have utilized their profile features, and if they bother to interact with local reviewers. I actually Created an ebook on this late 2016 of last year titled: Master Guide: To Dominating Your Competition in Local SEO.
This ebook is free and packed with strategies that are still current with resources for local SEO, along with how to overtake your competition!
Now that you have gained some valuable information about the Search Engine Optimization strategies your competition, get started! You are now at a better position to enhance your online presence, and to outshine them all.