Any business worth its salt has now made SEO a part of its marketing arsenal. But thanks to the dynamic nature of online marketing, firms have to constantly tweak their SEO strategy to make the most out of it. Local SEO is an excellent example of the changing nature of SEO and how businesses even with an insignificant footprint can take the fight to much larger competitors.
At the same time, a quality SEO services provider knows that the importance of local SEO is not restricted to just local or small businesses; even large and multi-city operators can benefit from it.
While local SEO is hugely beneficial to businesses that operate in only a specific area, it can also be harnessed by businesses that operate in multiple locations. That is because a local SEO campaign identifies your business presence in an area which further enables it to compete against other local businesses.
Let’s look at this through an example – say you are about to embark on a short vacation to Hawaii. ‘Things to do in Hawaii’ is what you are likely to search for. The inclusion of ‘Hawaii’ in your query tells a search engine like Google that you are only interested in results from Hawaii, and not Houston.
Now this might make a lot of sense if your business or industry is location-specific. But it also makes tremendous sense if your business is not location-based; and that is down to two factors.
The Dominance of Mobile Searching
Search Engine Land, which is about as authoritative a voice on SEO that you can get, recently reported that well over half the searches were being carried out through mobile phones. This dominance is only projected to grow further. And Google being Google, the search giant aims to use location to display a user with more relevant results.
The Google Hawk update released earlier was indicative of Google’s belief in localized search and contained a feature that restricted the geographical spread of listings with a view to lessen the frequency with which businesses dominated local rankings on the back of several listings for one location.
When you optimize your site for your business’s location or the areas you serve, you ensure that even those users who are not looking for location specific businesses are presented with your website in their search results.
There is no more widely-used or trusted form of verifying if a business is real than its physical location. Whether it is Yelp, Facebook or other similar websites, you are asked to confirm the location of your business in order to establish your genuineness.
How to Optimize for Local Searches
So now that we have established why local SEO is imperative for businesses irrespective of their service areas or physical location, it is time to look at how to implement it as part of the overall digital marketing strategy to transform your business.
One of the easiest ways to do so is by getting on the Google My Business bandwagon. It is easy to use, free and literally a hotline to Google that you can use to share information about your business and where it is located. That said, there are other equally simpler things you can do to make your website more local SEO-friendly.
Include the address in the footer
While it may come across as a minor detail, it is used prominently by search engines to locate websites and correlate them with specific locations. A website’s NAP – Name, Address, and Phone – details are very important and should always be identical wherever they are placed. For instance, Google would consider the following two addresses different,
LINT, 4 Cloverfield Blvd., Suite 99, Mallingford, WY 06487
LINT, 4 Cloverfield Boulevard, Suite 99, Mallingford, WY 06487
Mistakes like these could leave you competing with yourself, which is why the need to have a uniform display of your NAP information. While it is difficult to ensure this uniformity across several citation pages, social media marketing pages of your business, or even Chamber or business association pages, it should not be overlooked at any cost.
Specify clearly which areas you service
In case a visitor does not find their town or area of residence mentioned on your site, they are likely to not consider you. If yours is an area specific business, make sure your website is optimized for area specific keywords like town name, major landmarks, or zip code. You can do this by using something as basic as a bullet list of areas, towns and counties that you service or use something more interactive like an embedded map on your site.
Create special pages for localized services
Creating landing pages for your local services can offer a huge boost to your local SEO efforts. Your own little miniature homepages, they should contain all relevant information about your business. And while it is important to optimize these individual pages for keywords, remember that user optimization is what counts in the end and that Google ranks pages and not domains. Local landing pages are useful, relevant, and allowed by Google as well. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it to enhance your local SEO efforts.
Use citation pages
People often find local businesses through citation pages, which is a platform that can be used to compare local businesses. Examples of such sites include ServiceMagic and Houzz. While there are thousands of citation websites out there, you should choose one that is most relevant to what your business specializes in. Getting yourself onto a citation page can have sizable pay-offs; from enlarging your online presence to generating backlinks and engaging with prospective customers much before they convert into a lead/sale.
Asking for Reviews Helps
Reviews are a useful feature that websites like Google and Yelp have had for multiple years now. They can make a massive difference to every aspect of your online marketing campaign – be it inbound traffic or converting a prospect into a client.
So go ahead and request your client to drop in a review. If they’ve truly had a happy experience, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t want to accommodate your request. You can also help matters by being honest about the value the review holds for your business or offering an incentive in exchange for leaving a review. Be it Clutch, Google, or Yelp, reviews are a great way to generate more local traffic to your website.
How it All Comes Together
Each measure that has been outlined above can increase the chances of your website appearing high up in search engine ranking results. What can also aid your efforts is keeping all information about your business consistent. The same also applies to any and all copy that used to promote or highlight your business. It should be crisp, have the right amount of information and promotion, and unique.
Your local SEO strategy and your larger online marketing strategy do not have to be mutually exclusive. For instance, a digital marketing strategy provider might help identify the area in which you are lacking and suggest a course of action accordingly. The future of SEO is local and search engines like Google are taking definitive steps towards such a future. Businesses that are successful in recalibrating their marketing strategies to keep up with this trend are much better placed to grow than their competitors.