Increasing your online presence has always been important, and digital marketing has made it easier for brands to get to their local audience. Traditionally, brick-and-mortar businesses relied on putting ads on the local TV or radio station and handing out flyers, or on word-of-mouth.
Of course, those practices are still being employed today, but the market’s media habits have now shifted dramatically. Nearly 33% of all mobile searches are location-based queries, and 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an on-site purchase.
It’s the reason why digital marketing has been particularly important. For many small businesses, local SEO plays a major role in drawing in a steady stream of clients.
Optimizing for local search ensures that your establishment comes up when potential customers look for your products and services.
So what can you do to boost your brand’s visibility on local search?
We’re going to talk about Local SEO a bit, then we’ll wade into deeper waters with five local search ranking signals that impact your business the most. And then, we’ll tackle a number of actionable items you can do for your brand today.
How Different Is Local SEO From Regular (Organic) SEO?
If you notice, when you search for something like “best-fried chicken restaurant near me”, you’ll get a boxed area at the top of the search results page with a Google map and three local business listings. This is the “local 3-pack”, also known as the “snack pack” or just “3-pack”. Below this section comes to your organic search results.
With a number of additional guidelines in place, specifically for neighborhood establishments, local SEO kicks in when users search for a location-based query, and you can think of it as an add-on to the regular organic SEO listings.
Your brand may rank differently for both, but it’s safe to say that if you do well on Local SEO, your organic SEO can get a boost as well.
Local Search Ranking Signals
Google My Business
In 2017, Google made a lot of adjustments to its free Google My Business (GMB) service. You may have visited it before, but you’ll want to go back in there and complete your profile as best as you are able.
GMB is now more like a spin-off social network of sorts (but with business establishments) where you can post pictures and videos about your products and services, answer FAQs, collect reviews, and so on.
Google My Business is now the top ranking signal when it comes to the local 3-pack. Not a lot of businesses have quite caught on yet, so getting your business listed up there is a huge advantage for you right now.
● Claim and complete your GMB listing.
● Populate it with enough photos, videos, as well as frequently asked questions.
● Share your high-quality pieces of content as often as you do on other social media channels.
Getting backlinks for your business website or blog is what you typically do after you’ve tweaked your site’s performance, created solid pieces of content and completed your GMB listing.
High-quality backlinks from high-quality websites do take an effort to earn as you’ll be doing quite a bit of outreach. But the SEO boost that comes with these link-building initiatives is well worth the time and energy you’ve put in.
● Do your link-building, but only after you’ve done some housekeeping and created epic pieces of content.
Reviews and testimonials are still considered to be important, as the number of customers who have taken the effort to leave feedback about your products and services is also picked up by Google.
● Encourage your happy, satisfied customers to leave a review for you on Google.
In addition to the guidelines of regular search engine optimization (e.g., keywords in titles, domain authority, etc.), one of the more important on-page signals indexed by Google is your NAP information — your business name, address, and phone number.
Your NAP should be consistent all throughout your site, and by extension, any business listing you have online should have the same NAP information as well.
● Make sure your NAP info is prominent throughout your site.
● Create awesome headlines to reel people in.
● Your content should be market-relevant, as well as thorough and comprehensive.
Citations are an important ranking signal for Google, as businesses with listings among more IYPs (internet yellow pages) and business directories tend to be more legitimate, established, and trustworthy.
Google takes into account all your business listings among these different IYP/aggregator sites and pays close attention to how consistent your NAP info is across all these different online listings.
Bottom line, work on getting your business listed in as many legitimate IYP/aggregator sites as you can manage, but make sure your NAP info is consistent all throughout.
That’s all we had for you today! If you think we’ve missed something, feel free to add a comment ‘cause we always appreciate a good SEO debate.