For many years, local business owners have ignored SEO, thinking that it isn’t necessary because they already have a local following and can rely on foot traffic and word of mouth. While these two things will always be essential factors in the growth of a local business, they alone are not enough to set you apart from competitors. Or, at least, they’re no longer enough. More and more people are looking only for local businesses before visiting the physical location, which makes local SEO one of the most critical elements of your marketing strategy.
If you’re still unsure about that, here are some relevant statistics about the way clients interact with local businesses:
- 72% of clients looked up the store online before visiting it
- 97% of people are more likely to look up information about a company online than ask their friends and family about it
- 88% of people who look up a local business online end up visiting it the same day
- Most online searches end in physical purchases
- The number of “near me” searches has gone up by a whopping 900%
- Local searches have better conversion rates than non-local searches
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about local SEO is that they don’t need to invest in it if they operate from a physical location. But they do. Even if the customer has to visit your store in person to complete a purchase, they will still look you up online for various reasons:
- To compare what options they have
- To read reviews
- To see where you are located or simply learn more about your services
- To schedule an appointment
It doesn’t matter if you run a restaurant, car repair service, plumbing business, or doughnut shop, if you’re based in the US or Indonesia. Local SEO can propel you in search results, giving you a competitive edge.
So, how can you outrank your competitors and be the first in local search results? Here are some essential strategies to keep in mind:
Use Google My Business and make sure your business information is up to date.
Setting up Google My Business is the first, easiest, and yet also the most important step in your local SEO strategy. When you get verified and set up your Google My Business profile, and people look up your name or business type, they will see your business listed separately, along with information such as address, phone number, opening hours, reviews, and other important information. This gives you higher visibility in the rankings and drives customer engagement.
If you already have a Google My Business profile, make sure it’s up to date. Many people contact the business straight from there, so if you changed locations or phone numbers in the meantime, you’re missing out. Calling the number listed there and hearing an error tone makes you come across as unprofessional and might even make some people think you’re no longer in business.
Find the most relevant local keywords and use them to optimize your content.
Global SEO and local SEO have one major thing in common: it’s all about the keywords. To boost your rankings, you have to determine the most relevant keywords and phrases for your industry and use them both in your onsite and offsite optimization strategy.
Generally speaking, you’ll have to use keywords containing your city or “near me,” but you might also want to optimize for your neighborhood or region if it’s relevant for your business. For example, if you’re a contractor servicing clients from the city and the neighboring areas, you might want to optimize for those as well.
Once you’ve made a list of your main keywords, use them everywhere on your website, from the META descriptions to the actual page copy. Just remember to follow the Golden Rule – don’t spam with keywords! Also, to make sure your strategy is working, use a website rank checker to see where you stand in local rankings. It might take a while until you see a noticeable boost in your rankings, but, as a general estimate, if you get zero results in six months, you should go over your strategy with your SEO company and see how you can tweak it.
Make sure your reviews are on point.
Nearly all online consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, and three out of four consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If a potential customer looks up your business online and sees zero Google reviews, that may put them off. People need social proof, and the fact that you don’t have any reviews might make them think that you’re too new, or worse, that you don’t have any clients.
So, encourage your clients to write a review about you by following up after a purchase. Most clients actually have nothing against posting a review, and they simply forget, so a small email reminder goes a long way.
Post valuable content with a local twist.
High-quality local SEO isn’t only about direct self-promotion but also about positioning yourself as a leader in your industry through useful, relevant content. That can come in many forms, from long-form blog posts on your website to full-on landing pages targeted at local clients. This way, you have more chances of reaching potential clients who may not necessarily be looking to purchase a product but instead learn more about the industry.
For example, if you are a local real estate agency, you can conduct a study about property prices in your area and real estate trends. If you have a car dealership, you can write about car prices in your area or even the best places to go for a road trip. It works for almost every industry. Even if you have a clothing store, you can write a case study about street style in your city. When drafting content of this type, focus on delivering high-quality information without mentioning your products specifically. Get creative, and the results won’t be late to appear!