The goal of every digital marketer and business owner campaigning online is to land on top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). However, for small business owners or entrepreneurs maintaining store fronts and shops catering to prospective customers from a particular locality, appearing on local search queries will put their brands and business right in plain sight of highly targeted audiences’ eyes.
For local businesses, their goal should be to increase their online visibility to such targeted audiences, and they can do this effectively by embarking on a local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign. Learning how to execute a successful local SEO campaign can bring a steady traffic of prospective customers literally right into your doorsteps – and the following list can serve as your comprehensive guide.
1. Optimize Your Website for Local Search
The first and most important step is to fully optimize all your website elements to local search. As a general rule, each section of your website should include elements pertaining to your business and locality. The following are some of the more important action steps you should conduct for optimizing your website for local search:
- Domain Name – optimizing for local search includes your website’s domain name which should include information about your business, the type of business you have and your locality.
- Page Titles – aside from your domain, every page URL should also be optimized for search such as including business and location information in your page titles.
- Page Elements – the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information of your business should be clearly visible in each page within your website on top of your About Us or Contact Us page. Good locations for these types of information are on the page sidebars or footer areas that would be visible for both visitors and search crawlers.
- Website Copy – the main body of content of your pages should also include information about your business and location. This is done by optimizing your content with long tail keywords and strategically incorporating these within the context of your content.
2. Use Schema Mark-up for Local Business
Using and implementing Schema mark-up tags is one of the hottest SEO methods these days. Simple logic behind schema is to let search engine know exactly what your page are using structured data. You can check-out relevant Schema mark-up for local business and use this tool to generate the tags.
It was reported by Volume Nine that one of their clients a local manufacturer, benefited greatly in using Schema tags on their eCommerce business.
3. Create Local Business Pages on Major Search Engines
The next step after optimizing your websites is to claim your local spot on major search engines by creating a Local Places Page for your business at Google, Yahoo and Bing. All pertinent business information should be provided in appropriation sections in your account, particularly location and contact information. Just make sure you categorize and sub-categorize your business properly to make sure your business is displayed together with a particular set of relevant keywords.
4. Get Registered On Local Listing Websites
Third party local listings are very important for the success of your local SEO campaign as these sites are scanned regularly by search engines, picking up relevant information about local businesses. Properly registered an account in these websites and integrating important business and locality information in these listings will give you better chances of ranking well in local searches. Important steps you need to take in these regard include:
- Search for local listing websites and directories that contain categories and sub-categories relevant to your business. Create and account and claim your business listing together with pertinent business, locality and contact information.
- Enhance your listings by including relevant and informative content which can include photos, links and even videos. This will make your listing more attractive to targeted audiences.
- Enhance your listings with relevant keywords. This includes your business names and other section content in your listing. However, make your keyword integration as natural as possible to avoid being penalized by search engines.
- Create separate listings for each branch of your business, most especially if you have branches on different locations. Doing so will boost visibility for each of your branches, making them more attractive to prospective customers in each branches’ area of operations.
- You can work with third-party listings providers or a local SEO company to help you create, secure, manage and update your listings across all relevant local sites.
5. Use Quality Photos on Local Listings
When creating listings, it is important that you enhance your entries with high quality photos. Targeted customers making local searches will go through these listings and will look at photos more in particular to help them understand and appreciate the products or services you offer. Targeted customers actively searching for stores or providers will naturally be more attracted to businesses that provide detailed photos of the business and its products.
Uploading high-quality photos will also give an impression with targeted customers that they will be working with professionals who are willing to invest time and resources even to the smallest details of their business.
6. Generate Business Citations from Local Sources
An important element in local SEO is to generate citations from various sources but most importantly from sources prominent in your particular locality. These citations are beneficial to your local SEO efforts in two ways. First is from your targeted audiences’ perspective. Citations from other websites will bring attention and credibility to your business and will give your business a chance to get contacted by potential customers who are regular visitors of that source website.
Second benefit is from a search engine’s perspective, where citations are picked up and matched to your main business website, even if it only includes your business name and phone number. Even if a business don’t have a proper website yet, citations are picked up by search engines and will return information of prominent businesses in a particular geographical area matching the needs of local search queries.
Citations can be entries in business directories and listings which you can claim for yourself as the business owner through phone or email. Once claimed, you can enhance or make corrections on these listings. A citation can also be a mere mention of your business name in an article from another local website, such as an article in an event which you sponsored or participated it. It can also be a detailed entry about your business that may include photos, links and contact information.
7. Generate Links from Local Websites
Generally, link building is still a very important process for SEO. For local SEO, link building should be performed with a particular geographical area in mind, targeting relevant local websites as your source for generating important backlinks. You can conduct a local link building strategy using the following:
- Share relevant links from your pages on social media networks together with interesting content that targeted audiences will find relevant. It is important that you also engage yourself in proactive discussion and interactions with targeted audiences in these social media sites.
- Always include business information and links on newsletters and email updates you send regularly to customers or subscribers.
- Participate or organize events in your locality that may be participated in by influential people in your locality. These include events for your local chamber of commerce, entrepreneur organizations, charity organizations, civic groups, schools, student and community organizations and other groups. These groups may and will include citations and links about your business in their own websites and social network pages.
8. Generate Online Reviews
Search Engine Land reported that Google and other top search engine does take into consideration online reviews about your business when ranking sites for local search results. In the new era of semantic search and changing search algorithms, social relevance of a particular business or site has emerged as an important ranking factor, and search engines place social signals from online reviews in high regard.
Online review sites like Yelp are formed by a community of online users sharing their views about a particular business in a particular locality. Good reviews and scores generated by your business in these sites not only will be good for local SEO but also from the perspective of your targeted customers, more particularly online users who depend on such reviews before making a purchasing decision. Just make sure you generate favorable reviews the right way such as in actual interactions and engagements with customers and prospects – and not through fake accounts and reviews.
9. Generate Marketing Mileage from Local Media
Getting marketing mileage from local media sources will give your local SEO efforts a big boost. This will not only do well for your business in local searches but also in the eyes of your targeted audiences. Develop and nurture relationships with your local media by connecting with them in local events and activities that they participate in. Inform or invite them in future events organized, sponsored or participated in by your business.
Connect also with local bloggers and get them to be interested in your business well enough to write articles about you, your business in general, events or opportunities. Invite them in events or organize bloggers gatherings which they can participate in and write blog posts about. Such blog posts will include relevant contact information and links that can be matched by search engines to your main sites.
10. Get Optimized for Mobile
Lastly, optimizing for local SEO goes hand-in-hand with optimizing for mobile search, as mobile marketing rely heavily on information and signals gathered from local SEO. For mobile users making searches, 40% are looking for products or services from local providers. With 90% of adults in the United States owning a mobile, and 63% use smartphones to access the Internet, mobile marketing is a must for a successful local SEO campaign. So it is important that you have your website optimized also for mobile internet, using responsive designs and elements that will make it easier for targeted customers to find your business through local mobile search.
Many businesses still operate within a certain locality and targets potential customers living or working in that particular vicinity of locality. Conducting a successful local SEO campaign provides your business with more visibility at local searches, allowing targeted audiences and prospects to find you and your business – driving a steady stream of customers right into your storefront.