As small businesses are set to spend $75,000 on digital marketing this year, it’s important to know you’re getting the returns you expect. If you don’t understand how digital advertising works, you probably don’t know much about search engine optimization. And if you don’t understand SEO, you’re probably missing out on the potential of local SEO.
Search engines use a tool called a web crawler in order to index every site across the internet. The work they do in advance allows them to return so many search results in a fraction of a second. They rate and rank sites for how fast they load, how many other sites link to them, and how often they’re updated.
Sites are also ranked for keywords and how specific they are about the region they offer products and services in. If you want to succeed in local SEO, follow these 5 strategies.
1. Find Your Keywords
The best way to start figuring out which keywords you need to be using is to run some test searches. You should search for products and services like the ones that you offer. Use non-specific terms and try to think like a potential customer.
If you were looking for services like yours, you wouldn’t know the exact product name or your brand name. You’d know some general terms and have to find your products that way.
See what kinds of results you can get using general terms and some local terms. Use your city, your neighborhood, and some nearby landmarks. See how your competitors do and see which terms they’re using.
These will be the local SEO keywords that you’ll need to use moving forward. Getting a grip on the most important keywords is your first step in forming a strong SEO strategy.
2. Get Optimized
There are lots of opportunities for you to use local SEO beyond the general text areas of your site. You can add some local SEO terms inside of your metadata.
Each one of the visual elements you use on your site has a potential “title” tag attached to it. Inside of these title tags, you can use your most important and relevant keywords.
You can also use each media element as a potential way to capture your audience. When you take photos, you might notice that your camera will automatically name your files something like “XYZ123.JPG”. While this is useful for your camera, it doesn’t do much in the way of local SEO
Instead, change the name of your files to something more descriptive. Changing it to “Texas-air-conditioner.JPG” could cause you to appear in all sorts of results an automatically named file wouldn’t get you into.
3. Use The Directories
With Google My Business, Yahoo! Local, and Yelp now replacing the old yellow pages that people relied on to find out about businesses, you get free access. Rather than having to pay for space in these directories, some of your information might already be populated.
That’s because if one company or one user adds information about you, other directories might pay to use that information. That’s all the more reason to claim your listings. One piece of bad information could end up in every single directory.
Part of a strong local SEO campaign is to ensure that all the information out there is accurate. Claiming your listing allows you to create consistency across all of the main directories.
This is important for branding as inconsistencies make customers unsure about whether or not they’re purchasing from the same brand. This also keeps users from showing up at your office when you’re closed or dialing a number that is no longer connected. Keeping your information up to date is vital to building trust with your customer base.
4. Get Some Reviews
Nearly 85% of people trust online reviews as much as a referral from a friend.
Most companies live in fear of getting a bad review from a customer. The best way to prepare yourself for any negativity is to build up a positive reputation. This requires you to get a lot of positive reviews as soon as possible.
Once your directory listings have been claimed, you can reach out to your most loyal customers and ask them to review your business. This will allow new customers to see that people are happy with the work that you’re doing. It will also project a strong brand authority around your business.
Be sure to diversify your reviews. Going from zero reviews to 100 reviews on a single channel in just a few weeks could ring the spam alarms with the directory.
Getting customers to take the time to leave positive feedback is difficult. Offer them an incentive. Give them a special discount or access to a special product in exchange for their time. The bonus is that you’ll receive lots of market feedback for a fraction of the cost of hiring a research team
5. Optimize Your Social Media
Make sure there’s a listing for your business on every relevant social media platform. Ensure that all of your listings are also consistent. You should be using the same avatar for every listing.
However, that doesn’t mean you should be using the same content in every post.
Each social media channel has its own style. Twitter is great for making clever quips or offering a flash sale. Instagram is the way you should show off images of your latest creation or exciting new products.
Facebook is the most widely used and should be the place where you add your most “general audience” content. Build connections with other local businesses and write posts that reflect on local events.
Local SEO Builds a Strong Foundation
Focusing on local SEO allows you to build a reliable customer base in the place where you need it, your own backyard. Your most local customers will be loyal and feel connected to your brand as you post more content about the region you’re both located in. By focusing on local SEO, you can rank higher in search results than eve more established corporate brands.
If you’re looking to implement a strong marketing strategy for your brand, check out our list of the most commonly made mistakes.