Now that the White Pages are a thing of the past, Local SEO is critical for small businesses. Almost a third of consumers use search engines to find local businesses.
Additionally, “Near me” or “close by” searches grew more than 900% over two years.
If your business has a physical local or serves a specific geographic region and you’re not leveraging local SEO, you’re missing out on potential customers or clients.
By optimizing your website for local search, your business will be more visible to local consumers searching for what you offer.
This post explains the importance of SEO for local businesses and the steps to improve your local search ranking.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a Search Engine Optimization strategy that helps local businesses improve their Google search ranking. Its purpose is to help consumers find local businesses when they need a relevant product or service in their area.
For example, if you search for a local dentist, you don’t want dentists from other states showing up on the local search results.
If you own a local business, local SEO is critical for your growth. Research shows that today, 97% of consumers learn more about a local company online than anywhere else.
In the example above is a quick search I ran for a local dentist near me. From my search, I’m able to quickly find a list of dental practices in my area that includes:
- Company name
- Phone number
- Hour of operation
- A link to each website
- Online reviews
When a consumer in your area searches for a relevant product or service, they are looking for this information to make a decision.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
Google uses over 200 ranking factors in its algorithm. For local SEO specifically, there are a few critical tasks on this list. Let’s dive into the ranking factors for Local SEO and how to connect with more local customers. Here are 7 things you need to do to improve your local SEO.
Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool where you manage your business profile on Google. Your Google My Business listing is one of the most critical Local SEO ranking factors.
For your business profile to show up on Google’s local search results, you’ll need to create your business profile. But, there’s a chance your business profile may already exist. In this case, you’ll need to claim your business profile on Google and optimize it.
When creating your GMB listing, it’s imperative that you enter complete and accurate data on your profile.
Here are some tips to properly optimize your listing:
- Select the most accurate business category
- Add accurate company hours and contact information
- Include your logo, a cover, and relevant images
- Include your website domain
- Add the location(s) you serve
- Verify your listing
- Claim your social profiles
Get Online Reviews from Your Customers or Clients
Getting reviews from your previous customers is one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO. Additionally, it’s critical for building trust with your audience and showing potential customers you run a legitimate business.
Years ago, it was much easier for consumers to get scammed by bad businesses. Today, review ratings have turned that around and are among the first things online searchers look for.
93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchasing decision.
When it comes to collecting online reviews, consistency matters, so you need to create a collection process. Consumers checking out your reviews are looking to see when they were posted. 78% of customers focus on the most recent online reviews.
Build Local Citations
In a nutshell, local citations refer to any mention of your company’s details on the web. Building citations is important for your local search ranking and also builds awareness for your company.
Online citations can be obtained on online directories, industry-related sites, and blogs.
When building citations, your company NAP must be consistent across the web.
In Local SEO, NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. NAP is vital for ranking high on local results. Inconsistency does negatively impact your local SEO.
Make Sure Your Website Has a Contact Page
Your company should have a dedicated Contact page on your website. Before consumers make a buying decision, they want to get as much information as they can about your business.
Your contact page should provide your website visitors with complete contact details for your company, including:
- Company name
- Phone number(s)
- Contact form
It’s also recommended that you provide your business’s contact email on this page. And remember, it’s important that this information is consistent across the web.
Add Schema to Your Website
Schema markup is essentially words or tags that help search engines better understand the content on your website.
By properly adding schema to your website, you’re helping Google understand your local business and what your website is about. This process will help to improve your local search rankings.
Merkle offers a schema markup generator to make this process easier.
Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-friendly
If your company website is not mobile-friendly, this should be a top priority. Mobile devices account for about half of all website traffic across the globe.
Additionally, not having a mobile-friendly website negatively affects both your organic SEO and local SEO efforts. That is because Google prioritizes mobile-optimized sites on search results.
Providing a great mobile experience matters to your potential customers as well.
In 2020, 56% of online consumers in the United States used a mobile browser to search for local businesses.
Moreover, mobile-optimized sites are more trusted by 51% of consumers.
Publish Local Content
Consistent blogging is an essential part of your SEO. Keeping your blog updated with relevant content for your audience is critical for growing your business.
For starters, Google loves consistent, high-quality content. It is one of its most important ranking factors.
Additionally, your potential customers are searching for relevant content online. Blogging will help to build trust with your potential customers and answer their questions.
For Local SEO purposes, it’s important to produce content that’s relevant to the geographic area you serve. Your local business can leverage blog posts, articles, videos, and announcements to drive more local traffic to your site.
Make sure you use local keywords in your content and research what content matters most to people in your area.
If you own a local business, Local SEO is vital for your business’s growth.
By optimizing your business for local search, you will gain more online visibility and connect with more customers searching for your products or services.
Keep in mind that local SEO for small businesses is not a one-time task. It’s important to continue maintaining your Local SEO by monitoring your website, publishing consistent content, and collecting positive reviews.
Is your business using local SEO to drive more traffic to your website?