December 31, 2015
If you were a local business in the past your keys to success would have been getting a prominent store location, putting up ads around town, and hoping people would come in off of the street. Those days are over. There were 140 billion local searches in 2014, and as mobile surpasses desktop usage, that number can only grow.
97% of consumers use the internet when researching local products or services, and that means in order to succeed you need to dominate the uber-competitive search engine results page(SERP).
Your goal needs to be optimizing your page and tactics to fit the needs of modern, mobile, and tech-savvy consumers. Local SEO is fast becoming the most valuable asset for businesses when it comes to gaining market share, increasing visibility, and getting customers. But how do you do it?
The SEO biz is chock full of terms like landing page, the fold, keywords, header, tags, and other words that can sound more like a foreign language than English if you aren’t in the know, so we are going to bring to you 5 simple SEO tips to dominate local SEO for small businesses.
#1) Target the right keywords
Keywords are the fuel that drives SEO. Without them, the whole machine doesn’t move. But just like with your Chevy, your local SEO needs the right kind of fuel or it isn’t going to get very far. The key to a solid home is a solid foundation, so put in the time to research what is trending in your local area, and which words in your niche are worth fighting for.
Generic words like cafe, coffee, and restaurant are going to be busier than an American mall the day after Thanksgiving, but “quiet cafe and bookstore New York” is likely to be a little less crowded. Consider using some helpful local keyword tools such as:
they can give you in-depth numbers to help you understand who is searching for what, where they are searching and when they are doing it. Get a leg up on your competition by putting in the extra work.
Tip: Keep in mind how important mobile is. 50% of local mobile searches lead the customer to visit. Consider ” mobilizing” your keywords. Add words like “near me” or “quick” or “nearby”. Imagine that you were searching for your store on the go with a mobile phone in your hand. What would you type?
#2) Make sure that your website is optimized
Your website is the most vital cog in the operation, so it should come as no surprise that optimizing it to fit your niche is essential. But optimizing it how? When going about tailoring your site to fit your keywords and local climate, it is best to stick to the most important things, and do away with the little odds and ends that waste your time. The most important factors to pay attention to are:
- Domain– fight tooth and nail to get a domain that reflects your location or your niche- “NewYorkAirportTransfers” is vastly superior to “GinosAirportTransfers”- and avoid hyphens when possible. Shorter domains are always better, but going longer to fit your location is worth it.
- Your location– put your city, address, zip and any other pertinent info on every page.
- Your copy– copy is the most important part of your sales pitch. Make sure that your copy not only flows well, but also includes things about your local area. Point out closeby local landmarks, throw in a pinch of local history, and speak in local jargon. Don’t make the mistake of calling the local Montreal hockey team the Canadiennes.
- Utilize white space– your content needs to be readable, especially by people on the go. Too many words will clutter the page. Spacing it out has shown to increase engagement by up to 20%!
- Keywords– it should go without saying that all of your local keywords belong on the page. Don’t be shy. Get as many as you can on there, just make sure that it sounds natural.
#3) Get your name into local listings
Having a business is great, but if nobody knows about it then you are up the river without a paddle. The web is overflowing with local directories. Rating websites, social media, professional networks, and government websites are your friend here. Your first order of business once your website is working is to get your name on :
- Facebook– create a Facebook page for your business and begin friending people and encouraging visitors to like or comment. 70% of local consumers are more likely to use your page if it is popular on social media.
- Google My Business– although Google + didn’t quite turn out like they had planned, Google my business is still a valuable tool in your fight to dominate the local search listings. By posting all of the relevant information about your business, you can get your name out there and give yourself a little more clout to the enigmatic Google search engine algorithm.
- Chamber of commerce– you might think that registering with something in the physical world is so 2000, but registering with your local of chamber of commerce can actually have good SEO benefits, as well as real-world perks if you do it right. You get a spot in their directory, a link to your site, some publicity in their newsletter and some good contacts with movers and shakers in the local area. The best thing, though? You’ll be the only one doing it!
Tip: include as many pictures as possible and do your best to interact with customers. Opening hours, menus and any other relevant info need to be posted, too.
#4) Engage, interact, respond
Consumer engagement is what really drives your social media presence. Although average engagement on sites like Facebook is low, by putting in the extra effort, you can rise above the competition. This means not only posting links, photos, special offers and news about your website via social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it also means responding to reviews and thanking those who take the time to comment.
By providing awesome stuff that people like to read or watch, you can give your business a great reputation. Consider videos, infographics, awesome pictures of your food, or coverage of local events. Posts with photos get 35% more retweets and have an 87% interaction rate.
Tip: create a personality and make it consistent. Many companies have had success by creating mascots or providing a face for their company. An employee or team dedicated to manning your social media will pay off big dividends.
Whatever you do, do not post fake reviews. Not only are you going to get caught eventually, it is going to bring your company down. The negative press associated with catching fakes will destroy everything you’ve worked so hard for. It isn’t worth it!
#5) Attract the media
Modern web-users are crazy for media coverage. The average person is exposed to media 15.5 hours per day! Now, we aren’t sure how healthy that is but we definitely know that it helps your business gain exposure. Any time you can get a mover and shaker to mention you or give you coverage, your clout and visibility will sky rocket. A few things you could do are:
- Encourage local bloggers to visit you
- Write press releases and send them out
- Put on special events that gain attention
- Give special promotions to locals
- Invite local food critics if you are a restaurant
- Become part of the local fabric and teach people about your city
- Have a unique theme that no one in the city has
- Cultivate relationships on social media
- Connect on Linkedin with local businesses
- The possibilities are endless if you take the time
The world of business has changed, and the new paradigm is a world where the majority of your customers come from the internet. Being visible on search engines and local social media is essential to succeeding in the modern economy.
Take these 5 easy local SEO tips for small businesses to heart, and dominate the SERP. And when you do, don’t forget who helped you get there!