Local Search Optimization
Every day, customers search for local businesses like yours using whatever device is conveniently at their fingertips. And that’s what local search engine optimization (SEO) is all about: Making sure that your business shows up when nearby customers are searching for what you have to offer.
Local SEO can be a vital part of your customized SEO plan and a great way to not only gain an edge on your competitors, but a necessary part of your overall SEO strategy. It’s another way in to achieving search visibility rather than competing for those high volume global search terms.
When implementing a local SEO strategy, here are some key action items to make sure that your local optimization is in place.
Google Local 3-Pack:
The Google Local 3-Pack are the three local search results that populate under the map when you search for something locally. For example, when you google something like “Pittsburgh pizza,” you will have a map with three options displayed for a good pie in Pittsburgh. You can see how it could boost business—as well as online brand awareness—to show up in this coveted spot!
In order to show up in the Google Local 3-Pack, it’s important to know the crucial elements of local SEO. Several basic strategies include:
- Optimize and update online business directories (e.g. Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, Facebook, BBB, etc.) to consistently reflect the correct information
- Make sure your online business listings consistently display the same NAP (name, address, phone)
- Earn positive reviews on review sites relevant to your industry
- Build local backlinks, whether it’s through local business organizations, sponsorships, memberships, or content marketing
- Make sure you optimize your website property for local with have a complete and accurate NAP listing, accompanied by a Directions or Map hyperlink
Whether it’s an online listing to your business on a local travel guide or an entry on Yelp!, online local citations are any mention of the name, address, and phone number of your local business. Making sure that you are cited (and cited correctly!) in all online citations, can play an important role in boosting your local SEO, your overall SE, and your online brand optimization.
Online citations can help verify your business’s location and relevance to search engines. It’s even better when the local citation links back to your website. Showing up where people are most likely to be looking for your business is one of the most basic—and important—principles of local search optimization.
Since local SEO puts your business in the spotlight at the exact moment when potential customers are choosing where to shop, it's also an exceptionally effective form of local advertising. This means that you need to make sure that you do due diligence on the SEO basics to keep up your online brand visibility.
You not only need quality content and an attractive website to convert customers, but reviews, schema, and local links pointing back to your website. Let’s break down the role and value of those a little more.
Online reviews provide independent verification about your business that is invaluable for potential customers. You can encourage reviews through promotional campaigns, follow-up emails, email signature lines, or even in-person signs and requests.
Schema for local SEO:
Schema helps tell the search engines what your website data means. Part of getting your local business a good ranking means offering search engines as much data about your business as possible. Search engines instantly grasp what the data means and how they should present it.
For example, LocalBusiness schema is adding a bit of basic information into your html code that tells web crawlers that a certain piece of text is your address, while another piece of text is your phone number. This will make sure that your NAP shows up in as many places as possible.
An added benefit is that once a web crawler gets this information, it will more easily display this information through “rich snippets” in search results. That means people can find your address or phone number even if they don’t click through to your website. That could result in sales if a mobile or on-the-go potential customer needs some quick answers that a phone call to you provides!
Local link building:
Local link building is a great way to gain reputable backlinks to your site that will boost your ranking as well as increase traffic to your website. You can get creative with finding places to provide backlinks.
Perhaps you are a member of a neighborhood business association, or your company provides sponsorship opportunities, or you belong to your local Chamber of Commerce? Perhaps there are Colleges or Universities in your area that look to businesses for blog content – e.g. features, interviews, products, etc? The ideas are abundant for creative, relevant backlink acquisition. Just be sure you ask for the backlink!
What do you do when you're on the go and need to find a quick meal or buy a specific product? If you're like most people, you pull out your phone, fire up your favorite browser, and search for nearby businesses.
If mobile optimization is done correctly, it gives local search the opportunity to shine, because most people will choose to buy from one of the first search results on the page. But they’re less likely to make the purchase if they can’t read or find your information easily on a mobile device. That’s why it’s important, especially with mobile-first indexing, to be sure that your design and loading times are mobile friendly—it could turn into a big reward thanks to local SEO.
Local Optimization & Brand Awareness
Local optimization allows you to establish an online brand awareness and ‘digital footprint’ in the communities that matter most to your business. By making it easy for local customers to find your business through search, you also drive traffic to your website, social media channels, blog, and all of your online content. It's about finding your niche, both online and in the community.
To get help developing and implementing your customized SEO plan, including local SEO strategies: