According to recent research by Google on search behaviour, a whopping 50% of all people who conducted searches on local businesses visited the business the same day. If you’re a startup owner and serve clients locally, this might sound like music to your ears.
People who conduct local searches are highly motivated and are looking for an instant solution. This is why you should do everything in your power to go after these searches aggressively.
And even if your company is operating mainly online, you still stand to benefit from local searches as search results are increasingly being personalised and localised.
In this article, we’re going to give you a few key pointers on how to start your local SEO marketing campaign on the right foot;
1. Make sure you claim your spot on Google Places
All good local SEO strategies start with setting up a Google Places account. You claim your Google Places listing here with Google My Business. However, in order to do so, you need a physical address to begin with.
If your business has no presence in your community, it won’t be featured in Google Places. This why you should have a clear address and phone number featured on your website.
When building your Google Places page make sure to add as many visuals as possible. This includes pictures of your products, services, offerings, coupons, etc. You should also consider putting up your business on other local search engines such as Yahoo Local and Bing Local.
Make sure that you claim your business on as many reputable and relevant local directories possible. Your information should be consistent across all sites as well. Make sure you keep a record of where your site is listed so you can make modifications if need be.
When optimising your website, you should target as many geo-targeted keywords as possible. Also make sure that you include some of these keywords in your meta tag, titles, H1 and H2 headers and your content when possible, but don’t overdo it.
You should also keep these terms in mind when building your about and contact pages. Make sure that the information is congruent with your Google Places profile.
2. Reviews are king
Reviews are extremely important when you want to get visibility on Google local searches. If you check closely, you’ll notice that most top searches for local businesses will usually be highly ranked businesses with many reviews.
The reason for this is simple. In a quest to provide its users with the best user experience possible, Google is doing everything in its power to provide the most relevant results possible. And it’s turning to its users to vote on which businesses they feel are the most relevant.
So, simply having a few good reviews isn’t enough. First of all, it’s much easier to manipulate one or two reviews than it is to manipulate a hundred.
A business that provides consistently good service is almost guaranteed to enjoy prime visibility on local searches, as long as their Google local profile is properly set up in the first place.
That’s why you have to be proactive in getting reviews, but don’t be too forceful. If your clients had a good experience with your product, they will be more than happy to leave a review if it is done in a non intrusive way.
Also, you have to make it as easy as possible for them. No one wants to jump through thousands of hoops just to leave a review. Remember, they are getting absolutely nothing from this, unless you give them an incentive, and reviews demand a fair amount of effort.
3. Review your social media
Social media is one of the primary tools used by companies to create a direct connection with their customer base and build a community.
If you provide good service, your clients will start forming an almost personal relationship with your brand and make it their duty to spread the gospel about your products or services.
If your social media is nothing but a bunch of adverts or announcements about your products with no interaction whatsoever, you’re completely missing the point.
You shouldn’t be afraid to step out of the box and be a little edgy with your social media efforts. Try to infuse personality in your interactions. Include fun stories, videos, raffles and contests, anything that can provide value and encourage your followers to come back over and over again.
If you’re not already doing so, it’s also worthwhile responding to customer queries and concerns and make some genuine efforts to improve your products based on their recommendations.
Also, an active social feed is essential if you want to improve your social rankings. Social signals are very important nowadays and are being increasingly used by Google as a criteria to rank websites, so make sure that you do not neglect this aspect.
4. Link with other partners related to your industry
Build strategic strategies with people related to your company. Links still hold some power nowadays, but they have to be organic. And people often forget that the primary goal of links is to send relevant leads to your website, not necessarily improve your search engine rankings.
If you’re launching an app that connects dog walkers with pet owners for instance, consider linking to local pet shops or pet grooming businesses in your area. And also offer to do the same for them. This will allow you to gain visibility and leads from the right set of people fast.
Local search is one of the most powerful tools you can use for your business, if done correctly.
Start by claiming your listings and add as much information as possible about your business. Also make sure that the information is consistent across the board.
Remember that reputation is everything and that reviews will have a direct incidence on how visible your business will be. And don’t forget to form strategic alliances with business in your area and ramp up your social media efforts.
If you manage to follow these few simple tips, you should be able to gather tons of laser targeted leads from local searches in no time.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Alex Mungo, who runs Go Mungo SEO a boutique style digital marketing agency based in Islington, London providing SEO services for small businesses.