The Top 6 Proven Local SEO Tips
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your online presence to attract more business from local customers. Here are my top six tips to help you improve your local SEO:
1. Claim Your Google Business Profile
The first thing any small business needs to do is to claim your Google Business Profile (GBP). The GBP is a free online listing that appears directly on Google Maps and Google Search results pages when someone does what Google deems a local search or searches for a specific business or service.
The Google Business Profile allows you, the small business, or someone affiliated with your business to update and manage an array of options and information.
- Phone Number(s)
- Hours of Operation
With the GBP, you want to think of it as putting information directly into Google's Databases. Therefore you must ensure your data is accurate and up-to-date at all times. I recommend checking on your profile at least once a month.
Here are seven additional tips to help you optimize your Google Business Profile
- Add high-quality photos of your business, services, and/or products.
- Use Google Business Profile categories to describe your business and your products or services accurately.
- Encourage clients to leave reviews, as positive reviews can improve your ranking in local search results and give searchers confidence in your business.
- Respond to both positive and negative reviews. This shows not only Google but prospective clients that you value their feedback and are willing to address any issues they may have.
- Use Google Posts to share updates about your business, such as new products, sales, or events.
- Utilize GBP Insights to track your profile's performance and make data-driven decisions about your online presence.
- Regularly update your GBP with new information, videos, and photos to keep it fresh and accurate.
2. Get Listed in Online Directories
In addition to Google Business Profile (GBP), there are many other online directories where you can list your business, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and local chamber of commerce websites. These listings can help improve your visibility in local search results.
3. Optimize Your Website for Local Keywords
Use local keywords in your website's content and meta tags to help search engines understand the location and context of your business. For example, if you own a coffee shop in Hickory, North Carolina, include phrases like "coffee shop in Hickory, NC" and "best coffee in Hickory" in your website's content.
4. Encourage Reviews and Testimonials
Online reviews and testimonials can help improve your local SEO by showing search engines that your business is popular and well-regarded by your clients. It also indicates to searchers the “social proof” aspect we humans crave.
Why Reviews and Testimonials Work
According to Dr. Robert B Cialdini, author of “Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion,” he says that:
“In general, when we are unsure of ourselves, when the situation is unclear or ambiguous, when uncertainty reigns, we are most likely to accept the actions of others – because those actions reduce our uncertainty about what is correct behavior there.
One way uncertainty develops is through a lack of familiarity with the situation. Under such circumstances, people are especially likely to follow the lead of others… Customers who weren’t in a position to rely on existing experience in the situation had the strongest tendency to resort to social proof.”
He continues to tell the story of Sylvan Goldman, who owned several small grocery stores in the early 1930s. He realized people would stop shopping when the small baskets provided were full or too heavy. He went on to contraption that was the predecessor of today’s modern shopping cart. The first iteration was so unfamiliar-looking that shoppers wouldn’t use them. Frustrated and on the verge of giving up, Goldman tried one more idea to lessen shoppers’ uncertainty and hesitation based on social proof. Goldman hired “shoppers” to push the carts around the store. His actual shoppers quickly followed suit. His innovation swept the country, and he died a wealthy man with an estate worth more than $400 million.
As you can see, the social proof of the fake “shoppers” encouraged the real shoppers to use Goldman’s carts.
How to Encourage Reviews and Testimonials
When it comes to soliciting reviews and testimonials, two things you do not want to do is offer incentives for people to leave reviews, such as discounts or special promotions. Additionally, you don’t want to hire people to go and leave reviews, either. Both methods are against almost all the review site’s terms of service and are borderline unethical.
What you can do is:
- Make it easy to leave reviews by providing clear instructions and links to review sites.
- Respond to all positive or negative reviews to show that you value their feedback.
- Display reviews prominently on your website or social media accounts to encourage others to leave reviews. Note: If you use these, slightly reword them or use a third-party system to embed them. Copy and pasting them directly will get you dinged in the search engines.
- Reach out to satisfied clients and ask if they would be willing to leave a review.
- Offer excellent service to increase the likelihood of positive reviews.
5. Use Local Structured Data
Structured data is a way to markup your website's content so that search engines can better understand the meaning and context of your pages. By using structured data, you can help search engines understand that your business is located in a specific geographical area, which can improve your local SEO.
What is Structured Data
Structured data, also known as schema, is a standardized format for describing the content and information on a webpage. It helps search engines understand the meaning and context of the information on a webpage. It will also help improve the visibility of your website pages in the search engine results pages.
6. What are Local Landing Pages
Local landing pages, geo landing pages, or geographic pages are designed to target a specific geographical location within your service area.
These pages will:
- Focus on one geographical location and one service you provide
- Include information such as store hours, location, and contact information
- Include maps and directions to the business as appropriate
- Include information, parks, and history about the area being serviced to inform Google you know the area
Your service area business needs to be found on the internet for your services. If you have a physical location, then it is even more important to be found online. Therefore you must ensure that your local small business website is optimized for search engines and local search.
Don’t waste a huge opportunity to reach your potential clients in your service area by not doing the things I mentioned.
However, if you find you need help, then reach out to me. I am here to help you and your business grow. I also offer a free consultation because my goal is to help as many small businesses as possible, even if we aren’t the best fit.