When it comes to search ranking, not every marketing initiative is meant to position businesses at the top of national search results. Sometimes it’s about competing on a local level. Whether you're interested in boosting the digital presence of your single-location, brick-and-mortar business or your multi-location, national chain, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals of local search marketing and local search engine optimization (SEO).
To get you pointed in the right direction, Werkbot, your go-to agency for immersive ADA compliant website design, wrote up a crash course that goes over all of the essentials of competing in search engine results pages (SERPS) in your city. In this post, we define local SEO, discuss why it’s critical to your business’s success, and provide six actionable tips to boost your search ranking.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a digital marketing practice that increases search visibility for businesses or organizations that operate within a specific geographic area. It's critical for both single and multi-location businesses.
When determining if you need to improve your local SEO, ask yourself: Do I meet with customers directly? If yes, then the answer is yes.
Successful local SEO isn't a silver-bullet solution for ranking well in search engines; it's an iterative process that requires you to optimize your website, update your directory listings, and create content.
Local SEO aims to have your business appear at the top of search and map results when customers make a relevant, proximity-based search query. When it comes to Google specifically, they determine local ranking based on:
The Importance of Local SEO
According to a study conducted by HubSpot, “72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles.” HubSpot’s findings indicate that search results do, in fact, influence purchasing decisions. The closer the business is to a consumer’s home, the more likely they are to go out and make a purchase.
Smartphones are huge players in helping consumers make these decisions. In 2016, ThinkWithGoogle stated that “76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a physical place within 24 hours.” While it is likely that the percentage has increased since then, the world has also seen an increase in online shopping due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and related store closures.
But now that restrictions have lifted and businesses are resuming operations, local SEO has become even more important. The pandemic impacted companies of all sizes around the world, but small and family-owned businesses have been hit the hardest. JPMorgan Chase & Co., a financial institution, found that local spending experienced a 12.8 percent decrease between March 2019 and March 2020. Local SEO can help assist in getting shoppers back on track. Here’s how to make it happen:
Set Up Google My Business and Bing Places
When using Google My Business, you can edit your services, photos, location, hours of operation, and other vital information. You can also engage with your consumers by using this tool to respond to their reviews and answer their questions. Additionally, Google My Business provides information on your local search performance and advises you of what keywords to include in your business profile to improve your search ranking.
Bing Places for Business functions similarly to Google My Business. In a simple three-step process, you may claim your business listing, edit your business profile, and verify that the business is your own.
Utilize Local Directories
Backlinks are always an essential part of improving search authority. But when it comes to local SEO, backlinks from local directories are vital, albeit hard to find depending on the city in which you’re located. For starters, check if there is a place to submit a business listing on the website of your local chamber of commerce, newspaper, or municipal website.
To improve your search ranking, be sure your company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all directories and websites. Many sites will also have you identify your industry, write a description of your products and services, and add images.
Pursue Local Press Opportunities
Find a story-worthy aspect of your business and reach out to your local news outlets. More often than not, when a newspaper or television station does a story on your business, they’ll put a link to your website somewhere on their website. Not only is the backlink valuable for some “SEO juice” but it’s also being clicked on by a very specific, local audience.
Fill Out Your Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Title tags and meta descriptions are HTML attributes that indicate what kind of information will be on a page. These attributes help people and search engines find your website. When it comes to local SEO, your title tags and meta descriptions should include relevant keywords and the geographical area in which your business is located.
Optimize Your Images
Another way to bring in traffic to your webpage is by adding alt text to your images. Alt-text is a brief description, typically 125 characters or less, of the content displayed within the image. When applicable, add a location to your alt-text. For example, suppose Joe's Jelly Donuts showcases their storefront on their site. In that case, the alt text could say, "Joe's Jelly Donuts's storefront on the corner of 123 Street and Avenue X in Pittsburgh, PA."
Update Your Social Profiles
Regularly updating your social media profiles and producing content can also indirectly increase your search ranking and visibility. When creating your profile on any social media platform, be sure to fill out your address, category of business, services, and all other contact information if applicable. The more content you provide, the better. Likes, comments, and shares also contribute to bringing awareness to your business, which may, in turn, increase public interest and daily searches regarding your products and services.
Reach Out to a Specialist
Local SEO is critical to the success of your business. But there are many more technical aspects of local SEO that are often better left to the searchbots… we mean, Werkbots. From streamlining your website markup to ensuring ADA compliance, there’s a whole lot that goes into making you stand out. If you’re looking to improve your search ranking and optimize your website, Werkbot, a full-service digital marketing agency, is here to help. Drop by our About Page to learn more or contact us today.