It doesn’t matter if you’re already running a brick-and-mortar store. One of the best strategies to attract new customers and encourage repeat sales is local search engine optimization or SEO for short.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of taking your shop online and optimizing it for local search is that you’ll be able to continue your operations despite current restrictions - due to COVID-19.
If you’re new to the concept of local SEO, don’t worry. Read until the end of this article to learn some basics and strategies that you can start implementing now. We’ve made sure that the tips below are useful and relevant for your business.
How Does Local SEO Work?
Let’s say, for instance, that you’re someone looking for the best bakery in your city. So, you head over to Google and start searching. Google then suggests some local bakery options based on your query.
You see a list of shops, their star ratings, location, some pictures, and a map on top. Now that you have the information, all that’s left is to visit the shop that you like and buy. That’s how local SEO works in a nutshell.
From a business owner’s perspective, it means greater opportunities to position your products to people who need them at the moment.
Rank Locally Starting Today With These Strategies
Here are some handy tips that you can use to start ranking in local search results. Some of these will take time to implement especially if you’ve never done SEO in the past. Or go ahead, outsource this to a trusted team if needed.
1. Create a Google My Business page and optimize it.
The first thing you need to do is to register your local business with Google My Business (GMB). It’s completely free. By signing up, Google will be able to promote your business on its search results and Google Maps.
Note that Google has to confirm that your business is authentic - so make sure to add all the details about your business. The more information you can provide, the better. If your business has multiple locations, bulk upload them at once.
When it comes to optimizing your GMB profile for SEO and sales, one effective strategy is to get good reviews. Ask for them! If you get bad reviews, respond to them quickly.
2. Submit your business to local directories.
You already know that your business details on Google My Business should be accurate. But that’s not all. Whenever you’re submitting your business information such as your name, address, and phone number to third-party sites (a.k.a. “citation building”), it should also be accurate.
The good news is, there are lots of websites where you can list your business. Examples include Yelp, Yellow Pages, and niche-specific sites like TripAdvisor. Keep in mind that not all directories are high-quality, so choose the best ones that will give you valuable traffic.
3. Perform keyword research.
Keyword research for local SEO isn’t something you do just once. Checking what terms people are using when looking for products or services every now and then helps you to refine your SEO strategy.
Don’t just aim for high-volume keywords. More importantly, go for keywords that are highly relevant to your website so you can generate quality traffic.
Let’s say you’re running a bakery in Manhattan. Your keywords will more likely be [your product] + [your location]. For example, “best manhattan bakery,” “manhattan bakery delivery,” or “bakery new york manhattan.”
Here are some tools you can use:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Google’s auto suggest function
The secret to successful keyword research is to think like your customers. Once you’ve finalized your keywords, incorporate them into your website copy, meta descriptions, title tags, and URLs.
4. Write high-quality local content.
It’s not as simple as throwing in a bunch of keywords - and hope that it’ll work. Make your website shine in local search by creating content that provides value to your local audience.
That said, it’s important to understand who your audience is so you can cater to their needs through content. Find out about the following:
- Problems they’re facing
- Topics they’re interested in
- Their hobbies
- Stories/events happening in your local area
- Common questions people ask about your product/service
There are lots of things you can write about for local content. You can create case studies of successful projects you’ve completed, in-depth buying guides, and informative posts about your area.
Doing that will also build your expertise. People will turn to you for reliable advice and become your customer down the road.
5. Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.
Mobile-friendliness is also key to ranking higher in local search results. Your audience may be using various devices to search online. One could be browsing through a tablet while another through their phone.
Regardless of the device, your site should be optimized for mobile. This is especially important now that over 90% of people worldwide use a mobile device to go online.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check your website. Here are more tips to ensure mobile-friendliness:
- Increase your website speed.
- Pick a simple web design or simplify yours now.
- Adjust your font and button size so it becomes more visible.
- Add a search function for your products.
- Check that your content (image/video/text) loads quickly.
Just because you’ve nailed mobile-friendliness, doesn’t mean you can leave your site as it is. Do regular testing to detect small issues that arise along the way.
These are just some of the many tips to perform local SEO for your business this year. But these should help kickstart your rankings. Start by completing your Google My Business Listing and working on your citations. Then plan your keyword and content strategy.
If you already have an existing website, conduct a thorough site audit to get a good idea of how you’re currently performing. That will be the basis for your improvements.
Local SEO should be part of your long-term strategy no matter what niche you’re in or where you’re located. Hopefully, you've learned from this article and are ready to take action!