The 7 Key Assets of Local Business SEO
When researching digital marketing, the vast majority of the material out there assumes your business is 100% or close to completely online. While there is an increasing number of digital software or service businesses available, the vast majority of businesses are still local and based in brick-and-mortar locations serving their nearby neighbors and travelers passing through. What’s interesting is how big a difference there is between SEO marketing for a purely digital company vs SEO marketing for a local business.
SEO for Local Businesses
A digital company may well be looking for a global audience, therefore their goal is to cast the widest possible net. Appealing to broad demographics and building an infinitely large online community is to the benefit of businesses like Drupal, Apple, or even KFC which has locations all over the world. However, as a small to medium sized local business, you don’t need customers in Austria because they couldn’t come shop at your store, eat at your restaurant, or take advantage of your local services.
Instead, your digital marketing needs to focus almost entirely on getting into the search results of locals looking for a business like yours which means an entirely different approach not just to where you market, but how you optimize your content for search engine utility (SEO).
Starting with the basics, today we’re going to outline the key aspects that contribute to a local business’ SEO page ranking results and how to optimize for a local business instead of a global one.
Everyone knows that modern businesses can no longer get away with not having a website. Without a website, you don’t exist to the vast majority of today’s consumers who live their lives through their smartphones. Even where to go for ice cream down the road is looked up before they leave the house so local businesses absolutely must build a digital presence.
In terms of SEO, your website is where you want search engines to guide potential new customer. What matters here is your website content, the titles, headings, and blocks of text on each page. Write organically, which means in a natural and informative way, and be sure to mention each of the regions you serve along with the services, products, or business you provide. This should guide people looking for local services to the right page on your website that will help them most.
Always include a header or footer that has your business name, address, hours, and contact information for both SEO and coordination purposes.
“Blog” is such a simple word for such an important part of your SEO toolkit. Where each of your service or product pages can act as an SEO anchor for website visitors who know exactly what they want, the blog is your opportunity to create inbound marketing and organic SEO-rich content for every level of the funnel. A home electrician service, for instance, can have a conversion-funnel series of blogs ranging from “Why Do My Lights Flicker?” to “What to Do If Your House Needs to Be Rewired”
The blog is fantastic because you can write about almost anything your target audience might find interesting that relates even remotely to your business. For conversions, the goal is to entertain, inform, create a positive authoritative reputation. For SEO, you’re looking to create a growing snowball of relevant keywords that associate with your business.
Bonus Tip: You may have noted that local businesses need to mention the regions and neighborhoods they server or are near. Rather than trying to keyword-stuff regions into perfectly normal posts which winds up looking tacky (ex: “5 Plumbing tips for Tulsa Homeowners”), write about local events from a plumbers point of view. (ex: “How Much Water Does the Tulsa Balloon Festival Use?”)
4) Social Media
Social media is a major part of a full digital marketing campaign but you may have noticed that it is a better platform for gaining attention than optimizing your search engine results. While the content of your social media feeds can influence search engines, the true SEO benefit of building a strong social media following is actually the potential for traffic. Search engines tend to prioritize websites that see a lot of natural visits and inter-site clicks meaning that the more users you can drive to your site through social media content and links, the better.
That said, social media platforms have their own search results and with the right keywords in your content, you should be able to use a little bit of that SEO and inbound marketing magic to build your following and win a few more customers.
5) Google My Business
With Google as the premier search engine and Google Maps as the most widely popular mobile navigation app. It also has an internal catalog of businesses that it uses to provide fastest, top, and sometimes only options in response to a user search. This is known as Google My Business (GMB) and every local business needs to have one.
Claiming your conveniently free Google My Business account literally puts your pin on the map and allows people navigating through the app to quickly search up your business on the road. Curating the GMB listing with all your details and big beautiful pictures will improve your search engine and google Maps page ranking. And, of course, don’t forget to thank reviewers and answer questions because it’s also a reviewing platform.
6) Review Platforms
Speaking of reviewing platforms, even if you are not curating accounts, chances are your customers have already made you an entry on at least one third party platform and have begun sharing reviews. Pick several platforms depending on your industry. Yelp is most often used by restaurants, TripAdvisor for hotels and travel industry services, and Angie’s List for home services.
For every review platform you locate your business on or decide to make your own listing, follow the same procedure you would with your Google My business account. Fill out all the information, make sure the map point is accurate, stuff it with pictures, and keep track of activity. If possible, make it easy to jump to your website, make an order, or request service directly through the review site.
7) Links and Mentions
Finally, SEO judges how well connected your business is to other reputable online locations. The more other sites with links that lead back to your website will boost your SEO and the more legitimate helpful links included in your website increase SEO. External links which direct to other websites increase your connection to the online community. Internal links which lead to other pages on your site enhance navigation.
The best way to do this is with your blog. When you reference industry concepts but don’t want to explain them for a paragraph, include a helpful informative link. Write articles about business partners and local events, then link to the businesses or event pages. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to make new pages, link to other’s pages, and get involved in partnerships that will earn links back to your site. Writing compelling and informative blog articles can also earn you information links from others you don’t even know.
SEO is incredibly important for local businesses no matter what your size or how many locations you have. Because all your neighbors and potential customers do all their searching online, just like everyone else, localizing your digital marketing campaign with well-targeted SEO is the best way to get new feet walking through your door. For more tips on small business digital marketing, contact us today!