Importance of Local SEO: 5 Key Questions to Ask Yourself
Search engine optimization (SEO) is at the foundation of every business website. If search engines bots don’t trust your website, they won’t add you to search results for relevant queries. If you don’t have text or searchable video that proves your expertise, search engines won’t think you can answer a prospective customers question. Everything from your business blog to an established online presence makes you more and more trustworthy.
But SEO isn’t enough if you have a local business. If you offer regional services or have a physical store, then you need localized traffic. It’s far more important to build brand recognition in your area than to focus on a global audience (though a mixture of both is the best strategy). Local SEO, or local search engine optimization, takes a different set of strategies than SEO alone. Here are five key questions any local business should focus on:
Does your business have high-quality pages on local business directories?
The last time you searched for a restaurant, Yelp probably filled up the first page of your search results. If you recently searched for a landscaping service or a repair technician, then you probably saw a mix of HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, and City-Data posts. A map that showed local businesses may have also popped up. But the websites of individual businesses and stores were most likely nowhere in sight.
The same thing will happen every time a prospective customer looking for your business types in a search. That’s why you need to have a business profile on every major local business directory. Local business directories are sites ranging from social media business pages to review sites to forums. Even professional sites like the city’s Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau, where customers don’t usually look, lend credibility to your business.
There are many different strategies for controlling your profiles in local directories. No matter which one you choose, make sure you include your business name, your address, contact information, and a good business description every time.
Is your contact information consistent everywhere it’s posted?
Online bots are getting smarter and smarter, but they still haven’t fully grasped context and inconsistent formatting. While people can read ‘123 Main Street,’ ‘123 Main St.,’ and even ‘123 Main Stret,’ or other various formats and know what the speaker intended, bots can’t always do the same thing. Misspellings, inconsistent address details, and incomplete names can confuse them unless they’re specifically taught otherwise. This leads to two general problems:
- Search results exclude you. If a prospective customer types in a very generic query and the search engine finds too many contradictory details about your business, they might just skip over you. The system might conclude that you’ve changed addresses, you’re no longer in business, or, even worse, you’re not a real business at all.
- Search results include nearly identical competitors. No matter what business name you chose, someone else in the same industry has a similar business name. There might even be another business in your area that is just an ‘Inc.’ or an ‘LLC’ away from you. But if you consistently name your business and address, and you have a strong online presence, you’ll snag the top spot in the search results. You might even get your competitors’ traffic.
Consistency also helps search engines categorize you better. If your exact address and entity name shows up in multiple contexts across the Internet, your company looks that much stronger and well-established.
Does your website focus on regional details?
Search engines need to be certain your a local business before they feature you in local searches. Once you make your location clear, the next best way to do that is with regional details. If you have a landscaping company, reference the weather and run features on local plant varieties. If you have a restaurant, talk about local events, buildings and parks near you, or local food favorites. Not only will these posts draw a crowd organically, they widen the pool of keywords your site matches. You want to hook into city searches, county searches, ‘historic downtown’ searches, and more. If your area has informal and regional geographic information that a lot of locals use, you should be using it, too.
Are you taking advantage of social media?
Social media is a great place to put down your address and business description to establish your details. But it’s also a great tool for joining your local community without a lot of time and money. With the right campaigns, your social media presence can even grow itself. You can:
- like and comment on local events.
- publicize deals that coincide with local demand.
- post pictures of customers and any community events your business is involved in.
Once you establish a strong brand on a platform like Instagram, community members may start to keep it alive for you. They’ll post reviews of their favorite dishes at your restaurant, talk about how much they liked your boutique products, or put up a picture of their newly groomed pet. It’s good publicity and, if your social media pages are active through both your actions and those of local posters, it’s great for local SEO.
Are you focusing on the right keywords?
Every business needs a business blog. It helps draw new leads to your site, especially if your blog posts solve problems. A lot of search queries are ‘X near me’ or ‘Y in my area’ as search engines get better at finishing people’s sentences. But a lot of good site traffic starts with ‘How do I…’ and ‘What should I do if…’
People in the middle of a small emergency like a cracked water heater or a complex financial problem turn to the Internet for help. If you can provide a professional answer that is the right mix of quick and complete, then your audience will start to trust you. They’ll come back to your site for more answers or they’ll click on well-placed links for more information. Trust and reputation are valuable commodities online, especially in highly competitive niches.
Adding content to your business blog doesn’t just help you build a relationship with people who have found your site. It widens your potential audience. Every potential customer can be looking for deeper and infinitely specific answers, and every business can write about an infinite pool of deeper and more specific keywords. The more content you have, the more keywords you have without keyword stuffing or spreading your site too thinly.
If you’re looking for keyword ideas we suggest using the keyword magic tool from SEMrush. This tool allows you to analyze different keywords choosing the ones that fit your business needs.
Let’s work together!
We’re the leading full service eCommerce agency in Toronto. Our passion is in helping small to medium size businesses reach their goals by helping them become a figure in their community. We’re looking forward to speaking with you! Contact us today or check out the digital marketing services we offer here at Verdure Digital.