If you have a business that serves local customers, continuously focusing on local SEO is not only important, it’s imperative. Local SEO efforts must be consistent and ongoing. It’s not enough to simply have a website and expect it will be found in Google.
This post will give you five core tips that will help boost your local ranking in the search engines and hopefully get more business while you’re at it.
1- Create local content
You’ve probably heard by now that blogging is an effective way to create content that drives traffic. However, not just any subject matter will do when it comes to getting customers to your website who are specifically searching for your services. Your blog about kittens isn’t going to help if you run a local architecture firm.
TIP: Create content that is relevant to your location and focus on keywords that your prospective clients are searching for. For instance, if you’re the same architecture firm I mentioned above, reserve a section of your blog that focuses on historical architecture in your city. You are more likely to rank in the search engine for “architecture + your city”.
2- Claim your business on local directory listings and review websites
Getting your site listed through free citations, such as online yellow pages, is one of the first things you should do to improve local SEO. Though it can be tedious and time consuming, adding your business to local directories is an effective way to be found for your services. Believe it or not, there are thousands of both free and paid local directories online that can help improve your search engine ranking.
In addition, local review services, such as Yelp and Google Places are keys to not only extra visibility, but also create social proof for your services among existing and prospective customers.
TIP: Block out a number of hours every week and spend the time adding your business to directories. Consistent citations will have a huge impact on your search engine ranking over time. In a nutshell, a business with more citations will rank higher than one without citations. And here’s a PRO Tip: Make sure you are extremely consistent when it comes to listing your name, address and phone number (NAP.) Even the tiniest detail, like using ‘St.’ vs. ‘Street’ can throw Google’s indexing off and actually cause your website to rank lower.
3- GET ON GOOGLE+
It may not seem like it’s doing much at the moment, but Google+ will have a larger and larger impact on how businesses rank in Google. Trust me, it matters. When users who have a Google account, such as Gmail or Google+ search for services, Google has begun displaying Google+ business pages in addition to normal search results. Businesses that begin building content and a network on their Google+ page now will have a competitive advantage once the function is fully integrated. You really have nothing to lose.
TIP: If you don’t already have a Google+ business page, get one now. Start adding content there consistently. You can even automate this with your regular social media updates. You don’t have to do much, just DO something. Google has been quoted saying business profiles with the most content and larger networks will eventually be favored over those without.
4- Get involved (really involved) locally
There is one rule of thumb every marketer should make part of their mantra — be genuine. Nothing happens without good intentions and a little ol’ fashioned networking. Although social media has made it easier than ever to network online, it still doesn’t compete with cold, hard local networking. You absolutely have to get out there and make real life connections. So, use those @tweets as an icebreaker and make the effort to actually get to know your fellow local business owners and the things that are important to them.
TIP: Sponsor a local charity event. Host a meet up at your facility or office. Not only do these opportunities put you in touch with local businesses and peers in your industry, they can also be a boon to getting links and online exposure in general. Of course, the key here is to remain genuine. You have to remember, at the end of the day, you don’t get support (online, IRL, or otherwise) unless you give it back.
5- Get local links
Link building is a foundational approach to strengthening SEO. Links to your website act as a form of currency on the web. They are also one of the ways (in addition to keywords and your Google+ activity) that Google determines whether or not your website is relevant on the Internet.
One of the easiest ways to get great links to your website is to trade links with other business owners. Exchange a link on your site for link on theirs and you’ve both got one solid Google vote in the bag
TIP: After you network with peers and fellow business owners and you’ve established a relationship, ask them for a link to your website. Chances are, they would love one from yours, as well.
Image by Office of Governor Patrick, and licensed through Creative Commons.
Camella Mendez is a content strategist with Internet Exposure, a Minneapolis web design agency. Exposure specializes in web design, web development and Internet marketing in the Twin Cities. Learn more about our services.