Local SEO Guide: What It Is & How It Helps Your Business

Use this local SEO guide when making marketing choices for your website

If you want your brick-and-mortar business to thrive in your local community, you need to develop a local SEO strategy. The mom-and-pop shop, local store or major store chain that masters local SEO will see the largest amount of foot traffic into their business. From there, you can sell them with your outstanding products and superb customer service.

The reason for this is simple:

People searching online tend to visit the top-ranked stores on Page 1 of the search results. If you’re not on Page 1, you might as well be invisible to most online searchers.

As the saying goes: The best place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google.

What is local SEO?

Local SEO allows you to send signals to Google, Bing and other search engines that you are a local business interested in attracting customers in your specific market. When someone types in your type of business—like “restaurant in Brownwood, Texas” or “barbershop in Atlanta, Georgia”—those search engines must decide which websites to show.

Think of local SEO as a hyper-focused form of SEO. While the standard ranking factors still matter, there are some special considerations.

Why is local SEO important? What are the benefits?

Local SEO helps send targeted customers in your market to your business. This can automatically increase your return-on-investment (ROI).

Secondly, local SEO means that you are playing with a smaller field, so you no longer have to try to compete against national Fortune 500 corporations with a seemingly endless digital advertising budget.

The playing field is fairer for smaller businesses when it comes to local search.

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We want people to be talking about YOU before they even walk through the door.

What are some local SEO ranking factors?

While search engines aren’t going to give up their exact ranking factors, we know there are at least 4 factors that figure prominently when it comes to local SEO.

1. Relevance

You need to prove to the search engines that your business is relevant to what their customer is looking for. To accomplish this, you should clearly promote all the items and services that you provide on your website. Start by creating a list of all the terms (aka, “keywords”) that someone in your area would call your business. Then, use those as keywords throughout your website, along with the city, town or geographic area you wish to target.

For example, in addition to the primary keyword “Atlanta barbershop”, a barbershop in Atlanta might use keywords like “men’s hairstylist in Atlanta,” “men’s hairdresser in Atlanta,” “men’s haircutter in Atlanta” and “men’s stylist in Atlanta” throughout the pages of their site to optimize their page for these local terms.

2. Distance

The second important factor is the distance from the customer’s current location. The first thing you will want to do is prove your locality to the search engines by putting your address prominently on every web page on your site. Give the search engines some help by putting it in the same position on every page, such as in the footer or header.

Also, use schema markup to give the search engine robots even more help. Start by selecting local businesses. Then, answer some simple questions about your business such as business hours. Doing this provides additional information to the search engine robots, and it may increase your local search rankings.

3. Prominence

If you haven’t done so already, you need to claim your Google My Business spot immediately and keep it updated. Claim it for every location you operate and be sure to verify each location. Add photos, videos and posts to your listing. This lets Google know that you are actively promoting your business. When creating your listing, work high-value keywords—like “barber in Atlanta”—into your description.

Second, create a Facebook business page. Again, when filling out the About section, make sure to use as many keywords as possible.

Claim as many listings on other sites as possible. These will depend on your niche market, but they might include Yelp, TripAdvisor and Angi (formerly Angie’s List). You might also join your local chamber of commerce so that your listing appears on their page.

Be sure to use the same name, address and phone number on each of the listings as appears on your website. Doing this helps customers and search engines not to become confused about where you are located.

4. Links

Implementing inbound and outbound links on your website is vital as it shows Google what type of neighborhood you live in. Make a list of other quality businesses in the district where your business is located. Then, have a conversation with their owner or manager. Devise a way to help promote each other’s businesses in some way.

Additionally, consider others in the community in similar fields and see if you can promote and share your online mentions with them. For example, a barber in Atlanta might want to mention and share a link with a quality men’s clothing store and a good men’s shoe store.

How important are customer reviews to local SEO?

We can’t overstate the importance of getting great reviews to local SEO. While you should never hire someone to leave fake reviews for your company or offer customers a bribe for leaving good reviews, you can ask customers if they will leave them for you. Ask the customer when they are likely to be the happiest with your company.

Then, schedule a few minutes of every day to respond to those reviews. Even if the customer is unhappy, thank them for their time and offer to discuss the issue through direct messaging or email. Always be professional.

This local SEO guide is designed to give you a broad overview.

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If you have any specific questions or need help, our team at Brown Bag would love to discuss how we can be of service to you. We’re here to help with all your marketing and SEO needs.