Local businesses, especially with a service-oriented business model, can significantly benefit from SEO. If this sounds like marketing hype, consider the following:
- The Google 3-pack appears in the top spot in 93% of searches with local intent
- Fifty percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day
- Eighteen percent of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day
- Sixty percent of American adults use handheld devices to search for information on local products/services
- Fifty percent of local-mobile searchers are looking for business information like a local address
These are just some of the compelling reasons why service oriented businesses such as pest control, remodeling, & HVAC should incorporate SEO into their overall marketing strategy.
What is Local SEO?
In October, 2005, Google launched Local Business Center, encouraging local businesses to update their information online so it could deliver better results for queries with local intent.
In April, 2010, Google launched Google Places, offering an opportunity for local businesses to have a dedicated business profile. On February 27, 2012, Google released an update named “Venice” to allow appearance of local search results on SERPs more prominently.
This was a game changer considering the release of Panda Updates, a move that was aimed at demoting low quality websites on its SERPs.
Since then, Google has released several updates in order to help its users find information on local businesses more easily.
Optimizing Businesses for Local SEO
There are quite a few things you could do to improve your website’s visibility on Google Search. However, I’ll share some of the must-do’s for local SEO strategy.
Social Proof and Citations
There’s a great deal of correlation between building your social proof and your search rankings. What differentiates local SEO from a standard SEO is the approach itself – while standard SEO priorities attracting high quality back links, local SEO focuses more on local NAP citations, local reviews, and other local SEO signals. In short, local SEO is building an emphatic social proof online.
Building robust social proof starts with the following:
Facebook Ratings & Reviews: Facebook Page for your business is one of the first steps you should take to build your social proof. Setting up a Facebook Page for your business is easy and takes just a couple of minutes. More importantly, you need to spend some time on a regular basis to build your fan page. Here are some tactics that could help you grow your fan base on Facebook business page.
Yelp: Yelp is one of the most popular tools for small business promotion. It invariably appears at the top of Google Search for nearly all queries related to local businesses. Therefore, creating a Yelp Page is vital for boosting your social proof. Setting up a Yelp Page is actually much easier than you may think.
Bing Places: Even though a sizable portion of your online prospects come from Google, you still can’t afford to ignore the power of Bing Places. Since Bing is the default search engine for many PC’s and handheld devices, it makes perfect sense to set up a listing on Bing Places and optimize it for higher visibility on Bing search engine.
Google My Business: Google My Business is a great tool for local businesses to set up their profile and claim their listing. If your listing is well-optimized for Google My Business, it may appear in the local search results on Google Search.
In addition, you could use a tool like Bright Local to check out your citations and optimize them for better visibility. There are many services such as WhiteSpark to build the citations on your behalf.
Creating listings is an important first step to establishing your social proof; however, it’s far more important to optimize them to outperform your competitors. There are two factors that play a key role here.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number): Be consistent with citations, i.e. your business name, business address and business phone number across all social profiles as well your website. Here’s why inconsistent citations are missed opportunities and how to fix them.
Local Reviews: Local Reviews directly influence your search rankings for queries with strong local intent. You want to make sure your listing gets maximum number of reviews from your customers. Therefore, you must encourage them to leave reviews on any of your listings such as Google My Business or Yelp, and share their experience. It’s best if you already know if the customer has a positive opinion about your brand before you ask them for a review. I suggest using tools like Delighted to surface if they are a Promoter, Neutral or Detractor. There’s no point in getting a lot of negative reviews. Use these techniques to get customers to review your business online.
Local On-Page SEO Factors
When it comes to optimizing your website for local search, remember to optimize the following elements on your landing pages. Add your city name and the keyword in your Title Tags, H1 Tag, URL, Page Content, and Image Alt attributes. It may not possible to optimize each and every element this way, so try to make it look natural.
Additionally, you could also add a Google Map (with your business marker) in your landing page.
Moreover, if your landing page is mobile-friendly, it’s a great advantage to have over the competitor.
Besides the local SEO campaign, you could also invest in a link building campaign to create a strong backlink portfolio.
Optimizing your small business website for search engines can open a flurry of opportunities to your business. On the top of it, you can improve your social presence, which adds to your credibility and consumer trust.