Do you want your local business to rank in Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL.com, and other local search engines? You have come to the right place.

46% of all searches on Google are local. 58% of mobile users search for local businesses every day, while 88% search for them at least once a week. Moreover, from that search, 72% of mobile users visit a store within five miles.

Clearly, local SEO becomes crucial for small businesses that want to be noticed and patronized by their local community. But before we discuss the concept any further, let us get the basics right.

What is local SEO?

Simply put, local SEO is the process of optimizing the website of a local business to rank better on search engines for a local target audience. These searches take place on Google, Bing, Apple Maps, Yelp, and others across both desktop and mobile devices.

Now traditional SEO still matters immensely when it comes to search engine rankings. But if your target audience is based in or near the place you have your business, local SEO is what will help you get noticed, and attract a significant proportion of customers.

So how can you optimize local SEO for your business? Here are some key points to implement:

1. Optimize your website with NAP (name, address, phone)

A NAP citation denotes a place on the Internet (e.g. online directory) where your business name, address and phone number are listed. Google uses NAPs to verify that the business information you have provided is correct.

The higher the number of NAP citations you have, the more confident Google is of your authenticity. Therefore, it would help if you focused on getting NAP citations on as many reputed websites and online directories as possible.

Be sure to have a dedicated contact page on your website with your business name, address and phone number clearly mentioned. It is helpful in this regard to use a tool such as the Moz free tool to identify all your incorrect NAPs on the Internet and fix them at one go.

2. Get listed on Google My Business and Bing Places

To get your business to rank high in local searches, you need to optimize your profile on all major search engine listings. Google My Business (GMB), for example, provides a step-by-step optimization process for you to follow diligently.

Please make sure your profile is complete, and you update every single piece of information asked for by GMB. Add your accurate location on Google Maps so that people know where to find your business.

Any changes you may make to your business name, contact details, address, holidays or working hours in the future should also be updated promptly on GMB. If you work from home, mention your home address as your business location if that is appropriate.

3. Do local business listings

Apart from Google My Business and Bing Places, it is also essential that your business is mentioned on listings such as Yelp or Xero Advisor Directory or other cloud software directory, in addition to any local business directories and forums.

You can search for listings that are relevant to your business by looking up keywords such as “[target location] reviews” or “[target location] [industry niche] reviews”. In this regard, you should also optimize your business’ social media profiles so that the consumers looking for recommendations on Facebook or Instagram can find your business as well.

4. Put a link building strategy in place

Link building is a crucial aspect of local SEO. Strong links will bring in the direct referral traffic, build your reputation and build brand visibility with your target audience. One effective way to build links is by getting featured in directories of rising start-ups or the top brands in the industry you operate in.

You can also get event links from your city’s website or local community website by hosting an event such as a charity fundraiser or by donating to a local club.

Another great link-building tactic is to request referrals from businesses offering services that are complementary to your own. For instance, accountants could get links from companies providing services to business start-ups like stationery supplies or office services.

And if you have a business blog, you can build links by mentioning other business blogs that you follow, thus building up a relationship that encourages them to mention your business as well.

5. Get your customers to review you online

Reviews are critical when it comes to local SEO. The more reviews you have, the more Google trusts your business authenticity. Focus on reaching out to your customers and asking them to leave a review.

But make the process easy for them so that they are motivated to do so. For instance, you could reach out to them via email or text with a link that they can click on to fill out a review. Be sure to display some of your best reviews on your business website for an added local SEO boost.

It is also essential to respond to reviews – especially negative ones – so that your customers know you are taking their feedback seriously. A genuine managerial response to a two-star or one-star rating on Google can go a long way in improving a potential customer’s perception of you when they search for you.

Summing it up

Local SEO takes time to deliver results organically – much like its traditional counterpart. However, if your goal is to boost your business’ online visibility locally, you must include the tactics as mentioned above in your marketing plan.

And if you have tried any local SEO techniques that produced great results for you, do share them with us in the Comments section below.

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