The importance of local businesses goes way beyond the economic benefits for the community and country. It is as important as ever, no doubts here. But, local companies also provide lucrative business opportunities for entrepreneurs who may be at the brick of something new and extraordinary, they provide job opportunities for neighbours and friends, and a place to shop where each customer matters and is treated that way.
Local businesses are rooted right where they start, and as time passes by they give back vitality, livelihood, and charm to the place where they thrive. If you are a local business owner, you know exactly how your local services impact your community. If you are not sure whether you are doing everything you can for that impact to have a positive note, you are in need of a local SEO expert. Let’s elaborate more on this.
Once you have an idea of how to make your community a better place, on how to enrich the landscape by opening your own venture, you need to make sure that customers understand your vision, that they are actually in need of your products or services, and that they don’t need to go far in order to get what they want. They have it right there, in their neighbourhood. If you do need help with attracting more customers, here are a few things you can do.
- Shop Window – first impressions matter, so be mindful of how you showcase your vision even before customers enter the store.
- Customer Service – this part can make or break your business. You need to make sure that you and your staff members are always hitting the right notes when it comes to your customer’s needs. They will surely appreciate it and come back for more.
- Celebrate Holidays – include themes when decorating your shop window and the rest of the store. Include Christmas and New Year décor when the time comes, Easter eggs and bunnies… and you can also find a date and think of an event that can just be yours. Something that people can only relate to your local shop.
- Online Presence – as much as it may seem daunting, you do need your internet space if you want to thrive, grow, and attract more customers. When your online presence is handled the right way, you will notice how your community presence shifts as well. If you want your online presence handled right, you need to inform yourself about local SEO and all the benefits it has to offer for your type of business.
The time we live in simply requires a digital version of almost everything – local businesses included. That doesn’t entail that physical stores are not needed or appreciated by customers. It’s just that owners shouldn’t deny the fact that besides their physical, they need their online customer base as well. The tips mentioned above will surely have an impact when customers come to your store to shop. But how can you improve their online experience, is the next big question.
So, what do you need to do for them to really notice you? You need to make sure and leave no stone unturned to always appear at the top in the local online searches. This is when a local SEO expert and local SEO marketing come into the picture and essentially save the day.
The Basics: What is Local SEO and Who Is It for?
As the name suggests, local SEO is a strategy for search engine optimization that is devised to help local businesses be more visible on search engines like Google. Basically, when people that live close to your business location do a search, or in instances when people do a search that includes a specific location, it is the local search engine optimisation of your website that will show you among the top results on the first page. You will pop up and people can read more details about your business. In simpler terms, local SEO experts will prove to Google that your business venture is worthy enough to appear at the top of the search results for several terms and searches related to your services.
This type of local SEO service is most beneficial and highly recommended for any type of business that has a physical store working with customers living nearby in a specific geographic area. For instance, brick and mortar stores that operate locally, such as restaurants, law offices, grocery stores, laundromats, bars or boutiques should all take advantage of the local SEO strategies.
Besides the product-oriented stores, local SEO is also important for service-area businesses too. Plumbers, locksmiths, barbers, or construction workers are all examples of businesses that will benefit greatly if they trust a local SEO agency to take care of their online presence.
Understanding Local SEO and SERPs
SERPs is short for Search Engine Result Pages. Well, to completely grasp what local SEO is, you need to understand how local search results actually appear on SERPs. This can happen in four main ways:
Organic Search Results – these are “earned” when local entrepreneurs understand and follow useful SEO practices and strategies. The placement of the results is seen as a standard search result.
Position Zero – this is the featured snippet block which you can see at the very top of the search result page. It contains summarized information and it is taken from a website that is at that time the most popular and has the best SEO strategy. The importance of position zero is huge – besides the info, it also provides a link to the page and the URL.
Paid Search Engine Results – these are paid search advertisements. There is something called a pay-per-click marketing strategy. Businesses pay for a search result to appear on top once people search for a specific set of keywords or keyword phrases. You need to find high ranking keywords that sell products and include them in your website’s content. There is an “Ad” sign next to the search result that indicates that the specific result placement is paid.
Google My Business Results – you need to optimize your Google My Business Page (see step no. 5 below) if you want to be relevant in this search result section. It is a map or a featured listing that shows your business’s location(s).
The Benefits of Using Local SEO Services
As established from above, for all local business owners, be it an auto shop, a furniture shop, or a watch repairman shop – local SEO will undeniably play a key role in the efforts to generate as many customers and conversions as possible.
As a local store owner, you may find giants like Amazon a tad intimidating, but local SEO favours smaller, local businesses over Amazon any day. Since local customers are your interest group of customers, you will be happy to know that a trusted local SEO expert will use local SEO marketing strategies to attract the right people for the area you operate in. You will invest in local SEO, and your local customers will spend on your products and services as a reward. You will be seen, and you will be able to reach a great number of people willing to either order online or come to you and shop in person (since you are not so hard to reach).
An additional reason to invest in local SEO is the notion that 92% of people spend their income 15 minutes or less from their home. This info is based on research conducted by Access and discussed by LSA Insider. So, once a customer finds out details about your vision, location, and product range – they won’t hesitate to visit your shop. It’s local, so it is not that far away.
If you don’t explore the local SEO options available for your business, your potential customers may have trouble finding you online. Then what is the point of having a website at all, right? You and your employees should take care of your physical storefront, and an experienced local SEO expert will take care of your digital storefront. Remember, they both matter equally. Luckily, there is something you can do to help all this work. This takes us to our next point of discussion.
Local SEO: How to Optimize Your Site in 6 Steps
At this point, you are already familiar with what local SEO is and how important it is for your business. What comes next is what you can do to optimize your website for local search. Here are a few steps for you to follow in order to get there.
Step no. 1 – Optimize Your Homepage
It is of utmost importance that your homepage clearly states who you are, what you do, what you offer, and (at times) where you are located. You should do everything in your power to make it easy for Google to receive and understand all these vital information regarding your business.
You are advised to include all these necessary pieces of information in the Meta description, the page title tag ad in the header tag. Most businesses use WordPress to build their websites and resolve some website issues that may occur. If you use it too, it shouldn’t take long to find these settings. Each time you need to update the page title tag you can find it under Settings, then click on General (left navigation). The page meta data on the other hand can be found by using Yoast SEO plugin. It is one way to see clearly how optimized your website is, the content there, and all other important parts.
Step no. 2 – Optimize Your Meta Data
Experts weren’t always sure whether Meta descriptions and page title tags really make a difference when it comes to rankings, however, their relevance in the Local SEO world is undeniable. Regardless of how big their impact is when it comes to Google ranking, they are still extremely important for the impression your website makes on the SERP. It is the meta title and description that the potential customer first sees of your brand on the results page and depending on their attractiveness and how intriguing they are, the buyer will decide to click on your result.
Since your main focus is Local SEO, make sure that when optimizing the page title tags you mention the name of the city or town where you operate, and the products or services your business offers. This way you will inform all search engines about where researchers can find you and what they can expect once they enter your website regarding product and service range. I am here, and this is what I can do for you. Which leads us to the next step.
Step no. 3 – Create a Page for Each Product, Service and Location
Don’t consolidate. It is not a smart idea when you try to optimize your website. This is helpful for more than one reason. First, it is an overall SEO practice that has proven to be useful when building your page’s rank. Second, by making a separate page for your range you create a clear sitemap for search engines to recognize and understand, and it helps your product and service pages get a higher rank for a specific offer (a product or service). Divide them up neatly, and besides helping your Local SEO goals, you will also create a page that is convenient for visitors too.
Additionally, if you have stores in more than one location, make sure that you create a page for each location separately. It’s understandable, right? You can’t expect your Chicago location to show up in higher ranks on search engines if you also have London or Paris on the same page. Local SEO London will recognize a page that states your London location only. It is easier to recognize it and rank it higher.
Step no. 4 – Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
For a page to be mobile-friendly it needs to be responsive and adaptive to any screen, regardless of its size. This is an important SEO ranking factor, and customers expect it. Being mobile-friendly is especially vital for local searches. Most people do it by using phones, and there is a study by BrightLocal showing that a staggering 61% of people use their mobile devices to search and contact local businesses. Besides that, once a website is mobile-friendly it is easier to navigate through it, meaning people may spend more time on it – leading to higher conversions.
Step no. 5 – Create a Google My Business Page
Google My Business Page (GMB) is actually a type of digital listing. It is free to use, and businesses are advised to create one for each of their locations. We have already mentioned above how this part matters for higher rankings. The search results can appear as a map or as a list of businesses. Make sure your brand is there. The search results created this way can also include call-to-action buttons which can lead visitors to your website, to help them get directions, or easily get your contact info.
Step no. 6 – Target Your Site for Local Keywords
Once you finish optimizing the primary pages, you need to also optimize other pages on your website for popular, often researched, locally-focused keywords. These most often entail phrases with a specific geographic area. Once you have a list, you need to create content that includes these popular keywords.
Technical On-Site Problems and How to Fix Them
1) Website Speed
The SERPs rank of your website can depend a lot on your site’s speed. A faster website means a better experience for visitors. Contrary to this, if a site is slow it may be penalized and ranked down. You can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. It will notify you about which pages are missing something in terms of optimization, and they even provide possible solutions for your specific problem.
2) Low Text-to-HTML Ratio
3) Broken Links
One or two broken links throughout your website may not be such a big problem, but having more than that can disrupt your ranking. First of all, it will have a negative impact on the user’s opinion of your website, and your website’s page authority will suffer a blow as well. One way to resolve this is to go on the Google Search Console, go on “Crawl Errors”, and find a list of any 404 errors that your website has. This way you will have an insight as to which pages need fixing.
4) Copied (Plagiarized) Content
This is vital. Your ranking will surely go downwards if you use copied content materials. Moreover, Google may even penalize your site, and if the issue continues it can also lose any chance of having a rank on SERPs. Ever.
When dealing with technical on-site issues, a sure way to resolve any of them is knowing of their existence. That is the first step. An SEO audit may help here. You may ask yourself what is SEO audit and why does your business need it?
Put in simple terms – it is an analysis that researches your web presence, and its main purpose is to reveal technical issues, website structure issues, potential off-site issues, content gaps, user experience problems, and marketplace insights. Once you know what needs fixing, you will know whether your team can deal with it, or you may need some extra help.
Local SEO Problems and How to Fix Them
Except for the tech issues discussed above, there are common SEO mistakes eCommerce businesses need to deal with too. Here are the details.
1) No Location-Specific Content
High-quality content is crucial for both international and Local SEO strategies. Since your main goal is to attract customers from a specific area, it is only logical that you need to implement location related content throughout your website. Use appropriate keywords and phrases, be original, and don’t forget to include the location in the Meta description as well.
2) Inconsistent NAP Info in Local Search Results
NAP is short for Name Address and Phone number. These need to be consistent, and before you create a new listing make sure all others are removed. Do your research, and if you find any old or incorrect NAP details about your business anywhere – contact the administrators and ask them to correct the info.
3) Poor Social Media Presence
There is no denying how influential social media has become. Amongst everything else people use social media platforms to select local shops, stores, and service providers where they can make their next purchase. So, being present, and appropriately so, is important and can be of great help for improving sales numbers. Research the best business practices for Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms, and make sure that you follow them.
4) The Business Has No Positive Reviews
It is vital you are aware of the importance of customer reviews. Potential customers will trust your business more once they read a couple of positive reviews from previous experiences. More positive reviews – more trust.
However important they are, don’t post fake positive reviews online. If customers somehow find out, your reputation can hardly be saved. Instead, you can ask your customers to leave reviews, or include review systems as part of your website – to make it easier and simpler for customers.