Today, nothing seems out of reach. Within just a few clicks consumers are able to find the products or services they are looking for, compare reviews and pricing, and make a decision. So how do consumers in the new age find local businesses?
Simple... They google it.
Over the past decade, the types of businesses the people depend on Google has grown to encompass almost all local business industries.
Dentists, Lawyers, and Chiropractors typically know that focusing on their search optimization is important. But how about the roofing contractors, urgent care facilities, plumbers, locksmiths, heck even window washers? What about the local yoga studio, technical school or coffee shop?
Is this starting to click? Your customers are looking for your product or services online. If you don't show up when they look they will choose your competitors instead (and that's bad!)
What is Local SEO and how does it work?
To understand how local SEO works you have to understand the difference between standard searches that can pull information from anywhere and what we call "local search". The easiest... or rather quickest way to determine if you are getting local search results is to look for maps listings at the top of the search results.
Think about it this way.
If you are searching for the "best movies of 2019" you can get results served from a website regardless of where they are located as long as they have strong optimization. However when you have intent-based searches such as "Austin, TX marketing agency" or "dentist near me" the search engines read the local intent and serve local results.
It's very difficult to show up in these results unless you are a local business. It's all about relevancy in search results, so to compete against other local businesses we just have to prove we have higher relevancy. To do this you have to ensure your Name, Address, and Phone Number is consistent and listed in all relevant directories, your google my business page is optimized, yelp and social media sites have been created and you also need proper local schema implementation.
Local businesses must also take additional steps to ensure their Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) is the same everywhere online. If your NAP profile has inconsistencies you will be less likely to show up in local search results such as the Google Map Pack.
Want to gain a better understanding of SEO, check out the Wikipedia page here.
Is Local SEO Competitive?
The competition in your area will determine much time and work will be needed to optimize your rankings. Take Austin, TX for example (our home town!), Austin is the 4th largest city in Texas and local businesses have a lot of competition here.
The good news is, that if you are in a relatively low competition area, or an area that accessibility to tech and marketing experts is sparse you can achieve local rankings pretty quickly. If you aren't in a low competition area you need to be ready to invest in your business's long term success and think about SEO as a utility that brings you, customers, rather than simply allowing you to do business.
It's a HUGE opportunity! People trust search engines, and in turn, will trust your business if you rank well in the search results. When combined with positive reviews and an optimized website SEO makes your business a clear choice for customers searching online
If you would like to learn about your local businesses market and how competitive it is, drop us a line! We are happy to provide FREE competitor & keyword gap analysis for potential clients.
Targeting Local Search Terms
Ranking well for location-based search terms is determined by three things.
- Proximity: Search engines take into account your distance from the searcher's current location (not where they live, where they are physically located when conducting the search)
- Relevance: Is your business & website relevant to what the searcher is looking for? Google's knowledge graph builds a profile on your business so it's important to help provide them with indicators of who you are most relevant for using topical targeting and semantically related keywords.
- Prominence: How are people interacting with your business, have they been quick to leave positive reviews? Is your BBB profile clean with an A+? Are local blogs writing about you? These things show prominence and help search engines trust your domain.
You need an extremely well thought out strategy to rank in the local search results. Keyword research for SEO has always been mandatory, but using it to help rank in the local scene is a whole new ball game.
SEO Services Every Local Business Needs
So now that you understand a little about local SEO you may be thinking "so what services do I need to rank my local business"?
1. Domain & Business Profile Localization
To get your domain to be localized you must include your NAP throughout the site and include location-based keywords where appropriate. You don't want to stuff keywords or overuse any terms, that won't get you what you need. Rather you should include your NAP and also use local schema to help search engines better read and understand your business intent.
2. Directory & Citation Listings
Used to be... way back when... Simply getting more directory listings than you competitors was enough to get listed above them. That's no longer the case, however, citations and directory listings are still a foundational technique that needs to be paid close attention. It's very important your NAP stays consistent in every listing to avoid any problems.
3. Google My Business & Bing Business Places Listings
If you haven't set up your Google My Business page you should do so now. Google & Bing business listings are SUPER important to local SEO, they also get you ranking in their respective local results. Make sure these profiles are set up and optimized for your business.
4. Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
If you have a real business it's very unlikely you would have no reviews. Not only do customers use reviews to help inform purchases, but search engines use them to determine your domain's authority and also take into account the review text for your local rankings. It's important to understand that Google is making a huge move to ensure local reviews are accurate, so don't try and fool the system it won't work. Get honest reviews that showcase your services.
5. Finally The Secret Sauce - High-Quality Backlinks
Much like other SEO activities, link building is no new thing. However, unlike days of the past, it's not about the number of links anymore. Naturally obtaining high-quality backlinks from websites search engines trust will help your domain be viewed as high quality also. The best way to get these types of backlinks is by contacting local bloggers and negotiating a guest post or content piece for their website that would include a backlink to your website.
Tools for Local SEO Analysis
- Google Analytics: Every site should have google analytics on it. Start by setting up an account and get the pixel on your page today.
- Google Search Console: Search Console provides details around the exact queries a searcher uses to find your business. You can use this tool to optimize your digital strategy and focus your SEO.
- aHrefs: aHrefs is an amazing tool for keyword & competitor research. It has on-page audit tools and can track your rankings in real time.
- SEMrush: Same same but different. SEMrush and aHrefs share several features. I personally prefer SEMrush but aHrefs is awesome also.
So What's Next?
Now that you understand a bit about why SEO is important for your local business you should be ready to get started. MassConvert is a local Austin SEO Company and digital marketing agency. We love helping local businesses achieve their goals with search engine optimization.