You’ve established a business in town and you are eager to hit a home run and smash expectations. More than likely you aren’t alone in your line of business. Competition can be very healthy, but if you aren’t strategic in your marketing efforts, you could very well be left in the dust. That’s where Local SEO comes into play. Local SEO is an excellent way to market your business online – specifically to local customers at the exact same time when those customers are looking for your product as well.
So, you might be asking yourself, “Well what’s in it for me?” By utilizing and implementing Local SEO, you position your business on search engines and other digital marketing platforms to get optimal visibility. And what’s best is there’s no wasted exposure. You reach customers when they need you, not when they don’t. It’s precision, it’s targeted and it’s cost-effective! With Local SEO, you are getting yourself at the top of the list and the front of the line!
Change doesn’t happen overnight. SEO takes time to work. Before you can set out to be successful at local SEO, you need to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Mistakes in your local SEO can carry penalties, which can impact the success of your rankings. It’s imperative to have the basics correct.
Here’s how to perform a local SEO audit and increase local visibility:
Step 1: Competitor Research – Keyword Gap Analysis
You’ll want to take a look at what’s working and what’s not. A keyword gap analysis will help you discover precisely which keywords are bringing organic search and visitors to your client’s site.
There are a few sites that are on top of my list, which will totally simplify the process for you. My favorite is SEMrush. Here is where to find the keyword gap analysis tool on SEMrush:
When utilizing these programs, you’ll want to do the following:
– Analyze organic keywords (pay attention to these and their volum/ranks)
– Check the top organic results pages (which competitors are ranking ahead of your client)
– Look closely at local searches (why? Because you’ll want to see which competitors are ranking ahead of your client)
– Remember to look at geo-modified and geo-targeted keyword phrases, because local customers in a particular city or state usually search for them.
Here is a keyword gap analysis of my client against the top competitors, based on the keyword above “restaurant near west palm beach airport”.
Step 2: Optimizing your Google My Business Listing
Notice I used the word “optimize”. If you don’t currently have a Google My Business Listing, there’s huge opportunity being lost. It’s absolutely critical to have an optimized listing to help your business grow and stand apart from the competition. If it’s one thing I can promise you, if done the right way, optimizing your Google My Business Listing will definitely help visibility.
– Ensure business name, address and phone number are correct.
P.O. Box addresses will not work, and you’ll want to make sure that you use your local phone number for each location as opposed to a call center toll-free number
– Google My Business description.
This is where you’ll want to describe what your business does and what separates you from the competition. Google gives you 750 characters to deliver your message. Remember to include keywords into your description. Describe your products and services.
– Reviews for your Google My Business Listings.
Encourage customers to review your business by click the “write a review” on your Google My Business page. The more reviews on your Google business page and the better the rating on those reviews, the higher you are going to rank in local search results. An important thing to remember. It’s important to reply to reviews as they are received. IF you receive something negative, make sure you to respond to it. There can be opportunities where you turn a negative into a positive. By not responding to negative feedback, you are affirming what has been said by you.
– Update your business hours with every permanent, seasonal and holiday change.
– Pay attention to map location and where your local pin is positioned
The absolute last thing you want to have happen is that your business location pin is in the wrong spot. It’s a great way to confuse and upset customers who are trying to find it.
– Photos – You want photos!
Adding quality, compelling story-telling photos to your Google My Business listings can go a long way in selling your business and what makes you stand apart from your competition, but no photo is speaking volumes as well. With photos, accurate location and contact information, and customer reviews, consumers are more likely to take a chance on your business.
– Pick the best Google My Business categories for your business
Select all the categories from their list that apply for your business, and don’t be afraid to get specific.
Step 3: Local Citations – Local Link Building
I’ve already talked to you about Google Reviews and how those can boost performance, but there’s also another HUGE factor that adds fuel to your growth – and that is citation!
A citation is an online reference to your client’s business name, address, and phone number. Google uses these when evaluating the online authority of your business. Unlike citation with links, citations don’t need to be linked to your client’s website in order for them to get credit for it. Citations are one of the things that make a huge difference when it comes to your client’s search and rankings and visibility.
Having extensive and accurate citations are part of the foundation in achieving high rankings in local search results.
I recommend using a program such as BrightLocal for citation building and cleaning. Leveraging their expertise, they will manage the creation and updating of your client’s SEO citations. BrightLocal has a robust site and tool that can help you identify all your citations and:
– Identify high-value citations you’re not listed on
– Do an audit of existing citations
– See NAP (name, address, phone) errors
– Create a priority list of citations for your client
– Track growth and changes in citations over time
– Help identify industry citation sites and local citation sites
Optimizing Your Link Building
– Choosing the best citations by category
As you work on growing your client’s business, you’re going to want to implement citations and backlinking. I don’t want you to think that you have to spend hours and weeks searching all over the internet for companies one at a time.
– Finding citations within your industry
Citations and backlinks are very important as we’ve discussed. It’s important to find quality citations as opposed to random websites. You could spend hours looking online for companies one-by-one, but there’s an easier way. I recommend companies such as Whitespark. They have an easy to navigate website that allows you to search for citations cites by industry. This is a great resource as the hard work has been done for you!
There are a number of local SEO factors that go into properly optimizing your website pages and content to appease our Google overlords and boost your rankings. Local SEO is a game changer for small businesses. More people are using smartphones with the goal of visiting restaurants, clothing retailers and other establishments in their immediate vicinities. With local SEO, even the smallest of businesses can be seen along with big-budget companies. Make local SEO one of your top priorities and the results will be well worth the effort.