All of us working for a living, or for profit, have to deal with a very common obstacle that is annoyingly unavoidable. That obstacle is none other than competition. The current economy isn’t kind to anyone, and if you’re a local business, you have to either be the biggest kid on the block or on your way to it. When you’re a local business that is fighting off competition who have already been doing Google maps marketing for years or bigger businesses with auto-generated local listings, you’ve got a steep hill to climb.
That’s not the only obstacle you face as a local business either, considering how frequently Google changes their list of ranking factors. If you’re a small business hoping to show up in local searches, it’s possible for Google to totally turn things upside down for you. They certainly did that when they rolled the Possum algorithm update out, because it lets businesses who are outside of city limits the right to compete for any local spots in areas they service.
Now, this is when you need to start emphasizing how you can get your business more traction, and the following 10 local SEO tactics can do just that for you:
1) Claim the Listings for Your Business:
Over the course of time, business listings get created for your company. In time, those listings are going to accumulate. It’s crucial that you claim every listing for your business name. Remove all the duplicates, and make sure the surviving listings have information that is correct. You might discover that finding every listing seems intimidating, although there are some very effective tools that can make this process much simpler.
Moz Local is one great tool for you to use in finding any and all listings related to your business. Just enter your company name, but remember it has to be spelled out just like it is on your own website. That includes abbreviations, capitalizations, and the like. Pick your business out of the results, and then Moz will deliver you the total listings related to your business, whether they be complete, partial, duplicate, or inconsistent.
2) Put Location Pages on Your Website:
Search engines visit your site routinely, crawling them so they can identify the best matches to offer their users in the SERPs. If you have a specific landing page for every one of your physical locations, then search engines have an easier time finding your listings and providing the appropriate results to those looking for you (or just what you have to offer them). You need to include suite numbers. You also have to decide whether or not you want to abbreviate or spell out things like avenue, road, street, and the like. How information gets presented on pages like those are going to determine how you update information everywhere else. Be mindful of that when picking your information’s written formatting.
3) Enhance Your NAP Consistency:
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you get to take consistent naps. You probably don’t have time anyway. In this case, NAP is short for your business name, its address, and the phone number. These need to be consistent across the board in order to help search engine users. You need to get really nit-picky here, because it’s not just about writing down your name and address. You have to include things like Inc., Co., LLC, suite numbers, and those aforementioned roads, streets, and avenues. Always be consistent here, as everything should match with any location information that your website is displaying. The Moz Local search tool and its improvement process will do a lot of this consistency for you. Need a great place to start? That would be your listing for Google My Business, but that deserves its own tip.
4) Update Anything Related to Google My Business:
Google My Business is also commonly called GMB. Users online trust it every day for correct information about business listings. Your local SEO is going to rely on accurate information, so be sure that everything is right. Another good practice is including a link back to your website, your hours of operation, and a short yet informative description. Create an appealing listing. Use your logo as the profile or avatar image, and update any available photos of your interior, exterior, and products. These need to be high-caliber images, given how blurry and pixelated images come across as amateur and unprofessional. If you have multiple locations, then GMB does provide a helpful article about bulk uploads for easy organization and updates.
5) Get Reviews:
Reviews are more important than nearly everything else. Not only do they let your listing stand out in the crowd, but they are also a local pack ranking factor. If you can get your happy customers to start leaving you good Google reviews as a way of showing their appreciation for their positive experiences with your business, it goes a lot farther than nearly any other tactic on this list. Reviews are going to help you rank better, but they also mean that your business result takes up more room on the SERPs.
This is an effective strategy to use for pages that fall outside of the local pack, as you can add things like sub-pages and schema markups to eat up even more of that real estate. Another great thing about reviews is the social proof they provide, because when searchers see a full five stars, they know instantly that their neighbors and peers are highly recommending your business. When you get good reviews, you’re actually killing three conversion components with one stone: namely, conversion rate optimization (or CRO), clickthrough rate (or CTR), and ranking.
6) Cultivate Local Content:
Creating content that is focused on your niche will make a serious impact on how your rank for local searches. Check out our blog post entitled ‘SEO Checklist’ in order to learn what it takes to publish successful content.
7) Utilize Google AdWords Keyword Planner:
This isn’t just a great tool, it’s also free to use! Use it to generate your list of local SEO keywords. You can look up the keywords and search phrases that have high search volumes but low competition. You can also use it to find terms similar to what local prospects are looking for.
8) Get Backlinks from Sponsorships and Partners:
The cruel reality of the business world might have taught you that the best fruit is on the parts of the branch outside your comfort zone. Take sweet relief in this being an exception, because the low-hanging fruit is what you want here. Write down a list of all the organizations and businesses which you sponsor or are just partners with. This can even include fundraising events or charitable drives that your company has been involved in. Reach out to all your points of contact to remind them of your past involvement, and then just ask them to put links pointing back to your own website.
9) Do Local Link Building:
On top of getting links from your sponsors and partners, the importance of link building for your business is never overstated. Optimize all your links the best you can by striving to create relationships with any local websites associated with your niche. Getting links from any websites that have high domain authority for your local area can really pack some punch with the search engines.
10) Use Social Media:
Social media platforms tend to be free to use, so it’s not exactly news that you can use them to stay on your audience’s radar. Google searches and crawls social platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.