When it comes to marketing your small business, search engine optimization (SEO) is no longer optional. Think about the last time you wanted to find a local business to refinish your antique dining room table, fix your favorite winter boots, or sell you that wonderful cookbook your mother-in law raved about at the holiday party. Where did you find it?
In the old days, you likely would have relied on friends, family, or neighbors for recommendations. Now, you can pull up your favorite search engine and check reviews for hundreds of different businesses – and chances are, you’ll end up visiting one of the top-ranking businesses. After all, 75 percent of searchers never make it to the second page of Google search results.
Why local SEO?
Local SEO is a powerful weapon in the small business marketing arsenal. Google has always sought to deliver the most relevant, valuable results for their users. Over the years, this has evolved into serving geo-targeted results based on the location of the searcher. So, when potential customers search for “bookstores near me” or “furniture repair in Memphis,” Google delivers local results.
Getting your website to the top of those local search results can help your business compete with big brands – without having to break the bank. But knowing where to start can be tricky, which is why we’re sharing our top tips for beginners:
Claim your Google My Business (GMB) profile.
Ask anyone: The first step in executing your local search strategy is to claim and maintain your GMB profile. It’s a quick and easy way to get accurate, relevant information about your company on Google’s radar. Plus, it can help give your business more credibility. Verified businesses on Google are twice as likely to be considered reputable by users.
Of course, claiming your listing is only the beginning. It’s not enough to simply update your information and wait for leads to start rolling in. There are plenty of sources that can give you an in-depth look at how to optimize your GMB page, but here is what we suggest you do first:
• Standardize your information. When you add your information, make sure it matches what you have on your website. It may seem like a small thing, but Google’s algorithm judges the legitimacy of a listing based on the consistency of things like your phone number, address, and business name.
• Know the rules. Google can suspend your business listing for a variety of reasons, so you want to be certain that you play by their guidelines. Otherwise, all of your efforts could go to waste.
• Add a few photos. If you want customers to visit your business, you need to give them a good reason. Think of your GMB page as a sort of virtual storefront, where you can show off your incredible ambiance, plentiful parking, or whatever else sets your business apart.
Optimize your website for local search. When it comes to local search, your website is critical. On-page signals, such as meta tags, NAP and mobile optimization, are the single most important ranking factor for local SEO.
• Title tag and meta description – If you want your website to rank locally, you need to optimize your website with a local keyword, such as the name of your city, neighborhood where your business is located, etc. You’ll want to include them in your URL, page titles, meta descriptions, H1 and H2 tags, as well as use them sparingly throughout your website content.
• NAP – Make sure that you include the name of your business, your physical address, and a local phone number on every page. 77 percent of top-ranking websites include this information.
• Mobile – Today, more searches are performed on mobile devices than on desktops, and Google knows it. Make sure you’ve got a responsive mobile site that makes it easy for visitors to find the information they need.
Ask customers to recommend your business.
We already know that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. But, did you know that – all other things being equal – if your business has a higher online review ranking, it’s more likely to show up in local search results?
That’s a big deal. If you’re not asking your customers to review your business, you’re missing out on a (free) opportunity to boost your SEO.
Getting people to leave a review can be as straightforward as having a call-to-action at check-out, or bringing it up in person. Nervous about asking for reviews? Take heart in the fact that seven out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business when asked.
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