Local SEO provides potential customers the information that they want, when they want it when they’re searching for local business like yours. Even if your business does not have a website, local search optimization helps your business stand out in local searches and helps drive more traffic to your website. Unfortunately, many people approach this as a one-and-done process. If your company depends on local business for revenue, you need to commit to local SEO for the long-haul. It’s time to take another look at your local SEO efforts.

What is local SEO marketing?

Local SEO is an effective way to market your local business online. It helps businesses promote their products or services to potential local customers when they’re searching for businesses online, often using such search phrases including “near me” or typing in a specific city, state or zip code. The goal of local search marketing for most businesses is to promote a physical business that makes face-to-face contact with its customers. Localized search results are now more important than ever, and if your business appears at the top of Google or other search engines for keywords that are related to your business and its location, you will generate more traffic, more leads and more business from your website.

Why most small businesses fail at local SEO

failAs mentioned above, local SEO is not a one-and-done effort. If your business depends on local customers, you need to commit to an ongoing effort to make sure you’re getting all you can from your marketing efforts. Nearly all local SEO techniques require ongoing effort, as each business invests in the continual growth of brand visibility and recognition within a targeted community. Failing to do that undermines your local presence online.

Critical local search marketing efforts to follow

There are essentially three elements to local search: proximity, relevance and prominence. How close is your business to the searcher? How relevant is your product or service to what the search query is? What are others saying about your product or service?  If you can nail all three of these effectively, you will find your local search traffic increasing to your website. What exactly do you need to do to elevate your local presence online?

NAP first

No, we don’t mean rest up before you start your local SEO efforts! NAP stands for name, address and phone number, and it’s one of the most basic things you can do for better online presence. Make sure your NAP is clearly listed on your own website, and be diligent to always be consistent when listing your NAP on other sites such as directories, social channels, etc. For example, if your business utilizes a suite number, be consistent on how you list it: do you say, “Suite #102-263” or simply “#102-263”?  It makes a difference. The last thing you want to do is confuse Google or other search engines.

Create a Google My Business Profile

google my businessIt’s important for to claim your Google My Business and Bing Places for Business page. These platforms are free and offer priceless exposure if you have optimized your business to show up in Google’s local listings. You may find that a page already exists without you even having to create it. Nice, but you still must claim it so that you can better optimize it. Each will step you through the process. Once you have access, be sure to clearly, thoroughly and consistently populate all relevant business information.

Use geo-targeted keywords as appropriate

This is all about the “proximity” portion of SEO. Make it clear on your website and in your keyword phrases that you use for your business description anywhere you list it are geo-targeted. For example, don’t simply put “small business marketing consultant”. Use “small business marketing consultant in Mesa” to make it more geo-targeted.

Get more customer reviews

This suggestion always gets an audible groan from small business owners, but it’s a crucial part of local SEO marketing. A positive review or a powerful testimonial has the potential to convert a lead into a customer. With both reviews and testimonials, you can answer a customer’s questions and show them how other people like them have used your product or service. The easiest way to get reviews and testimonials?  Ask. Really, it’s as easy as that. Get used to asking for them and reap the benefits!

Make sure your site is mobile friendly

mobile friendlyMany local searches are done on local devices, so missing this step in your local SEO marketing efforts will hinder your success online. Here are a few stats on why mobile is important:

  • 88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
  • 34% of “near me” searches done via desktop and tablets result in store visits.
  • Consumers now spend more than five hours a day on their smartphones, and a recent AdWeek survey found 88% growth year over year in time spent watching videos on a smartphone
  • Up to 70% of web traffic happens on a mobile device
  • 57% of all U.S. online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets

Your business is going to miss out on a LOT if your site isn’t mobile friendly. Not sure if your site is or not?  Use Google Search Console’s mobile friendly tool to find out.

Embrace content marketing

Moz.com stated it best: The moment any local business steps onto the web, it becomes a publisher. Your communications with consumers may include the basic text content of your website, a blog, video or image content, owner responses to reviews, and social media participation. Everything you publish should engage customers and expose them to your brand. Committing to an ongoing content marketing effort, such as blogging, videos, checklists, etc. will likely set you apart from your local competition.

There are many tools and services to help you with your ongoing local SEO efforts. If you’re unsure how to stay on top of your local SEO marketing, find a reputable company offering local search marketing to ensure your company is staying competitive. Remember, local SEO is an ongoing effort; if it’s been awhile since you reviewed your strategy, it’s time to take another look at your local SEO efforts.

Patty Hughes
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