If you are a smartphone user or frequently use the internet, chances are you have used a search engine to find something “near me.” Local search queries are becoming increasingly popular whether to find a new restaurant, the nearest gas station, or to see what is in your area. As people become more accustomed to using the internet, navigation is helpful when completing local tasks.
As a business owner, you want local people to be able to find your business, purchase your product, or use your services. Instant gratification is only increasing, which creates more pressure for businesses to be one of the top search results for their consumers. Without a good local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, your business will get lost in the shuffle, which could cause you to miss potential revenue. By better understanding how local SEO works and what you can do to improve your ranking, you can ensure that your business is always one of the first options when someone searches “near me.”
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a search engine optimization tactic that focuses on potential customers around your business. It means optimizing your digital online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. This means when people search relevant language on the product or service you offer, you would be the first name to pop up in the results. It’s an essential part of any small business’ marketing strategy and allows your company to compete with larger organizations. Ensuring that your name appears first during a search in your area increases your digital visibility. This is essential to driving foot traffic and generating new leads that will yield paying customers.
How Do I Know If My Local Strategy Is Working? The Checklist.
Whether you have already attempted local SEO (or are just getting started), it is important to ensure that your strategy is effective and allows room for improvement. Here is a checklist of questions you should be asking yourself to gauge the success of your local SEO strategy:
Do I Have a Google My Business Page?
Several factors go into local SEO, but one of the most important is your Google My Business (GMB) listing. This free listing gives business owners control over how their business appears on Google Maps and in local search results. This GMB listing should be accurate and up to date, as it’s one of the first places potential customers look when trying to find a business like yours.
Claiming your business isn’t enough, but it’s a good start. Some tips for optimizing your GMB listing include:
- Making sure your entire business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are correct and consistent across all platforms.
- Adding photos and videos to your listing to give potential customers a better idea of what your business looks like and what you have to offer.
- Encouraging customers to leave reviews on your listing.
- Using relevant and keyword-rich categories to describe your business.
- Create posts highlighting special offers, events, or news related to your business.
Is My Website Optimized for Local SEO?
Your website is another crucial piece of your local SEO puzzle. For your website to effectively drive local traffic, it needs to be optimized with the right keyword phrases and location-based information. Your website should include your NAP information and relevant keywords indicating that you are a local business to search engines. You can conduct keyword research or use a tool like Google Ads’ Keyword Planner. This tool will show you how often particular keywords are searched in your area. If used correctly, this will yield the most search results and remove online traffic from your competition.
Some tips for optimizing your website for local SEO include:
- Making sure your NAP information is consistent with what is on your GMB listing.
- Including location-based keywords in your website content, titles, and meta descriptions.
- Creating location-specific pages that focus on the areas you serve.
- Adding an educational/entertaining blog to your website that includes local content relevant to your target audience.
Do I Have Any Backlinks from Local Websites?
Backlinks are links from other websites that lead back to your website. They are one of the most important ranking factors for SEO (especially for local SEO). Backlinks act as digital endorsements that help improve your website’s authority and search engine ranking. Regarding local SEO, having backlinks from local websites is especially beneficial. This signals to search engines that your site is relevant to the area.
Some tips for getting backlinks from local websites include:
- Reaching out to local businesses and organizations and asking them to link to your website (offering to link to their website can sweeten the deal).
- Submitting your website to local directories and listing sites.
- Creating a constant flow of informative and shareable content on your website that local news outlets or blogs may want to link to.
Are My Social Media Profiles Optimized for Local SEO?
Social media is another essential piece of the local SEO puzzle. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow you to connect with potential customers in your area and promote your business to them directly. The unique potential of social media lies in its ability to connect customers with you and your business on a more personal level. When you make a connection like this, you can build lasting and financially favorable relationships that can lead to brand loyalty. For example, suppose you’re a local restaurant. In that case, you could use social media to post photos of your dishes, let customers know about special events and offers, or interact with customers daily. Ensuring that you have tagged your location in social media posts allows your business to pop up when people search for local options. Otherwise, you will only generate traffic from people who type in your business name, and these customers are already familiar with your brand.
Some tips for successfully optimizing social media profiles for local SEO include:
- Dominate your local market by claiming all the social media handles relevant to your business name and location.
- Filling out your profile information completely, which includes your NAP information, website URL, and location.
- Post relevant local content showcasing your business in the best light to capitalize on local trends.
- Encouraging customers to leave experiential reviews on your social media profiles.
- Interacting with customers regularly builds social relationships and creates a sense of community around your brand.
Is My Website Mobile-Friendly?
More and more people are using their mobile devices to access the internet, and this trend will only continue to grow. A mobile-friendly website is easy to navigate and allows ease of use on a smaller screen without zooming in or scrolling horizontally. Google has started to favor mobile-friendly websites in its search ranking, so it’s important to ensure your website is optimized for mobile use. This can be accomplished through responsive design. Responsive design is when a website is designed to adjust automatically to the size of the screen it is being viewed on. Alternatively, you can create a separate mobile version of your website specifically designed for smaller screens. This separate version allows people on or off mobile phones to access your content. People often use their phones when they are out in the community and need local services. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure your website can be easily accessed while walking down the street or driving around town.
Some tips for making sure your website is mobile-friendly include:
- Using error-free responsive design or creating a separate mobile version of your website.
- Making sure your website content loads quickly on mobile devices.
- Designing your website so that it is easy to navigate on a smaller screen.
- Using large and legible fonts.
- Keeping your content concise and to the point.
Is My Paid SEO Strategy Effective?
While natural SEO is important and should be the foundation of your local SEO strategy, paid methods can also be effective in helping you to reach your target audience. Paid SEO, or search engine marketing (SEM), involves using paid advertisements to appear in search results. The most common type of paid SEM is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, which allows you to bid on specific keywords and have your ad appear in the search results for those keywords. Paid SEM can effectively reach potential customers who might not be able to find your business through organic SEO alone.
Some tips for effective paid SEM include:
- Bidding on relevant keywords which are likely to be used by potential customers.
- Creating targeted ads that are specifically designed to appeal to your audience.
- Monitor your campaigns regularly to ensure they are performing well and making adjustments as needed.
- Using effective call-to-actions (CTAs) in your ads that encourage people to take the next step.
After the conclusion of a paid SEM campaign, you will want to take a close look at the results to determine if it was effective in helping you to reach your goals. Important metrics to look at include:
- Impressions: This tells you how many people were presented with your ad. It does not give you any insights on engagement but does validate that Google delivered your ad to the number of people you wanted to reach.
- Total clicks: How many people clicked on your ad after they saw it.
- Click-through rate (CTR): This number is determined by taking the total number of clicks and dividing it by the total number of impressions. CTR gives you the percentage of people who saw your ad and clicked on it (a high CTR indicates an effective ad).
- Cost per click (CPC): This tells you how much it costs each time someone clicks on your ad. Look at your CPC and decide if your paid SEM campaign is cost-effective.
- Conversions: This metric tells you the number of people who clicked on your ad and took the desired action. This action could be subscribing to your email list, downloading a piece of content, or making a purchase. You can track conversions directly if you have goals set up in Google Analytics.
Make The Most of Your Local SEO Strategy
Local SEO is a powerful digital tactic that can help you reach new customers and grow your business throughout your community. By understanding local SEO, you can ensure your business’ success by being one of the first options when someone searches “near me.” Don’t miss out on potential revenue by using an outdated strategy. While improving your strategy or starting a new one may seem daunting, the potential returns for your business make the additional effort worth it.
How to know if your SEO is working?
To know if your SEO is working, there are a few key SEO performance metrics that you must track.
- Traffic from Organic Searches.
- Several Pages Ranking.
- Number of Backlinks.
- Referrals from other websites.
- Domain & Page Authority.
- Brand Mentions.
Author Bio: Dan Hamilton is the Content Director at Zero Gravity Marketing (ZGM), a digital marketing agency in Madison, CT. ZGM is known for developing overarching marketing strategies and specializes in Pay-Per-Click, SEO, content marketing, social media, development, design, and eCommerce services.