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Local SEO Tactics to Boost Your Small Business Visibility

February 20th, 2024 Leave a comment Go to comments

By now, you can’t swing a small business plan without hitting an article highlighting the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is that magical combination of keywords, links, and other relevant technological adjustments that make your website more relevant, more popular, and more profitable. 

But when the global landscape of the internet gets noisy, focusing on local SEO tactics can help boost your small business visibility. If the prospect of capturing more customers from right down the street is attractive, here are 12 local SEO tactics to help you improve your online presence, get more feet in the door (or eyes or your site), and convert more browsers to buyers.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO functions in much the same way as regular SEO does. But this digital marketing strategy focuses on local search results — the sites that pop up when users add the words “near me” to their queries. It is tailor-made to help small and brick-and-mortar businesses connect with customers who are actively seeking a local service or product. SEO is a critical piece of the puzzle for businesses that rely on foot traffic or business at a single shop. 

Why is local SEO so important?

Getting on the first page of Google’s search results is critical for any business, but it’s life-saving for small businesses. Focusing on local SEO has another perk: a space on Google’s Local Pack, that coveted spot in your area’s top three search results that’s displayed on the first page.

How to Use Local SEO

Unless you have excess cash to throw at Google advertising, consider local SEO more of a marathon than a sprint. Even though it takes a little time to build momentum, many of these 12 tactics can have immediate results.

1. Optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing

The first step even professional SEO services will take is to optimize your Google My Business listing. This snippet of information appears on the right side of a search results page, and it’s often the first interaction a customer has with your business. 

Start by claiming and verifying your listing, then check your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) for accuracy and consistency across any listings. This is important if you have multiple locations. Add at least three high-quality photos of your business and any relevant products or services. 

2. Conduct keyword research

If you regularly blog or post online to social media and see no increase in website traffic (or traffic in your store), it’s time to do some keyword research. Google’s keyword planner has free tools that anyone can use to identify relevant local keywords for your business. This means looking for short keywords and longer text strings (long-tail keywords), plus more conversational questions that natural language processing (NLP) models can understand. Incorporate these keywords naturally in your GMB profile and website content.

3. Don’t sleep on mobile optimization

The best millennial marketing focuses on mobile optimization, but people of all ages use their smartphones more to find the local products and services they need. Your website should be simple and load quickly on smartphones. Go even further and optimize for voice search. This means that local customers can search via voice activation. 

4. Develop hyper-local content

Small businesses often make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone when their customer base is right at home. Local content creation involves creating blog posts, articles, and videos specific to local interests and issues. Use your keyword research to identify location-specific keywords to determine the most relevant information.

This is also a great way to incorporate eye-catching videos. Make sure to optimize video titles and descriptions using your keyword research. 

5. Add your business to online directories

Online directories and review sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages have gotten a bad rap in the past. Knowing that anyone can go online and tank your business with their one-star review can be intimidating. However, most people using these sites are looking for the best products and services in their area — not looking to crush your dreams. Using these and other industry-specific directories helps get your name out there. Ensure your listing is consistent across all directories (and matches your GMB profile).

6. Seek out local links

Another way that Google ranks websites is through links. Link to local websites, news outlets, and blogs, and request a backlink from those sites to yours. The more websites that point visitors to your site, the better. Guest posting on a local website can also establish your authority and expertise in your community. 

7. Build your social media presence

Quite literally, everyone is on one social media platform or another these days. Maintaining an active presence on social media platforms that cater to your audience is essential. This doesn’t mean you must post across every new and old social media site. But identify where your prospective customers are and engage with them regularly. Use relevant keywords as hashtags on your posts, and consider developing a hashtag specific to your business.

8. Ask for online reviews

If you are a local business that is relevant to people who are not yet in your community, customer feedback and online reviews are critical. Consider the state-to-state moving company that needs to highlight how well they know their area. Online reviews are crucial and can be posted on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Make sure to acknowledge all reviews, both positive and negative. 

Remember that negative reviews are like that rotten apple in the barrel. If you ignore them and don’t respond, many customers see that and move to the next company. The way to respond to a negative review is to contact the poster and ask them to get in touch to resolve the situation. Do not argue or otherwise state your case. 

9. Develop schema markup

Schema markup gives Google and other search engines more information about what is on your website. Using specific vocabulary, it labels the elements on your website, like product details, reviews, and a calendar of events. It might seem like a waste of time better spent pursuing your business’s financial goals, but it helps search engines better understand your content. 

Once search engines understand what you’re offering, this leads to more visually appealing search results, like better rich snippets (the auto-generated description that appears below your website name) that attract more local customers. Schema markup also improves your chances of appearing in the Local Pack because the search engine knows what you’re actually offering. 

10. Create geo-targeted ad campaigns

Some small businesses make the mistake of throwing all their spaghetti ads against the wall and seeing what sticks. However, a better strategy is to create geo-targeted pay-per-click ad campaigns that are only shown to local customers. This reduces your costs when people out of your area accidentally click and provides information for people who actually need it.

11. Add a geofence

If you’ve already created ad campaigns explicitly targeted to your customer base in your local community and have managed to collect phone numbers or emails from those ads, go one further and add a geofence. A geofence alerts customers to sales and special promotions or deals when they enter a specified area. This can be as far away as 5 miles or as close up as two blocks.

12. Monitor and analyze

Local SEO strategies are as subject to change as anything else on the internet. It’s important to use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track how your website is performing, including how it works after you’ve implemented your new strategies. Pay attention to organic search traffic, click-through rates, and conversion rates to adjust your strategy as needed. For example, if a local job market survey sees a reduction in the need for one of your services but a boost in demand for another, adjust your keywords and content focus accordingly, then see how your metrics change. If nothing moves (or the needle goes in the wrong direction), you know there is more work to be done.

Featured Image by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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