Author: Cade Rosche
What is Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? We all know that it is very important to show up in the Google results when a potential customer is searching for what you sell. And for most small local businesses, they need to attract customers that are in their area. This means that if you show up for a search like “coffee shops near me” in Detroit, but your coffee shop is in Denver, then your SEO for this search term is basically useless. The volume of “near me” is quickly growing. Between 2013 and 2017, there was a 900% growth in the number of “near me” searches. And in 2020, having a web presence has become extremely important with most people doing their shopping and working from home. So how do you show up when a potential customer searches like “[your type of business] near me” or “coffee shops rockford il”?
One of the most important things your website needs is to be mobile friendly. According to Statista, search from smartphones make up roughly half of all search volume. This means that if your website is not mobile phone friendly, you could be missing out on half of your total potential traffic, as someone who happens upon a non-mobile friendly site while using their phone is likely to leave it (also called “bouncing”) immediately. Google web crawlers can also tell if a website is not mobile-friendly, and therefore Google will mostly only show websites that are when it detects a user is on a mobile phone. We know Google can tell because they have this tool available to the public: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Another important aspect of designing your website to improve your local SEO is to make sure your webpages have Schema.org markup. Schema.org Markup allows search engines to better read your website. For local SEO in particular, it is very important to highlight your name, address, and phone number using Schema so Google can tell if your website matches your other online listings such as Google My Business. Google has a tool to help markup your website here: Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
If you don’t do anything else on this list, at least do this, as this alone can make you show up for local searches. Claim your business’s Google My Business listing. If you have been around for a while, but have never done this, you likely already have a GMB listing that was generated by Google. Even if it already exists, it is very important to claim that it is yours as the information listed on there may be incorrect. Some businesses have even found that their phone number in their GMB listing is not correct and someone has replaced it with a fraudulent phone number to drive business elsewhere. Sometimes claiming your business requires you to go through a verification process, which will entail either a phone call from Google or a postcard sent to your business’s official address with a verification code on it. Make sure you have a legitimate business address before you claim your GMB listing, as you won’t be able to without one. This address does not have to be made public. This process allows you to control your name, address, and phone number information. We will discuss why this is very important in number 5 on this list.
Make sure you add as much information as possible to your GMB profile. Photos of your location, your staff, the interior of your business, and products you sell get tons of views when potential customers are looking at your Google listing. Hours of operation, a phone number people can reach you at, and a link to where people can schedule an appointment are also very important things to add.
You will know your SEO efforts are succeeding if you end up in Google “Local Pack”. The Local Pack is the 3 businesses that show up in Google Maps when someone does a “near me” search. Getting in the Local Pack is extremely important. It gets 33% of the clicks when it is presented by Google. All of the SEO efforts taken in this list will help you get into the Local Pack. And out of the 3 businesses in the pack, the business with the most reviews often gets the first click. Here’s a good article talking more about the Local Pack: Google’s Local Pack.
As discussed above, being in Google’s Local Pack is extremely important, and in that you want your business to be the one getting the most attention. The best way to do this is to get as many good reviews as possible. The most straightforward way to get good reviews is to directly ask customers to leave you a review on Google when you interact with them. Of course, it’s best if it was a very positive customer interaction as you want the best reviews possible. Another way to do this is by sending customers an email a day or two after your interaction requesting that they review you on Google and providing a link directly to the review form, which you can find in your Google My Business profile.
Having your name, address, and phone number (NAP) be identical everywhere it is publicly available is a very important aspect of local SEO. And they have to be identical, not just very similar. An example: “John’s Car Repair” and “Johns Car Repair” are not identical in the eyes of search engines. The same idea goes for the address. “123 Main St” and “123 Main Street” are not identical. Your NAP needs to be listed identically on your Google My Business profile, every page of your website (if you only have 1 location), your social media profiles, and on any other citation or listing your business has online.
Another way to improve your local SEO is to make sure you have local citations (AKA links on other websites to your website). A local citation is a link or listing of your business that is relevant to your specific city or town. The classic example of this is a Chamber of Commerce. Usually, when you join a local chamber of commerce, they will add a page on their website describing your business and linking to your website. Another way to get a local citation is to work with a blogger in your area, either writing an article for them or providing expertise for an article they are writing. You can also try to get on local “Best of” lists. For example, if you are in a big city there is likely a local food blog that creates lists of the best restaurants in their area. You will just need to email or call them to alert them to the existence of your restaurant and possibly request that they review it. You should be able to find these opportunities with a few Google searches.
The final tip on how to improve your local SEO I have for you is to utilize the post function on your Google My Business profile. Writing posts on your GMB profile is very quick and easy. You can post almost anything on it, be it promotions your are running, quick updates on changes to your business that are relevant to customers, or a popular one in 2020 that Google encourages you to do is to post how your business is responding to COVID-19. They even have a special “COVID-19 Alert” that they tag the post with. These posts will show up at the bottom of your business’s card on the right hand side of the Google search results.
Thank you for reading! If you are interested in Rosche Digital Marketing building you a website and managing your local SEO, contact us here: Contact.