If you have a regional small or medium business, local SEO could be the digital marketing strategy that sets you apart from the competition online. Making it your focus means you come up higher during searches on websites like Google and Yelp when someone is looking for a business similar to yours in your city, community, neighborhood, or state. For example, if someone is looking for a real estate agent in Santa Monica, she’s probably going to search “Santa Monica real estate agent.” Your goal is to come up at the top of that search.
So, why else is local SEO such an important part of digital marketing for small and medium businesses?
- Studies have shown that a whopping 96 percent of all computer users take to the Internet when they need a local business but don’t have a specific one in mind.
- Over half of all smartphone users rely on search engines when they are on the go, to look for everything from restaurants to nail salons.
- It’s far less expensive than other regional advertising and marketing strategies, like newspaper and magazine ads and direct mail.
- Even if a person searching has a specific business in mind, he or she is likely to go online to read reviews from other consumers.
- You won’t find a more targeted digital marketing strategy. You can mail all the fliers you can print, but if the people who receive them aren’t looking for a landscaper in Calabasas, they’re just going to end up in the recycling bin. If someone is literally Googling “landscaper in Calabasas,” they most likely need your services.
Sounds pretty promising, right? Here’s one more exciting reason why regional businesses should give local a try: It’s almost free and easy to get started.
1. Post you location on your home pages…and every page on your website.
The name of your business, the physical address to your business if it has one, and your business number with the area code needs to be spelled out on your company’s homepage. No mistakes, no abbreviations, no slang. As matter of fact, put it somewhere noticeable on every page on your website. This will help search engines better understand where you are located. Just make sure it’s listed the same way on each page.
2. Sign up for a Google Business account.
If you want Google to take you seriously, you need to sign up for a Google Business account. While millions of businesses have done so, many more haven’t, and just doing it puts you ahead of them. Google will verify your address and make sure you show up on the map and potentially within the local search box on a results page.
3. Maintain your Google Business account.
It’s not enough to sign up. You need to make sure your business info is correct, including the name, address, phone number, category, and your hours if you have a brick and mortar location or only take phone calls during specific parts of the day or week. Add photos of your business, your products, or your employees performing services. Thank the people who leave good reviews and apologize to the ones who leave bad ones.
4. Add a Google Map.
Adding an actual Google Map to your website, either on your homepage, your contact page, or both gives you a huge advantage when it comes to accurately placing your business. It’s super easy and free to do. Just go to Google Maps, put in your address, and use the tool to embed the location on a website.
5. Set up other local business profiles.
Yahoo offers the Aabaco Small Business registry for a small fee. Bing Places for Business is completely free. Facebook offers a business page specifically for local companies. Make sure you’re on Yelp. There are countless other options, both big and small. Register with the ones that make sense, post pictures, respond to all reviews, and link back to them from your Google Business profile.
6. Don’t forget link building.
Even if your focus is on local, don’t throw all other SEO practices out the window. You need to keep those up, as well — especially link building. Looking for some good local link building ideas? Sponsor a charity event, post your bio with a link to your business on an alumni page, create a blog and link back to it on local discussion boards, add your site to free business directories, or invite local media to check out your business. You can even write a niche guest column for a respected local site with an online presence.