Getting your local business listed with a local SEO citation is essential for a brick and mortar business.
Owning and successfully running a business with more than a single outlet is an endeavor worth, professional respect and pride.
However, the challenges multiply with every new location you open, simply because we are a very connected generation that wants to have a seamless experience with every brand out there. This local SEO guide will help you.
Discrepancies in brand image, inconsistency in language use, and customer service quality differences can all make a customer turn away and look for the next best game in town. However, your customers arenít the only ones affected by these fine details Ė search engines are, too.
To keep your customers happy and managing their preferences is the first priority. The search engines reward brands who manage to master the art of white-hat SEO strategies that help position you no matter the number of locations.
If you are looking for methods to achieve just that, look no further. Take the following key tips to heart and help your brand thrive in all of its locations without harming your SEO rankings.
What is Local SEO?
Local search engine optimization (local SEO) is a digital marketing strategy that businesses of all sizes can employ to appear in potential customersí searches.
Local SEO helps searchers find businesses near them, making them more applicable for brick and mortar locations than e-commerce sites.
The biggest difference between local SEO and organic SEO is the searcherís intent. Google does a great job providing the searcher with information based on what he or she is looking for, we all know that. But for your small business, itís important to remember how good Google is at finding local results for searchers.
Think of local SEO as the intersection of organic search, Google Maps, and third-party local directories. You need a combination of all three to appear in your customersí searches.
It may sound complicated, but local SEO is not as hard as you may think.
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Be Location-Focused for Google My Business
Whether you own franchises across several regions or merely two to three different store locations within the same zip code, the principle remains the same.
In order for search engines to treat each one as a valid business, you need to enter separate listings on the Google My Business pages and ensure that the data entered is consistent and accurate.
Even the slightest discrepancy in how you enter your phone numbers, other contact details, the format you choose for your address, as well as the images attached can wreak havoc on your ranking.
In case your different locations also come with different services attached, check for ways to clearly indicate those changes. Categories that show what your specialty is can serve this purpose as long as the rest of your entered details are consistent.
Google also offers a bulk upload spreadsheet for businesses with 10 and more locations so that you can spend less time manually entering data into each profile. This makes the local SEO process much quicker.
Google also appreciates photos within your listings. They can come in handy for potential customers to recognize your storefront before they head your way, and they give another layer of data to confirm your existence. Finally, respond to the reviews posted on these pages, and youíll be well-liked by search engines!
Fine-tune Your On-site Features for Local Search Engines
Search engines such as our beloved Google also appreciate the attention to detail. You should use the same effort when you optimize your own websites and social media pages to reflect the very same information consistency.
However, another aspect of your website that can either make or break your reputation not only with search engines but also with your customers is the level of functionality of your digital presence.
Having a multitude of stores means you need to put your best foot forward. When you focus on ease of navigation for your users Ė that will also positively impact your rankings in the SERPs.
Essentially, there are still companies out there that utilize zip-code only search options. This tends to enrage even the most Zen of customers who are in dire need of, for instance, a cup of good coffee, or a new phone charger.
For best results, use a model such as the AT&T store locator that uses a slew of different local SEO search options such as a city, state, using their own directory, and you can even have social integration within the same page to speed up the process.
Make sure to simplify the search options as much as possible, especially when you think of your mobile users. They need to be able to find the information in a matter of moments, and intuitive web design can help with that, as well as refining these on-site locators.
Look into Business Directories
No matter how much your Google My Business pages can help with your SEO, you still need to ensure that other directories relevant for your business contain all the data regarding your locations.
That way, every search engine will have even more ways to confirm that your business is a legal, valid entity, and your users will have even more options to review and rate your service. When youíre doing a stellar job, this can only mean better rankings and more relevance for your future users.
Some of the most widely used listings include Yelp, Foursquare, Bing Places, and Yellow Pages, but you can always look for more local directories and niche-specific ones that can help you rank better.
There are also various tools that can help you manage these directories to see how your details show up once published so that you can make any changes if needed to maintain consistency.
You should enable reviews and monitor them for each available directory. That way you can respond to negative comments, protect your brand reputation, and also help search engines get a better understanding of your brand.
Introduce and Manage Location Pages
Imagine sending out wedding invitations with seating arrangements for each guest. But youíve included all 600 invitees on every single invitation. They have to spend plenty of time reading through the invitation to find their own name and table.
But not a single sane person would do that to people if they want them to show up, right? Well, why then do businesses do a very similar thing on their websites and put all of their locations on a single page?
It also makes no sense from the local SEO perspective. Much like it wouldnít make sense to build separate websites for each location, because itís far more difficult to fight for ranking of each website than a single, united one.
So, as the most effective middle ground, build separate location pages for every store you own. Add Google Maps, images, NAP details, and you can also add directions for each location so that people can have an easier time finding your stores.
It may take time to manage and optimize your local SEO strategy in order to suit every single location you own. However, with these simple and effective tips, you can ensure that each store has a good chance of success in your marketplace. Youíll help keep your customers as happy as your search engines.
Ratings and Reviews
People love ratings. A rating tells customers about the quality of services and products business has to offer. 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business.
Getting reviews can be difficult as many people just simply wonít take the time out of their busy day to file a review without being asked. But, by making it easier for your customers to find a place to leave reviews, youíll be on your way to ranking higher!
Backlinks as a Local SEO Marketing Strategy
For your local business to be found on local search results, you must develop local content, optimized for local search and ask relative local small businesses for local backlinks. This will help boost your local search rankings and it one of the top-ranking factors.
Arguably the best way to increase your search ranking is to garner backlinks. Backlinks are when other websites link your website in their own content. Other sites directing users to your website is a huge SEO win. But, be careful about what you read.
Some local SEO experts will tell you that the more backlinks you have, the better. Not true! Itís the quality of your backlinks, not the quantity that matters.
A backlink is created anytime you or someone else
Press releases that you submit to the media and to PR websites give you a backlink. When trying to boost your local SEO, try to get your websiteís URL out there as much as possible to high-quality local directories.
Submitting your site to search engines and building backlinks are just two basic methods you can use to get your site onto the search engine results pages. Hereís a great tool you can use to see how many backlinks you or a competitor has and the overall quality of those backlinks.
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Local Voice Search
Regarding SEO, the popularization of voice search is good news for small businesses, especially when it comes to local searches. If you correctly optimize your site for voice queries and work at creating a sterling Google My Business Page, you will have a definite edge in local SEO.
You can Outrank the Competition!
Search engines are certainly asking a lot to get you to rank higher. But even by doing simple one-time fixes youíll be in a much better position than others who are unaware of the benefits of SEO. Google, Bing, and Yahoo are all programmed to balance authority with relevance.
What this means for you is that if youíre doing a good job targeting the right people with the right information you can rank higher than multimillion-dollar companies by being the best fit for the searcher.
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Elaine Bennett, Digital Marketing Specialist, is a marketing specialist and a blogger, currently based in Sydney. Topics that she covers include marketing, branding, entrepreneurship, and SMBs. Sheís especially interested in social media and technology. Loves coffee, music and video games.