These days, businesses can’t solely rely on traditional marketing to get their name out there. If you’re a local business with a website, getting a prominent position in local search results is crucial to capturing your target audience.
If you want to improve your search marketing and reduce your advertising costs, getting local SEO (or search engine optimisation) right is vital for boosting quality local traffic to your website.
1. First things first: get your site’s SEO right
You’ve got to start with the basics and build your house on the rock; not the sand.
Your website should have a well thought out content structure. Do your keyword research for popular local search terms related to your business – Google Adwords’ free keyword planner tool is ideal for this exercise.
Then make sure your page urls are structured correctly and your web pages are tagged up correctly. This isn’t the main subject of this article but if you want to get up to speed, you can read more about how to tag your website for SEO here.
2. Get those local links happening
Link building is still an important tool for ranking your website. There are many local directories around where you can list your business and get a link back to your site. Getting listed on Sensis’ Yellow Pages, TrueLocal, Yelp & Local Directories is a good start.
There are many others out there; some paid, some free. It can be worth a small investment to get a link to your website, though be wary of “link exchanges”: sites set up to game Google results. These won’t benefit you and may even penalise your site’s listing.
3. Great content, optimised for local SEO
“Content is king” has been the mantra for quite a while now. In 2015, it’s more important than ever for your business website to be full of great content and articles to drive organic search traffic to your site and engage your prospects.
As a small business owner it’s not always easy to create content for your site – let’s face it, you’re probably run off your feet taking care of your core business.
You could pay another company to do it for you. However, you are the ultimate subject matter expert so time invested in writing blog articles for your website could be well worth your effort in generating traffic and engagement with your brand.
Do your keyword research and weave these terms into your website’s copy. Think about the terms people use in your niche and add locally relevant key phrases such as place names.
Try using Google suggest to mine these words (you know, when you start typing a word into Google’s search field and a drop-down list of variations appears). Start typing “personal injury lawyer Newtown”, for example – you’ll get the picture.
4. Don’t get caught NAPping!
The importance of making sure your NAP (or Name Address and Phone Number) information on your website matches your listings on other sites such as local directories can’t be overstated. If your details change, be sure to update your contact information wherever it lives online. That way you won’t be penalised in search for mismatched NAP details.
You can also speak to your website developer about implementing microdata such as schema mark up on your site. This code is like shorthand for search engines, giving them snippets of information about your business. With schema you can inject things like location, business opening hours, review stars or geo data into search results, making them more “clickable”.
6. Get found using Google My Business
Google Places has now morphed with Google+ to create Google My Business. Instead of having to update your businesses information in a number of places, Google My Business makes it easy to do it all in one place.
Google’s “Pigeon” local search algorithm update (rolled out in Australia in December 2014 but earlier in the US) integrated Google and Google Maps results much more closely making proximity-based search even better.
Search Engine Land said “the algorithm connects web search and map search in a more cohesive way.” So, making sure your location-based details are squared away in Google My Business is now even more important than ever – especially when more and more people are searching for products and services on their smartphones, while out and about.
7. Don’t forget to Bing it!
OK, Bing is somewhat smaller than Google. But, with rumours of more companies setting Bing as their default search engine in the future it could grow in importance for your local search efforts.
Bing has its own business portal called Bing places for business where you can add your businesses details like hours of operation, contact details as well as photos, map location for Bing Maps and more.
And if you have multiple business locations there’s an easy bulk upload tool to make managing things a bit easier. If your business doesn’t have a physical location – say you’re a builder or a plumber – you can choose to hide your address from search results.
8. Chase those great reviews
If you’re providing your customers with a great product or service, why not ask them for a review? And make it easy for them, too: provide a link on your website, in-store marketing materials or even invoices so they can go directly to your Google Reviews page and leave that glowing endorsement or recommendation for others to see.
This will help with your local SEO and provide people researching your business a reason to pull the trigger and go with you instead of a competitor. If you’re concerned about the odd negative review – don’t be. People don’t always trust one-sided reviews with only positive responses. And, hey, if something’s not gone perfectly for one of your customers, see it as an opportunity to learn and improve.
9. Local = social
Most small business owners understand the benefits of being in the social space. However, maintaining and constantly refreshing content on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or more can mean a lot of extra work.
Having a lot of active fans or followers liking, sharing and tweeting your content and links can have a significant impact on your search ranking. It’s up to you to balance effort versus the rewards.
Think globally, act locally
Taking some time to get your local search engine optimisation right on your website can really pay off with increased traffic and more prospects considering your offerings.
And the best thing? The extra effort put into your local search strategy can give you a great return on investment, potentially saving you loads on marketing and advertising spend.
Running a local Aussie business?
Get in touch with our business team for integrated business solutions.