Today’s marketplace is highly competitive, and it can be hard to attract any customers to your brand, much less the right type of customer. After all, you’re vying for attention in the midst of dozens, or even hundreds of other companies. What can you do to stand out from the crowd?
For certain businesses, local search marketing is the answer to that dilemma. If you want to grow your consumer base in a specific geographical area, then you absolutely must take this strategy into account.
What exactly is local search marketing (aka, “local SEO”)? How does it help? What can you do to boost your local SEO right now? The following information will provide answers to these and other questions.
What is local SEO?
As the name suggests, local search marketing is an advertising strategy focused on promoting a brand, product, or service within a local market. In many cases, brick-and-mortar companies use local SEO to generate more business within the community. However, even large enterprise-level organizations often use local SEO tactics to expand and deepen their presence in specific regions (think of restaurant chains that own stores nationwide, for example).
While local search marketing could include in-person tactics, like home sales visits and trade show appearances, by and large it’s focused on search engine optimization (SEO) for online traffic from local sources.
For example, Google often provides users with a “local pack” of search results based on their specific query. Thus, if someone types in “best restaurants in Chicago,” Google will bring up a list of Chicago-based restaurants. But how does Google know which Chicago-based restaurants to feature?
There are several factors involved in that decision, including user preferences, specific restaurant locations, number of clicks on each restaurant’s site, and (critically) customer reviews. (Those reviews are a big deal, since Google’s SERP algorithm is designed to provide users with not only the most relevant, but the most desirable results. What that means in practice is that, all else being equal, a 5-star restaurant is going to beat out a 3-star one every time.)
The bottom line is that local SEO can help your business stay at or near the top of online search results for a specific industry – which is exactly what you want!
How does local SEO help?
Local SEO can help your business in a ton of different ways. Here are just a few of them:
- Increased visibility. It’s obvious that the more visibility your business has, the more customers you’ll attract, and the more sales you’ll close. Adopting local SEO best practices can catapult your brand to the top of local search results, which equals (you guessed it) increased visibility.
- Greater authority. Establishing a solid online presence in your local community can position your brand as an authority, in both the virtual and real worlds. In general, the longer your company has been present in Google’s index, or on local directories like Google My Business, the more prominently it will be featured in search results.
- Enhancement of other channels. Local SEO can have a positive “cascade effect” on your other marketing channels. For example, if your company has one of the top listings on Google Maps or Bing Places, then that will act as a “force multiplier” for your Facebook posts and official blog.
- More traffic. Ultimately, local SEO will result in more traffic to your store – either physically or online. The majority of consumers who search for a local service on their smartphone will either visit or connect with a store within 24 hours.
Clearly, local SEO can give your business a huge advantage in the region. But how can you start implementing it in your marketing plan?
What you can do
Local search marketing has many moving parts, and it can be a daunting task to get the ball rolling on your strategy. That being said, here are 3 steps you can take to begin your local SEO journey, or take your game to the next level:
- Index your website
Adding your site to a digital index can give your local SEO a huge boost. After all, search engines like Google rely on their indexing function to find and feature businesses that are relevant to specific user queries. If you fully index your site, you’ll be “helping Google help you.”
Even if you’re not familiar with the technical aspects of site indexing, you can get a head start on this technique by creating a listing on directories like Google My Business and Bing Places. In effect, you’ll be creating a “digital storefront” to which the search engines can direct customers. (We particularly recommend creating a Google My Business account, since 57% of mobile audiences in the U.S. use the Google Maps app for navigation and local search.)
- Use strong, relevant keywords
Search engines rely on keywords in your content to understand what your business is all about. However, it may not be enough to incorporate common industry-specific keywords in your blog, or on your website. Remember, your keywords are competing with the keywords from several other competitors in your space.
With that in mind, you should research keywords that offer a balance between wide reach and relatively low competitiveness. In terms of local SEO, you’ll also need to use keywords that are highly identifiable in your region (e.g., if you’re selling soft drinks you would use “soda” for a New York audience, “pop” for a Michigan crowd, and “coke” for Southerners). In addition, you may need to research which LSI keywords to use (these are basically synonyms, or words and phrases that are conceptually related to your primary keywords).
If you’re having trouble coming up with the right keywords, you can use tools like Google Ads to suggest some for you.
- Optimize your directory listings
If your business is listed on Google My Business, Yelp, and other directories, you want to make sure that all of your listed information is up-to-date. This includes your hours of operation, business address, contact info, services offered, and so forth.
In addition, be sure to regularly and consistently post content to your GMB account. Doing so will boost your local SEO score, and make it more likely that Google Maps will feature your business at or near the top of its results.
Of course, implementing these local SEO practices into your business may be easier said than done – especially if you don’t have the experience or the bandwidth to handle these activities on your own. Fortunately, you can reach out to the digital marketing experts at Faster Solutions for professional assistance. Contact us today to start the conversation; we’d be happy to help!