You want your business website to rank in local search results when people in a specific town or neighborhood try to find you. Most likely your goal is to attract prospects, not to sell to them directly through your website. But your website helps people to find your business and, from there, to visit your store or to hire you for your services.
Websites focusing on a local audience are different from those focusing on a national audience. In most cases, when visitors are interested in your services, you’ll have a personal interaction with them, whether that’s face-to-face or via a phone call.
Your competitors are also local businesses. You may actually know your competitors.
Do you know which queries your local audience uses when searching for your type of business? You should get inside the heads of your audience and figure out what they’re searching for.
For most local search queries, people will actually use the name of the town when searching for something. For instance, they’ll type in [plumber Lancaster] or [therapist New Jersey].
But even if people do not use a local term in their search query, Google will probably recognize their query as a local search intent. Searching for [dentist] in your hometown will produce similar (but not identical) results as searching for [dentist Lancaster]. Google will give search results based on your location if they recognize a query as having local search intent. This also counts for near me searches.
Keyword research can be hard. But since you, as a local business owner, regularly talk with your audience, you have a big advantage. Ask them about their search behavior. Ask your customers what they were searching for when they first visited your website. Or what they would be searching for if they’d be looking for your type of business. That’s valuable information.
Don’t stop there, though. Think about other search terms, as well, as you might be missing out on an audience.
Optimize Your Snippet
Make sure that the snippet of your web page that Google shows in its search results is optimized for local SEO. You want to do that because Google will know you’re focusing on a local audience, but you also want to do that because your audience will recognize you as a local business.
Here’s the results for a dog boarding service:
Your audience is searching for a plumber, dentist or hair salon nearby or a carpenter who will come to their house. They’ll click on the results that indicate that the business they’re searching for is located in their proximity. Your snippet should state clearly where your business is.
That’s important for local search.
First Impressions Are Everything
Once your snippet has convinced people to click on your website link in the search results, you want them to stay on your website and not click away, i.e., bounce. A high bounce rate will eventually result in lower rankings, so you want to make an awesome first impression.
When you’re a therapist, a doctor, a hair stylist or a carpenter, you basically have to sell yourself. People want to know who they are going to be dealing with.
And how best to do that? A good picture is key to making a strong first impression.
Your website should be a strong reflection of your business, as well. If you have a physical shop, you’ll want plenty of high-quality optimized photos of your business – and perhaps your employees – on your website. Videos are also a great way to present your business to the audience.
Content for Local Business SEO | Google My Business
The #1 most important thing you can do to get your business found in local search is to have a complete and robust Google My Business listing. Business hours, address and phone numbers, a description of your business, links to your website and directions are the basics, but GMB lets you post photos of your projects, promote sales you are running, publish excerpts of blogs with links back to the article, show reviews from customers and more things that all work toward benefitting local search results.
To rank in the local search results, the content on your website should be related to your local business, specifically how you service customers locally. A blog is a great part of content strategy and works especially well for local SEO. Write about what you know, what will be of interest to your target audience and how what you do can solve a problem for your prospects.
For example, if you’re a florist, write about how you get inspiration for your beautiful bouquets and how happy brides have been with your work. Here’s the perfect opportunity to write about your customers, too. And gather amazing photos that tell an awesome story about you and your team, your talents and how you can do the same for someone looking for a florist.
Ratings, Reviews and Testimonials
Local testimonials, ratings and reviews are also an important part of your local presence online. If people are exceptionally satisfied, they should surely be willing to leave a review on your website.
Here’s a few reviews for the dog boarding service mentioned previously:
Writing about local events and your business’s involvement in those events is also a great content strategy for local SEO. Do you sponsor a kids’ softball team? This is perfect to include in your “About Us” section. With photos and possibly profiles of the kids themselves wearing their gear containing your business name, of course.
In any local SEO content strategy, your blog posts should relate to your local community. For example, as a carpenter, you can say “here’s a project I worked on in Lancaster.” And don’t forget to optimize your post for the keywords you came up within your keyword research.
Social media giants Facebook and Instagram should definitely be part of your local SEO content strategy. You can also investigate Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Houzz and others if your business is a good match for the people who frequent these sites.
People connect with others from all over the world on social media, but they are most likely to connect with people close to them. We humans tend to interact most with people we also see in real life.
As a local business owner, you can benefit from this human trait.
Keep your local audience informed of business happenings with lots of Facebook posts and share your pictures and stories of your projects on Instagram. Tag your customers in your posts and stories to increase the chances they will share and engage with your posts.
If your budget permits, advertising on Facebook can be produce great results. You can narrow down the reach of your ads to a specific local audience. Facebook lets you select the towns or zip codes you want to reach.
This article has given you a brief overview of the basics for optimizing your SEO efforts for local search. There’s more to it, of course. We didn’t touch on the importance of inbound links. Or citations. Or NAP. Or how to optimize your photos for SEO.
The experts at DigitalMX Online are ready, willing and able to help you leverage your efforts to getting you found on Google.