Optimizing your website should be an ongoing part of your business strategy. If you want your business to be found, then Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be part of your digital maintenance. For businesses, like single brick-and-mortar stores, that are dependent on a single geographical region, SEO that is focused on local keywords, often called local SEO, is what will drive your search rankings up, and draw your customers in.
When it comes to outranking your local competitors, these strategies will help you get your business the visibility you deserve in 2020.
Get listed locally in all directories
When you are increasing your visibility online, it is much easier to put yourself in front of your current customers than it is to try to attract new customers to you. Business directories do an outstanding job of putting your business right in front of your potential customers. Business listings on directories usually provide a small blurb about your business, reviews of your business, and contact information.
There are hundreds of directories out there, and you want to do your best to be in as many as you can. This will increase the likelihood that a potential customer will find your business over your competitor.
There are essentially two ways to get listed in directories. The hard way and the easy way.
The hard way requires going to each directory one by one. Remember there are over 100 of them. Many of them you won't be able to access directly yourself but you will be able to get to the big ones like Google, Yelp, Foursquare, and Yahoo. Then you can work your way out to the lesser known ones.
Make sure that you run a directory report before creating any new profiles so you can get an idea of where your business is already present, as you don't want any duplicate listings. Duplicate listings will hurt your ranking rather than help.
The easy way is.. well.. easier.
You create a single master directory listing and have it control ALL of the directories listings for your business. Easy breezy. Contact us to learn more about easily correcting your directory listings.
Keep your contact info consistent across all directories
Consistency is key when it comes to local SEO. You want to keep your contact information consistent across all of the directories where you are listed. This not only boosts your SEO, but also helps keep your branding correct.
Your contact info should always include your name, address, and phone number, or NAP. We recommend that you use a master directory listing so you can easily update the directories. If you have nothing but time to burn you could keep a spreadsheet or document with all of your directory listings. When your contact information changes you can go through your list, and change all of them. Fair warning: It's time consuming and not all directories can be updated manually.
Your logo and brand messaging should also be consistent throughout. Avoid using an old logo for one business listing and a new logo for the same business on another directory. That is confusing for your customers and undermines your efforts to build your brand.
Get a Google My Business listing
Google is the largest existing search engine. Google My Business can give you huge visibility, especially locally. There is a process you must go through in order to get your listing and verify it, but it is well worth it.
Once you have your GMB listing verified make sure to completely fill it out. Even tiny points of data can help you be found in a local search. So add photos and videos and store hours, etc.
When your listing is looking sharp it's time to put Google My Business to work for you. Create posts of news, events, and offers and share them. The Q&A feature can be particularly helpful with SEO. You can see ask and answer your own questions in the Q&A but make sure to answer the questions like a customer, not the marketer.
Other directories you should get listed on include:
These are a good place to start if you are new to local SEO strategy.
Optimize your content and web pages for local keywords
Local keywords will definitely help you get found, but that doesn't mean you should sacrifice content quality. Google likes high quality, valuable content on websites. Sites with this type of content get ranked higher than sites that don’t.
Use keywords in your blogs and on web pages that people will use to look for your business, and add location keywords to them. For example, if you are a dentist in Charlotte, you may want to use these local keywords:
- North Carolina dentist
- Charlotte primary dentist
- Preventative dentistry in Charlotte
Of course, any combination of the terms is fine, and it is OK to use “stop” words – the words that link the keywords and make them coherent. For instance, "dentist in Charlotte" sounds much better as "dentist Charlotte" and you won’t lose any of your SEO power for adding the word “in.” In fact, it will boost the quality of your content and increase the likelihood that search engines will find you in the process.
Optimize your website for mobile
In recent years, Google has been shifting toward favoring sites that are mobile friendly, ranking them higher than sites that are not optimized for mobile use. Recently, Google’s algorithm changed again, placing fast loading mobile sites in the favored position over slower websites.
Having a website with fast loading pages is already a well-known SEO strategy, and with good cause.
Today's website visitors desire a fast user experience. When it comes to load time, 30% of visitors will click off a page if they wait longer than 6 to 10 seconds for a page to load. So, a mobile friendly site that loads quickly should be a necessity for optimization.
Do you know if your website is fast enough? You can check it here.
Do inbound marketing by developing helpful content
Creating content that adds value is a very effective inbound marketing strategy.
High quality, valuable content is gold when it comes to online visibility and search engine rankings. This is why it is important to know who your buyer personas are, and what they are looking for.
When you create relevant content for your ideal customers, they will look to you for resources, and ultimately for business. Having poor quality content is not going to get them there. Always make sure your content answers the questions your ideal customers ask, and gives them information that they need.
Inbound marketing can deliver powerful results. A Raleigh, NC dentist achieved 300% growth in website traffic using inbound marketing strategy.
Get reviews on “The Big Three”
The three big powerhouses right now for reviews are Google, Facebook, and Yelp. You should be actively seeking reviews on those platforms. Don’t make the mistake of discounting your company’s online reviews.
Researchers have found that 91% of web users read online reviews either occasionally or regularly.
Even more important, 84% say that they trust the reviews they read online as much as they do recommendations from friends or family members.
Get backlinks from authoritative sites
Backlinks are links that are posted on other sites that point to your site – and you need them. There are several ways to get backlinks from good sites, and the first is to produce high quality, helpful content.
You want it all to be very organic without any forced backlinks.
Remember, quality is your main goal. When your content gets shared, it will get noticed, and is more likely to be referenced in others’ content. You can also publish content on websites for well-known publications and include a link to your company in the byline or even in the body (if it can be done without being spammy or too sales-like).
Optimize your listing for voice search
Up until just a few years ago, the only way for users to enter information into search engines was to type. Those days ended when Google introduced their voice capabilities for searching.
Today, more and more people are using their voice to search for the things they want. The catch is that the way people talk is usually different from the way they type. This could mean some revamping, or at least the addition of, more voice friendly keywords. You will have to stop thinking in textual terms and more in natural speaking patterns. Answer the Public is a good place to start.
Ramping up your local SEO strategy will get you big wins, but can be overwhelming.
The Diamond Group can show you how to outrank your competitors and get the results you want. Download our free buyer persona workbook right now to get started.