If your business has a physical location, or if your digital business serves specific geographic locations, you should be doing local SEO in addition to your regular optimization habits.
Don’t worry. It’s not that hard.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is just what it sounds like – it’s optimizing your site to show up when people look for businesses in your area.
A well-optimized business will show up in the map pack when someone searches nearby, effectively ranking higher than the first position. We call that “position zero” in the SEO world.
Think about it this way:
If you have a hardware store, wouldn’t you like to be the first business a person sees (plus directions on how to get to you) when they search for hardware stores nearby?
Doing local SEO also helps your business show up higher in organic rankings, especially when someone searches for a local keyword like Las Vegas SEO company. Google takes into account the physical location of the searcher and the terms they use, so if you’ve done a good job with your local optimization, you’ll show up more often when people are physically near your location.
Why Does Local SEO Matter?
Some businesses ignore local SEO because they don’t understand the numbers.
This is the exact same mistake that new entrepreneurs make when they say: “My target market is EVERYONE!” Rather than using resources wisely to reach the people who are most likely to make a purchase, newbies want to target the millions of people who don’t care at all.
A person in Austin, Texas does not need to know about the deals at your car dealership in Des Moines. Even if they saw your great deal and liked the product, they wouldn’t take advantage of it. They just add bulk to your website traffic.
Here’s the thing about targeting locals:
They’re the people who are actually going to visit your store.
Local keywords like “car dealerships in Des Moines” and “Italian restaurants near me” are buying signals – the people searching those terms are probably trying to make a purchase in the near future. Even though there are a lower volume of searches for these terms each month, if you can capture that traffic, a high percentage will convert.
It’s also easier to rank for important local keywords than it is to rank for more general keywords with a higher volume. Instead of competing against every other website in your niche, you’re only competing against other local businesses, and most of those businesses probably aren’t doing local SEO.
How To Do Local SEO
Sometimes it seems like Google can read your mind, doesn’t it? Google’s algorithms are pretty snazzy, but they can only draw from the information that you give them. If you don’t provide the right information in the right ways, you won’t be found by the real people in your area who are searching for you.
Keep doing all your general SEO stuff. Local SEO is done in addition to, not instead of standard search engine optimization.
Like your other SEO habits, optimizing for local results is ongoing.
As nice as it would be if you could do an SEO tweak on your site once and forget it, that’s not how the internet works. Stay on top of your local rankings or you’ll see them slip away to be replaced by your more vigilant competitors.
Locally Optimized Content
A simple way to start optimizing your website is to mention your location in titles and page content. As an example, NeONBRAND does SEO in Las Vegas, so our homepage mentions Las Vegas SEO. You can put your city and state on your home page, about page, in blog posts, or anywhere else it makes sense. Write stuff on your website that humans will enjoy reading, and just tweak it a little bit to please the search robots.
It’s also really smart to put your city and state in the title tag of your website. That’s a major indicator that your site is attached to a specific physical location. If you have one website for a business with multiple locations, create individual pages on your website for each of your physical stores and optimize accordingly.
On your contact page, a correctly embedded Google map that points to your Google Plus Local listing can give you another local SEO boost. Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) are listed correctly, and if you’re so inclined, use SCHEMA to ensure each element is properly labeled.
You should also think about those local buying signal keywords.
Businesses in Las Vegas might also optimize their content with keywords like “Chinese food near Henderson, NV” or “window cleaning in southern Nevada” to capture more local traffic.
Those keywords can find their way into your blog posts or website pages, just like any other SEO keyword you want to target.
Consistent Citations Matter
Be careful to list your NAP exactly the same way everywhere it’s mentioned. Consistency is a major ranking factor for local results! We’ve even seen websites spell their own name inconsistently, which is both a branding issue and a problem for search engine crawlers.
Check your Google My Business listing to make sure your information there is also correct and consistent with the NAP on your website. You should have a separate listing for each of your locations if there are more than one. While you’re at it, verify that all of your social media pages are accurate, too.
Now, it’s time to do a little digging.
Your business is probably listed in different places around the web. Verify that your name and address are written the same way everywhere, whether you created the listing yourself or not. For example: if you’re on S 6th St. it should never be listed as “South 6th St” or any other variation. Even the punctuation and capitalization should be the same.
You may have to claim some listings in order to make corrections, but it’s worth the effort. Tools like Moz Local make this task far easier.
Cleaning up your listings can take a lot of time, and if you change locations or get a new phone number, remember to update all of those listings when you update your website.
Get Those Backlinks
Backlink building is already a big part of SEO, and local SEO is the same.
While you’re out there getting links from authority sites, put some thought into backlinks from your own neighborhood.
Can you list your business with the local Chamber of Commerce? Do that – the link isn’t likely to give you a gigantic boost in overall rankings, but it’s a good indicator for local SEO.
Often, businesses gain local links by sponsoring community events. These events can also be good marketing opportunities for your brand, so take them into consideration.
Work On Your Online Reviews
Getting more online reviews help you achieve better local rankings, and they also increase the clickthrough rate on those search results, which is even better.
Lots of businesses shy away from online reviews because they’re afraid of negative feedback.
You’re just going to have to get over that.
The internet has given everyone a platform to share their opinions, whether those opinions are stupid or not. Have faith that your online reviews will reflect your business pretty accurately, especially if you have a lot of them.
For companies that already have some negative reviews out there, the only way to address that (unless the reviews are fake) is to bury them with good reviews. The only way to get more good reviews is to provide a great experience and then ask your customers to submit reviews about it.
Depending on your business type, you might want to use a service like Podium to ask for reviews, or you might have some other method to ask for customer feedback. Try to get at least 10 Google reviews before you invite your customers to leave feedback on other sites like Yelp or Facebook, and empower your employees to ask for a review whenever they feel a customer has had a particularly good experience.
Too Much Work?
All kinds of SEO are labor intensive, and if you don’t keep up your good habits, your results will backslide.
You can work with a third party local SEO company to help you get the results you want, find a freelancer to take care of some basic SEO tasks for you, or hire an in-house expert to keep you up to date.
SEO doesn’t have to be DIY, but if you want to do it yourself, Yoast makes a Local SEO plugin that’s pretty awesome. There’s also a local SEO for Woocommerce plugin from Yoast, and if you’re selling online with Woo, it’s basically a must have.
Out of all the marketing channels you could choose, local SEO has some of the most benefits for the lowest investment. Get started today so you can reap the benefits.