Local SEO can be a challenge.
The world wide web isn’t getting any smaller. In fact, the internet has exploded–in both users and content–over the past few years.
All that growth makes SEO tough for websites trying to reach a local audience and beyond.
If you’re trying to reach a broader audience in your neck of the woods, take heart, there are things you can start doing right now to increase your rankings and get your brand in front of more customers.
Let’s take an in-depth look at 12 ways you can start boosting your local SEO today.
Why Local SEO?
Depending on the level of competition in your area, you might be asking: why do I even need to do SEO locally? If my business is in the area, shouldn’t it just show up in the right Google searches?
The answer is yes. It *should* show up. But, you’ve got to take the right steps to make your site appear on top, and simply being in the area isn’t enough.
SEO works the same way locally as it does on a broader scale. Your site needs to be populated with the right kinds of content to show up in local searches.
The good news is … you’ve got just as much potential to show up on the top of page one as every other player in your industry. You just have to put in the work.
1. Check Out Your Google Business Profile
One of the easiest things you can do to give your local SEO a boost is to claim and optimize your business’s profile with Google.
If you’ve ever searched for a business in Google, you’ve probably noticed the handy profiles that appear in both Google searches and Google Maps.
If you don’t have one already, you can get in touch with Google to set one up or claim your existing profile.
You need to have a physical location in order to set up a profile with Google, a PO Box won’t work. But, once you have one set up, these profiles can really give your visibility a boost.
Keep your contact information up to date, post photos, reply to reviews, and more.
2. Get Your Name Out There–Locally
Another way to start establishing your website’s authority is to get your name out there with local news outlets and publications.
Any links you can pick up from other websites to yours will help establish your site’s authority with Google and the other search engines. In fact, quality backlinks are a major ranking factor.
Many reporters and news outlets are desperate for stories, even seemingly mundane ones. Try reaching out to newspapers or TV channels in your area for some added exposure.
3. Content Is Your Friend
Content makes the world wide web go ’round.
In order to rank well in your area and your industry, your business’s website needs plenty of content. Sites with more content tend to rank higher in search engine results than those with less.
All content is not created equal though. The words on your website must be both relevant and useful to visitors in order to improve your search engine rankings.
Good content gives your website both structure and context and can make or break your SEO efforts.
4. Focus On Local Keywords
Keyword research is an important part of search optimization. It helps to do a little research and get an understanding of the search terms people might actually use to find businesses like yours.
As a local business, you’ll also want to hone in on local terms that might include the city you’re located in or even the part of town where your business resides.
5. Ratings and Reviews
Many searchers rely on ratings and reviews when choosing products or services. What people are saying about your business is just as important as what you do and how you market it.
Encourage customers to leave reviews on sites like Yelp and Google. Reviews of all kinds will help potential customers get a better feel for your service and give your local search rankings a boost in the long run.
6. Keep It Real
In the twenty-first century, authenticity is key to effective marketing. Puffed up, inauthentic claims simply aren’t going to get you anywhere.
For increased relevancy with your customer base, focus on being authentic and transparent with customers.
One great way to do this on your website is through the use of customer testimonials. Add a section to your homepage, or even a dedicated page to customer reviews.
Don’t have any reviews you can post? Start collecting some from current and former customers. Or, pull from review sites like Yelp until you collect a few of your own.
7. Make It Mobile-Friendly
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out–big time.
Now that a majority of internet searches on done from mobile devices, it’s important that your site looks its best on smaller screens.
Search engines have also been using mobile-friendly design as a major ranking factor for some time now. So, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s not going to make it to the top of the local search rankings pile.
Work with a developer to ensure that your website looks just as good on a four-inch screen as it does on a 21-inch monitor.
8. Sweat The Small Stuff
The big stuff is easy to focus on. Building lots of content, a thriving social media presence, and a great website design are all great things to work on.
But, what about the meta descriptions for your pages? Or the alt text for your images?
Sometimes, it’s the little things that make all the difference. While your website and content should definitely be created for people, the little things often help the search engines serve up the best content to those people.
If you’re not as familiar with the details of search optimization, try working with an SEO pro that can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
9. Create and Optimize Your Local and Social Media Profiles
As important as your website and organic search rankings are, many people will find your business through social media or local review sites like Yelp.
Each of your social media profiles or presence on other platforms act as a landing page that can direct potential customers to your services.
To get people active and engaged with your brand, make sure you’re active on the social platforms that are right for you. Not all will be effective for your company, but there’s sure to be a few that really matter.
Social media and review platforms are a vital component to local SEO that can drive a lot of business to your location.
10. Let Locals Know You’re There
Whether you’re located in a massive urban area or a small town, it’s often most effective to associate your organization with a particular area.
The broader the search terms you’re trying to rank for are, the more difficult it is to rank for them. Instead, pick an area of town and associate yourself.
Make a real effort with your content to appear in searches for your product or service in that area.
11. Stay Speedy
Page speeds are another major ranking factor with Google and the other search engines. The pages of your websites need to move reasonably quickly in order to appear high in the search rankings.
Page speeds can be improved in a number of ways including optimizing image sizes, minifying code where you can, using a faster hosting service, or adding a CDN.
Want to know how fast (or slow) your pages are moving? Take a look at Google’s Page Speed Insights for a clear picture of how your pages are performing.
12. One Of The Most Important Local SEO Tips: Get The Details Right
One of the most important things you can do for better performance in local search results is to optimize your site for local contact information.
Clearly displaying your business’s address, phone number, and other information on your website is a clear indicator to Google that you are indeed a local business that ought to appear in local results.
Plug these details into the header and footer of all your pages and on your contact page for a quick indicator that you’re located in a particular area. Without being spammy, it’s best to work this information into as many places as possible.
Putting It All Together
Improving your search performance isn’t impossible, though sometimes it can certainly feel that way.
Get started with these local SEO tips and be patient. With so much content out there, it just takes time for your site to make its way up the rankings ladder.