Local SEO for Small Businesses – How to Get Started
Local SEO is an incredible marketing tool that’s used to promote your products to customers in real time. The first aspect that separates local search engine optimization services from other types of marketing is that you’re only marketing to the people who want your product most.
Google’s data has shown that 46% of searches are performed locally which means there’s a big market for it. The second aspect that differentiates local searches from national searches is that there’s often more buying intent behind local search terms. So while there may be less volume, local search terms are often more profitable.
This article will be written from the perspective of a business owner who has elementary SEO knowledge. If you’re an SEO specialist then you’ll know what to do with the knowledge here!
Local SEO Services are an umbrella term for 5 seperate services which include link building, Google my Business optimization, review management, citation building and on-site optimization. In this article we’ll cover what these 5 services are and how you can get started.
1. Three Link Building Strategies for SEO Authority
Having a link from a niche relevant or local website pointing to your own site is half the battle with SEO. The biggest mistake you might be making for your own site or for your clients (if you’re an agency) is not checking the obvious places.
To get yourself started, talk with customers you’ve already helped in your local area and see if they would be willing to point a link from their site to yours via a blog post. To get an almost 100% success rate, offer to write a free blog post for them and include your link in there. They’ll be thankful for the content and you’ll get a location relevant link.
Another effective starter method for link building is through organizations that your business is already a part of. These include the Better Business Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, trade guilds and local organizations that you can sponsor.
While there are a variety of other methods that you can use to build links, the last one we will cover is guest posting. Consider sharing your expertise and knowledge by blogging on another niche relevant website and asking for a link in either the body or your bio.
Over time, the links you build will help you get ranked both in the map packs and locally.
2. Google My Business Optimization
Optimizing your Google My Business is a lot less intimidating than it sounds. By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Start by going through each section of your Google My Business and filling out as much information as you possibly can. These includes putting in an accurate description of your business, filling in your business hours, products, websites, phone number and any available field you can find.
Next, you want to upload quality pictures of projects you’ve completed or of your team. As a bonus, make sure to geotag photos to add location relevancy using free tools like Geo Tag online.
Photos should be properly filled with alt tags and descriptions for maximum impact.
3. Business Listings For Entity Building
There are hundreds of places where you can get your business listed and each one will help with your search engine optimization. The most commonly known ones are placed like Yelp, Yellowpages, Angieslist, Home Advisor, Thumbtack and so on. And as we said before, there are hundreds more.
Business listings not only give you a chance to get new clients but they also give you more places to put your NAP. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number, and to follow Google best practices, you should place your NAP across the web in a consistently written way. The result is that Google will recognize your online properties as a single entity and thus increase your rankings.
As much as I personally hate to admit, Yext is a great tool that automates this process. If you’re someone who has the money but needs more time, start by using a tool such as Yext to build out all of the business listings you need. If however, you have the time and are low on cash, a tool like Whitespark will help you identify the most important listings so that you can manually sign up.
4. On Site Search Engine Optimization
On Site Optimization is usually one of the first topics that are covered when it comes to SEO. The easiest way to optimize on site is to include your keywords in the places where they belong which are:
- Title tags
- Header tags
- Meta tags
- URL Structure – Read Tutorial Here
- Image alt tags and names
- H1 tags
- Long tail version in h2, h3, and h4 tags.
- Outbound links
- In-bound links
On top of that, there are free and powerful SEO tools these days such as Yoast which allows for automatic Schema JSON markups just by filling in the settings of the tool. For a brand new SEO or for a non-competitive niche, schema isn’t required. However, it is something every SEO expert should pick up.
An often overlooked part of powerful on-page SEO is to link out to niche relevant authority sources with the keywords you’re looking to rank for. Most people are hesitant to link out on their own site but case study after case study has shown that it helps your own rankings.
5. Reviews & Social Shares For Web Traffic
Reviews are extremely important for your rankings. Whenever possible be sure to ask your clients to leave you reviews wherever they can – Yelp, Google my Business, Facebook, your own site.
The most SEO-friendly reviews will contain your keywords, your brand names and obviously be positive. With every project or job completed it’s important to ask for a review.
The catch is that you can’t tell your client’s what to say but you sure can influence them. Sending them an e-mail like “Other customers have told us that we’re *insert positive traits*, and we’d love to hear your feedback. Do you agree? Click here to leave us a review” is admittedly morally gray but definitely acceptable.
Cool ways to integrate your reviews, posts, and interact with social media platforms on an automated schedule is using tools such as IFTTT. This open source program will give you the ability to automatically share blog posts through hundreds of social media platforms automatically, to share reviews and to bring loads of traffic to your website.
Combining reviews and social media will undoubtedly help you with your map pack and organic rankings.
We hope these 5 tips have brought value to you and your ranking efforts.