Going Local for 2017: Local Search Engine Marketing Strategy
If you know anything about SEO marketing strategies, then you probably know that they’re incredibly fickle. Just as soon as one “best practices” article appears online telling you how to make the most of the latest update, there’s another algorithm ready to go in and mess everything up again.
There are many different strands of SEO to consider, and one that’s often under-estimated is local SEO. As the name might suggest, local SEO is all about appealing to customers in your general area. Perfect for small businesses and brick-and-mortar companies with an online presence, local SEO helps you pinpoint your customers when they need you most – for instance, when they’re searching for somewhere to go for dinner, or a nearby place to buy shoes. After all:
- 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their phone visit that store the same day
- 71% of people surveyed look up the location of a business before visiting it
- 87% of people use a search engine on their smartphone at least once a day
Across the globe, local competition in the digital sphere is heating up, and it’s crucial for businesses to learn how they can improve their search efforts if they want to get ahead of the game this year. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this, from refining your content, to taking social media measures. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the most-up-to-date, and timeless tips you can follow to enhance your Local SEO marketing strategy.
Tip 1: Your Title and Meta Description Tags are Still Important
Meta description and title tags are elements of HTML that can be customized to outline the content of a webpage. In other words, it’s like a mini-advertisement, a taster of what your consumer can expect when they click onto your page.
Not so long ago, Google increased the width of the primary search engine results area, which meant that description and title tags were able to get a little bit longer. However, keeping things short and simple is often the best way to go.
Take advantage of the space that you have, but use it wisely. Make sure that you double-check to ensure that you’re hitting keywords, and that your titles aren’t getting cut off in the search results. If you’re not sure how your tags are going to look in action, you can use emulators like the Yoast SEO Plugin for extra help.
Tip 2: Use the Local Schema Markup
Local schema markups are basically structured pieces of data that inform search engines of what your business does, and where it does it. These markups are only used by around 31.3% of websites, but when accessed in your marketing strategy, they can be a great way to make your business stand out, and even ensure that you rank higher than your competitors.
Google wants you to make the most of schema markups because it helps their bots to crawl through your website and find out what you’re all about. That’s why they’ve introduced their very own “Structured Data Testing Tool” which will help you to pinpoint errors in your data.
Correctly using a schema markup can raise your local ranking by several positions -yet most businesses still don’t do it. That’s great news for you – since you can take advantage of the benefits other companies in your niche are missing out on.
Tip 3: Optimize “Google my Business”
Google estimates that around 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to conduct their local searches. However, despite this, many small businesses have never claimed a single listing online – which means they’re missing out on some serious opportunities for growth.
One of the most important listings you can organize today is your “Google my Business.” This listing influences search engine users, and some studies show that users who view a complete listing are 30% more likely to visit a store.
If you’re looking for SEO rankings, then it’s worth knowing that Google likes to keep things in-house. In other words, it prefers its own business listings when giving local results to users. Additionally, if you want to make sure that you show up for the most relevant search results in your niche, then you’ll need to optimize your listing, hopefully with a lot of great reviews.
Tip 4: Publish Plenty of Locally Optimized Content
When you need information, where do you go?
Once upon a time, the answer might have been “a phonebook”, or “a library”, but today, nine times out of ten, you’ll get your information from the internet. Businesses can boost their presence online by providing content that’s connected not only to their business and niche, but their local area too. For instance, it’s the difference between writing a blog called “How to Find Great Shoes”, and “How to Find Great Shoes in New York”.
Since search engines prefer fresh content, it’s a good idea to use your blog to post plenty of copy answering questions that people might have in your industry. Make sure to include your keywords in the title, tags, and headlines consistently, and organically. At the same time, you can expand your content marketing strategy efforts by sharing locally-optimized pieces on social media too.
Tip 5: Build an Appropriate Link Strategy
Links that span outwards from your company’s website to other websites, and vice versa, are essential to your business marketing strategy. These links help to indicate the authority and credibility of your business to Google, so that it knows where it should rank you. Links are great, but if you try to game the system and fill your pages full of them, you’re just going to end up damaging your reputation in the long-run.
Instead, you need to focus on building strong, reputable links with local companies, brands, and communities. For instance:
- You could share links on social media to stories from local publications that are relevant to your industry
- Include links to your website in your email newsletters, and the updates you post for customers
- Sponsor or host local events that allow you to link out to neighborhood businesses, or ask for guest-spots posting on their blogs
Perhaps the most important part of building an authentic link strategy is to make sure it’s authentic. Ensure you know exactly who you’re linking to, and that the people you connect with are relevant to your business. Also, make sure that you don’t venture out to third-party content providers who claim they can fill your content full of SEO-boosting links. Trust me when I say this could have a disastrous impact on your reputation.
Tip 6: Post more Customer Reviews Where They Matter Most
According to recent surveys, around 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. In other words, if someone isn’t sure whether they should buy your product, they’ll go elsewhere for advice on what to do.
Google has put a great deal of emphasis on customer reviews lately, showing snippets on the search engine results page with bright golden stars designed to draw attention to your business. Getting those reviews to show up in relation to your business is one of the best ways you can boost your business trust levels, and enhance click-through rates.
The best way to increase your chances of getting great reviews for your company is to offer incredible products or services, and simply ask your customers for what you need. Some people will be so impressed by your product that they’ll be happy to write a testimonial for you without any prompting, whereas others might need the promise of a future discount to get their fingers twitching.
Either way, by adding positive customer reviews to your local SEO marketing strategy, you’re giving people close to your business the information they need, when they need it most. If someone passes your store and wonders whether you’re trustworthy, or worth their money, then all they need to do is look at those golden stars.
Building Local SEO
Obviously, building your local presence is only one aspect of a killer marketing campaign, but it’s one of the best ways to combine your offline and online advertising efforts for more traffic and more customers. If you can give your customers the information they need to find your store, and then offer an incredible experience that links back to your brand, you’ll be on your way to a profit-generating reputation in no time.