Local Search for your Business; SEO Basics

Cecily Whiteside

Cecily Whiteside

Google Maps photo upload by Cecily Whiteside at Sora Creative Content

Why should I care about local SEO for my business?

If you don’t think local search matters to small and medium-sized businesses, just take a quick look at the numbers:

  • 46% of all Google searches have local intent per Search Engine Roundtable
  • 29% of all Google SERPs contain “local pack” in the results per RankRanger
  • 76% of consumers who search for something local on their phone visit a store that day per Google

It’s not hard to focus SEO efforts on local search, but it does take a little planning and thoughtful effort. Here are some actionable tips to boost your local SEO.

1. Include your NAP info on every page of your website

NAP info (name, address, and phone number) tells Google where you are located. This is essential for local search. But little details matter. If you use “Ave” on your website, and “Avenue” on your Facebook page, you’ll lose rankings. Same thing if you include LLC or Co in one place and exclude it in others. 

Why? Google will register these as different locations and penalize your results on the SERPs (search engine results page) accordingly. 

What you can do:

Keep a copy of your official business name, address and phone number in a Notes or Evernote file. Every time you post your address online, copy and paste this info from your saved notes. This way you’ll never accidentally change your NAP.

2. Create a Google My Business profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a great way to get free online visibility. While it’s not an official SEO tool, GMB gives you the chance to show up in searches around your product or service offerings as well as local searches on Google Maps. For more about GMB, check out my blog by clicking here

The quick and dirty version goes like this:

Create a profile, add posts about products and services, and invite customers to add photos. Voila! You’ll give Google info about your business that they can then serve up for their local searchers.

3. Focus on long-tail keywords

Keywords are those terms that a searcher types into the search bar on Google that leads them to your business. The longer the phrase, the better. These are known as long-tail keywords. For example, it’s very difficult to rank for “portrait photographer” since you are competing with every photographer out there. You’ll have much more success getting found by the right Google searchers if you add qualifiers like your town, your specialty, and your differentiator. “Fun, family portrait photographer in Akron, Ohio” is much easier to rank for where it matters if you want clients in Akron!

Keep this in mind:

Pick 3 or 4 long-tail keywords for your overall business. Use these on your website, as your taglines, and in your social media and GMB posts. (You can also pick terms that your ideal customers might be interested in and create blogs around those terms to bring them to your website. But this is a whole other subject: content strategy)

4. Ask your clients to weigh in on your business

Word of mouth is a great way to let potential customers know just how great you are. It’s worth a little effort to ask those who have worked with you in the past tell everyone just how much they love you.

What you can do:

  • Ask for 5-star reviews on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Yelp.
  • Encourage customers to check in and post photos from your business location.
  • Share events and specials on GMB and social media and let people show interest (even a “maybe” helps with visibility)

5. Get 4.8 stars on Google Maps

Most customers are suspicious of businesses that have 5.0 stars on review sites. They find you more credible if you have 4.8 stars. But that doesn’t mean you should ask for lower reviews. There will always be one disgruntled customer who demands something unreasonable and then leaves you a bad review after you say no. Don’t sweat it. Just do your best to serve your customers well, ask for 5 stars, and get on with your business! 

How do you get on Google Maps? It just takes a few minutes.

  • Add your business location to Google Maps (use your official NAP info from #1 above)
  • Claim Google My Business and verify it
  • Ask for 5-star reviews and tagged photos from customers

What Google looks at for local search:

  1. Location of the searcher
  2. NAP citations (Name Address Phone number)
  3. Google My Business (GMB) listing
  4. Long-tail keyword use in social media posts, online reviews and GMB product listings
  5. Online reviews: Ask your customers for a review after they make a purchase or use your service.
  6. Number of “check-ins” on social media from that location
  7. Shares on social media Google Maps start rating for that business
  8. Photos posted by customers and tagged with your business

These simple things can boost your local SEO and they don’t take too much of your valuable resources. As you put in a little effort over time, your results will snowball. Pretty soon, you’ll be ranking in local search and increasing your customer base – and your bottom line.

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