The combination of online searchability and mobile technology has created a golden opportunity for businesses with a physical storefront to attract customers.
People in your vicinity are using their phones to find local products and services like yours. The way your business is represented online - from your website to your social media profiles to your listings on Google, Yelp etc. - will determine whether your business shows up in their search results.
The best practices of search engine optimization apply to local SEO, but there is more to tackle for local businesses looking to reach searchers near them. Employ these tips and tactics to ensure your business rises to the top of your prospective customers’ search results.
Aim for the 3-pack
One thing to keep in mind at the beginning of this discussion is that Google, with a 2015 update, changed local search results from highlighting the 7 most relevant results at the top to the 3 most relevant results.
Being in the “3-pack” is a huge advantage. It comes with a more visual display than the text-based results including, photos, a map, hours and address information, phone number, and review and rating information.
Google will weigh your business’ proximity to the searcher, the relevance of your business to the searcher’s query, and the prominence of your business - measured by things like the number of reviews and inbound links you have as well as the quality and accuracy of your other listings around the web - to determine whether you belong in the 3-pack for a particular search.
Focus on your website
One of the pillars of digital marketing is your website. It is the hub of your business’ digital presence. So when it comes to local SEO, first make sure your website is optimized.
The title and meta description of your web pages matter a great deal in communicating to search engines what your business is about. They also shape the way your website is displayed in search engine results.
What you write in the page title field for each of your website’s pages acts as a headline in search results. Google will display about 60 characters in this field. The meta description acts as a sub-headline, giving you space (about 200 characters) for a brief description of your business.
These two fields are critical opportunities to communicate to search engines as well as prospective customers.
Build out your listings
Take the contact, address, and hours-of-operation information from your website and spread it to applicable listings across the web.
Each web listing opportunity can act as a standalone webpage for your business. Make sure that the information is consistent across all of your listings as well as with the information on your website.
Take the time to populate all the relevant fields for each listing. Most will allow longer descriptions and photos to augment basic information.
Some of the key sites where you’ll want your listing to appear:
- Google My Business
- Your local chamber of commerce
Get reviews and ratings
Google’s own guidance on improving local search rankings states: “Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business' local ranking.”
Nothing can replace outstanding customer service when it comes to gaining multiple positive online reviews. But some businesses have taken to giving friendly requests to satisfied customers to review their experience on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, and Facebook, among others.
This can take the form of a small handout when a satisfied customer leaves your store, or an email follow-up.
It’s also imperative that you monitor your online reviews and respond to both positive and negative comments. This is not only a local SEO tactic - alerting search engines that you are an active and engaged business - but also an extension of your customer service standards.
We live in a mobile search era that creates a tremendous opportunity for local businesses to attract customers. Use these tips to ensure your business is built for local SEO visibility so that people who are looking for your products and services in your area will find your business.
Thanks for reading,
ChristineBreezy Hill Marketing is a Vermont web design company specializing in marketing strategy, social media marketing, and building beautiful, optimized, and mobile responsive websites. We work with clients in Vermont and throughout the United States.