How can a small business get more visibility online? Look no further than the local search pack, which is made up of Google My Business (GMB) profiles featuring prominent local businesses within close proximity of a searcher.
Local search results level the playing field for small and local businesses. Ranking for competitive keywords can be a tough task for a small business going head to head against a large enterprise.
So if local search is a way to get more visibility, where should a small business start? To help answer this question, we asked for local SEO tips from eight search engine optimization experts and small business owners.
Here’s how to improve local search rankings:
- Respond to Google Reviews
- Relevant Profiles
- Request Reviews
- Competitor Analysis
- Create City Pages
- Online Consistency
- Hyper-Localized Content
- Understand Local Customer Intention
Respond to Google Reviews
To improve your local SEO efforts, make sure you are actively responding to all Google Reviews, good or bad! According to Google themself, businesses should 'interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.' When your clients and customers trust you, search engines will trust you too. Responding to reviews improves your business’s visibility and increases the likelihood that a potential customer will do business with you.
-Michael Staton, Lyon Shield Security
Google states that they determine local SEO rankings by relevance, prominence, and distance. Google also says that the best way to make sure your GMB profile is relevant is to ‘add complete and detailed business information to help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches.’ The first step in this process is to claim your listing. Once that is set up, make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate as well as business hours, your business category, and services. Making sure that your GMB profile is optimized and it is always up to date with the most recent information will ensure that you are staying relevant to people searching for your services on a local level.
-Kayla Centeno, Markitors
Reviews matter! Knowing that review count and score are factored into local search rankings, it is so important to reach out to your customer base and ask for genuine reviews of your business. While it may feel awkward at first, try to do it organically. When you receive an email thanking you for your product or service, don’t be afraid to send a link to a review page to follow up. Don’t underestimate the power of reviews for local SEO and reach out for them as often as you can.
-Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center
I would start with a competitor analysis. Look at other local businesses in your sector and see what is working (or not working) for them. You'll also want to have completed demographic research on the area to best serve the customers’ needs. Lastly, as with any SEO strategy, keyword research is always paramount.
-Marissa Litner, SmartRent
Create City Pages
Creating GEO or city pages is a great way to improve local SEO efforts. These website pages or blog posts are a part of your overall content marketing plan. The keyword is the name of the city you want to promote in the search results. For example, if you want to promote your services in Dallas, Texas, you want the service\'s name and the location to appear several times on the page. Experts recommend having the city once in the title, once in a subheading, once in the introductory paragraph, and two to three more times throughout the article. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.
-Grant Aldrich, OnlineDegree
Improving your local SEO is something we had to learn the hard way, unfortunately. It took us about six months to figure out we needed to use a local SEO specialization service like Brightlocal in order to be at the top of the local search pages. Brightlocal, Moz local, and others like them will make sure you are listed in every local search engine with the same name, physical address, web address, and phone number for starters. They can also manage multiple locations in the same city or state for you, which can be very challenging if you have ever tried to do it yourself.
-Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
Small business owners can drastically improve their local SEO through hyper-localization. To be successful with hyper-localization, you need to start with a realistic keyword strategy. A realistic keyword strategy lies at the intersection of keyword search volume and domain authority (DA). For most small businesses, which typically have domain authorities less than 50, you should be targeting keywords with monthly search volumes of less than 1000. Once you have completed your keyword strategy, write a quality post of 800-1000 words that have sections that can be hyper-localized, e.g. neighborhood, suburb, and city. Hyper-localization only works if you can provide relevant insights specifically for that location, so make sure you have intimate knowledge of it.
-Brian Cairns, ProStrategix Consulting
Understand Local Customer Intention
The key to successful SEO is to use the right keywords and to insert it in as many places as possible with the right context. Add keywords in the description and also provide your audience with as many details as possible. Many small businesses do not update their store timings or create posts, something you can do with your Google My Business listing. Keep your audience in mind and think of ways they might look for you. When you know their intention and goal, you'll generate keywords that make you more visible online.
-Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner