Let’s face it. For local businesses, fighting out well-known brands for residency on the first page of Google can be an uphill battle.
So what is the most effective tactic to get there without spending an arm and a leg? Local search marketing.
If you are diligent and take the time to tackle the laundry list of SEO must-dos, you’ll find a boost to your organic traffic and your CEO’s mood.
Having a solid local search marketing strategy is essential, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and expensive.
Here are eight tips for local search marketing that you can start using now. But first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with the definition and scope of local search marketing.
What is local search marketing?
To make sure we’re on the same page, local search marketing is a marketing strategy built to attract nearby customers to your business. This spans both paid and organic search marketing methods. However, you can create an effective organic plan through search engine optimization (SEO).
Local search marketing tends to be utilized by small and medium-sized businesses. Yet, these tips have found success for enterprise businesses, as well.
So why is local search marketing important? In the digital age, it is imperative that businesses gain a presence online. When you have a small marketing budget, organic search may be the only opportunity for your business to be found.
Here are some crucial, yet simple, tips for boosting organic traffic to your site. Let’s get “local”!
1. Deliver quality content
Content. Content. Content.
Image via Directive
But more content isn’t always better. The problem with putting out content with no determined purpose is that people notice your inauthenticity … and they’ll run.
With a keen focus on delivering on-brand, high-quality content, you can produce blogs, videos, and podcasts that actually engage users. By engaging users and increasing their on-page time, they are more likely to interact with the rest of your site.
What a concept, right?
As a local business, you want to generate relevant content. For instance, if you are a financial services company in Austin, you should be producing content surrounding “Tips for Personal Financial Success in Austin.” When someone locally reads your post, they are most likely looking for tips to become financially stable and may need to use your services to help.
By providing relevant content, you attract customers who potentially use your services.
And Google recognizes that. But how do people find it?
2. Get creative with keyword targeting
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.What are they thinking about before typing in those few words to try and find the best service or product?
Luckily, there are a few buzzwords you can focus on when answering this question. Phrases like “near me” or “in [enter your city]” can be effective keyword phrases to add at the end of your service. Even more general keywords such as “Mexican restaurants” or “CrossFit gyms” will provide local search results. As long as you choose the right keywords and target them effectively, you should be able to rank high.
How do you target effectively?
Implement the keyword naturally into meta titles, meta descriptions, headings, image alt text, and in content. Google will recognize that your page is relevant to what keyword you are attempting to rank for.
There are more factors to ranking than that, but if you never attempt to target correctly, you will (almost) never rank for that keyword.
Keyword research tools can help you figure out what keywords to target and which to avoid. Below, you’ll find an example of keyword search conducted in SEMrush and metrics, such as volume and keyword difficulty, to help you determine which words are the best for you.
3. Increase page speed
Have you ever Googled something, clicked on a result, and then left the page before it completely loaded?
You’re not alone. It is clear that people don’t have time to visit websites that do not load quickly. According to Moz, Google has indicated that page speed is an influential factor to rank pages.
Page speed tends to be undervalued as there is a need to hire a developer or team of developers to complete the tasks necessary to speed up your site. Although hiring a developer may be a factor, the importance of increasing page speed does not diminish.
When people are performing local searches, they want results. Quick. If there are any page speed issues, they are more likely to bounce from the site prior to the page fully loading. By maximizing page speed and decreasing load time, you increase the chances of gaining your customer.
Using tools such as GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights can help determine various ways to increase page speed.
PageSpeed Insights will show ways to increase page speed, including enabling compression, minifying code, reducing redirects, and more.
Implementing these fixes can, not only affect load time but can influence other factors such as user experience. Don’t let these minor issues cost your business.
4. Maximize positive user experience
User experience is extremely significant. We know this. However, numerous companies have pages that can be difficult for users to navigate.
User experience (UX) is the overall experience a potential customer has when interacting with your website. It should be noted that just because you have a fancy site with beautiful graphics, this does not mean you have good UX.
Good news: There are several ways to show whether your user experience is positive!
Engagement metrics, including average session duration, click-through rate, the percentage of returning users, bounce rate, and linking patterns, such as reverse funnel link path, are all critical in determining and measuring changes in UX.
Google takes into account these metrics to determine whether user experience is high. It weighs your UX metrics to other similar websites to influence page rankings.
For example, when someone is performing a local search, they are focusing on several things: quick results, strong reviews, and near-perfect experience on the website. Because local searches are done on the go, they tend to be faster, and clicks are based on instinct.
Once the person gets to the site, if it’s not easy to CRO-optimized, they’ll bounce quickly and choose the next option on their list.
A positive user experience influences people to return and builds their confidence in you as they learn that you won’t waste their time. This can directly affect organic traffic as well.
Check your site. If it’s not quickly usable and easily accessible, you need to make some changes.
5. Submit to directories strategically
Directory submissions are an undervalued SEO tactic.
Whether you are a local business or an enterprise company, directory submissions are essential when implemented correctly.
Search directories such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing are vital because they make up 90% of searches across the internet. By submitting to these directories, you are guaranteeing that accurate information will be shown to your potential customers when they find your business.
Further, local directories like Yelp see almost 70 million users per month. Other directories like Yellowpages and Superpages have over a million monthly visitors looking for local information about businesses. If you do not submit your business information to these directories, you miss out on a piece of that large pie.
For local search strategies, directory submissions are how you get on the map. Submitting to general directories such as Google, Yellowbook, and Superpages can be helpful to potential customers searching for you.
Further, submitting to data aggregators such as Factual, Neustar, Acxiom, and Infogroup are ways to distribute business data to local directories worldwide.
6. Optimize Google My Business
Moving forward, there is no reason why your business should not be verified by Google My Business (GMB).
In 2017, Google averaged a 75% net share of searches. Google My Business is also free. So why wouldn’t you take the time to “invest” in it?
To keep your information up to date, you must become familiar with your Google My Business dashboard.
To stand out and create an excellent local brand on Google My Business, add as much information and media that you can. Information like areas served, hours open and closed, phone number, website URL, and images can make or break your initial interaction with a potential customer.
According to Google, local businesses that have photos will typically see 35% more clicks as well.
Providing more information eliminates the chance for surprises. Tell the customer exactly what they should expect. You are less than likely to receive a bad review!
7. Consistently manage reviews
The best way to avoid bad reviews is to respond to all reviews consistently.
Responding to reviews shows your customers that you value their feedback and want to ensure that their next interaction with your company is the best possible. Each time you respond to a review, you should create a voice for your business that is friendly and respectful in your customers’ eyes.
According to Google, the more high quality, positive reviews you get, the better visibility your business gets. By encouraging customers to leave feedback, you can help your business increase the total number of reviews and increase visibility.
Google determines local ranking by relevance, distance, and prominence. Reviews have a substantial influence on these factors, which can be seen on map packs in the SERP.
For those who don’t know what map packs are, Google your business’s target keyword. In this case, we will use “Mexican restaurants.”
Local map packs usually contain three local businesses that target the local keyword (in this case, “Mexican restaurants”).
Now, remember our three key factors that determine the location of your business on this map pack: relevance, distance, and prominence.
Google clearly places high importance of the number of positive reviews. The top results are rated higher than the lower results.
As a searcher, Google understands you are more likely to place high importance on distance and quality. By managing reviews, you can control the ability to rank higher for your local searches continually.
8. Use local structured data
Structured data, sometimes referred to as schema, is code that can be added to your website that provides Google additional information for your site.
Structured data comes in several forms, but for this article, we will focus on a couple of specific examples.
Depending on your type of business, different forms of structured data may be valuable to you.
LocalBusiness schema is helpful for businesses because it provides essential information for potential visitors. Implementing schema codes such as address, price, and reviews can be valuable because it provides immediate information for visitors.
This information can be found without even clicking the URL to your site!
Event schema is another useful markup useful for businesses that hold events locally. For example, let’s say you are holding an event in the next couple of weeks and want it to stand out in Google searches. Your event date and the name of the event (along with the landing page) can be visible from the SERP (as seen below).
Regardless of the industry, it is imperative to strategize which information is useful for your customers. Schema.org has a complete list of schema markups that are useful to all local and global businesses.
Set your own local search marketing strategy
Overall, your business is unique, and some of these tactics may seem out of your wheelhouse. However, it is important to understand what some of your competitors may be doing to give them the edge, which could be the reason you may not be receiving the results you want.
Remember, some of your competitors may also be doing paid search (also known as pay-per-click, or PPC, advertising). In this case, you may want to think about integrating both SEO and PPC tactics and using these together to gain more share of the search engine results page.
As a local business, you must show up in local searches to take your business to the next level. An extensive local search strategy will increase your visibility to any customer who is looking.
Try out these tips today!
About the author
Liam Barnes is an SEO Specialist at Directive, passionate about data science and experimentation. As an MBA candidate at the W.P. Carey School of Business, he wakes up every day looking to learn new and effective ways to benefit his clients. He enjoys his free time by playing with his blue-nose pitbull, Rory, and watching and analyzing sports as a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan.