5 Ways Local SEO will benefit your business
As a business owner how your website ranks with local customers is a direct reflection on your local SEO efforts. Today, Google searches such as “best gym near me” or “top rated lawyer in Atlanta” is much more common than in the past. People have figured out it’s much quicker to run a search like that than to actually look up a business by name. Google, of course, has picked up on this. If you are in Seattle and search for “best gym”, you’ll see gyms in Seattle rather than gyms in Atlanta. You don’t necessarily need to add the term “Atlanta” to you search any more.
Google knows. Google always knows. (scary music)
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that it shows high in the Google search results when local folks search for something. This ensure they find your business instead of your competitor’s business. Or, at least, your business shows higher in the results than your competitor’s business does when ensures you get the larger share of the clicks. Doing this right may mean you end up in the coveted “top three” or even a showing on the Map Pack.
The Google Map Pack
You’ve seen the Google map pack but maybe never gave it much thought. Or, as a business owner, you thought to yourself how wonderful if your business showed up there.
Lets talk a bit about what we’re seeing there.
- My search term is “best dog groomer near me”
- This is the “Google suggest” information. We’ll talk more about that later as well but here Google is delivering to you a list of possible keywords that relate to what you have entered. Do not take this lightly as Google isn’t big on gifts like this. Note these down and, where appropriate, use them in your own content. Bear in mind as you think up other keywords, Google Suggest can offer variations for them as well. This is a quick, easy, and free way of identifying keywords.
- The businesses listed in the map pack. Do you suppose they get a higher number of clicks than those who are not listed? Also, note the reviews. Would you be more likely to click on the business with 124 reviews or 3?
- The first “organic” search result. Notice how far down the page this listing is, and yet it is the #1 result. It is the single best site Google has for your search term, and it’s near the bottom of the page.
Given the above, it’s important to note that search terms with high local intent will almost always have a map pack and therefore show the “top three” websites even though those top three websites aren’t necessarily more informative. They are the best match for the highly specific local search.
There are three major areas to focus on to top out on the Google local search results. Focusing on any one of them will help. Managing all three closely is a gold mine for your business.
Keywords are the search terms you want your site to rank for. When you figure that out, you create your content and structure the pages and posts on your site with a focus on these keywords. As a dog trainer in Atlanta, your main site may be focused on ranking for “best dog groomer in Atlanta” or “best dog groomer near me”. You may have an article on your site that talks about the best shampoo to use. The keyword for that page may be “best dog shampoo”. Another article may talk about nail clippers and the keyword may be “best nail trimmer for dogs”. The point is, each page of your site is dedicated to a single keyword.
2. Your Google My Business profile
Start by filling out your Google My Business (GMB) profile if you haven’t already. Simply go to https://google.com/business get started. Note that you want to fill in every single item they ask for that is pertinent to your business. Of particular importance, ensure your business name, address, and phone number are accurate. This will be of immense importance later on so triple-check.
As you fill out your GMB profile and add the different sections, you’ll see an indicator of how complete your profile is.
I kid you not, it’s important to get as much of this filled in as possible. We’re shooting for Google rankings for your business’s website so working directly with Google My Business is critical. Omit steps or areas at your peril.
Once this is done, you might want to go back and quadruple check for completeness and accuracy.
After that, it’s important that you keep it up to date. If your phone number changes, or your address, you’re going to want to update this.
Now that you have GMB set up, you’ll have the ability to receive and respond to reviews about your business. Remember early on when we viewed the Map Pack, I asked which business you would call? The one with 124 reviews or the one with 3? This is where that comes in.
Encourage (but never pay or trade for) reviews from customers. You should try to respond to every single one – this shows Google you care and also engenders rapport with those who post the reviews (your customers!). When you get a less than stellar review, manage it very cautiously because you will not be able to delete it.
3. Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) citations
The NAP citations are critical for your SEO efforts.
Your first effort here is to ensure your businesses name, address, and phone number is correct and consistent on your web page, Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Anywhere and everywhere your name, address and phone number show, it should be identical. You want this to 110% match the Google My Business information from the previous step.
Note this information somewhere easy to find such as a text file on your computer and then use cut/paste as you do not want so much as a comma out of place.
Your NAP will show up on many websites without you doing anything. If you search for your business name, odds are you’ll find websites mentioning it that you have never heard of. These are largely directory type sites.
Yelp is a good example. Does your business show on Yelp? Does it show in the online Yellow Pages?
You get the idea.
Over time, many sites will pick up your NAP but the key here is, is it accurate? This is why you want it to be exactly accurate on all the sites and pages you do control as that information is what finds it’s way into the Yelps of the world.
Here’s where the fun begins. There are over 100 sites and several “aggregators” in the NAP citation arena. Ensuring they all know about your business and the NAP they have for you is accurate can be a bit of work.
Do you need all 100?
No, absolutely not.
Does it help to have your business information in more, rather than less, of these sites?
There are several tools you can use to get a sense of how your NAPs look and it’s often a surprising thing to see.
If you go to Brightlocal, you can run a free scan of your business and about 20 of the top directories to see how your NAPs look now. Of course, the kicker here is that Brightlocal also offers services to update and manage your NAPS for you, which is a great service (and not real expensive). Here’s a screenshot of what my scan looked like. Notice the entries in red text – these were entries that were a bit off and I should correct:
This scan shows me which sites have my information and where it is correct and not correct. From here, I can go out to those sites and update it manually OR I can sign up for BrightLocal’s service to get this done.
As mentioned elsewhere, as the CEO of your business, this may be a consideration for you with respect to where should you be spending most of your time.
Much of this you can do yourself or you can outsource it. As always, I recommend doing a bit yourself so you fully understand it and, if time and money permit, then outsource it.
To update the information yourself, simply go to the page where you want to update and search for your business name. The name will show and most likely there will be a button asking “is this you?” or “is this your business?” or something along those lines. From there, you’ll have to follow a series of steps to take ownership of that listing and then you can update it.
How does Local SEO help my business?
We started out talking about this in terms of how it helps your business. Lets circle back to that.
Let’s take a look at each of the 5 ways local SEO will benefit your business:
1. Send more consumers to your website
This is the essence and the primary benefit of SEO – getting new customers to visit your website. Conversion, or turning them into paying customers, is another matter and is linked closely with SEO efforts. The first step though, is getting them to visit your site and solid local SEO efforts are the single best way to make this happen.
2. Increase Foot Traffic to your establishment
This is an often overlooked benefit of SEO. SEO, in it’s purest form, works to get digital visits on your digital storefront but as these digital visitors are, in fact, real live people and like to visit the places they do business with. So a visit to your website will be the first step – a later step will be when they step through your door.
3. Build Credibility and Authority in your industry
Having a website these days is table stakes to running a business – it’s just the way it is. No website and your business credibility falters, even if your business isn’t necessarily an online business. Think of plumbers – probably the least “online” business you can think of yet every major plumbing company spends huge amounts of money on their websites as well as their SEO efforts to ensure a steady stream of customers and, as this topic points out, continue credibility and authority.
4. Boost ROI and Profit Potential
Return On Investment(ROI) is a factor that savvy business owners account for in just about every purchasing decision they make. Without adequate ROI, the business suffers financial loss and will be unable to sustain. Local SEO is a relatively inexpensive method of attracting customers and as the business continues the SEO over the long term, the costs go down while the benefits go up. ROI is realized quickly and thoroughly through sound Local SEO
5. Convert more leads into paying customers
A solid Local SEO plan will attract more potential customers to your website and, once there, the website, SEO, and Conversion optimization strategies will ensure that more and more of these visitors become paying customers.
So there you have it – 5 ways local SEO can and will benefit your business. As mentioned earlier, there are many more but these should whet your appetite a bit. As always, reach out to us directly for any information and advice.
We look forward to hearing from you!