Local businesses have the advantage of obtaining and sustaining the local niche customers without much competition. But they must make themselves visible to their target audience to leverage on their geo-specificity and rank high in their SERP’s (search engine result pages). For this, they need to make their websites local SEO optimized.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the way of optimizing the features on your web page so that you are found in the localized searches by customers. It is a highly effective way to market your business online and promote your products and services to the customers in and around your area. To put it simply, Local SEO is regular SEO with the added geographical component. With this you can rank high in the SERP’s of local searches.
Why is Local SEO important?
It is highly likely that a common man will search Google to find any local business or service he needs. So, if your business caters to a specific geographic location but you are not visible on Google, a lot of opportunities and customers might be missed. The reason Local SEO is important is:
- Around 42% of Google searches are local.
- Around 89% of customers use internet to search a local business at least once a week.
- From those, at least 72% will visit a store within 5 miles of their home.
If your local SEO is poor, you cannot leverage on these searches.
Steps to Implement Local SEO
If you are familiar with SEO, you will know that SEO strategies keep changing all the time. With local SEO, it becomes more important to plan and identify the optimal strategies on-site and off-site to lure potential clients searching for your services.
There are a few tactics a local business may adopt to increase its chances of higher local SEO rankings:
Importance to Title and Meta Description Tags
Titles and meta description tags are part of HTML elements that can be customized to suit the content of a webpage. The text of the title and description is the one that appears in the search results, hence they need to be carefully thought out and designed. Consider these as small ads for your business.
Citations and Online Directories
Over 90% of people search for local businesses online and online business directories will be the top results. So it is important to list your business correctly and update consistently on top online listings like CitySearch, Yelp, Merchant Circle and others. There may be also some lesser known local directories which you may register with. The local newspaper’s directory is also a great place to sign up with.
It is also vital to get your business address and phone numbers listed on major data aggregators like JustDial. It is very important to avoid any errors in address, phone numbers which will confuse Google leading to wrong results or the business not showing up at all in the SERP’s.
Feature in Google My Business page
Google My Business is one of the biggest online business directories. Registration is free. There is a verification process which needs to be completed with the address and pin of the business. The business can gain excellent exposure if this service is used optimally.
Pay attention to Online Reviews
According to a recent survey, more than 80% of people rely on online reviews to trust a business and over 70% of customers are ready to leave their review for the business or service they used. The best places for reviews would the most commonly visited business listings like Google My Business or the Facebook page of the business. It is important to go over the reviews and respond to them, be it positive or negative. This will show that you value your customers’ feedback.
Use Schema Markup
Schema markup can be used in your website to provide more localized and specific information of the services and products your business offers. Google recommends using structured schema markup so that search engine spiders are able to better determine what your web site content is all about.
Once you have the knowledge, tools and processes of Local SEO, you make your local business visible to your prospective customers and rank high on search engines, maps and business listings.