Auto body shops near me? Miami Botanical Gardens address? When is Katsuya South Beach open? Where do I find a motorcycle safety class? Lawyers and boating accidents.
Whatever the specific phrase or query, 97% of consumers turn to search engines for help finding answers. We search for everything from plumbers, hairstylists, and restaurants to dentists, physicians, and lawyers. Some 46% of all searches have local intent. In other words, folks are looking for information, for answers, that are close by.
In 88% of those searches, a call or visit to a business follow within 24 hours, and 78% of local searches result in an offline purchase. Are you implementing local SEO best practices? If not, these statistics demonstrate why it’s time to start!
Planning and Implementing Your Local SEO Strategy
You could have the best services and/or products in town - but people may not know. This is where local SEO comes in. When people search, they are most likely to scan the top few results and select one.
As with any other search, results buried on page 2 and beyond (or even farther down page 1!) do not receive much traffic. Most (93%) go to the businesses in the Local Pack (i.e., the list of businesses that appear at the top of the results and feature a pin on an interactive map, address, phone number, and consumer star rankings).
Get there, and you’ll see more online traffic - which, as we know from the statistics - often translates into more foot traffic. But how? Consider these local SEO best practices:
Claim Your Business with Google My Business
If you have been researching local SEO strategies, you have probably been hit with the same advice again and again: claim your business with Google My Business. So…we’re going to hit you again because it’s that important. This is the top-ranking factor for local SEO, along with Google Maps. It’s easy, fast, and effective. Best of all, it is a technique that you can do now.
Go to https://www.google.com/business/ for step-by-step prompts. (We meant it: it is easy.)
Increase Your Prominence with Local Directories
Searchers frequently use online directories, whether directly or as a top search result, to find businesses that meet their needs. Build your visibility on those most relevant to your company. One of the top tips here: be sure that your NAP (name, address, phone number), as well as your business hours, are always up to date. Yelp, FourSquare, Yellowpages.com, and other general directories are great, but be sure to also build profiles in industry-specific directories (e.g., Nolo, Avvo, FindLaw for legal professionals).
“Don’t Forget to Leave Us a Review!”
Positive reviews are worth their weight in internet gold. (Negative reviews have their own worth, in that you can leverage them to show that you listen to customers, care about their feedback, make changes when applicable, or, in some cases, just maintain your calm and professionalism!) Encourage customers to leave reviews, which are an important form of social proof. The vast majority of consumers (86%) read online reviews, and over half (57%) will only choose a business if it has a 4 star or higher rating.
Google wants to deliver the most relevant results to users; the more social proof you have backing you up, the better your search performance.
Focus on Medium-Tail Keywords
As search evolved, long-tail keywords became the gold standard. Searchers were entering more detailed queries: “Where can I get hiking boots in City X?” for example. But it’s become clear that Google’s algorithm tends to favor medium-tail keywords. It’s more sophisticated, so it understands that when someone searches for “Where can I get hiking boots?” they likely mean “Where can I get hiking boots near me?” The results are essentially the same.
Build Out Local Content
Content offers valuable, relevant information to your target audience. It helps build your credibility and authority among consumers - and it also raises your profile with search engines. In other words, great content is key for effective SEO, and particularly for local SEO.
Suppose you own a hospitality-based business or a legal firm that specializes in maritime law, for example. In that case, you have a perfect opportunity to differentiate yourself and answer questions that people are searching for. Quality content leads to traffic, and you have the chance to convert that into sales, purchases, contracts, etc.
Make Sure Your Website is Optimized for Mobile and Voice
Over half of all website traffic is generated via mobile devices, and over 111 million people use voice searches to find the answers they need. To ensure they also find you, optimize your website for mobile and voice search. For voice, focus on those medium-tail keywords we mentioned and answer who, what, where, how questions.
For mobile, make sure your site loads quickly and eliminate laggy features (e.g., large images, extraneous text). It should also be responsive, meaning it appears the same no matter what device someone sees it on.
Build Your Backlinks
This takes some time and perseverance, but the dividends include higher search result rankings. When a trusted site links back to you, it raises your credibility and authority (which seem to be our keywords for this article!). The first step is creating quality content that people naturally want to share with their own audiences. The second step is connecting with local influencers and other credible sites for guest blogging or cross-promotional opportunities.
These and other local SEO best practices will help elevate your presence online. But remember, what you do offline matters significantly. Never neglect your customer experience; in fact, what you do in person is, arguably, the most important local SEO strategy!
For help implementing local SEO strategies, contact THAT Agency.