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If you own a small business, you probably understand the importance of showing up in the search results in your neighborhood. But did you know that 50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphones visited a store within one day? That’s quite a few people, and this means that ranking for those local searches has a direct impact on the number of people entering your store.
If you've been working to improve the search engine optimization (SEO) on your website, you already have a great start. But there are some extra steps you can take to improve the local SEO for your small business and increase foot traffic that comes into your store.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your business’s information online to generate traffic from location-based searches. Many small business customers are local, which makes appearing in these types of search results critical. Search engines like Google use local algorithms to rank a business listings’ relevance for a particular geographic area.
Why Should Small Businesses Care About Local SEO?
Today, users are taking the time to look up a business online before visiting the brick and mortar store to make a purchase. That means that if your business doesn’t show up in local searches, consumers might be walking through one of your competitor’s doors.
Primary Types of Local Search Results
Today, Google search results come in all shapes and sizes. For local search results, you can either end up in the local pack listings, which refers to the three business listings below the map (seen in the image below), or the organic search results.
Google’s local organic search results are now located below the local pack listings. Clicking on one of these links takes visitors to Google Maps with an extended view of the business on which they clicked. These three business listings are based on proximity to the searcher and that business’s local SEO efforts.
Factors That Influence Local Search Results
You may be wondering what factors actually impacts local search rankings. The local search ranking factors continually change based on Google’s algorithms, but these are the top components that contribute to a local business’s rankings:
- Google My Business Listing: Your Google My Business page sends signals to Google that help your business appear in search, such as reviews, photos and being associated with an Owner Verified profile.
- Business Citations: Your business citations, meaning your business address, name and other information are consistent.
- On-Page SEO: Following traditional SEO best practices, such as the use of keywords and headings and having an adequate number of words on the page, also influence rankings.
- Links: Just like traditional SEO, links pointing back to your website will also help your local search rankings.
Local SEO Tips to Improve Search Rankings as a Small Business
1. Update Your Business Listings Across the Web
One of the most critical local SEO steps for small businesses is to ensure your business citations are listed online and that they are all consistent. Has your business moved? Has your name changed? If you have inaccurate business citations floating around on various websites and social platforms, it can hurt your local SEO and not to mention frustrate your customers.
This is because search engines scan third-party sites like Yellowbook to understand local businesses. If your business isn’t listed or your listing is inaccurate, you may be penalized in search results.
Follow these steps to ensure your business citations are consistent and optimized:
- Search popular local listings websites like Dexknows, Facebook, Google, Yelp, YP and Yellowbook to ensure your business is listed, you’ve claimed your listing, and that the information is accurate and consistent.
- Local review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor also hold a lot of weight in local search results.
- Add photos and videos to make your business listing more informative and attractive.
- Optimize listings by choosing the appropriate category for your business.
- If your business has multiple locations, create separate listings for each location to boost the visibility of your brand and each store.
2. Set up a Google My Business Account
Your business’s Google My Business account is a primary ranking factor for local search. Input your business address, hours of operation, and any other business details to appear for searches in your area of operation. Your local business listing is the basic and enhanced business information shown on Google results pages.
3. Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Once you’ve created your Google My Business account, don’t just stop at hours, address and phone number; add images and regular updates. You’ll also want to claim your physical address on Google Maps. You can do this within your Google My Business profile.
4. Add Location Information to Your Website Copy
Content that includes information about your geographic area can further associate your business with your local area. For example, mention which part of town you’re in, what park is around the corner and more. Consider writing blog articles associated with your city!
5. Encourage and Respond to Online Reviews
According to a recent survey, 74 percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. User reviews can build your business’s visibility in local search results, and so does your engagement in responding to them. Encourage satisfied customers to leave ratings and reviews. The more positive, authentic reviews your business receives, the better your business will appear in search, so encourage happy customers to leave ratings and reviews.
6. Engage Regularly on Social Media
When it comes to finding local businesses, social media platforms are search engines themselves. Many users turn to Facebook and other social channels to find what they’re looking for. When you’re working to improve the local SEO for your business, be sure to post regularly on your social channels and engage with page visitors.
7. Use Local Business Schema Markup
Schema markup provides a more detailed message to search engines describing what your business is about, so it will help Google identify your business’s location. Following schema best practices is crucial to getting your site to show up in rich snippets and the carousels of Google’s search results.
Boost Your Business With a Local SEO Strategy
Following this local SEO checklist is a great start toward making your way to the top of local search result pages. If you have questions about how to make local SEO work for your small business, we can help! We’ll develop a strong SEO strategy that’ll help drive more people to your store.