What you’ll learn in this post:

  • The importance of Google My Business (GMB)
  • How reviews can improve your visibility
  • Local SEO basics
  • The impact of social media

Think SEO is reserved for e-commerce and web-based businesses? Think again: conduct a search online before purchasing a product in-store. It’s more important than ever to make sure your digital storefront says, “we’re open for business!” loud and clear.

Walk down any busy street in your neighborhood and you’re likely to spot more than a handful of people with eyes glued to their smartphones. Nowadays, we turn to our devices to answer virtually any question, query or need””Google cleverly coined the term “micro-moments” to describe this knee-jerk reaction. So, what does that mean for local businesses? The time is now to capitalize on this rich conversion potential and get on the consumers’ radar.

However, navigating the world of how Google determines visibility and SEO can be overwhelming. (Did you know that a business’ proximity to a searcher is the number one local search performance factor? Or that a false business address is the number one offense?) Add to that the fact that local SEO is a whole different ballgame than regular ol’ SEO, and you have a recipe for confusion.

Luckily, a few key moves could majorly impact your presence on search engines, your website’s traffic, your social channels, and yes, even your relationship with customers. The Holy Grail of SEO for local businesses is a coveted spot on Google’s 3-Pack. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get there:

Claim Your GMB Page

At first glance – clicking “claim this business” on the Google Maps app seems effortless and easy. Voilà, done! But you’re not ready to cross “search engine optimization” off your to-do list just yet””especially when we’re talking about multi-location businesses. If your business is a franchise, there’s a high probability that other locations have already hopped on Google to create their own pages. Plus, there’s also a chance rogue pages have popped up from across the web, not to mention left-overs from the old Google+ days. In order to get higher visibility in local search, it’s important to ensure your Google My Business pages are squeaky clean.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • NAP data is accurate and up-to-date across all GMB listings
  • Data is consistent with other major directories
  • Unique business description is complete, including company keywords and business keywords
  • Business is in the correct GMB categories
  • High-resolution photos have been added to directories that accept them

Pay Attention to Your Online Reviews

Yes, online reviews are critical from a reputation standpoint. But did you know that those star ratings and write-ups can also impact your search visibility? This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to score five stars (though it doesn’t hurt!) with every customer who passes through your door. Search engines also take into account volume and quality of reviews when figuring out where to place you in their search results.

Online Google reviews play a vital role in your local search visibility. Highly reviewed businesses tend to show up the best.

Since paying for positive reviews is out of the question, businesses have to look for other ways to tip the scales in their favor. With the right kind of review management strategy, you can increase review volume in a legitimate way. Be sure that your strategy also includes review responding, which could take the form of a dedicated tool.

Different review sites matter for different search engines, so focus your efforts on the platforms more commonly used by your demographic. When in doubt, begin with the most common denominator. Google reviews are a great place to start no matter what type of business you are. After all, this superpower search engine handles 40,000 queries per second!

Tackle the Basics of Local SEO

From Google Maps integration to vital local keywords, there’s plenty you can do on the home front to increase your visibility for local. In a feature by Search Engine Land, columnist Matthew Barby offers these practical ways to optimize your website and local landing pages for search:

  • Add your city/region and a relevant keyword within landing page title tag
  • Add your city/region and a relevant keyword within landing page H1 tag
  • Add your city/region and a relevant keyword within landing page URL
  • Add your city/region and a relevant keyword within your landing page content
  • Add your city/region and a relevant keyword to alt tags on images

Indeed, the days of keyword stuffing are long gone, but a solid keyword strategy is still crucial to local SEO success. Local businesses will also want to factor in the emergence of voice search and virtual assistants, meaning a conversational tone and natural speech (long-tail keywords) in your keyword strategy

Stay Social!

Staying active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like aren’t just for catching up with your Great Aunt Irma in Boca Raton. These social platforms can also factor in to your SEO performance. Staying active and engaged with your fans is important, but it goes beyond the typical post-and-pray method. The most important piece in this puzzle is acquiring and hanging onto a highly engaged audience. In other words, your followers are actively interacting with the content you produce.

From a local perspective, social media campaigns can help generate consumer engagement. Try running a campaign on Facebook, where customers who “check in” to your store and upload a photo to your page to receive a discount. If your business caters more to the Instagram crowd, run a photo-sharing contest for customers who geotag your location and use your branded hashtag. The added bonus? By running these contests, you’ll have a host of user-generated content at your fingertips to use across all your social channels for months to come.

Ready to get started?

The first step to getting positive results from your local search efforts is simple: find a partner that can guide you through the process. LOCALiQ can simplify your local search strategy in a way that makes sense for your business goals. Get in touch today to learn more!