More and more people now use search engines to find local businesses. That's why local search is now an important marketing tool for every type of business. Local search engine optimization makes it easy for your customers to find you, whether they are searching for you on a computer, tablet or smartphone. There are a number of local SEO guidelines that local businesses, as well as SEO agencies who work on their behalf, should keep in mind to improve their rankings.
Include Complete and Accurate Information
To optimize your local search listing, provide as much information as possible about the business. It's also essential to keep this information updated and accurate. The following are some of the most important things to include in local listings.
Create a Customer Friendly Website
Although you want to keep local SEO in mind, the main goal for your website should be to make it appealing to visitors. The site should be visually attractive, easy to navigate and provide answers to common questions potential customers might have. You should also avoid elements that can detract from user experience. For example, flash media cannot be viewed on all devices and can slow down page loading time. The layout and style of the site should be consistent with the type of business it is.
Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly
Another critical factor for local search marketing is having a mobile friendly site. Many people use smartphones to access the web nowadays. This is especially true for local search, where people may be driving around looking for a certain type of business. Many people use phones to make purchases online, so you certainly don't want to exclude your mobile customers if you are selling products from your website. Mobile friendliness is now also a search ranking factor; see Google's new mobile guidelines. If you use responsive design, your site will be equally accessible to all types of devices. You should test your site to make sure that it's mobile friendly.
Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
Reviews and ratings can be very important when it comes to a customer making a decision whether or not to purchase an item or visit a business. You can remind people to leave reviews by providing links to review sites that are relevant to your business, such as Google +, Yelp, Angie's List, Trip Advisor, etc... You shouldn't try to bribe or coerce people to leave reviews, as this could backfire. You can, however, leave gentle reminders such as “We really appreciate honest reviews so we can better serve you in the future.” Having visible reviews makes local search results more compelling.
Optimize Your Website for Local SEO
If you want to succeed with local search engine optimization you have to think of the search engines as well as your customers as you build your website.
Add New Content Regularly
Many business websites are fairly static. This is because the owners list all of the information about the business and think their site is done. Local search marketing, however, requires you to add new content to your site on a regular basis. The search engines always favor sites with fresh content.
Enhance Local SEO With Social Media
You can make your local search marketing more powerful by being active on social media sites. Your Facebook page, Twitter posts, Pinterest pins and LinkedIn content can all point to your business website. To get the most out of social media, it's important to be consistent and interactive. Keep your pages updated and always answer questions and comments posted by visitors. Adding coupons, giveaways and contests to your social media pages can also increase traffic and encourage people to share your content. This all goes towards improving your local SEO rankings.
Make Use of Images and Videos
Visual content is becoming increasingly popular. People are now accustomed to seeing and sharing photos and videos on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Infographics are another visual type of content that can be very useful. Visual content is more likely to be shared than text. Videos are a powerful way to explain your business and products. Using visual content on both on your website and on your social media pages is an effective way to enhance your local search rankings.
The founder of CinchLocal, is a seasoned entrepreneur that has over 18 years of experience in search engine optimization and online marketing.