A few months ago, my wife and I started Brickcastle Designs after months of hard work, studying and reasearch. If you are like us, the fear of starting a small business in a space occupied by big names and key players made us feel like cockroaches waiting to be crushed but alas came Local SEO as a beacon of light bidding us to keep moving forward. At this point I'm hoping you already asked the question "what is SEO" because I am about to tell you. Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) could simply be defined as online marketing targeted towards a local audience and it involves the use of several strategic methods to help small businesses reach their target audience online based on their location. Businesses that implement local SEO strategies would be competing with other local businesses to appear on at least the 1st 3 pages of a search engine’s website.
Traditional SEO focused solely on On-Page optimization has made it hard for small businesses to compete with big businesses that rank better on search engines because of a heavy bias towards a brand’s history and authority.
The good news is, with the use of local SEO strategies, small businesses can leverage Google’s increasing drive towards personalized search results, to potentially break new ground. With a couple free tools, techniques, and some paid options.
Why is it important to adopt local SEO strategies?
- More customers are looking for local services online
- The growth of Mobile internet
An increasing number of consumers today are turning to the internet to find local products and services in their area and abandoning yellow pages or other hard copy directories. They can simply search for these services on their smartphone or computer and can quickly decide to interact with a business based on its proximity, reviews of other people or their operating hours depending on their needs.
There is a positive correlation between local searches and mobile device users. Many people today who own smartphones are seamlessly looking for products and services on their phones while they are on the go. This brings tremendous opportunity to the market place for local small businesses as proximity based searches will likely be on the rise especially because of the introduction of wearable devices such the Samsung Gear Watch and the Apple Watch. These devices have the capability of driving geographically relevant online searches.
How to get started
SEO sounds very complex and the talk of Local SEO might even sound more complex but it doesn’t have to be, you can start by:
- Listing your business on online directories and ensuring your citations are correct: List your business on all search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) and claim your local business profile on directories and review sites such as Yelp as well as any other directories that are relevant for your business. One of the easiest ways to do the second part is to list your business with these local data aggregators (Neustar Localeze, InfoUSA, Acxiom, Factual) which help you distribute your data to a wide network of directories allowing you to reach thousands of customer touch points. Also ensure that your information on these directories especially your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) are accurate, any discrepancy can affect your local search ranking.
- Optimize your content for local relevance and earn quality backlinks: that comply with Google’s guidelines. Backlinks are simply a way to build credibility with search engines. The more quality backlinks you have the more reputable search engines would deem your website. Do not pay for backlinks but earn them by building quality relationships with other content providers. Create quality content that can be shared or partner with local businesses, local reviewers and share your content with them. Remember, they would only share your content that is relevant to them and their users.
- Local reviews and ongoing management: Finally, persuade your customers to post reviews about your business on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or any other review sites relevant to your business. Create strategies and avenues that make it easy for your customers to post reviews on your business. Get as many positive reviews as possible and responding promptly to negative reviews, ensuring your customers are taken care of. Remember, good customer service happens while the customer is being served, do not wait for a negative review. As these strategies are put in place, your business would reap the rewards of your labor.