When you begin implementing an SEO strategy into your smaller business, one thing that you’ll need to focus on is local SEO. There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, more and more people are doing local searches due to the increasing amount of mobile use.
For example, a person with a sudden craving for sushi will use Google in order to find sushi places nearby, whether they are close to where they live or out of town. Using local SEO to boost your local ranking will help ensure that you reach users such as these.
Then there’s the fact that for mid-sized businesses and larger corporations, trying to rank on Google is a challenge but not unfeasible – all it takes is a solid SEO strategy and some time and effort.
However, if you own a smaller, local business, trying to compete with mid-sized and big businesses is nearly impossible. You just don’t have the resources that bigger companies have.
You also don’t have nearly the same amount of reach, which means targeting every consumer in the country just isn’t going to be very effective if you only have one physical location that happens to be in Tallahassee, Florida.
You’re going to have more success marketing to people in that area than you are targeting everyone in general – because while there might be a person that’s part of your target audience living in Seattle, they’re much less likely to convert than someone actually living in Tallahassee.
This is where local SEO comes in. Trying to improve your local SEO ranking makes more sense than just trying to rank your pages in general.
Not only will you not be competing with the same number of businesses as you would if you were trying to rank on a national scale, but you’ll be reaching consumers that are more likely to be converted into customers.
So now that you get the importance of improving your local ranking, let’s figure out how to actually implement local SEO.
Using local keywords is a good way to boost your local SEO, as long as you use them where they are appropriate. Obviously you don’t want to mention the location of your business in every sentence of your content, but you should mention at least once on every page.
For example, if you’re running a blog for a small plumbing company in Detroit, you could mention this in the call-to-action at the end of your website, such as “for emergency plumbing services in Detroit, contact us at…” You should also try to use local keywords in your H1 tags.
If you run a larger business that has locations in numerous locations, you’ll want to use different landing pages for each location, using separate H1 tags using local keywords for that particular location.
One of the biggest mistakes that larger companies make when crafting their landing pages is to use the same landing page for every location and just swap out the local keywords where appropriate. This is basically using duplicate content and is a big no-no according to Google.
Every page of content should be unique, and this includes your landing pages. If you have locations overseas, then you should use local domain names. For example, if you have a location in Europe, your domain should be www.place.eu. Obviously, each landing page should support the local language.
The following are a few other ways to create a unique local landing page:
For example, you could mention what year that particular location opened up in, how long you’ve been serving that area and more. You could even add details about some of the people that work at that particular location. If you run a small chain of restaurants, you could name the chef and write a little bit about him or her for each location.
A Great Example from Feng Sushi, Feng Sushi has unique landing pages for all his outlet around the UK.
You can build local citations in a number of ways. For example, share blog content from other local companies on your social media pages, like and follow other local business pages, write guest blogs and more. These local businesses will most likely return the favor, thereby helping to build your local citations.
Try to connect with local influencers as well. For example, if you’re running a restaurant, then you’ll want local food critics to write up blog posts about your business.
You should also submit your business to different local directories in order to improve your local SEO ranking. Sites such as Facebook and Google+ Local are invaluable for accomplishing this.
Other pages to which you should submit local company information include Yelp, Yellowpages.com, Local.com, CitySearch, FourSquare and Mapquest, just to name a few. These are some of the bigger directories on which to post local listings, but you can also find smaller local directories to use as well.
Moz has a Local Citations by Category page that we highly recommend you use as it allows you to find top local listings based on category. Getting your business listed in the appropriate category on this page is an excellent way to rank better for local keywords.
A Q&A section can be incredibly helpful in informing your customers about your company and your products and services. What’s great is that you can take common questions that have been asked by your customers and post them on this page. Creating a different Q&A page for every location shouldn’t be difficult to do either if you’re actually taking the questions that you are getting from your customers.
It’s important to remember that residents of surrounding towns and cities have access to your business as well. For example, if you run a car repair shop in Durham, North Carolina, residents of Durham aren’t your only potential target customers – bordering cities, such as Raleigh and Chapel Hill, contain potential target customers as well. These submarkets can be quite valuable, which is why you should consider building separate pages for them as well to strengthen your local SEO ranking even more.
Adding testimonials to your landing pages will certainly help, but having separate full testimonial pages will really boost your local SEO as customers often talk about things that are relevant to individual locations, such as customer service.
While testimonials are basically a great way to generate content without having to write it yourself, a customer story is a piece of content you write focusing on one of your customer’s experiences that goes into more detail than a testimonial. A page of customer stories is another excellent way to add to your local SEO.
Not only will customer testimonials help drive conversions, but you can match your testimonials to your locations so that each landing page is unique. If all the customer testimonials are broad in that they are about your products and not necessarily location-specific, you can still use different ones for each landing page to help make your landing pages unique from each other.
Example: Feng Sushi’s Testimonials from customers
Hopefully you’ve been paying attention to the fact that mobile optimization has gone from being a recent trend to a vital component of every company’s website. The thing is, it’s even more important for smaller businesses that are trying to rank for local keywords.
Why is this?
Basically, it boils down to the fact that mobile use has never been higher and is going nowhere. People are accessing the Internet through their mobile devices multiple times a day. In fact, many people use their mobile devices more for searches than their desktops.
Then consider this – how often have you been out of the house and have looked something up on your phone, whether it’s a place to eat nearby or a place that sells a certain product you’re looking for? People do this everyday. This means that there are consumers in your area that are looking for your products or services on their mobile devices while on the run. If you don’t manage to reach them, then your direct competitors will.
So what exactly does this have to do with optimizing your website for mobile use? Google’s new algorithm update emphasizes the importance of mobile-friendly websites.
Websites that are mobile friendly will rank higher for mobile searches, while websites that are not will rank worse. This affects your local ranking on mobile and which is why you need to ensure your site is optimized for mobile use.
There are a number of ways that you can make sure that your website is mobile friendly. We recommend checking out the mobile optimization tips outlined in Ben Seow’s article to learn some of the best practices.
It doesn’t matter if your business has one location or 20, your local SEO ranking is important for drawing in customers from your targeted areas.
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