7 Local SEO Tips to Reach New Customers
Looking to implement local SEO but unsure of where to start? In this article, SEO experts themselves break down their key tips for implementing a results-driven local SEO strategy.
In the realm of search engine rankings and behaviors, local search engine optimization has been a significant indicator of consumer intent up to and following the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers are more apt to stay close to home when seeking out products and services they would rather buy in person than online, and there has been significant growth in order-ahead pick-up services due to quarantines and social distancing requirements in different communities. Concurrent with this growth, Google continues to see local searches for nearby businesses and services account for at least 46% of all searches. When using a mobile device to conduct these searches, studies show that 76% of people end up visiting the business they found in a local search within a day, and 28% of those local searches result in a purchase.
Search engine optimization at a local level can be a challenging undertaking if you’re not aware of the various best practices and technologies involved or not versed in traditional SEO tactics. In this article, we’ve gathered tips and insight from marketing experts and professionals from the UpCity community in order to provide business owners and digital marketers with actionable insight into how they can use local SEO to reach new customers in 2022.
1. Localize On-Page Content
We’ve discussed in a recent survey the rising reliance in the United States on on-page SEO tactics. One approach to improving search engine ranking that also adds value to a business’s local SEO strategy is to ensure each service and product page has multiple localized versions that can be found depending upon the location of the person conducting the search.
“For our clients that are service businesses, we always recommend creating service area-specific landing pages that are localized for the specific regions and cities they serve. Landing page localization can include a paragraph or two about the businesses history in the area and the types of services they offer, testimonials from customers living in the area, examples of work they’ve completed in the area, and then basic SEO optimization that includes the service area + service in the URL (painters in Santa Maria), title tag and heading tags. A great keyword research tool to localize your service area-specific pages is Google Search Console. By analyzing the “Queries” report, you can see exactly how people are searching for your client’s services. Use data from the tool to optimize your landing pages for both customers and search engines.” —Brian Jensen, Founder & CMO, Congruent Digital
Landing page localization helps to increase your site’s search engine performance by not only playing to local search trends but also helps to improve your business’s page authority with search engines.
2. A Well-Managed Google Business Profile is Crucial for Local SEO
Throughout this document, you’ll see many businesses refer to their “Google My Business” profiles (GMB). This platform has recently been rebranded as Google’s Business Profile. We’ve maintained the nomenclature of GMB to match with our respondents’ quotes and how it’s often referred to within the marketing community. It’s not enough to locate and claim your Google My Business account for your business. It is necessary to also ensure that it’s properly configured so that the tools Google and other search engines use to crawl and index pages are able to match up your brand with your directory listing.
“When it comes to local SEO, it is crucial to have a strong Google Business Profile for each location. It is important to keep your profile up to date. This includes adding updated hour information, accessibility features of your location, and covid protocols. Another way to fully optimize your GBP is by adding services/products to your listing, with a description of the service or product. Adding timely and relevant posts to your profile is also a great way to improve engagement and provide new users with more information on your business.” —Alexa Rees, SEO Specialist & Team Lead, SEOPlus+
Localizing SEO to maximize SEO results doesn’t mean localizing your site only for where your brick-and-mortar offices are, especially if you offer services remotely.
“If your product or service can be provided remotely, which given the pandemic most things have shifted to if possible, be sure to mention that in your website, social posts, and other marketing materials. It’s valuable to invest in local SEO as it is a more targeted approach however the volume of searches is less than in a national or international SEO strategy. You can combine these two approaches by creating new local-focused content on your website in place of gearing the whole site for one city or area.” —Colton De Vos, Marketing Specialist, Resolute Technology Solutions
Setting up each of the landing pages on your site and your GMB page properly means that the information on each platform should be consistent with your actual business details, and this data should be treated as a business resource you actively update and maintain.
“Optimize your Google My Business page by filling out all relevant info sections and include all your target locations’ information such as the cities, towns, zip codes, and counties for each location. Make it easy for customers to leave reviews by sharing your custom link inside the GMB dashboard. Respond timely to all reviews, both the positive and negative. Post new content frequently, such as photos of the business, videos of your employees and the operation, service or product updates, optimized blog content, special offers or sales, and other relevant information about your operation. However, avoid offering incentives or paying for Google Reviews, as it’s against their policies and can lead to them being removed. Don’t stuff too many keywords into your business name in Google My Business, as this could lead to the platform removing your listing or requiring changes before it can be posted. Most importantly, avoid inconsistencies in critical info such as your company name, address, phone, and website; the information listed on your GMB should match all listings of your business that appear in other online directory listings.” —Mike Layer, Founder & CEO, Layer Digital Solutions
In building out your GMB page, you need to understand how best to implement SEO across each section of the page.
“Local SEO is all about knowing your service locations and the keywords that will combine with them for success. Don’t leave your services and products section left unfilled. Put your keyword targets throughout these descriptions.” —Zack Flanagan, Co-Owner, Hive Marketing
Being responsive on your GMB page is crucial but this tip also brings up another component of your online SEO tactics that mustn’t be neglected: your online reputation management strategy.
3. Online Review Management is Crucial for Local SEO
When searching through local services and products, many readers rely heavily not only on the information about the business located on the business’s own site but also on reviews and feedback of the business left by past and current customers.
“Keeping your GMB page updated means that you should work on getting more positive reviews on your listing, so when people Google your business, they will be able to see what other customers think and feel about your business, product, or services. One of the biggest mistakes local companies fall into is not including or inviting reviews to be left by existing and past clients on their Google My Business page. People want to know what others think before they will visit or buy anything from a business. Including reviews alongside the specific information about your services and products is key.” —Ashley Akau, Assistant Director of Social, Search, & Sales, Agency onethree
Inviting customers or visitors to review your business isn’t enough. Search engines prioritize engagement, and customers like to see that a brand is responsive to both positive and negative reviews online.
“Not responding to customer reviews is a huge mistake. We let our customers know how important their feedback is by responding to all customer reviews and questions, even the negative ones.” —Andrew Ruditser, Co-founder & Lead Technology Coordinator, MAXBURST Inc.
With a solid review and reputation management strategy in place across your own website and GMB page, it’s important to also consider other platforms where you can control how your business can be found and searched.
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4. Be Present and Consistent Across Industry-Relevant Directories and Social Channels
Aside from your website and GMB, it’s crucial to claim and maintain your business’s listing on relevant industry directories. These listings must be consistent with the information on your GMB and homepage as well, for the same reasons it’s important to maintain consistency between your website and GMB, as it helps in the indexing of your page and increases your page’s local SEO performance.
“Always ensure your business name, address & phone number (NAP) are consistent across your website and online listings. Inconsistencies in NAP can lead to confusion for users and the major search engines that may lead to lower rankings.” —Declan Clifford, Owner, LaunchLocal
Local page authority will grow by focusing not just on the large directory sites but also building a presence on local listings as well.
“Building citations on major listing sites and industry and local listing sites help with establishing prominence with Google. Beyond industry-leading directories, you should also focus on building links with local organizations and sites such as Chambers of Commerce, nonprofit organizations, and local blog and news sites.” —Daniel Sarao, Owner & Lead Consultant, Macaw Digital Marketing
As you begin to leverage SEO tactics across multiple channels, it’s important to consider the content on your pages and how it’s helping to drive traffic.
5. Locally Focused Content Is a Powerful Traffic Driver in Local SEO Strategies
Your website, social pages, and directory listings are all perfect platforms to post interesting and engaging content.
“Don’t think blogging is important? Big mistake! Well-written, targeted content can not only help with your keyword rankings, but it can drive traffic that otherwise would never make it to your website! Many businesses don’t know what to write about. Focus on building a resource for customers and potential customers viewing your website. If you’re an HVAC company, build a resource guide with tips on heating and air, choosing the right system, how to save on your electric bill, and other related guides. There are tons of topics out there that are useful to your audience. It’s your job to identify those topics and get the content out there to not only rank but to share through your marketing outlets to drive traffic back to your website!” —Ben Capa, President, Fu Dog Media
A great way to ensure your content marketing strategy supports your SEO strategy is to engage with other organizations with your content, creating a community-wide synergy in local SEO efforts that will benefit all local businesses.
“Creating local content is an often overlooked but effective strategy. By taking time to become an information source about your city or neighborhood, you will start to naturally gain links from other local sites and articles about your location. In turn, this helps drive up local rankings and allows you to reach new customers. To supercharge this strategy, reach out to other local businesses when creating content and get their input, which will make them more likely to link to your site. Since local SEO is focused on geo-relevancy, it is ok if the other local sites are not in the same field/service.” —Travis Bliffen, CEO, Stellar SEO
When combined with link-building tactics, location-specific content becomes an extremely powerful tool for driving traffic and building sales over time.
6. Off-Page SEO and Content Marketing Tactics Help Build Local SEO Strength for the Community
Link building strategies can have a significant impact on local SEO performance when links are created between local businesses, as it will help to drive traffic to other businesses in the same geographic area.
“Something that is often overlooked in local SEO is the importance of local link building. Local links have more of an SEO benefit when the links come from the area you are serving. Look for opportunities to get links in local directories and possibly partner with other local businesses for shared link building. There are often opportunities to ‘sponsor’ local sporting events or other activities. By sponsoring the event, you can reach a local audience, and often, you can get a local link on their sponsor page.” —Mark Hanni, Digital Marketing Manager, Big Leap
Backlinking is a tricky game marketing experts have to play with Google’s algorithms. There’s a narrow path you have to navigate in balancing the number and quality of the links you include on your page while risking being penalized for creating irrelevant backlinks or being backlinked by sources utilizing questionable SEO tactics.
“It is important to build links organically. Don’t hire someone to build hundreds of local citations, when all you need are a few.” —Asad Kauser, President, Dabaran Inc.
While you should be sparing and intentional in your backlinking, a well-thought-out backlink strategy will do more to build your page authority in the short term, giving your other tactics more time to generate traffic.
“Your technical & on-page SEO efforts are critical, but your off-page SEO will be a game-changer. You can easily use your favorite SEO audit tools, scan your website often and fix all technical issues. Creating content with local and hyperlocal keywords will attract the right crowd and help you appear on your potential clients’ search engine results page. Paying attention to getting listed in reputable, authoritative online directories and earning backlinks from local websites is the best way to beat your competitors off-page.” —Stephen Gagnon, SEO, Code Web
In seeking out quality backlinks, you should be seeking out links to local events that have been recurring for a long amount of time and are anticipated to continue, to minimize the chances of dead links in the future.
“Try to find events that have been around awhile. You run the risk of having the site disappear or your link being taken down before the agreed-upon timeline. If you’re happy with the link, be sure to calendar an outreach email about 3 months before the event to stay on the site after the event is over, to ensure long-term value.” —Andi Lockwood, Omni Channel Digital Marketer, Andi Fox LLC
How do you keep track of your off-page links and how much traffic your SEO strategies are driving to your inbound funnels? Next, we explore the tools that can be used to improve and structure your SEO efforts for maximum impact.
7. Use Tools to Track What Your Competition is Doing for SEO
Tactics we’ve discussed up to this point should never be executed without insight into what competitors in your industry niche are doing. You should be using any number of SEO management tools to determine what strategies are delivering the most return on the investment, and which need to be adjusted based on your conversion rates and traffic compared to that of others utilizing similar tactics.
“Creating a stellar listing or webpage is great. But many times managers forget to keep a close eye on the competition. Changes they make to their listings and pages could impact your SEO and local search ranking performance. Avoid getting complacent with the competitors.” —Ashwin Thapliyal, Marketing Lead, Exemplifi
What tools should you be using to track and shape your SEO efforts? How do you know what keywords to target or what topics are popular with your target audience?
“One of the biggest mistakes many businesses make is not running an analysis of your website’s local SEO using tools like SEMRush, Ubersuggest, or Moz – all have free options for small businesses.” —Shannon Peel, Creative Entrepreneurial Owner, MarketAPeel
“The best thing you can do is to find local keywords that have buying intent to rank for, and then use tools like Moz or Ahrefs to keep an eye on your competition and to gather intel on what is working well in their strategies, to determine what you should be incorporating into your own practices.” —David McAnulty, CEO, Marketing Disty
Taking a Balanced, Diverse Approach to Local SEO
One of the most important lessons we learned from our community in exploring their best practices for maximizing the impact of local SEO strategies is that there are many different approaches, but whichever combination of tactics you employ, it’s crucial that you execute each with focus and an eye on short-term success to build traffic over the long-term impact.
“Creating and optimizing a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is the best thing you can do to improve your business’s local SEO. Users who are searching for local businesses on Google are self-qualified leads. You don’t need to convince them why they need a lawyer or accountant or that they should go out for dinner tonight, they already have a genuine need for your services. Plus, profiles are free, so whether you set up a profile yourself or pay for professional help, you’ll not find a better bang for your buck. But you also don’t need to try to boil the ocean. A lot of small businesses think they need to utilize every local SEO tactic in the book to be successful. Instead, evaluate your company, customers, and market and focus on a few ‘quick wins,’ things that will bring the greatest results with the least amount of work and investment.” —Amanda Carlson, Owner, No Coast Marketing
For more tips, tricks, and guides on navigating and managing your local SEO strategies, the UpCity marketplace of service providers can connect you with B2B companies that specialize in creating and managing SEO strategies for clients. You can also explore more articles like this one to get a better feel for the SEO landscape before delving into making your own improvements and engaging with your local audience.