If you’re a small business owner who is focused on building your online presence, it’s likely you’ve heard the difference between a general SEO approach and a local SEO approach, or target marketing. But how are these two approaches different, and how can you take advantage of a local strategy? After all, we all want to rank highly in the search engine results pages (SERPs), and for local businesses this is especially important for local-focused searches.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can reach this goal and start bringing more visitors to your website and business.
Google My Business
Google has a feature called “My Business,” which allows a business to register its own page. This gives your business an edge since it’s more directly integrated with Google itself. When this page is set up, Google shares your hours and contact details right on the search results page, as well as directions on Google Maps.
When setting this up, be sure to provide a detailed description of your business and ensure your business is included in the correct category. That means being as specific as possible. For example, don’t just use the generic “gym” to describe your business. Instead, use “boxing gym.” This will give you a better position for the right types of searches.
Also, consistently make the effort to ensure the details on your page stay current. If business hours or office addresses change, be sure to update your page accordingly. In addition, positive reviews and photos of your business can help bring more credibility to this page, and offer a better experience for potential customers searching for your products and services.
Local SEO relies on backlinks, or hyperlinks that link from other websites back to your webpage or site, just like non-local SEO does. Google gives extra credit for links that come in from sites that are relevant to your business or industry, as well as local to your same geographical area. This demonstrates to Google that your business is trusted enough to be quoted or referenced by others who are involved in your area (geographical area or business sector).
You can work to improve this factor by reaching out to other businesses in your area and establish a link exchange program where you both market each other with backlinks. This is very effective strategy for related businesses, such as a music school and an instrument shop.
Doing interviews or guest blogging for other local businesses is a great way to use backlinks. You could even offer an exclusive discount to other local businesses in exchange for a link.
Adding your business to local directories is a quick and effective way to link back to your site or page, as well as running an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit or using social media promotions—the possibilities are really endless and marketers are always coming up with new, unique ways to drive traffic to their websites.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Your click-through rate shows the search engine how relevant your results were to the people searching for you (or businesses like you). That’s why it’s so important to ensure you’re ranking for the right terms/searches. An accurate title and good description are essential to improving your CTR.
Running split tests is one way to verify the most effective title and description, so try a few different ones to see what works best!
Stay Up-to-Date with Updates
Search engines make regular changes to their algorithms, which are the formulas used to rank search results on the page. Be sure you understand the current algorithm and how your pages stack up to meet its requirements. Not doing this can cause you to see a sudden drop in your search rankings or even cause your business to fall completely off the top results pages.
Use Your Location in Your Titles and Pages
Mentioning your location on your website will improve your rankings in local searches. Your “About” page is a good place to start, but it takes a lot more to take full advantage of this search factor.
Mentions of your location on any page—where it fits naturally, that is—can help demonstrate to the search engine that your site is relevant to those who are searching in that area. Putting it into your titles and webpage copy, or including the business address on every page is another great way to boost your local search results.
Word Count Matters
This is surprisingly important and has been shown as one of the most important ways to improve rankings for a local business. Google likes pages that are informative and in-depth, not just full of filler or useless info.
That means you need to have a good amount of content for each page while still using keywords that relate to your industry. It also means that your information should be useful and not just something a potential customers would skim or ignore.
Track the Changes
Changes you make to your site and pages should always be noted, and then be sure to track the results. This way you can compare the new results with your old search engine rankings to see whether they are actually helping you or hurting you.
If you plan to test or experiment changes, make them one at a time so you can see (and correlate) the actual impact of those changes each time. And don’t be afraid to go back to the original—sometimes change doesn’t work out the way you expect, and there’s no problem going back to what worked.