Every business owner knows how important it is to have a presence on Google. However, brick-and-mortar locations face unique challenges of standing out in search results due to the face-to-face nature of their business.
This is where local search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. Local SEO is a strategy that helps boost your search results when users are searching based on geography. These types of searches can include street names, intersections, or by typing “near me”. Google Maps will then find your business based on the information it uses to determine your location.
Here are 10 ways you can optimize your website for local SEO, improve your local online traffic, and boost your online search rankings:
Optimize your Google My Business Listing
One of the first (if not THE first) things you should do is make sure that your “ Google My Business”(GMB) listing is complete and up to date.
If you don’t have a Google My Business listing, you need to create one right away.
Your GMB profile is one of the most effective ways brick-and-mortar locations can improve their Google search results and attract new potential customers. You’ll also rank higher on Google Maps, which appears alongside your listing to help users find you easily.
Getting started on the Google platform is simple – and free. You just need to create your account and verify ownership of your business with Google. After that, you can optimize your profile by making sure you:
- Upload your logo
- Enter your hours of operation, business description, business address, acceptable payment methods, and product or service listings. Upload pictures of your business, product displays, staff, and anything that will give your store personality
- Publish interesting posts through the GMB dashboard, such as product announcements, special offers, in-store events, contests, and more using relevant keyword phrases
It’s imperative that you provide accurate information and keep it updated to maintain online visibility, and add fresh content whenever necessary.
Encourage customers to leave online Google My Business reviews
Glowing online reviews from happy customers are always great to showcase. However, when the testimonials are from local customers, they add extra punch. A recent study showed that 84% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from someone they know
Positive reviews from residents in your city, town, and neighbourhood go a long way to building business within your service area. The key is getting your customers to leave them on your Google My Business profile to get you ranking in search! Here’s how you can encourage them to do that:
- When you make a sale in your store, ask the person to leave a review
- Within a week of completing the purchase, send your customer a follow-up email or text asking how their experience was – if the answer is positive, feel free to send them a “thank you” email asking for a review
- Respond sincerely and in a timely fashion to reviews, and address unfavourable reviews honestly and politely
Google My Business makes asking for online reviews for your business easy by providing a review form link that you can send to your customers. Once they click on the link, they’ll be taken to your Google My Business profile where they can easily write the online review.
Don’t forget to use these online reviews in your digital marketing campaign too!
Optimize for voice search
Voice searches are becoming more and more common these days. According to Google, voice search accounts for 20% of searches in the Google app. It’s hardly surprising – all you have to do is press a button, say “Hey Google,” and tell Google what you’re looking for. No more fiddling with typos on the tiny keyboard!
However, it’s important to note that people tend to use more long-tail keywords when searching by voice than when typing. For example, voice users tend to start searching using words such as who, what, when, where, why, which, and how. These need to be incorporated into your SEO strategy.
It’s also important to think of search intent. Sometimes, people aren’t necessarily looking for an actual store but rather for information. Let’s say a user is wondering about an appropriate flower arrangement. They might perform a voice search saying, “Which kind of flowers is best to send for a graduation?” If you have that information on your website (perhaps on an FAQ page) and optimized for voice search properly, that user could very quickly wind up on your website.
Create separate web pages for each of your products or services
If you have a wide array of products or services, create a dedicated page with high-quality content for each one. It will help the search engine recognize your authority in more than one specific area, increasing your ranking potential. You can also use these pages in your content marketing campaigns.
Ensure your website is mobile responsive
The online world is continuing to be accessed more and more by mobile devices. A recent report noted that 61% of website visits in the US were done on mobile vs. 36% on desktop in 2020. This is in comparison to 57% on mobile and 37% on desktop in 2019.
The shift to mobile has been so dramatic over the last few years that responsiveness plays a significant role in how Google ranks your website in general. In other words, optimizing for mobile is crucial for your business to be visible in Google search results.
You can achieve mobile optimization by:
- Ensuring that your mobile load speed is under 3 seconds
- Using big, easy-to-read fonts
- Keep images, copy, and video to only the essentials
Some website themes are already set up to provide an excellent mobile experience. However, out-of-the-box solutions rarely solve every issue.
A professional web developer can make coding adjustments to your website to ensure the best mobile user experience.
Employ target keywords that focus on your local area
If you want local organic search traffic, you need to use location-based keywords.
Use Google’s Keyword Planner to filter keywords based on your local area, so you get a sense of what search query terms your community uses to perform their searches. Be sure to include these keywords in your meta content, copy, and URLs as part of your SEO search strategy.
You can also add popular local sites in your copy. For example, suppose you’re a restaurant owner in downtown Toronto. You can include phrases such as “Just steps from Union Station” or “Join us for dinner near Scotiabank Arena before the game.”
Incorporate local news and events into your content
People in your community love absorbing content that pertains directly to them. You can easily add local flavour to your website and help your search engine rankings by:
- Blogging about local news, activities, events, and other stories your neighbours would be interested in
- Include pictures of your city on your About and Contact pages, and include little blurbs about local history
- Create videos about local events or causes your business supports
Include location-specific web pages
This is important for every business but is especially crucial if you have more than one location in a given area. Each location-specific page needs to include the following information:
- Location Name, address, and phone number
- Hours of operation
- Individualized descriptions
- Customer reviews
- Parking availability or nearest public transit stop
- Special promotions and in-store events
- Embedded Google map
Don’t forget to keep the content between different location pages as unique as possible.
List your business on different directories
In addition to your GMB profile, you can also add your business onto online directories such as Yelp, YellowPages, and Bing. This will help raise visibility with users who use these directories and boost your local organic traffic.
Be sure to fill out the profiles in full, including the backlink to your website, and keep the information on the business listing updated.
Get high-quality backlinks
Link building has long been an essential part of SEO, including when customers try to find you through a local SEO search query. The quality of backlinks is more important than the quantity when you want localized organic results. This will also help your off-page SEO strategy.
Here are some ways you can good-quality local backlinks for link building that leads to better search visibility:
- Connect with local influencers for link opportunities back to your website
- Guest blog on reputable local websites that have a high domain authority
- Create compelling content on your website that others will want to link to
Be sure to reach out to our team if you need any help improving your local search engine optimization (SEO) results. We offer several SEO services such as competitor keyword gap research, website audits, SEO audit, content audits, local SEO, online visibility in searches, and technical SEO for site performance.