What if you could connect instantly with local customers, without having to advertise to them directly? In 2020, when small businesses can no longer rely on foot traffic, in-person events, or traditional marketing channels to attract new customers, this question has taken on a whole new level of relevance. Fortunately, the answer existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic: Through local search engine optimization (SEO), you can reach your target demographic and grow your business in a reliable, budget-friendly way. In the local SEO guide below, we’ll explain how to get started with local SEO and how to streamline your strategy for long-term success.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your business’s web presence for geographically-targeted search results. If you’ve executed a successful local SEO strategy, your business will rank prominently when consumers in your area search for location-specific terms (e.g., “Web designers near me,” or “Web designers in Toronto.”) You’ll also show up automatically on Google Maps, making it easy for people to find your location and other relevant information about you, like your hours of operation.
Local SEO is vitally important for small businesses: Research by Go-Globe shows that 60% of people use their smartphones to search for local products and services, 50% of people rely on local searches to find information about businesses in their area, and 78% of local searches result in in-store purchases. Local searches are, simply put, the main way modern consumers connect with small businesses near them.
4 Ways to Optimize Your Small Business’s Local SEO Strategy
1. Don’t wait to begin optimizing for local search results.
Though having a business website is essential, you don’t have to wait for your website to be complete before you start using local SEO to your advantage. As soon as your business has launched, you should sign up with any online directories relevant to your niche. Google My Business is the most important directory, but there are many other services worth considering, including Facebook Business Pages, Bing Places, and Yelp.
To create a Google My Business listing, simply head over to the GMB “Create” page and complete the sign-up process by entering in your business’s name and address. Specify your service area, then verify your listing. Once it’s been verified (this process can take up to a week), you’ll want to return to your listing and add your hours of operation, photos of your location, and a link to your landing page (if you have one).
Using GMB is completely free, and it will ensure your business shows up on Google Maps and in the listings alongside the Maps panel, even if you don’t have a website yet. As such, it’s considered the number one way to connect with local consumers.
(Still not convinced? Check out these 8 compelling reasons to sign up with Google My Business.)
2. Find and utilize effective local keywords.
To generate organic local traffic, you’ll need to target the specific long-tail keywords people are using to look for businesses like yours. To find these keywords, you can use a free tool like Google Adwords Keyword Planner or a Bulk Keyword Generator. These services will produce a list of keywords specific to your area and sector, and they’ll tell you how much competition there is for each search key. As a small business owner, you’ll want to avoid optimizing exclusively for high-competition keywords, as this will put you in direct competition with much larger, more established firms. Instead, use varied keywords with moderate competition.
Once you’ve selected the best keywords for your business, strategically place them throughout your website content. Different location-targeted keywords should be integrated into your page titles, image alt text, headers, and subheaders. They should also be sprinkled throughout your long-form content, but don’t overdo it: Google penalizes websites for keyword stuffing, so you should aim for a keyword density of no more than 1-3%.
3. Regularly publish high-quality content with a local focus.
Have you ever wondered why so many small business websites feature a blog? In addition to being a great way to express your passion for your industry, running a blog can jump-start your local SEO strategy. Blogging once or twice a week generates fresh, high-quality text content for your website, which is exactly what search engine algorithms look for.
By including local keywords in your articles, you’ll naturally target more local search queries, making your business rank higher in search results. You’ll also encourage people to link back to your website, thereby increasing its reach and authority.
4. Work with a company that specializes in local SEO.
Google is constantly updating its algorithms, so keeping up with the ever-changing local SEO landscape is a time-consuming and sometimes confusing endeavor. Likewise, certain elements of local SEO – like blogging and reputation management – require specific expertise and even more time commitment. As your business grows, you should therefore consider hiring a professional digital marketing agency, both to fine-tune your strategy and to safeguard your SEO efforts against neglect.
Are you ready to fully tap into the power of local SEO? We can help: As an all-inclusive Toronto digital branding agency, AllinBrand has the tools, experience, and insights needed to grow your online presence. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative approach to SEO.