Last week, I answered 5 FAQs to help you understand “Traditional” SEO.
But, for many businesses traditional SEO is not enough… You must also understand Local SEO.
That’s why today, I’ll answer 5 FAQs about Local SEO.
1. What is Local SEO?
Last week, we defined SEO as the process of getting your website to rank high organically in search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
With local SEO, there is a slight twist.
Instead of focusing exclusively on your website, you’re also going to focus on your Google My Business profile page. That’s because Google displays business pages (along with a map highlighting where the businesses are located) for many locally-focused search phrases.
For example, search for “restaurants near me” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
In the search results for local restaurant listings, Google displays a map at the top of the search results and the restaurant names, addresses, phone numbers and reviews right at the top of the 1st page. That information is coming from each business’s Google My Business page.
So the key difference between local SEO and traditional SEO is that you need to optimize both your website and your Google My Business profile page to compete in local SEO.
2. How do I get reviews on my Google profile?
Reviews are a critical aspect to ranking in Google’s local search results. Plus, if you have happy customer reviews, prospective customers are more likely to contact you versus your competitors.
So how do you actually get reviews?
First, you’ll be way more likely to get reviews if you actually ask for reviews. And timing is everything. It’s a good idea to ask for reviews immediately after you’ve completed your services, or after customers have expressed satisfaction with your service.
Then, you need to make it easy for your customers. We recommend sending a link via email to where your customers can leave you a review in Google.
Here’s how to create your review link:
Search in Google for your company name. A preview of your Google profile should show up in the search results. In this example below, we searched in Google for our company name “main street roi.”
Click on the “Write a Review” button.
Once you click “Write a Review,” you’ll see that a preview of all of your reviews show up, along with a big 5-star rating image. It’ll look like this:
Copy and paste the long URL in your browser and send it to your customers.
3. What if my business does not have a specific location because I travel to my customers?
If customers do not visit your store or office, then you need to set your Google My Business profile to be a Service Area Page instead of a Location Page. By setting up your page as a Service Area Page, your address will become invisible on the page listing and instead you’ll be able to set service areas based on the zip codes or cities that your business serves.
4. Can I Rank In Cities Outside Of My Physical Location?
With local SEO, the location of your office or store is a big factor in the ranking algorithm.
Think about this from the perspective of the person searching.
If I’m searching for coffee in the upper west side of Manhattan, then it doesn’t help me to see businesses that are really far away. Google knows this and that’s why the location of the person searching versus the actual location of the business is a big factor in local SEO.
That means you’ll have an advantage ranking in Google when your prospective customers are searching near your business location. The further away the prospect is searching, the less likely you’ll rank on the first page.
It’s not impossible to rank in cities outside of your physical location, but you need to realize you’re fighting an uphill battle with local SEO. If everything else is equal, then the business closer to the person searching is likely going to have the advantage.
5. Should I invest in Local SEO or “Traditional” SEO or both?
The answer to this question depends on the type of business you have.
If you have a 100% online, e-commerce business, then local SEO does not make sense and you’ll want to focus on traditional SEO.
If customers visit your store or office and/or you visit your customers, then local SEO is a huge opportunity that you don’t want to neglect.
But should you also invest in traditional SEO?
The short answer is yes because your local rankings are affected by many of the traditional SEO factors.
Plus, if you’re in a more competitive industry, then you’ll have to invest more in your SEO. You’ll have to work harder to create a more relevant webpages (e.g. create better content) and to build up your domain authority (e.g. build more links) than a business in a less competitive industry.
The first step is to review the websites that are ranking high in Google for your target keywords. An easy and fast tool to complete this analysis is Moz’s Open Site Explorer.
For local businesses, it’s usually a good idea to invest in both traditional and local SEO. This will ensure that the business listing comes up in local results as well as the regular Google listings.
SEO can be overwhelming. That’s why later this week, we’ll discuss some of the biggest fears about investing in SEO and how to overcome them.
Want more help getting started with SEO?
Our Ultimate SEO Checklist has 86 tips to help you get started with SEO and start raising your rankings in Google.