If you’re a local business trying to market your products and services online, you need to know about local SEO.
Research finds 60% of American adults use their mobile device to search for local products and services, and half of the consumers that perform a local search on their smartphone visit the store the same day.
It’s obvious people are searching for businesses such as yours in your area. But the real question is: Are they able to find you?
When someone searches for a local business, Google lists the best businesses for the product or service the users seek. Some of the most important factors influencing local search rankings are:
- Up-to-date Google My Business profile
- Website traffic and engagement
Let me take each one of these possible factors, so you have a better idea of what you need to do to increase your local SEO visibility.
Google My Business
Google My Business is Google’s directory for local businesses. You can set one up easily by logging into your Gmail account and then inputting your business’ name, address, and phone number.
If it’s the first time you’ve set up your Google My Business account, you’ll need to get it verified. Google sends you a postcard at your place of business and then you have to enter the verification code into your new Google My Business profile.
Once it’s verified, you can complete your profile with images, descriptions, list of services, and even post on your profile page to let people know of promotions.
If you think of it from their perspective, Google wants to provide users with the most accurate information they can. The more active and up to date your profile is, the more Google will want to show your listing to its users searching for your products or services in your area.
An active Google My Business isn’t all you need though, reviews matter, too…
The Importance of Reviews
Research shows that 91 percent of people read reviews, and a whopping 84 percent of those people trust them more than personal recommendations.
Businesses with a high number of positive reviews are much more likely to be listed highly on local search results than those without them.
However, you need to be careful with how you gain reviews. For example, you should never offer people a gift or incentive in return for a positive review. If you’re reported for doing this, Google will remove all reviews from the date you started offering incentives.
The best way to increase your reviews is to simply to tell clients that you’d love for them to leave a review if they had a good experience. Many people are happy to do that for a business they like.
Website Traffic and Engagement
Google wants to encourage their users to use businesses that have an active presence online.
One way that Google keeps track of that is by looking at the business’ website to see how much traffic it receives organically and how much users interact with the site. These factors show the business is providing something of value to their target audience.
Improving the user experience of your website and adding valuable content to your site regularly are the best ways to boost the reputation of your website online, and not only in Google’s eyes, but your target audience as well.
Other Local SEO Tips
Keep your NAP consistent.
Providing accurate information to its users is one of Google’s biggest concerns. You can make Google’s bots happy by ensuring your business’ information is consistent across the Internet. For starters, this means that your name, address, and phone number (known as your NAP) should be the same on your website as it is on Google My Business.
Local “citations” are another critical ingredient for Local SEO success. The most common form of citations are listings in online directories. All citations created must have the same name, address, and phone number. Any discrepancies can make Google nervous they may be giving their users incorrect information.
Stay active on social media.
Social media is another area where you should remain active. While Google has not admitted that it uses social media as a ranking factor, there’s a chance that engagement can have some effect. After all, the more people on social media who love your business, the more others will too. Whether Google wants to use it as a ranking factor or not, it’s still important to ensure your business’ information is correct and you’re active on it to market your services or products as much as possible in your area.
Become a Local Authority in Your Industry
Your goal for local SEO is to become an industry authority online for your area. If you keep that in mind, while making sure your Google My Business is up to date, your website is growing, and you leverage what people think of you through reviews online, you’ll likely become much more visible in local search.