When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), there’s a big difference between traditional and local SEO. While traditional SEO focuses on keywords related to a wide array of products, services, and user queries, local SEO focuses mainly on one thing:
How close are you to the user’s location?
While other factors are at play, local SEO is typically easier to rank because your proximity to the user is far more important than other metrics like domain authority or backlinks. In fact, you could show up high in search results and not even have a website.
Although local SEO is easier to rank for, it can still take quite a few resources to boost your company’s image and profile on local searches. Fortunately, there are at least five ways to get better rankings without spending a fortune. Here are five tips for affordable local SEO.
What Affects Local SEO?
Although your proximity to the user’s current location is one of the top elements that affect your ranking, sites like Google also pay attention to other components like:
- User Reviews – Businesses with more reviews get top billing over those with fewer mentions or ratings. Also, search engines don’t necessarily rank based on the number of four and five-star reviews, so if your ratings are lower than you’d like, you can still get noticed faster.
- Keyword Relevance – Just because you’re close to someone doesn’t mean your business is related to their search. For example, if you’re an auto body shop, you won’t show up in searches for the best Thai restaurant. When optimizing your local pages, you want to incorporate keywords related to your business and location (i.e., fast auto collision repair in Atlanta, GA).
- Citations and Listings – Your business exists on third-party listing sites like Google and YellowPages.com, even if you’re unaware. If these citations mention your brand, what you offer, your location, and a link to your website, you’ll get a higher position on local searches.
As you can see, there are several ways to optimize your brand’s image when someone searches for similar businesses in your area. Now let’s look at the best ways you can leverage these elements to your advantage (without breaking the bank).
5 Tips for Affordable Local SEO
Focus on Reviews
Google reviews are essential for local SEO and boosting your company profile online. The more reviews you receive, the more people are talking about your business, and the easier it is for new users to research your brand before making a purchase decision. According to research, online reviews are often seen as trustworthy, similar to a recommendation from a friend or family member.
What’s so great about getting customers to post reviews is that it doesn’t require extra effort. Your clients are doing the work while your business is reaping the rewards. That said, there are some tips and tricks to ensure this tactic works in your favor:
- Be Proactive about Responding – As a rule, customers are more willing to leave a negative review than a positive one. When this happens, you must reach out to try and rectify the situation (or provide more context). The added benefit of responding to negative reviews is that other customers will see these interactions and make better-informed decisions about your business.
- Don’t Solicit Positive Reviews – Not only is it illegal to incentivize people to leave positive reviews, but search engines like Google will penalize you for this practice. That said, there’s nothing wrong with asking customers to leave a review – just let them determine whether it will be good or bad.
- Ask Everyone for a Review – If a customer’s interaction with your business was tremendous or outstanding, you should always ask for a review. Even if you only get two percent of customers to leave a review, that’s better than nothing. Plus, by asking everyone, you’re sure to get more positive than negative reviews, thus boosting your public perception in local searches.
Utilize Free Google Tools
Because Google is the undisputed champion of search engines, it makes sense to cater your SEO marketing strategy to fit whatever Google says is beneficial. Fortunately, the company also offers a wide array of free SEO tools, like:
- Google Analytics – Look at who is visiting your site and what brought them there. You can also access demographic data like location, age, gender, and more.
- Google Search Console – This free tool checks your website for errors and technical problems like broken links. It will also give you a clear picture of how many pages are in Google’s index and what it will take to optimize each page effectively. Google Search Console can also tell you if your site has been penalized (helpful for spotting dips in traffic).
- Google Keyword Planner – More than anything else, keyword research is essential for success with local SEO. This tool helps you develop new and relevant keywords, enabling you to create content and landing pages centered around those words and phrases. Technically, this tool is meant for PPC ads, but it works for organic results too.
- Google My Business – Google creates a GMB listing for every company with a physical location where they interact directly with customers. While you don’t necessarily need a retail storefront, you need an address (not a P.O. box) associated with your brand name. Claiming your GMB listing is essential for showing up in local searches because it allows you to check what information is seen by users. Plus, you can update and improve your GMB profile so you get noticed faster.
- Google Alerts – You can put in multiple “exact match” keywords and get notified every time someone uses that keyword in a search. This tool is useful for spotting trends or seeing when (and how often) your business gets mentioned online. Similarly, you can use Alerts to check on competitors or pay attention to online trends.
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test – Most local searches happen via smartphone, so your pages must be optimized for a smaller screen (more on that later). This SEO tool tells you whether your site is mobile-friendly or not and gives you a list of fixes to make it friendlier.
- Google Trends – Finally, you can see what keywords are trending on Google at any given time, including historical data for comparison. This tool is essential because it allows you to spot new trends and capitalize on them before other companies can tap into their potential.
Create Optimized Landing Pages
During a local search, someone might be looking for types of products or services you sell or for similar types of businesses. To ensure you rank highly in every search, you should create optimized landing pages.
For example, let’s say you sell bikes and accessories but also offer bike repair services. Instead of relying on your service pages or home page to rank, you can create specific landing pages related to those keywords. Some examples might include “bike helmets in [location]” or “bike repair in [location].”
Creating these landing pages allows you to be more proactive about getting noticed in unique local searches. For example, your main home page might rank fourth in a search for bike repair, but your landing page might rank number one for the same query.
Overall, creating unique landing pages tells Google to post your listing when someone searches for that specific item or a related topic. Otherwise, Google will only highlight your business when someone searches for your main offering or industry, meaning you could leave a lot of site traffic on the table.
The other advantage of creating more landing pages is using them for PPC ads, social media posts, and more. When it comes to optimizing your landing pages, follow these tips:
- Stay Focused on the Keyword – If a landing page is centered around a specific keyword, try not to stray too much. While you can discuss similar or related keywords, you don’t want to make it harder for Google (and visitors) to tell what the page is really about.
- Have a Specific Call to Action – When someone visits your landing page, what do you want them to do? Buy a product? Sign up for an email list? Make your call to action clear and concise, so users are more willing to click on it.
- Keep the Page Simple – Landing pages are designed to achieve a specific objective, so everything on the page should be related to that goal. While you can add various flourishes (i.e., photos or embedded videos), you don’t want to distract from the call to action.
Work on Link Building
Aside from reviews, Google pays a lot of attention to the number of links to and from your website (including landing pages). So, you want to put time and energy into building an extensive link network to boost your profile and make Google rank you higher. Here are some tips on how to get this link network up and running while on a budget:
- Guest Post on Other Sites – Guest posting means you create content (i.e., a blog post) for a similar website. While you don’t want to guest post on a competitor’s page, you can post on sites related to your products or services. For example, you could guest post on a helmet manufacturer’s site if you sell bikes. Then, they’ll link back to you once your content gets published.
- Reach Out to Listing Sites – While you can’t force a listing site (i.e., Yelp) to put your business information on it, you can reach out and provide all the necessary details, like your name, address, and phone number. Since listing sites want as much accurate information as possible, they’re often likely to accept your data and post it as-is.
- Link to Sites With a High Domain Authority – Domain authority refers to a site’s trustworthiness and reliability. The bigger the DA number, the better the website. So, the more you link to sites with a high authority rating, the better your network is, and the easier it is to rank higher in search results. Alternatively, you could get penalized accordingly if you link to low-quality sites.
Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Since most local searches are on a mobile device, you must ensure your site is optimized for smaller screens. We’ve already discussed the Google tool to verify how friendly your site is – that will serve as an excellent foundation and baseline for creating mobile-optimized content.
Ideally, you can create an entire mobile-first version of your website instead of letting your site builder “optimize” your pages for you. By being proactive about this process, you can ensure mobile users won’t get frustrated and bounce away to a competitor. Here are some tips on how to make mobile-friendly content:
- Reduce File Sizes – Images and other graphic elements should be small and low-resolution. High-res photos take longer to load, especially on a smartphone.
- Focus on the Endless Scroll – Mobile customers are used to scrolling to find what they need (since they don’t have a mouse). So, instead of putting buttons and graphics on a page, you can make it more “scrollable” with larger text, a simplified layout, and easy-to-click buttons. You should also put the most valuable information “above the fold” (i.e., on top of the page) so it gets seen immediately.
- Simplify Your Menus and Sitemap – If you want customers to interact with your site on their mobile devices, you want simplistic pages that allow users to press large buttons or click through to another page. Ask yourself if an elderly customer could navigate the mobile version of your site. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
Get Better Local SEO With BizIQ
Are you ready to see what local SEO can do for your business? BizIQ offers managed marketing services at a very affordable price. We can take care of the details so you can focus more on your clients and interacting with them. Contact us today to find out more!