If you are looking for ways to compete in the modern era, then you need to leverage the power of digital marketing. Put simply, most people use the internet when they are looking for products and services today. While direct mail marketing and radio spots still have their place, they are not what they once were. If you want to grow a business today, then you need to connect with your audience online. To do this, you need to make sure that your website is tailored to meet the needs of not only your visitors but search engines as well. This is where search engine optimization, or SEO, is important. Because SEO is such a rapidly growing field, there are numerous niches that are developing in this market. One example is called local SEO. What is local SEO and how does it work?
What is Local SEO & How Does it Work?
Search engine optimization is the practice of taking a website or online presence and designing it to be attractive to search engines. The goal of all search engines including Google and Bing is to present the user with results that are relevant to his or her needs. One of the ways that they do this is by presenting users with localized results is they are clearly looking for a product or service in a certain area.
As a result, businesses need to have strongly localized presences as well if they have a physical brick and mortar store in a certain area. This has given rise to a field known as localized SEO. Simply put, this is the practice of helping a business’s search results rank well for localized searches. What are some of the triggers that let a search engine know that someone is looking for businesses in a certain area? A few examples include:
- Searches that include the phrase “near me”
- Searches that include town names or city names
- Searches that include zip codes
These are phrases that let the search engine know that the individual is looking for something in a given area. Therefore, if you run a small business, you need to make sure the search engine knows where you are located. Then, you need to position yourself as a brand of authority in your industry. This is the goal of SEO. In order to boost your rankings, there are a few factors that you need to keep in mind.
9 Critical Local SEO Ranking Factors
If you want to make sure that you rank well for localized SEO, then there are a few factors that you need to keep in mind. Some of the most important ranking factors include:
- NAP: First, you have to make sure that your name, address, and phone number are updated and accurate on the home page as well as all online directories. If you want to rank for localized searches, then Google has to know where you are. In all places where your company has an online presence, your NAP information has to be correct. Some of the most common online directories (in addition to your home page) include Google My Business, Yelp, LinkedIn, Apple Maps, Trip Advisor, The Yellow Pages, and Facebook.
- Increase Your Prominence: In order to improve your ranking, you need to position your business as an authority in your industry. This means having articles, directory listings, Google reviews, inbound links, and contextual links. With the right prominence, you can land in the Google 3-Pack. This is a coveted spot at the top of the list which features not only a picture of your business but is address, hours, star rating, and a map pin. Because the vast majority of individuals will choose a business from the 3-pack, you want to land there using SEO.
- Build Links: When it comes to SEO, links matter more than most people think. This includes not only outbound links but inbound links as well. Therefore, you need to take every step possible to make sure that you get plenty of links from other sites back to your own to increase the position of your business. Think about trying to get backlinks from the local government as well. Finally, when you are placing links, make sure you use your top keywords as anchor text. This will help you get the most out of each link.
- Focus on Google My Business: It is no secret that Google is the most popular search engine. Therefore, your Google My Business listing is going to be your most important resource as you are trying to build your localized search results. First, claim your listing. Many businesses don’t claim it and it is hard to rank for searches if you do not take this first step. Then, make sure there are keywords in your business title. Finally, make sure that you choose the right category for your business and add a description that features links. Be sure that your NAP information in your Google My Business listing is correct as well. This is a key part of local SEO.
- Create Local Pages for Each Spot: If you run a business that has multiple offices, then you need to create a separate page for each branch. While this might sound tedious, you need to ensure that each of these pages is going to rank well for its specific destination. You also need to add a different address, phone number, and set of hours for each location. Again, make sure that the NAP information for all of your separate branches is correct on all online directories to boost your ranking.
- Optimize for Near Me Searches: Near me searches are searches that contain the phrase, “near me.” Of course, this is one of the most common types of searches so you need to make sure that you optimize your site to target these. Depending on your industry, the near me searches are going to change. Therefore, think about your industry, consider which type of near me searches are the most common, and make sure that your site ranks well for these searches.
- Voice Searches Are Becoming More Common: Next, note that more people than ever are using voice commands to find products and services. Of course, the way people speak is different from the way people type. Therefore, the keywords are going to change as well. This means that you need to optimize your site around voice searches. Prepare a list of long-tail keywords that flow in the same manner in which people speak. This will help your site rank well for voice keywords.
- Use a Blog and Write Local Content: Google wants to make sure that your business is actually located in the localized area. Of course, the job of Google is to find results that are relevant. Therefore, you need to reinforce the fact that you are located in the nearby area. Consider writing a blog that features highlights about some of the nearby hot spots. Also, consider writing about localized news events as well. These small steps can go a long way toward connecting with your users in the area in addition to running a strong SEO campaign.
- Reviews Are Critical: Finally, if you want to run an effective campaign, then you need to encourage more reviews. Think about responding to existing reviews and sharing them on your company’s website or social media pages. Incentivize first-time customers to leave reviews and let them know that you value their feedback. This can go a long way toward improving your standing.
These are just a few of the factors that play a role in how you will rank when it comes to local SEO. Of course, when it comes to digital marketing, you have a budget as well. How much does running an SEO campaign cost?
How Much Does Local SEO Cost?
Every business needs to keep track of its overhead costs and one of the most important aspects involves marketing. When it comes to running a digital marketing campaign, one of the most common questions is how much running an SEO campaign is going to cost. First, it is important to view local SEO as a maintenance task. This is not something that is ever finished. In reality, it is something that requires regular attention. Some of the questions to ask in order for small businesses to make sure they are getting the most out of their SEO campaign include:
- How does my information stack up when compared to the competition?
- How does my content look compared to the competition?
- How does my backlink directory compare to the competition?
This is a great way for small businesses to make sure they are getting their money’s worth out of their campaign. Simply put, hiring an SEO expert or agency to run a campaign is going to cost around $500 per month. A campaign on an international level will cost thousands of dollars per month. While it is possible to find a trial package for around $100 per month, this is going to go up after the first month.
When it comes to SEO, the saying “you get what you pay for” is accurate. While it is easy to find someone who can handle the job for cheap, this is not going to deliver results. All businesses want to succeed in today’s era which is why the practice is something that requires constant attention. With a strong campaign, this will lead to more leads, more results, and more revenue for a local business. This is why it is important for all companies to make sure they partner with the right team of experts. This is a service that is worth the price.
5 Local SEO Tips From the Experts
If you want to run a strong SEO campaign, then you need to keep a few important tips in mind. Following these tips can help you run a strong localized marketing campaign. These tips include:
- Put Google My Business First: Your most important ranking tool is your listing on Google My Business. It doesn’t take any more than a few seconds to claim this listing. Then, it won’t take any more than a few minutes to fill it out. This should be your first priority when it comes to running a localized SEO campaign.
- Check Your NAP Information Regularly: You need to look at local SEO just as you would a regular SEO campaign. This is a journey, not a destination. If you want to keep your local listing high, then you need to check your NAP information on a regular basis. Make sure that it is accurate because search engines will otherwise get confused regarding your location.
- Be Proactive With Your FAQs: One of the most important tools in your local SEO involves interacting with your customers. Make sure you talk with them on a regular basis and answer their questions. Then, if you notice that you are getting a question on a regular basis, add this to your list of FAQs. When you put the user experience first, you are going to see results.
- Think About the Competition: If you want to know what works and what doesn’t, think about the competition. Take a look at what they are doing on a regular basis. If you find that they are beating you in a certain area, take a look at how they are handling that issue. Then, think about copying them. This could be a quick and easy way to see some results.
- Reviews Matter: Speaking of interacting with your customers, the best way to do this is through reviews. Make sure that you ask your customers to leave reviews on a regular basis. It can be helpful to incentivize them with a discount. Or, you can encourage them to share your page for an entry into a drawing. This is a great way for you to expand your reach and boost your local SEO ranking through strong, positive reviews.
These are just a few of the top tips that you need to keep in mind when you want to get the most out of your local SEO practices. By having a strong local SEO marketing campaign, you can generate leads, increase your conversions, and generate more revenue for your business.