According to a 2021 ReviewTrackers study on search engine queries, 35% of all searches are local or have local intent, and 53% will visit a business they’ve looked up within 48 hours. If you run a small business, optimizing your local content strategy and improving local search results may be vital for attracting as many customers as possible.
Here are the most effective ways to optimize your local business’ SEO, bring in as much online traffic as possible, and convert them into sales for your products or services.
Open a Google My Business Account
If you don’t already have one, opening a Google My Business (GMB) account should be your first step to improve your business’ ranking on Google’s local search results and Google Maps. A GMB account allows you to create a custom Business Profile and take advantage of several Google services and search page SEO tools.
Claim your location on the map
From this profile, you can claim the map spot corresponding to your brick-and-mortar business’ geographic location. If it isn’t listed (it may be a new real estate development), you can create a new one and place it on the map.
Provide potential customers with useful information
With a GMB account, you can prove that you own or manage the listed Business Profile, giving you access to many useful listing management tools and data. You can add business information, such as setting a business description, indicating your address and phone number, your opening hours, or your website.
Interact with customers online
You can also respond to online reviews and comments left by visitors and customers under your business’s name, driving engagement.
Access insightful data on your marketing performance
The Insights tab acts as a virtual SEO consultant and gives you valuable data for content marketing. This data may include your local SEO performance, data regarding your audience, or the most common search terms that led viewers to your profile.
Using your GMB account to keep your business information updated and engage with customers is vital for two reasons. It ensures potential customers do not get outdated or irrelevant information. It also increases the chances of being featured on the Google Local Pack.
For example, if your business is a coffee shop in Anywhere Town, Google Users who live in Anywhere Town may search for “Coffee shops near me.” They will see Google’s top three recommendations for this area listed under the map.
Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
According to the 2020 Brightlocal survey on local consumer reviews, 87% of all customers read the online reviews for their local businesses. 79% trust the content of these online reviews at least as much as recommendations from friends and family.
These insights indicate that online reviews are a precious source of information for local business owners. Encouraging your customers to leave reviews isn’t just about learning your customers’ opinions; it is also, first and foremost, about driving engagement and attracting more viewers to your Business Profile.
These new viewers may visit your website, seek more information on your business, and eventually contact you or become customers of their own.
Although reviews are generally valuable regardless of the products or services you offer, specific industries and sectors depend on quality customer reviews more than others. Reviews for businesses in the hospitality industry (local independent restaurants, cafes, bars, or hotels) give customers valuable information about the food, service quality, ambiance, atmosphere, friendliness of the staff, and more.
What about negative reviews?
Although it is always a good sign to see a business with many positive reviews, it is essential to also engage with the negative ones.
Respond to negative reviews promptly (no more than 48 hours) and professionally. It is critical to acknowledge the customer’s experience, provide apologies, and take responsibility whenever possible. Examples of responses you can use include “We are sorry for the inconvenience” or “We apologize for your poor experience.”
Always treat the customer with respect, even if the review they left was hostile. Remember that customer reviews are like blog posts; they are publicly visible, and non-commenting viewers will take note of your tone and professionalism.
An effective way to make a dissatisfied customer feel valued is to offer to take the conversation offline by providing them with a phone number or an email address to contact. By doing so, you are telling that customer their experience matters and that you intend to make changes based on their feedback.
Optimize Your Website For Mobile Devices
According to a 2017 LSA report, of the 30 billion Google searches conducted every month by internet users worldwide, 9 billion have local intent. The same report found that 75% of all local-intent searches conducted from a mobile device are converted into store visits within 24 hours.
The average Internet user is a mobile device user so, optimizing your website for browsing on smartphones and smart-tablets enhances the consumer experience. Visiting your website on a mobile device should be as convenient, practical, and easy to navigate as on a desktop computer.
Here are a few ideas for improving your website’s mobile layout:
If your website doesn’t have a dedicated mobile website, have one developed. Mobile users do not have the same input methods or navigation habits as computer users because they don’t have a keyboard and mouse, and each device has different screen resolutions. Your mobile website must be designed to account for these differences.
Ensure your mobile website loads quickly. Fast load times improve responsiveness and make your website easier to navigate.
Limit the number of pictures and the density of your text. Overly dense and compact blocks of information are difficult to read on a mobile screen.
Use large buttons, font sizes, and site elements to improve user experience (UX) and navigation on screens of all sizes. You don’t want your users to hunt pixels or misclick frequently when looking for the information they need.
Hire the services of a qualified local SEO consultant with mobile SEO expertise. They have the skills to help you grow your website, test its responsiveness and improve the design.
Pay Attention to Local Keywords
Regardless of your website’s intended audience (local, national, or global), mastering keywords is a staple of good SEO practices. The only difference between local SEO, national, or international SEO is the type of relevant keywords. Keywords that are not relevant or frequently searched at a national level may be critical for success at the local level.
With tools such as Google Keyword Planner, you can filter keyword searches by region and establish a list of the most commonly searched keywords in your area. This can include well-known landmarks, frequently-visited hotspots, famous streets, and more.
If your business is located near downtown Houston, TX, you can list your business’ proximity with one of the closest famous local landmarks. Your website’s About Us page and your Google My Business profile are the best places to include this information.
Some sentences with local keywords relevant to Houston you might use in this instance are:
“We are located just five minutes from Market Square Park.”
“A dining experience just steps from the Toyota Center.”
List Your Business on a Directory
An online business directory is a website that documents businesses by city and area. Some directories, like Yelp, focus on publishing customer reviews and impressions, while others, such as Foursquare City Guide, use previous visits and geolocalization to provide personalized recommendations.
Other useful directories include MapQuest, LinkedIn Company Directory, Facebook Pages, Instagram For Business, the Better Business Bureau, Angi (formerly known as Angie’s List), Apple Maps, or the Yellow Pages.
Listing your business on a directory improves your visibility, similar to activating a Business Profile on Google. It helps you leverage a well-known platform to boost your local SEO and grow your online presence.
With the right strategy, taking advantage of these directories may help you reach the first page of Google results more quickly than using your website alone. According to a 2013 Chitika study, the first page results constitute 91.5% of all traffic from Google, with the top 3 results alone comprising 61.5%. That means less than 9% of internet searches will visit your website if it ranks on the second page or lower.
Improve Your Local SEO With Rezolutions Design
Rezolutions Design’s talented team can help you navigate the challenges of local SEO. Whether you need to create a new business website or rejuvenate your online presence, we have the skills to improve your search rankings and get your brand noticed.
We can provide your business with the comprehensive local marketing strategy you need to reach your goals. Contact us today for a free quote or more information on SEO strategies to expand your local audience.