The online space is opening up opportunities for small businesses to join the domain of big businesses, but this means that developing the right skills for the online space has never been more important.
Maintaining traditional SEO techniques for your business’ website is important, but in order to compete with the big guys, small business owners should also focus on local search optimisation (local SEO).
This article will explain how small businesses can develop their local SEO and take advantage of ‘Near Me’ services.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is predominantly for businesses that have a real-world presence, and refers to the targeting of search engine searches made close to your business. For example, if you own an Indian restaurant and someone one street away types ‘Indian restaurants near me’ into the search engine, you want your restaurant to appear as close to the top of this list as possible.
With more than 80% of mobile searches related to location, local SEO has never been a better tool for business growth.
How To Dominate Local SEO
Whilst Local SEO is not complicated, it does need time and effort dedicated to it to see the best results. So here is a list to help you work out the key focus areas to improve your business’s local SEO.
1. Have a clear local area of influence.
Whilst traditional SEO techniques can work wonders for the online space, local SEO benefits greatly from real-world presence. Word of mouth is still one of the best marketing tools, so get involved with your local community and put a face to the business. Get to know your customer base so you can understand the type of person your business serves. This information will help with the choice of keywords to target this profile. Having a local presence will give your customers confidence that your business is the real deal.
2. Create an accurate small business profile on local directories.
Getting your business into the consciousness of potential local customers is a great marketing tool. This can be done by building a website with a contact number and address, listing the small business on local directories, investing in digital marketing ads, or being active on social media platforms. If possible, small businesses should also create brand safety pages for any products or services they offer so that customers who search for these products/services have an avenue through which they can access them easily. Keywords relevant to your area and client base will also help with local SEO. See what other small businesses in the area are doing well and use that as your guide.
3. Quality over quantity.
When it comes to small business SEO, there is no substitute for quality content. Ranking at the top for a small set of targeted keywords versus ranking first on page one for hundreds of keywords will bring in the best quality customers who are likely to benefit from what you have to offer. Bringing in the right customers for your business, instead of anyone and everyone, gives you a better chance of making a good impression and developing a loyal customer base.
4. Focus on the reviews.
Small businesses can no longer ignore the importance of online reviews, especially when it comes to ‘near me’ searches. Not only do reputable online reviews indicate authenticity, but they also help drive small business SEO efforts by impacting small business rankings.
There is no substitute for good service so make sure you are offering your customers the best. Encourage customers to leave reviews by offering discounts or special offers in exchange for one. Also, remember that bad reviews are just as important as good ones. Respond to the review, ask how you could do better, and take it on board when considering future decisions.
One way to increase the visibility of your online reviews is to actively promote them on your website and social media platforms. By featuring customer testimonials and linking to your review profiles on review sites, such as Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, you can showcase your positive reputation and boost your search engine rankings, due to their importance for local SEO.
5. Use small local marketing as a basis for other small business marketing strategies.
There is no point in dominating ‘near me’ searches if you don’t have an active presence on other platforms. Financial success for businesses’ has become increasingly reliant on digital marketing, so you need to ensure that they can be found across multiple channels or risk losing potential customers due to lack of visibility. Local search engines shouldn’t just be about driving traffic through SEO – it needs to be about building brand awareness. Be active on social media channels, engage with local hash-tags, invest in local marketing ads, offer local discounts, and develop email marketing
6. Develop an active social media presence.
This point follows from the last one, but a social media presence is fast becoming one of the most important marketing strategies. Instead of relying on a reactive strategy where you respond to what’s already out there, develop your own social media profile for customers to engage with and remember you by. Tell customers exactly who you are and what you offer. Respond to them directly and build a profile customers know they can trust.
One of the best ways to develop an active social media presence is to use social media management tools such as Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule and publish content, as well as track your performance and engage with your audience. By using these tools, you can easily manage multiple social media accounts and create a consistent brand message across all platforms. In addition to Hootsuite, there are other tools such as Sprout Social and Buffer that also provide comprehensive social media management capabilities.
7. Have a mobile-focused strategy.
Mobile search has been consistently growing year on year, so it is vital that small business SEO efforts target the mobile audience. Google’s small business SEO algorithm includes mobile rankings, so check that your website is responsive. In addition, any calls to action should be designed to be easily accessible from a smartphone screen.
To learn more about local SEO techniques such as ‘Google My Business’, check out our article here.
For more information about how AMS Digital can assist your business with Local SEO, contact us here.