Local SEO - What is it and why does your website need it?
We know we’re biased, but when we say that every business owner needs to build a website, we genuinely mean it. Even if all of your sales happen in person, you can still use Google to help reach new customers. When was the last time you actually picked up a Yellow Pages to find a nearby business for your needs?
Today, Google has become synonymous with search. When looking for a business in your location — a place to grab a bite, spend the night or get a haircut – your potential customers will turn first to the search engine. Your goal: to make sure YOUR business is the one that shows up first! For that to happen, you need Local Search Engine Optimization, or as we call it in the industry, “ Local SEO.”
What is local SEO?
Local SEO refers to specific actions you can take to make sure that your site appears in search engines when someone is looking for a business in your area. It helps search engines like Google and Bing associate your activity with your geographic location – and decide where to display your website on their results page.
Why is local SEO important?
Local SEO is a must for anyone with a brick and mortar business, an office, a studio, etc. As we said, it’s one of the best ways to bring in brand new customers from your area. Marketing to local clients is key!
Search engines increasingly tailor their results based on the location of the searcher. They look for keywords that show a local intent, such as “restaurants near me” or “restaurants in Tribeca,” and they show results accordingly, with geo-targeted content receiving priority status.
You gotta get on the (Google) map!
One of the best ways to help local customers find your business is to optimize your website for Google Maps and what’s known as the “Local Pack.” The Local Pack takes the highest ranked businesses from Google Maps and places them at the top of Google search results.
This is prime real estate and you want to own it! To give yourself a shot at being one of those three lucky businesses, make sure you list yours in detail on Google My Business (GMB). Then, since Google likes to place top-rated services in the Local Pack, ask customers to write reviews about you on GMB. Remarkably, only 10% of businesses have claimed their spot on GMB which means less competition for you.
Google My Business is just one example of a search engine directory. Bing also has a business directory and it’s worthwhile to claim your spot there as well.
Local directories – what they are and why they boost your local SEO:
You also want to submit your website to as many directories as you can – as long as they are relevant to what you do. Local directories are listing sites and social communities that specialize in indexing small businesses. Yelp, Foursquare and TripAdvisor are among the most famous of these sites, but there are many more. (Check out all the places you need to be listed online.)
People looking for places to eat, shop and sleep often refer to these sites to see what the communities have to say. But perhaps more importantly, Google search holds many of these sites in high regard. When you’re listed on good local directory websites, your business will probably receive a dramatic boost in search rankings. To help you get listed, be sure to check out the Site Booster app. It will do a lot of the legwork for you!
Make sure your contact info is consistent
You want to use the exact same name, address and phone number (AKA NAP) everywhere you write about your business. This includes your website, your social media profiles and directories that list you. If your NAP looks a little bit different in some places, search engines may accidentally think you have two (or more) different locations.
To optimize your local SEO, double check that you are always writing your NAP the same way. You also want to prominently feature your contact details on your website. This can be on your contact page or, ideally, in your header or footer. As you may have understood by now, it’s time to take your NAP seriously (we had to take advantage of that easy pun!).
Have a great mobile site
Today, more searches are performed on mobile devices than on desktops, and Google knows this. That’s why they are moving to “mobile first,” meaning they will soon be indexing and ranking websites based on the mobile version rather than the desktop one.