Local SEO 101

Jul 18, 2023

Outrank Your Competitors and Attract More Local Customers

A strong online presence is crucial for local businesses. We all know that customers turn to search engines to find local products and services. The top five search results in Google get nearly 70% of the clicks. If you want business, you must be at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), so it’s essential to optimize your website for local SEO.

Local SEO is a powerful strategy that can boost your location on SERPs, thus attracting more local customers. By implementing a few key steps, you can position your business at the top of local search results and drive targeted traffic to your website.

Today, we’ll walk through the fundamentals of local SEO, providing actionable tips and strategies to boost your online visibility. These tactics will improve your search rankings and ultimately grow your customer base.

First…

 

What is local SEO and why is it important?

 

Local SEO, also known as Local Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing your website and online presence to rank higher in local search results. Unlike traditional SEO, which focuses on improving organic search rankings, local SEO is specifically tailored to increase visibility in local searches. This is particularly important for businesses that rely on local customers, such as brick-and-mortar stores, restaurants, and service providers.

I wrote a blog about SEO a while back that shows you the difference between a local SEO result and traditional SEO.

The importance of local SEO cannot be overstated. According to recent studies, 46% of all Google searches have local intent, meaning that users are actively looking for local businesses. Furthermore, 76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a physical store within 24 hours. By optimizing your website for local searches, you can tap into this massive pool of potential customers and drive more foot traffic to your business.

 

Keyword research for local SEO

Restaurant Marketing in Skagit County

Keyword research is a fundamental step in any SEO strategy, and local SEO is no exception. To effectively optimize your website for local searches, you need to identify the keywords and phrases that potential customers are using to find businesses like yours. You can hire a marketing agency to help you with keyword research, or you can follow these steps to DIY:

  1. Start with a broad list: Begin by brainstorming a list of relevant keywords and phrases related to your business and industry. Think about the terms your target audience is likely to use when searching for local products or services.
  2. Use keyword research tools: Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush can provide valuable insights into search volume, competition, and related keywords. Use these tools to expand your initial list and identify high-potential keywords.
  3. Focus on local modifiers: Localize your keywords by adding location-specific modifiers. For example, if you’re a bakery in Burlington, include terms like “best bakery in Burlington” or “Burlington bakery” in your keyword list. This helps you target users who are specifically looking for local businesses.
  4. Analyze competitor keywords: Study the keywords your competitors are targeting and identify any gaps or opportunities. Tools like SEMrush and SpyFu can provide valuable information on competitor keywords and rankings.
  5. Consider long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific search queries that typically have lower search volume but higher conversion potential. These keywords can help you target users with specific needs or preferences. For example, instead of targeting “plumber,” consider targeting “emergency plumber in Skagit County.”

Once you have a list of targeted keywords, you can start optimizing your website and content.

 

On-page optimization for local SEO

 

On-page optimization refers to the process of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher in search results. When it comes to local SEO, on-page optimization plays a crucial role in improving your website’s visibility and relevance in local searches. Here are some on-page optimization techniques to implement:

  1. Optimize page titles and meta descriptions: Your page titles and meta descriptions should include your target keywords and provide a clear, concise description of your page’s content. This helps search engines understand the relevance of your page to specific search queries.
  2. Use header tags: Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) help structure your content and make it easier for both users and search engines to understand. Include your target keywords in header tags to reinforce the relevance of your content.
  3. Optimize URL structure: Use descriptive, keyword-rich URLs that clearly indicate the topic of your page. For example, if you have a page about Italian restaurants in Bellingham, use a URL like “yourwebsite.com/italian-restaurants-bellingham” instead of a generic one like “yourwebsite.com/page1234.”
  4. Include location-specific content: If you have multiple locations or serve different areas, create separate pages or sections on your website dedicated to each location. This allows you to provide location-specific information and optimize your content for local searches.
  5. Optimize images: Use descriptive alt tags for your images, including relevant keywords where appropriate. This helps search engines understand the content of your images and can improve your visibility in image search results.
  6. Improve page loading speed: Slow-loading pages can negatively impact user experience and search rankings. Optimize your website’s performance by compressing images, minifying CSS and JavaScript files, and using caching techniques.

These on-page optimization techniques lay the foundation for better local search rankings. However, effective off-page optimization is equally important.

Off-page optimization for local SEO

 

Off-page optimization refers to the actions taken outside of your website to improve its visibility and authority in search rankings. Off-page optimization plays a critical role in local SEO, as it helps search engines determine the credibility and relevance of your website. Here are some off-page optimization strategies to implement:

  1. Online reviews and reputation management: Online reviews play a crucial role in local SEO and customer perception. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your Google Business Profile and Facebook. Respond to both positive and negative reviews in a timely and professional manner to show that you value customer feedback and are committed to providing excellent service.
  2. Social media engagement: Engaging with your local community on social media platforms can help increase your visibility and build brand awareness. Participate in local events, respond to customer inquiries and reviews, and share valuable content to attract more followers and potential customers.
  3. Build high-quality backlinks: Backlinks from reputable and authoritative websites act as votes of confidence for your website. Focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from relevant sources, such as local directories, industry publications, and partner websites. This can be a challenge but is a really important task for SEO.
  4. Local citations: A local citation is any online mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). These citations can help improve your local search rankings and establish credibility. Ensure that your NAP information is consistent across all online platforms, including your website, social media profiles, and local directories.
  5. Guest blogging: Writing informative and valuable guest posts for relevant websites can help you build authority, gain exposure, and acquire high-quality backlinks. Look for reputable blogs or websites in your industry or local community that accept guest contributions.

Off-page optimization requires ongoing effort and consistency. By implementing these strategies, you can enhance your website’s authority and credibility, ultimately boosting your local search rankings.

 

Local business listings and directories

 

Local business listings and directories are online platforms that display information about local businesses, including their name, address, phone number, and website. These platforms play a significant role in local SEO, as they help search engines verify the accuracy and legitimacy of your business information.

Here’s how you can leverage local business listings and directories for better local search rankings: Two women shopping local in Skagit County

  1. Claim your Google Business Profile: Google Business Profiles are a free tool that allows you to manage your business’s online presence on Google. One of the first things any business should do is claim their profiles. I have a short video about this – it’s so important!
  2. Optimize your Google Business listing: Fill out all the relevant fields in your Google Business Profile, including your business name, address, phone number, website, and business category. Add high-quality photos, respond to customer reviews, and regularly update your business hours and other information.
  3. Submit to local directories: Identify reputable local directories that are relevant to your industry or location. Submit your business information to these directories, ensuring that your NAP information is consistent across all platforms. Some popular directories include Yelp, Yellow Pages, Bing Places, and Apple Maps.
  4. Monitor and update your listings: Regularly monitor your business listings and directories to ensure that your information is accurate and up to date. A regular SEO audit can help you check for gaps with your business listings and make adjustments.

By optimizing your business listings and directories, you can improve your online visibility and make it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

As with all things related to SEO, there ways to dig further into the weeds and refine your optimization strategies. The most important thing is to get started and be consistent. Outsourcing your local SEO strategy can be a low-cost way to really elevate your SERP position. Local SEO work is relatively inexpensive and drives significant returns on the investment. And, once the agency has the framework implemented, they can recommend additional optimization strategies to deploy for further benefits.

If you’re interested in learning more about how local SEO can help your business, reach out! We’d love to provide a free consultation!

 

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