How to Leverage Local SEO to Drive New Business
If you are not aware of Google’s local search results, you are missing a powerful opportunity to drive new business. How you leverage local search engine optimization (SEO) can have either a positive or negative impact, depending on how well you control your company’s online reputation.
What Is Local SEO?
Most businesses operate in a community. Local SEO comprises strategies for increasing your company’s search visibility in the community you serve face-to-face. Optimizing local SEO strategies means your business listing and location appears in a local or map search on Google and other search engines and directories. It also includes online ratings and reviews, local-centric social media, and more.
How Has It Changed?
In the beginning, local SEO did not differ from traditional SEO. That changed in 2008 when Google rolled out a listing of local businesses on a map in the main search results. Say you were searching for a Phoenix lawyer, Google would show you a box with map links to 10 lawyers and their business listings rather than just website information.
In March 2009, Google changed its algorithm to include local searches first when you typed in your search keywords. So, if you searched for “injury lawyer,” Google would show you injury lawyers in your location. Fast forward to 2011 when Google rolled out Hot Pot rankings that showed local businesses based on how people in your area rated them. Their aim, at this point, is to rank local businesses in searches by popularity rather than the number of people buying something there.
Today, local search marketing is an important part of any business’ online strategy. Making sure your business is visible and highly ranked in the local pack when searchers look for local businesses is critical.
How to Leverage Local, Mobile, and Social
Most businesses use social media in their marketing mix. To leverage local, mobile, and social media, think of it as a public conversation with your customers and prospects. Most do not want to be sold to; your target audience will not respond to a constant sales pitch.
The key is to engage your followers, ask their opinions, and give them a way to invest in your business through their ideas and feedback. Spend time on sites where your customers are. Survey your customers to find out on what sites they spend most time. You simply want a conversational presence with your target audience on social media sites.
How to Use Local SEO to Drive New Business in 2018
With mobile searches the most popular method today, Google looks at a searcher’s physical location or IP address anytime they search. This means that local search results depend on your business location when a person searches. To have your business show up in local results, go to Google My Business, and select the most specific business category for your company. Do not select too many categories because Google will not know what your specialty is.
Next, evaluate what your competitors are doing right if they’re showing up in Google’s local search map. The best way is to do an SEO site audit on your competitor’s site. Determine if they have more 5-star reviews or more backlinks. Use what your competitors are doing well and do it better.
Other Factors That Help in Local SEO
Here are a few of the elements that Google uses to determine which local listings display in search results.
- Reviews. The more 5-star reviews your company has, the better local SEO ranking you will have. This means you should ask customers to leave reviews. Make sure they leave reviews on Google My Business listing and third-party review sites like Yelp, Facebook, and others.
- Posts. Engaging and interacting with your visitors on social media is essential. Google rates you on how well you pay attention to your online visitors, including giving users special deals. Pay attention to your “transactions and interactions” metrics to boost your local search results.
- Current listing. Keep your Google My Business listing, as well as other local search sites, current by adding photos, updating your hours, especially for holidays, and using the Q&A feature. Do not add content for the sake of ranking higher; only add timely and high-quality content that helps keep your information accurate and shows you are engaged.
- Links. Get verified data sources to link to your website, like BBB, professional organizations, chamber of commerce, and others. Make sure to list your business on high-quality and authoritative online directories and that your name, address, and phone number are consistent and accurate.
Local business listings and SEO play a vital role in your company’s reputation, ranking, and revenue. It is critical to understand the big picture of local SEO’s purpose. No business can afford to neglect their data published on the internet. You should take control and manage it going forward to leverage local SEO and drive new business.
We can help you make sure that your local listings are current, and drive quality leads to your business. If you are ready to make the most of local SEO and how it can benefit your marketing mix, contact KEO Marketing to get started with a free consultation.
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With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.