Many online businesses today practice SEO and its benefits cannot be overemphasized. SEO has helped improve the online presence of these businesses to reach more potential customers to have access to their products or services. Considering how local SEO has improved over the years, due to the improvement in technology and the constant use of the Internet on smartphones, how we use search engines and how we get information constantly changes.
According to statistics, four of every five consumers use search engines to get information that is specific to their locations. Also, 93% of all online experiences have been shown
Usually, about 75% of people don’t go past the first page of a search result on the Internet. So, being on the top page should be a priority for your business, and that’s where local SEO marketing comes in.
This article seeks to address the most important local SEO ranking factors and how you can implement them to grow your business and generate more leads and sales.
The Most Important Local SEO Ranking Factors
Before going into local SEO marketing, you need to know what influences it- the factors that affect your rankings. Here are some of the most important ones that affect your rankings:
1. Google My Business
Google My Business comes first thing when optimizing your site for search, according to the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factor Study by Moz. Also, Google finds it easy to share your content once they have you in their listings. The first thing to do is to claim your listing on Google My Business. Simply search for it on Google My Business, sign up, get verified and publish your business details.
Image source: Local Search Ranking Factor Study by Moz
To claim your Google My Business page, you will have to go through a verification process, where Google sends a postcard containing a PIN to the address on your business page. The PIN will be used to verify your business, then you can go live with your new page. This is just one of the steps to ensuring the authenticity of your business.
Once you have set up your Google My Business Page, fill in the required information. This helps to improve your visibility on the Internet,
Then, proceed to add quality pictures that will appeal to potential customers and are convincing enough to make visitors check out your business.
Visual representation matters a lot and can improve your ranking, as people will like to see what they intend to spend on and once you feed their eyes with what’s worth it, they are closer to becoming your customers.
Customer reviews on your Google My Business page will also help improve your credibility and more positive reviews will push your rankings higher.
Keywords form the major part of SEO and if you are looking to gain enough traction, you need to use the right keywords that will target your local audience. Knowing the keywords your customers use to find you or the kind of product/service you sell is the first step, then you can proceed to include it on the page that you want Google to rank.
For example, if you sell Perfume Oils in Pensacola, Florida, your keyword should be something like “Pensacola perfume oils”.
Use buzzwords in your industry that you know your potential customers will most likely search for. The good part is that Google is smart and will always find a way to recommend similar content in search results, depending on the keyword used.
Still on “Pensacola perfume oils”, Google could still suggest your page to someone who types “perfumes in Pensacola” in the search box.
The best way to choose a keyword is to focus on long tail keywords and short tail keywords. Your long tail keyword could be “Pensacola perfume oils” while your short tail keyword could be “perfumes”.
However, you should always choose long tail keywords over short tail keywords, as they help gain more traction for your business. You can do a keyword research, to ensure you are on the right track with your choice of keywords.
Choosing the right keywords isn’t all that matters, as you also have to place them in the right place where search engines can find them.
This includes your meta descriptions, title tags, and headings. Also, try to avoid keyword stuffing, as you could get penalized by Google, which will drop your ranking drastically.
Hauser-Ross Eye Institute and Surgicare improved their local SEO ranking by making use of keyword research to pull in more patients around Illinois. They used location-based keywords on their web pages, which helped improve their revenue over time.
3. Website Updates
The next thing to work on is your website updates; you need to have a high-quality content and not just rely on keywords. Some of the ways to go about this include:
- Links: you can either have links within your website or have other websites linked to yours. Now, it isn’t just about any link but high-quality links that will send a signal to Google that you are authentic and worthy to have an improved SEO ranking. While you work on getting quality backlinks to your website, also work on your internal linking structure. Link your web pages in such a way that it helps users navigate easily and there is enough information gotten from a few direct clicks.
- Content, Title tags, and meta description: a high-quality content is important for both potential customers and search engines. If you will be putting out anything on the web, let it be of a high standard that will be convincing enough to go up the SEO rank.
- For every written content, use the proper keywords in the URL, title, header and meta description. This will make it easier for your customers to find you. Also, update your meta description and include a valuable, yet short, summary of your content, as it is what Google will show on the search results page. It could also determine if your potential customer will follow that link to your website or just keep scrolling to the next.
- Local content: focusing on creating more local contents on your website is also a great way to increase your ranking. Rather than writing from a broad view and trying to target a larger audience, you could simply focus on your prospective customers. Write something specific to your brand industry and location of your brand. For example, if you sell perfume oils in Pensacola, you could write about the average number of people in Pensacola who use perfume oils and why the weather in Pensacola at some point could call for perfume oils. A content like this will reach your audience faster than writing generally on perfumes or perfume oils.
4. User Experience
The user experience on your website also plays a major role in your rankings. Your website should be mobile-friendly, as a study on consumer local search behavior found that most local searches are made from a mobile phone. Make it easier for your potential customers to easily find all the vital info they need to know about your business and how to locate you. If your users have a positive experience on your website, they tend to spend more time with your page, which could eventually boost your rankings.
Some of the things to consider to help improve user experience include page speed and integrating call-to-actions. These will help users stay longer on your website, thereby reducing bounce rate where they return to the search results the moment they click on your website. It also helps improve the click-through rate analyzed by Google for your ranking and the pages per session, which depends on how long a user spends on your website and the number of pages visited.
Zara website is a perfect example of a website with good user experience, as it is Simple, Clean, Intuitive and Limited. They provide users with clear but restrictive options for easy navigation. Other examples of brands with good website user experience include Apple, Amazon, TopShop, Bellroy. These websites are designed in a way that users are more likely to stay longer on them.
5. NAP Listings
NAP is your Name, Address, and Phone number and is important to help boost your ranking in local search results. List them on your website and any reputable directory to help people find and connect with you easily. NAP is one of the things Google consider when filtering through details of search results and determining which to show.
Set up your NAP as HTML text on your website and not in an image format. Ensure that it is correct and the same throughout other channels where you have your NAP details, so Google views your business as legitimate. Enter your local business address and your phone number with the area code; these local citations with consistent NAP details will improve your local SEO ranking with time.
Some of the credible directories to list your NAP include Yelp, 411.com, local chambers of commerce, the BBB, infoUSA, MapQuest, Manta, Local.com, Google My Business, Yellow Pages, and so on. Anyone looking for recommendations or reviews would most likely visit any of these websites, and your potential customer could locate your business on any of these directories. If you do not put yourself out there, you will make it difficult for customers to locate your business.
The most important part of this is to be consistent; have the same information across all directories, so as not to lose SEO value.
A valid citation should appear in this form:
Name of Company or Business
Address of Business
Phone Number of Business
If the competition in your industry is not that fierce, you will notice a change in your rankings within 2 to 3 weeks, if you have everything correctly in place. If, on the other hand, the competition in your industry is fierce, you may have to put in extra work to take your listings up directories. Some of the ways to do this include sharing your listings or citation on social media to publicize it the more, linking your citations to your website or blog and back, be creative and make videos that will be appealing to your audience and then link them back to your directories and citations.
6. Social Media Presence
Statistics show that there are about 80% of people active on social media, which makes it a huge platform to publicize your business and link people back to your website or your directories and listing. Social media is the easiest and most effective means to publicize your SEO content; it is not enough to spend so much time building your SEO content if you won’t put it out there for the right people to see it. Social media will help improve your page per sessions and engagements on your website, as your online visibility and website traffic is improved.
Ministry of Villas is a Singapore-based travel agency that maximizes the use of social media to improve local SEO marketing. They have an About Us section on their Facebook page, where they discussed the basics of their business. This video shows quality images of their villas, which will be appealing to potential customers looking to hire their services. They also mention the prices of their villas, so you can make up your mind on your budget before heading to their website to place an order. They share informative posts and tips to help you while traveling or visiting a new place. This not only helps customers and convince them to use their service but also help drive traffic to their website, as most people would want to get as much information as they can to have a great experience.
7. Customer Reviews
Positive customer reviews for your business is a great SEO tactic, as it encourages more potential customers to check your business out. A survey done by Search Engine Journal found that 88% of people trust online reviews, and with the number of active social media users, you can easily ask for reviews from your past customers.
Request your customers to post reviews of your products or services and respond to your reviews. Positive reviews will solidify the authenticity of your business and will encourage more customers to buy from you. Google will also automatically improve your ranking once it notices many good reviews on your Google My Business page. Simple ways to get reviews include incentivizing customers, creating a link to leave a review on your page and also replying to reviews.
Leaving responses to customers’ reviews will not only show that you appreciate their reviews but will also encourage new customers to leave a review after using your product or service. To make it more authentic, try to personalize the message, including the person’s name and city/state and also your company’s name.
A major platform you should have customer reviews is your Google My Business page, as it will attract Google’s attention more, which will help boost your local SEO ranking. Other review sites include Yelp, Angles List, FourSquare, and Local.com. A higher number of reviews and the quality of those reviews will have a great impact on your ranking and will increase your sales traction.
To help increase your chances of getting more customer reviews, make your testimonial or review page more appealing and attractive, to encourage users to read and also drop a review.
Zendesk is an example of a brand with a beautiful and well laid out customer testimonial page. Hootsuite also has a great customer testimonial page that shows how their product has served previous customers. It also includes a video mashup of some of their customers and there is also an option to check case studies specific to your industry.
Digital marketing is the best way to market your business and doing it right will place you above many of your competitors. Working on local SEO marketing might seem like a lot of work but it is totally worth it and if at all you don’t have enough time or budget to implement all the strategies involved, this article has pointed out the basic and most important ones that you should focus on.
The most important part about setting up local SEO marketing is staying active and consistent through it all. You will have to keep updating your customer testimonial page and not just leave it dormant with old reviews. You should also be constantly up-to-date with local information relating to your niche, so you can know what to change, the new keywords to include, and the new strategies that might be required to help boost your SEO ranking.