If you are a business that would like to attract customers within your specific geographical area, it’s important to have a local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. While Google is very ad-focused, and local search results come up after ads, they do come up before organic results. To show local potential customers that your business is relevant to them, you should ensure your website is in the local search results (also known as “the local pack” or “the 3-pack”) to help drive additional traffic to your website and garner more leads.
Local SEO is Different from Regular SEO
The strategies you use to rank in the local pack are different than ranking for organic search. Local results are based off of the consistent placement of your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on your website and directory sites, reviews, and targeting local keywords rather than just relevant topical keywords. Your goal with local SEO is to show that your website is both locally relevant and topically relevant to the search inquiry.
To show the difference between regular SEO and local SEO, we use this example: for regular SEO, you may optimize your website for “managed security services.” You build relevant content around managed security services and predict the answers to the questions potential customers might be asking around managed security services. This may enable you to rank somewhere in the search results for “managed security services.” However, you wouldn’t appear in the local pack results for “managed security services in Chicago” without some additional tweaks.
To appear in the local pack results for “managed security services in Chicago,” you need to include “Chicago” in your text, make sure your address says “Chicago,” your address is listed on all of your webpages, your directory listings are consistent and correct, fill out your Google My Business profile in its entirety, and get some reviews.
By focusing on both the content that is relevant to your potential customers and focusing on how to rank locally, you have a great chance to be in the local pack.
How Do You Get Started with Local SEO?
As we mentioned in our keyword targeting blog, it’s important to do your research first. Google a keyword you would like to focus on and see who pops up in the local pack. What commonalities does the linking webpage and your webpage have? What can you change about your webpage so the content is more like the linking webpage? If everything is fairly similar, what can you do better? What additional directories can you be listed in? Does the linking webpage have reviews and yours doesn’t? Learn what you can from your competitors and then do whatever they are doing either better or differently.
You can take this a step further and see if there are any websites or directories that you can add yourself to that are coming up in the search results. For instance, if Yelp or Yp.com is ranked high on the first page of the search results, then maybe you should create a strategy for how you will rank on those sites as well (this is called barnacle SEO).
Consistency is Key
Make sure your NAP is consistent across your website and any and all directories that may be out there. Moz Local is a great product that will take a look at all of your directory listings and allow you to edit them in a centralized location. This way, you’re not manually updating every single directory listing that you may have. Their packages start at $99/year and make ranking in local SEO a lot easier.
Think About Voice Search
Asking Siri/Alexa/Google a question about where the local pizza place is, or in our example above, where to find a managed security partner, is still up and coming. But, it’s something you should think about when coming up with your local SEO strategy. What questions would a potential customer ask in voice search and how do you ensure those questions are answered through your website?
Ask for Reviews
Ask your customers that have had great interactions with you to review you on Google. They can do this by Googling your name and clicking the button “Write a Review.”
Google only has a one-review threshold in order to give your business a review score. That means you only need one review to have a review score on Google. Call your best customers, ask them to review you, and see how that makes a difference in the number of leads you receive and your ranking in the local pack.
Your Customers are Most Important
With all that said, your customers and potential customers are still the most important. While appearing in search results is great, conversions are way more important than traffic. We want to close business and make a profit, not just garner traffic to our website. As such, make sure that the content on your website is valuable and meaningful. Use the research you’re doing on competitors and keywords to determine what matters most to your customers. Create a strategy around answering your customers’ questions and providing relevant and valuable content first, and then incorporate SEO and local SEO into that content as it is written.
Being visible in online search is how your potential customers find you, but providing relevant and valuable content is how you turn those potential customers into actual customers. No matter what, your customers are what matters most.
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