In any niche, almost all money making keywords are hijacked by the big brands so for a small business to think that they can reach to the first page of Google or any of those keywords is next to impossible in the near future.
A small travel agent in Seattle has no chance to rank for “book your trip” and compete against giants like Expedia and Make my trip. Although this is true, but it can’t banish the chances for new small business to get exposure through search medium!
There are different studies calculated different numbers but let’s take the safe number, around 30% of the total searches in Google per month are localized searches. Thus it gives big chances to small businesses to get in front line where giant brands can’t touch easily.
A small travel agent in Seattle might not rank for huge keywords but ranking for keywords like “Travel Agents in Seattle” is fairly possible. Such keywords might have a low search volume comparatively but their conversion rate is very powerful.
Why Local is Important?
There are multiple reasons why local SEO is important for business, especially those who are running a small business with a physical office in a certain area.
Here are the two major reasons that are driving local searches growth and making it a lot more important!
Around 80% of the searchers research online before purchasing in a 10 to 20 mile radius. People who perform a local search online tend to perform actions like making a call and the chances of converting those people are high!
Increased mobile usage
77.1 million Mobile subscribers use local content on the mobile devices, accounting for 33% of the total mobile subscribers. The use of mobile devices is increasing and so as the search volume and conversion rate.
Talking about mobile searches and they are massively increasing year by year.
According to this study, search quires made through mobile devices are massively escalating and by the 4th quarter of 2014 or in 2015 mobile searches will cross the total desktop searches.
85% of the people who search for businesses from their mobile phones tend to make call or visit the location within 24 hours so the conversion rate of the local searches is very high!
How to Improve Local Search Engine Optimization for Businesses?
Local is becoming a huge playground but unfortunately there are big amount of businesses who are not optimized for search engines. If you want your website to be fit for local SEO, here are the following things you should consider as important
As the mobile searches are increasing with a rapid speed, having a website that is mobile compatible is almost a must! Businesses in that case have 2 choices either to have a mobile website for your business or to have a responsive design so the visitors can easily navigate through their website while using any of the devices.
Usually having a mobile website is costly plus playing with SEO is quite complex so the easy and cost effective way is to have a responsive design for your website. Google is also giving extra edge in rankings to that websites that are mobile friendly.
It is important for your small business to have a mobile friendly website not only because it will help you get better rankings in search engine from the desired key phrases but also because it wll help you get better conversions.
Local Listings and NAPs
Local Listings on yellow pages and aggregator sites are important when dealing with local SEO. It is important to get listed in websites like Yelp, Yellow pages, City search, Google places, Yahoo local and more. If you are in Australia, here is the list of Local Citations you should consider!
Although local citation is very much important while dealing with the local SEO, there are tons of businesses that have problems with their listings available online.
Above is the snap shot from the Hub Shout’s infographics. According to it more than half of the businesses do not have local listings setup correctly.
If you are a local business planning to cater attention of the targeted audience on regular basis, try to get yourself listed in all major local citation for your country and make sure that the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is similar for all local listings or this will confuse Google as well.
Keyword Research and On-Page Optimization
Google Adword keyword tool is no more available and I don’t have any tool in mind that perfectly helps with local keyword research. In that case most businesses use their guts and many times they fail to guess what keywords can actually be helpful! My advice is to do two things:
Check your Analytics and see if you have any data available (don’ expect a long list, all thanks to not provided in Google Analytics). Excerpt the data in to excel sheet and see what keywords you can use on your website.
Try PPC and target different keywords that you think (use analytics keywords as well) are valuable for your business and see how they are performing in Google search.
After PPC, you will have the list of keywords they are actually going to convert. The next step is to use them within the website.
Here are the following things you should consider when dealing with op-page optimization:
Add your keyword and Location in the title tag but try to make it look natural and not stuffed.
Write description of the page for actual users to click on the page and not for search engines. Use location and keyword in description as well as this will encourage users from targeted area to click.
Try to include keywords within the content copy but try to make it look natural instead of stuffing keywords multiple times in a post.
Use the same NAPs on the website that you used for listings so that people should know that they are getting the correct and up-to-date information on 3rd part websites.
Structured data, Micro formats or Scheme, all are relatively new tools for local marketers. It is a small HTML code that helps search engine better understands the information available on the website.
There are other factors of on-page optimization also included like page speed, internal linking, lining out and more.
This is another area that is important for every small business but unfortunately similar to listings, not many people are focusing on gathering reviews from their happy customers.
Some of the websites that are important with reference to reviews are Google places, Yelp, City search and Yahoo local. According to a study the 1st rank on Google places have around 33 reviews on average.
When dealing with reviews, try not to add fake reviews as Google and other review websites are very smart in detecting this spam!
Try to engage with your happy clients and encourage them to write positive reviews for you on these websites. You can do this using several ideas. Few of them are:
Offer freebies as an act of good will to them who have given you a good reviews and blog about it so that others can come to know about it too.
Offer special discounts to people who write positive reviews about your brand online.
You can also call them after few days to see how it is going and if they are happy with the purchase. In-case of yes, you can ask them to write their experience online.
There can be lot of ideas you can work with, above was to just a few simple ideas that can get you going!
Link Building for Local SEO:
Link Building is MOST buzzed word in the SEO world and Local SEO is also incomplete without it. No matter what your keywords are you have to get quality links from diversified sources or you are dead.
When dealing with local SEO, here the following things you should consider with reference to link building:
Try to produce content that attract natural links.
Try to avoid links from un-trusted or spammy sources.
Search and keep an eye on all new links and make a list of links that you think are risky and add the list in the disavow file.
Try to get links from varied anchor text and from diversified sources.
I won’t say it’s must but it is recommended to get links from the domains that are within your targeted location. For instance if you are a local business in UK, it is recommended to get some quality links coming back from .co.uk domains.
The reason why, I didn’t get in to too much detail is because there are literally 100s of articles that can tell you how to go with link building in detail so I thought it will be wise to just give a hint and move on!
Blogging and Social Media
If you ask me for one advice for small businesses who want to cater audience within their area, it would be nothing but to focus on blogging and social media.
Blogging and Social Media are helpful in terms of getting better visibility in search engine but moreover they are powerful tools to create a fan base around your website which later can help you spread your message within the community.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind while working on blogging and social media marketing:
Users should be your first priority so try to write for users and interact with them to build a two way communication platform instead of just one way announcements.
Be active and generous on social media as this will help you build your fan base.
Do some long tail keyword research and blog on those topics accordingly; this will help you acquire some extra organic traffic to your website.
Face criticism politely and respond to it in a nicer way this will increase your fane base and word of mouth.
There are tons of other things but above are few most important one on the basic level. The ultimate formula for blogging and social media is to test, analyze and repeat. Use this formula and get better at it with time.
Local SEO is a big space and within the coming days this will become more and more powerful. Small Businesses should focus on Local SEO to get better visibility and grab more eyeballs of the targeted audience.
At SEtalks, we convince search engines to talk about our client’s businesses. Via our upbeat strategies and innovative techniques, we strengthen the online presence for businesses. We work on the motto “We win only when our clients do.”