As a business owner, you are constantly concerned with your online presence, including how your website is ranking for keywords, how much traffic your site gets, and bounce rates, among other things. While these are all important, one important and often forgotten aspect of online business today is ranking well for Google local search.
As a consumer, you are most likely very familiar with local search. Every time you search something involving “near me” or “nearest”, you are using Google’s local search. Google has unique formatting for local business. Below you can see an example of what local search results generally look like.
For local searches, Google provides additional information such as reviews, images, and directions. Local search can be a huge force for your business. In fact, each month 59% of consumers use Google to find local businesses. The conversion rate is also substantial, with 82% of local searchers making in-store visits, calls, or purchases after their online search.
Since Google local search is so crucial to your success online, here is a list of seven ways to improve your local SEO.
1.Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business
Google My Business is your official listing in Google search, and it is crucial to driving foot traffic and online traffic to your business. Using Google My Business allows you to take control of the information about your business and to ensure that important information like your name, address and phone number are correct. Businesses that verify their information are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers.1 To claim your online listing on Google, click here to get started.
After your information is updated and verified through Google, you can add additional content such as photos and videos, which is also very important since businesses that add photos for their locations get 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks on their websites than listings with no photos1.
2. Manage Online Reviews
Google has stated that “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility”. In addition, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.2 Not only do reviews help increase your site’s rankings in local listings, they also help with click through rates, and increase traffic to brick and mortar locations. It’s important to proactively increase the number of online reviews for your business by asking customers to leave reviews on Google and other platforms.
In addition, to help remove negative reviews from Google, you should always be responding to reviews that customers post, trying to offer a solution. Often times a customer will change a negative review when the business reaches out to solve the problem and it looks good to other customers when a business is proactive.
3. List Your Business in Online Directories
In addition to your own company’s site, Google favors local directories such as Yelp, and BBB for local searches.3 As with Google My Business, ensure that the information for your business such as address, phone, and email, is all correct. Otherwise, people might find your business but call a number that belongs to another company.
4. Use Schema
Schema refers to structured data format, which essentially means telling Google’s crawlers what your site is about. By using Schema, you can tell Google where to find your phone number, address, name, social media profiles and other useful information to display this information in the local Knowledge Graph and in rich snippets.
5. SEO Basics with a Local Twist
Having optimized title tags and H1 tags is essential for any site. However, with local SEO, customers are searching with a specific geography in mind. Therefore, it’s important to use geo specific terms such as the city or neighborhood in your title tags, meta descriptions, and body content. This helps the searcher to know that your business will meet their geographic constraints.
For businesses with several locations, build location specific pages and use keywords specific to that location. In addition to tags, other SEO basics such as engaging content, and number and quality of backlinks will help your site rank better in Google local search.
6. Utilize Google Posts and Social Media
Google Posts are part of Google My Business and allow businesses to post timely content and even promotions under your business contact information in Google My Business. While there isn’t a lot of data around these yet, they are free to use, and allow you to show more of your own content, which gives customers one more thing to see and click on.
A strong social media presence can act as a substitute for your website, and also affects Google local search.4 It is also a great way to promote content and build links to your local sites. Being social will help you promote your brand locally and improve local search.
Local search is essential, especially for any business brick and mortar locations. Apply these local SEO tips and watch your local business grow.