The “shop local” movement has grown massively in recent years. But for customers to support the small enterprises in their community, they need to be aware of what’s available to them. That’s where local SEO comes in.
Local search engine optimization makes your business more visible in local searches. If you are an Italian restaurant, for example, and a potential customer is looking for “Italian food near me,” you want to be sure that your business is highly visible in the results Google provides.
SEO helps improve your visibility online so that customers can find you easily, but it can take some time to reach its full effect. Fortunately, there are local SEO tips that can help you get the results you need.
Here are 5 actionable steps to improve your local rankings quickly.
Get More Reviews
Consumers today are an informed bunch. They go online and do their research before they commit to spending their money. Part of that research may include asking friends on social media, but very often it involves checking out reviews.
Google reviews appear in the search results and your company’s Google Business Profile, and they can help your business significantly because they are written by your customers. This makes them more trustworthy in the eyes of many who read them, and getting more reviews is one of the local SEO basic steps that we recommend to every business.
You can get more reviews several ways, not the least of which is simply requesting them from existing customers. Some businesses will ask directly, while others may include a call-to-action on their receipts, or even hand out cards asking for the review. You can also provide a link from your website to your Google reviews page, making it easy for visitors to find. You may also choose to solicit reviews through your social media accounts.
Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave a review. The more difficulty they have in finding your review page, the less likely they are to leave one, unless it’s to make a complaint. And on that topic…
Reply to Negative Reviews
No one wants to get a negative review, but in truth, with the right mindset you can see them as less of a problem and more of an opportunity.
Negative reviews happen to every business occasionally, and Google knows that, but you don’t want potential customers to see one without some sort of response. When this happens, that negative review is the lasting impression that you give, but if you respond appropriately, you can potentially turn it to your advantage.
When you respond correctly to a negative review, you are showing the reviewer that you hear and understand them and that you are willing to work at resolving their issue. Even if you feel their complaints are not valid ones, you should attempt to improve the situation. This can lead to a disenchanted customer giving you another chance, and it can also help build trust with those who read the review, as they will see that you are interested in improving your service.
A citation is when the name, address, and phone number of your business appear on a website that does not belong to you, such as a business directory, social platform, or anywhere else that a customer might look to find information about you.
Citations are a ranking factor for local SEO because appearing in a trusted online resource is a good indicator for Google of the information regarding your business, helping them confirm your identity and differentiate you from other businesses online.
Make yourself a list of all the directories, review sites and platforms that are popular in your industry. Then work your way down the list and make sure your business is listed on each one of them – with the exact Name, Address and Phone Number listed on your website.
Make Sure Your Information is Correct
It can be extremely frustrating if you build your website, making it look just right so that it is attractive and informative, only to have incorrect information, such as the wrong phone number or an error in your address. While this may not seem likely, it can happen, and you don’t want your clients unable to contact you or reach your location.
Check that all your information is correct on both your website and your Google Business Profile to avoid any potential issues.
You’d be amazed how often we come across new clients who have changed their phone number or moved address over the years, but forgotten to update some part of their website or Google My Business profile with this new contact information. Those inconsistencies create confusion for Google and they will hold you rankings back.
Create and Complete Your Google Business Profile
Speaking of your Google Business Profile, you not only want to ensure that the basic information is correct, but also ensure that you are filling in forms to be complete and accurate. A fully completed profile can receive as many as seven times the number of clicks as those which are lacking some information.
Customers in your area are looking for you and are hoping to give you their business. Following these simple SEO tips for local business can help them connect with you. It’s quick, easy, and most of all, effective.
Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing. Founded in 2012, Marwick has grown from a start-up to the 11th Fastest Growing Company in Canada in 2020 and expanded into the UK in 2019.