Local SEO: Easy Ways to Rank In Search Results
by Kathryn Good
Local SEO (search engine optimization) is content and coding used on your website that makes it easier for people and search engines to find out about your company and the products and services you offer. As a Nashville marketing agency, we are hearing more and more requests for local SEO services.
Who should use it?
Any business that has focuses primarily on local clients. If that is you, read on for lots of information.
5 Things You Can Do to Improve Local SEO
- Establish your Google My Business page. This one is the most important, but we also recommend Yahoo Local, Bing Maps, and Facebook. (Make sure to see our section below on optimizing your Google My Business page.) Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business page offers several benefits including:
– Appearing in local search results, including the map listings (local pack)
– Gives customers a quick view of location, hours and contact information.
– Increases brand presence
- Focus on reviews. As people are deciding which roofer to call, online reviews come into play big time. If customers offer you positive feedback, take the time to ask them to leave a review on Google, Facebook or Yelp.
- Make sure the name of your business, your address, and phone number are on every page of your site. We like to put this information in the footer.
- Site health is still important to local SEO. Make sure your site navigation is clear and your content is helpful.
- Add regular content. Blogging is a great way to do this, but we also recommend changing your homepage image and text every so often as well. It keeps your site updated and relevant to users, and that is important to search engines.
6 Local SEO Tactics You May Need Help With
- Do keyword research. It’s important to know what keywords your target audiences are using to find businesses like yours. Use a tool like SEMRush to see what keywords are already driving traffic to your website. PRO TIP: Do the same search but use competitor names and see what keywords are driving traffic to their sites. Then optimize your site for those keywords.
- Optimize content and metadata. Make sure your city name in the page’s content and metadata (for example, keyword + city or gift store Nashville, TN). While you are looking at your metadata, make sure your title is less than 55 characters.
- Use Schema local markup and other coding. This coding helps search engines find your business and know a little about it.
- Check and correct your citations (mentions of your name, address, and phone number). Keystone offers a service for this to make sure your job a little easier.
- Develop pages for each location. If you have more than one office or even serve more than one area, it is often a good idea to create a landing page for each location.
- Think about mobile. How does your website look on your phone or tablet? Mobile traffic has significantly increased, so make sure your website is optimized.
6 Tips for Optimizing Your Google Business Page
Once you have claimed your Google My Business page, you need to complete your profile to maximize your visibility.
- Make sure all contact and business information is correct. PRO TIP: If you are going to be closed for a holiday, make sure to go in and update your hours. This is an easy way to be helpful to customers by telling them you are closed before they show up to buy something.
- Write your description as if you are talking to potential customers. The goal is to get them to want to use your service or enter your store. This description is for users, not for search engines. That said, include keywords … just don’t stuff the description so much that it is spammy and annoying.
- Select the right categories. When it comes to Google categories, you get up to four so choose them well. Your first category should be your primary business as it will usually show up first in the description.
- Add photos. Having photos of your business and products increases brand awareness and can increase clicks to your Google listing. Add a logo and cover photo, as well as photos of your storefront, interior, and products. These will help potential customers decide if they are going to take the next step in doing business with you.
- Add new content as Google Posts. If you post a new blog or have a new store special, add it as a Google Post. Add an image, call to action (CTA), and a link to your website.
- Stay on top of reviews. This requires its own section,(and is very important to local SEO) so here we go.
Tips for Getting Reviews
Another hot question from businesses is about how to get more (or improved) stars in front of their business name in search engines and how to make sure potential new customers read good things about their business.
It’s not difficult to wonder why these questions are coming up given recent stats from BrightLocal.
- 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
- 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business
- Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses
- Yelp & Facebook are local consumers’ most trusted review sites, followed by Google & BBB.org
- Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business
Let’s face the facts – people are reading reviews before they ever meet you or come to your business. They are judging you online before you get the chance to do so in person. So, it is important to make a good impression. How do you get started? Let’s cover some of the basics.
What are online reviews?
The opportunity for a customer to leave their positive or negative opinion of your business online. Popular reviews spots are Google, Facebook, and Yelp, but there are lots of other review services.
Why are they important?
- Increase search engine rankings
- Increase search click-thru rate
- Increase trust in the business
- Increase number of potential clients
How can my business get reviews?
- Provide excellent customer service. Give them something they want to talk about … in a good way, of course.
- Reach out to very loyal clients and friends. If you don’t have any reviews, it can be harder to get them rolling in. Explain the importance of reviews to a few very loyal customers and friends and ask them to leave a review. Bright Local reports that 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked – with 74% having been asked for their feedback. Careful though: Yelp does not allow businesses to ask for reviews, and Google has its own rules.
- Follow up a purchase or service with a survey. Develop a survey that asks three questions: What did you buy? What did you think? Would you buy again? Email after service or purchases and ask them to complete a survey. Communicate that you value your customers’ feedback and want to improve their experience with your business. Make sure to open and close with appreciation.
- Take feedback one step further. When someone gives you positive feedback, say thank you and ask them to take it a step further by leaving an online review.
- Set up a reviews page on your website. This URL should look something like www.yourwebsite.com/reviews. On this page, leave instructions for writing a review and links or feeds to current reviews.
- Design and print in-store signage and handouts. If you have a store presence or are regularly meeting with your customers, consider creating print materials. Even a business-card size handout can give the URL of your reviews page, a message asking for feedback, and your company logo.
- Add calls to action to your digital marketing. On your homepage and maybe in the website footer, add a call to action that says “Give us Feedback” or “Let us Know What You Think” and link to your reviews page. Add similar calls to action to social media and email marketing.
- Maximize the reviews you get. Repurpose your positive reviews on your website, in social media, email marketing, etc. and ask for more feedback.
- Monitor and respond. Monitor reviews regularly and respond to all reviews – bad or good. When a client sees that you’re monitoring reviews, they are often more likely to leave a story of their positive experience. PRO TIP: Missing reviews is easy. Keystone has services that can make review management a little easier. Contact us to learn more.
Here’s one big DON’T…
- Don’t offer incentives for reviews. It’s against the guidelines of both Google and Yelp. This includes, but is not limited to, a discount, a free service, or product.
How should I respond to bad reviews?
- Solve the problem early. Be sure to listen to dissatisfied customers before they ever turn to leave a review online. Often complaints will come over the phone or in person before online.
- Take a chill pill. Relax about the bad reviews, and be sure not to take it personally. Every business deals with dissatisfied customers at some point; a few bad reviews make your business look more authentic.
- Respond quickly. Be sure to offer a response as quickly as possible after the review is posted, but make sure to not respond out of anger. Put yourselves in the customer’s shoes and try to be understanding.
- Go offline. Often it is necessary to take the matter offline by asking them to call or email you or private messaging them. Avoid back and forth conversation on your review platforms.
- Do your best to solve the problem. Once offline, try to resolve the matter in a positive way. The customer will often remove or update the review after a successful fix.
- Respond to all reviews. We find that replying to both positive and negative reviews can decrease the number of negative reviews. If people know you are reading it and will respond, they are typically less angry or won’t post at all.
- Get more reviews. Bury the bad reviews with positives one. Again, a bad review here and there isn’t detrimental because no business is perfect, but we want the positive ones to outnumber the negative.
- Get better. Improve your business or product to stop new bad reviews from coming in. Take the opportunity to listen to the feedback and get better. Often negative reviews on the same subject are helpful in revealing an underlying business problem like bad customer service or high prices.
Start now. Don’t wait until you have multiple negative reviews that you are trying to bury. Now is the time to develop a reviews strategy, which in turn boosts local SEO and authenticity.
What happens when your business moves locations?
Moving business locations can affect your local SEO rankings. Here are some steps to take to make sure that doesn’t happen:
- Update your contact information on the website. As soon as you move, update all references of your address. This usually includes your website footer and contact page, but make sure you don’t have any other references on any other pages. This also includes updating your schema markup. (Not sure what this is?)
- Search your address on Google Maps. If the previous business shows up, recommend an edit that that business has closed. Don’t create a new listing for your business, just let Google know that the previous business has been closed.
- Update your address on your Google Business page. You may have to re-verify your business. We also recommend adding new photos of the inside and outside of the new building. If you don’t have a Google Business page, set one up now with the new address.
- Add the new embedded map from your Google Business page to your website’s contact page.
- Update Bing business page.
- Update other major platforms such as Facebook, Yelp, or any other platform that you use for reviews or customer information.
- Consider using a service to help you update all smaller directories. We use Yext, which will cover all the basics plus niche listings for your industry. It’s expensive but can be worth it to make sure everything is up to date. If you are looking for something a little less expensive, Moz Local is also an option.
- Test your driving directions. Put in the name of your business on Waze, Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc. Make sure these major map providers are finding your correction location.
There is a lot to manage when moving an office, but updating your address online is not something you want to miss. It’s how people find your mailing address and directions to your office.
Are you overwhelmed by all the information above? Keystone can help. We offer SEO packages that take away the worry and allow you to focus on your products and services. Ready to talk local SEO?