Factors That Matter in Local Business SEO
Data suggests that more than 90% consumers use a search engine even when they are looking to buy local products or services. Another interesting report released by Google suggests that most local consumers use search engines to check reviews and other important things before purchasing the local brick and mortar store.
In other words, local businesses, even if they do not sell anything online, need to maintain a strong online presence in the search engine result pages to remain competitive and stay ahead of their competition. If you run a local business and still haven’t thought about investing in local search engine optimization, follow the tips mentioned below to find out the inner workings of local business search engine optimization.
Local Business Search Engine Optimization
Local business search engine optimization is unlike the regular SEO campaigns. In most ordinary SEO campaigns, optimizers are focused on obtaining as many high-quality links as possible to get high rankings in the search engine result pages. While links remain relevant in the local search engine optimization but there are many other more critical factors that affect the rankings in the local pack.
Here is a list of some of the important factors that affect the local search engine rankings and what you need to do about these factors to gain high rankings in the local search.
Consistent Online Listings
While links play a crucial role in regular search engine optimization, the most important factor that affects rankings in local search is the consistency in online listings. You must have heard the acronym known as the NAP. In simple terms, it stands for the name, address as well as phone number of your business. A local optimizer worth his salt is aware of the importance of consistent online listings regarding consistent NAP. Therefore, the first thing you need to do to rank high in local searches is to make sure all of your online listings are consistent and have the same name, address as well as phone number.
Several research studies have confirmed that most local businesses never update their online listings. In fact, many local businesses are not aware of the importance of maintaining accurate online listings. Mismatch in the online listing parameters is one of the most significant negative factors as determined by many research agencies.
There are two aspects of online listings. One of the elements is accuracy. Local businesses need to make sure that whenever their business is mentioned online, it uses the same name. The search engines use algorithms to determine the name of your company. If the online listings are not accurate and the name of the business is mentioned differently on various listings, it is going to affect the search rankings in local search.
Another important aspect is consistency. It is essential for local businesses to ensure that all the information regarding their business is same everywhere. There are several local search platforms that are used by people including Google+, Yelp, Facebook and other such platforms. If the name of the business is different on these platforms, it is most likely to affect the search rankings regarding local SEO. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is to make sure that all your online listings have the same name, address and phone number as well as other data associated with your business. In case there is a difference in the online listings, you need to take steps to make sure the name, address, and phone number are changed and accurately reflect your business.
Local optimizers understand the importance of getting listed in local directories. There are all kinds of local directories listings for every type of business, but it is up to a small business to take advantage of listing in local directories. While many businesses understand the importance of such local listings, they often overlook the importance of filling out their profile on such local directories. The amount of information present in these local directories plays an important role regarding local search rankings.
Therefore, you need to make sure that all the local listings are filled out and have similar information. There have been several research studies where it has been confirmed that the amount of information available in local listings plays an important role in local search rankings. When you are creating local listings, it is important that you fill out the information including the address, phone number, company name, hours of operation, reviews, general product information, forms of payment accepted, credentials, trademarks, ratings, prices, website, product information and other such things.
Keep in mind that every small thing makes a difference in local search engine optimization. So, you should take every opportunity you get to provide as much information about your business as possible.
Social media has emerged as a challenge to the dominance of search engines when it comes to driving traffic to websites of local businesses. While social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and others are capable of driving vast amount of traffic to your website, it is also vital for you to keep in mind that these social media platforms also play an important role in local search rankings. In fact, some local businesses choose to use one of the social media platforms as their most important online property instead of sending all the traffic to their website. It is recommended to maintain a website and drive traffic to your website instead of relying only on the social media property.
However, you need to continuously post engaging content on your social media platforms to drive traffic to your website as well as rank high on search engines. Search engines derive several signals from these social media platforms to rank local businesses. So, you should build out your social media accounts to get high-quality traffic from social media platforms as well as from local search.
One of the most important factors when it comes to local search engine optimization is reviews. However, one of the most significant problems with reviews is that most businesses do not realize the importance of online reviews on various platforms. Reviews are so important that you need to make the extra effort and ask your customers to leave reviews on various platforms including Google+ or Yelp or other such platforms.
While there is no way for you to force your customers to leave reviews but there are many tricks you can use to motivate users to leave reviews. For instance, you can give discounts, free drinks or other such things in exchange for leaving a review. Always keep reminding customers to leave a review. Reviews are important as it has been seen that Google focuses a lot on reviews and businesses with a higher number of positive reviews are likely to rank higher in the local search results as compared to businesses with fewer reviews.
Local Link Building
As mentioned in the beginning, links do not play as an important role of a role in local SEO as in the regular SEO campaigns, but it does not mean that links are not important. Links are important and you should do everything in your power in order to get as many high-quality links as possible. One of the ways to get local links is to get a lot of local press coverage. You may also donate to local charities and line up some interviews in various local online publications to get high-quality results.
Getting links through scholarships is also a well-known technique that is used by many experienced optimizers to get high-quality links for their clients.
Hire a Local SEO Agency
There was a time when local search engine optimization was relatively simple, and webmasters needed to take care of only a few factors to rank high in the local search results. However, the world is going mobile, and Google has also stated that it plans to go mobile first and its main index going forward will be its mobile index. In other words, local search engine optimization is going to become increasingly complex over the years as the world is going mobile and most users use their mobile devices to search online. Therefore, the best way to make sure you rank high in the local search result pages is to hire the services of an experienced and reliable local search engine optimization agency that specializes in ranking local businesses for local search terms.
You should be able to find hundreds of such agencies claiming to specialize in local search engine optimization, but it does not mean that their claims are true. You need to do your research and check their past performance to make sure they know what they are doing. Keep in mind that some optimizers use techniques that are not well liked by search engines and use of such techniques may result in severe penalties. Therefore, you need to be careful and make sure the agency you are working with is known for using only white hat SEO techniques.