If you run a local business such as a restaurant, flower shop or spa center, you very well know that the competition is as tough as a global business. Amongst the numerous competitors out there in the local market, how can you make your business stand out? What to do to make yourself the first choice of your prospective customers? How to showcase your products and services in the best way possible to entice locals? Well, the answer to all these questions is Local SEO.
According to a survey, queries related to a particular geographic region drive more clicks, generate more leads, and deliver the maximum return on investment. It also concluded that 34% of peoplewho took part in the survey would choose Local search above any other channel. So, it’s already clear how important it has become to optimize your website for local search.
Local SEO involves similar strategies and follow the same rules as regular SEO. You need to generate quality backlinks, create unique and quality content and market it over social media channels. However, certain tactics are slightly different and you must understand them in order to compete locally.
Well, if you want to make your local SEO campaign successful, here are the 5 hacks that will help you to optimize your site for local search. Let’s have a look:
- Get a local domain for your site: Using a local domain is the perfect way to optimize your site for local search. A site with .sg / .au… extension is local to Singapore / Austrlia… and it’s quite descriptive in itself that your business is based in Singapore. Moreover, search engines understand this and therefore return the most relevant pages to the local search queries.
There are literally numerous sites online from where you can purchase a local domain. When selecting a domain, make sure it is short, easy to read, easy to type and easy to remember. Ideally, it should be unique andcatchy, and also contain brand-friendly keywords that you are trying to target.
- Identify Local Search Keywords: In order to rank your website for local search, you must know what search terms people are using to find a particular product or service. So, if you run a dental clinic in Singapore, you must find keywords that are relevant to your service and also mention your geographical location for example, “Dental Clinic in Singapore”. This can be a higher searched keyword phrase that people use.
You can find relevant keywords for your local business by using Google Webmasters Keyword Planner Tool. Choose the keywords wisely with high searches and low competition. Start with long-tail keywords to rank in SERPs and as your rank becomes good at those keywords, choose more specific keywords to beat the competition. When you choose the right keywords and utilize them efficiently, you win the half battle.
- Optimize your existing website pages for local search: Once you have your keywords, it’s time to optimize your website for local search. Add geo-specific keywords in your website content to rank locally.
Here are a few on-page optimization basics that you need to keep in mind when optimizing your site for locals:
- Include City/ST in your title tag: Include your city and state in your title tag along with the primary keywords, possibly within 60 characters. These titles appear on Google search results and make the people realize that you are serving locally.
- Include City/ST in your meta-description:Also include geo specific keywords in your meta description, within 165 characters to let people know that you run a local business. This is not only good for SEO but also increases click-through rates.
- Directory Listings: List your business with your local street address and phone number on local directories such as Yahoo Local, Bing Places, as well as sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Merchant Circle and others. Your business NAP (name, address and phone number) ensures Google knows your business and its address.
Make sure that your business information is correct and up-to-date in the listing. Every directory gives you the option to update your information and if you have relocated your business, update it immediately, otherwise it can hamper thecustomer experience as well. Also encourage your existing customers to review your business by clicking “Write a Review” on Google+ page.
- Make it mobile-friendly:Astats report that around 1.2 billion people access the web using their mobile devices and 61% of consumers have a better attitude towards brands that offer an optimized mobile experience.This data confirms that the coming scenario is going to be tougher for businesses who haven’t prepared themselves for the mobile revolution.
The mobile-friendliness of your website has become an important ranking factor as well. The Mobilegeddon update that Google rolled out last year clearly stated that mobile friendly and responsive websites are likely to ranked higher in SERPs, especially Mobile SERPs. Therefore, the businesses that don’t have a mobile-friendly website clearly loose the competition. Especially, if you run a local business, this becomes even more important as another report cites that 60% of shoppers use their smartphones while in a store, and another 50% while on their way to a store.
At the end, the most important thing is to engage with your people as interaction is the key to good customer relationships.Making comments on blogs written by people in your area is an excellent way to improve your visibility. When you post good, not spammy, comments, most of the times you can post a link back to your site as well.
Get social on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest to let people know that you exist in their city if your business is quite new. If you have some fortune to spend on marketing, you can always take advantage of paid advertising such as Facebook Ads that help you target people on the basis of geographical location. This will give a wonderful boost to your overall SEO efforts and you are likely to reach your marketing goals sooner.