Running a brick-and-mortar store in a time when your customers can buy groceries online, try on clothes virtually, and fix a leaky faucet thanks to a video tutorial is challenging. Not running a local SEO campaign will undoubtedly further hinder your efforts to attract and convert customers.
A comprehensive and savvy local SEO strategy helps small businesses strengthen their online presence and hence promote visiting and purchasing in their physical store. So, knowing that is probably the best to consider checking out some of the best Los Angeles SEO companies.
This article will be helpful to everyone who runs both an online and offline business and wishes to attract in-store shoppers by boosting their online visibility.
Read on to discover how to create an effective local SEO campaign and make the most of your physical business locations.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that aims to improve a business’s visibility in the local search results. Any business that runs a physical location or provides services within a geographic area can benefit from local optimization.
Local search optimization can improve organic traffic from searches conducted by customers in nearby areas.
Search engines gather various information, such as local content, social profiles, links, and citations, to show adequate results for local search.
A business’s online presence, including Google My Business listing, social media profiles, customer reviews, SEO-friendly URLs, titles and descriptions, are all aggregated by the search engine when compiling the results for a local query.
Local SEO: Why Should You Care?
The adverse impacts of COVID-19 on small and medium-sized businesses initiated a movement to support local shops and services.
Across Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms, the hashtag #supportlocalbusiness was trending, with accompanying calls for buying from small, independently-owned businesses.
However, optimizing a business’s website for local searches was a thing even before the pandemic. Local searches have become more common and more specific over time, allowing businesses to target location-specific keywords and nearby audiences.
According to BrightLocal’s 2020 Customer Review Survey, 93% of consumers searched for a local business online. Additionally, around 75% of local searches end with an in-store visit within a day, whereas nearly a third end with a purchase.
Consumers are leveraging the advanced geo-location accuracy as the “near me” phrase in search queries has skyrocketed in the last few years, especially on mobile, where it saw an increase of 136%. That info on a business’s location matters proves the statistics by Google Maps that almost 9 out of 10 users use the platform to explore local stores and businesses.
Last but not least, 88% of potential customers read online reviews before choosing a local service provider, mostly turning to the popular Google My Business review feature.
Optimizing for Local Search: The Path to Google’s Local Pack
It’s impossible to discuss local SEO practices without mentioning the Local Pack.
Google’s Local Pack is a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) feature that appears on the first results page for any query with local intent.
The search engine forms the Local Pack results using Google My Business listings, meaning you need to run a GMB account to be eligible to appear in the Local Pack.
In fact, Whitespark’s survey of local search ranking factors highlights Google My Business profile as the leading ranking factor for Local Pack, with reviews and local on-page site optimization coming in tied.
The pack features three businesses relevant to a particular search, with reviews, addresses, and service options for those three locations. In addition, the Local Pack includes a map of businesses and a button to expand the pack results.
The Local Pack initially provided seven results, so businesses wanting to rank for relevant local searches need to ramp up their local SEO efforts to get into the top three.
Optimizing your business’s GMB profile and entering the local crème de la crème can facilitate website traffic and get the phone ringing.
Local SEO Strategies to Improve Your Local Rankings
Optimizing for local searches represents an intricate blend of local citations, geo-specific content, good technical SEO and UX practices, and schema markup integration and backlinks acquisition.
Here’s how to cover them all and create a great local SEO strategy for your business.
#1 Set Up Your Google My Business Profile
Google My Business is a free Google service available to businesses to create their profile and thus boost their chances of showing up in relevant local searches.
GMB profile is basically a free ad for your business that allows you to control how your local business appears on Google Search and Google Maps.
When setting up your GMB account, make sure to provide as much information and details as possible, such as:
- Business name
- Operating hours
- Website link
- Photos and videos of premises
- Service/product details
Besides the initial profile setup, Google My Business lets you manage your profile by sharing new photos, posting updates, and adding special offers and events.
Regularly updating your GMB profile can help raise your chances of entering the Local Pack, as it’s well-known that Google adores up-to-date and fresh content.
Although you’re the one who creates it, your customers also participate in managing your business’s GMB profile.
For example, Google allows anyone to make edit suggestions to a Google My Business listing – including an annoyed customer who came to buy from you unaware that you modified your hours and competitors who want to tarnish your online efforts.
Another reason why it is essential to monitor your GMB profile regularly is reviews. Customer feedback is rated between one and five stars, with an optional comment customers can write on their experience with your business.
As most of your potential customers will first head down to the reviews section, it’s essential you:
- Encourage your customers to share their reviews online
- Respond timely and authentically to reviews, specifying location and products/services you offer
- Professionally handle a negative review (either true or false)
Recently, GMB enabled a Q&A section, allowing users and brands to communicate and do business seamlessly and immediately.
When summed up, Google My Business represents a dualism of leveraging a trend that simultaneously promotes and reduces your site’s SEO endeavors. On the one hand, it grants businesses unprecedented visibility among target users.
But, the vast business information GMB offers allow customers to approach a company without even leaving the Google platform, decreasing the site’s traffic and engagement.
Anyhow, Google My Business is an invaluable tool in local SEO, and a business without a GMB profile is virtually non-existent to users.
#2 Create Local Content
Quality, helpful, valuable, informative, detailed, original, creative – you’ve undoubtedly seen and heard all of these adjectives being enforced upon you when it comes to website content creation.
All these apply to local SEO too. The difference between your regular quality content and quality local content is optimizing it for local search queries. The easiest way to do so is to integrate high-volume, geo-targeted keywords in the URL, title, header, meta description, and body.
However, both Google and customers love natural-sounding content. So, if your keyword integration sounds anything like “a moving company NYC offering moving services in New York by the best movers in the Big Apple,” consider alternative approaches such as writing about customer success stories and case studies.
You can also participate in or discuss local events and festivals and get involved with local charities and fundraisers. All these are great ways to promote your brand and get recognized as a part of your local community.
#3 Leverage NAP Citations
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. The NAP citations are, thus, practically any mention of your business details on the internet, most commonly found in directories.
NAPs are a critical factor in local SEO as they help search engines determine which businesses to include in local searches.
List your business to as many relevant and quality directories as possible, and make sure your NAP citations are consistent and updated across the web.
While GMB listing is more crucial to good local rankings than other directories, maintaining posting engagement and up-to-date info is still indispensable.
An additional boost to your local SEO efforts is getting listed in your local Chamber of Commerce, whose backlink to your site will be very significant for your site’s local optimization.
#4 Ensure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly & Technically Valid
According to Statista, 61% of all Google searches are done via mobile. In addition, most mobile searches are local – making your site’s mobile-friendliness a crucial aspect of good local rankings.
If your web Analytics indicates low performance on mobile devices, consider auditing your site’s technicalities and rehauling your website’s design.
Besides ensuring your site’s mobile-friendliness, go over the entire technical SEO checklist and audit your site to make sure:
- Your site is using HTTPS
- There are no duplicate pages and crawl errors
- Site speed is optimized
- Broken links are fixed
- The site is maximally optimized for Core Web Vitals
The final one, Core Web Vitals, has grown into a real buzzword in the last few months, as its elements – performance, responsiveness, and visual stability – stand as the pillars of good user experience.
#5 Acquire Relevant Local Backlinks
Identical to the good old SEO, inbound links are the subject of longing in local optimization too.
Backlinks signal to Google that you’re a legitimate business; they raise your domain authority and promote your brand to a broader pool of prospective customers.
The best method to obtain inbound links is by creating content others will love to share, but we all know things sometimes require a subtle nudge.
So, contact relevant companies, suggest business partnerships, offer guest blog exchanges, sponsor a webinar, or host a community event.
Local link building is a two-way street, so make sure to link to reputable local websites within your content.
Acquiring backlinks helps your local SEO efforts, grows traffic to your website, raises brand awareness, and builds up your brand equity online.
#6 Implement Schema Markup
Schema markup is a piece of code that is added to your site’s HTML and transforms unstructured into structured data. Thus, this code helps the search engine spiders better understand your web page content.
SEO specialists use schema markup to improve the quality of web pages and make them more useful to customers. For example, schema can prompt search engines to add your products’ ratings as part of the search results.
Valid schema markup also enhances the rich snippets and boosts the chances of your business showing up in the knowledge graph.
#7 Optimize for Voice Search
According to research by Bright Local, 58% of consumers use voice search to find information on local businesses.
Voice search is on the rise thanks to its convenience – after all, users can search for longer, more specific queries wherever they are – queueing at a bank, commuting on a bus, hurrying to buy lunch before work.
Thus, when crafting your local SEO strategy, you need to account for users’ tendency to target long-tail keywords and question-based queries when conducting voice searches.