When you’re in search of a local business or service, where do you turn?
More than likely you pop open your laptop and rely on a search engine to fire back a plethora of results within a few seconds. Let’s face it: with the internet, searching is a breeze.
But have you ever wondered how businesses get featured on search engines like Google and Bing? To appear high on the list of a search engine results page (SERP), your content marketing strategy needs just the right combination of keywords, high-quality content, backlinks, algorithm insight, crawling patterns, and eye of newt. (I’m kidding about the eye of newt 😉). You can increase your chances of ranking high if you also add local SEO to your strategy.
What is local SEO?
Around 2004, Google and other search engines implemented local SEO. It’s purpose was to improve results for searches that had a “geographic intent” (like restaurants, electricians, and real estate agents), and it made it easier for small and midsize businesses to compete more effectively on a local level with bigger national companies. According to SEOHacker.com, “Local SEO is the process of optimizing a website to rank for keywords in a specific geographical location. Businesses that have a physical location or serve a specific area will benefit greatly from local SEO.”
A quick example will help you understand this benefit and the value of adding local SEO to your online strategy.
Let’s say you live in Philadelphia and are searching online for a restaurant for dinner that night. You wouldn’t want restaurants in San Francisco to appear in the SERP. Similarly, if a potential homebuyer is searching for “real estate agents in the Philadelphia metro area,” and you fit the bill, then incorporating local SEO will help to position you directly in front of this prospective client (and ahead of your competition).
Why does local SEO matter?
According to Go Gulf, in 2019, 46% of all searches on Google were looking for local information—that’s an astounding 1.6 billion searches every day! If you’re not ranking for these local searches, you’re missing out on numerous opportunities.
Additionally, because local SEO emphasizes the geographic proximity of the searcher, you’re only competing for position with other similar businesses within your local area. If you relied solely on organic SEO, you’d be competing nationwide. A local SEO strategy will give you more visibility on a SERP, and because people will use businesses closer to home, local clicks are more likely to convert.
Use local SEO to increase brand awareness
Create a Google Business Page
A Google Business Page is an easy way to get your information in front of local searchers. Business Pages act as mini directory listings, and your information—phone number, address, and website—is displayed when someone searches for your business. In addition, a Business Page provides a platform for previous clients to leave reviews—which are coveted for both your business and for Google, alike. In fact, Google aims to display the most relevant and trusted reviews for all search terms. Meaning if your business listing includes an array of positive reviews, there’s a greater chance that you’ll show up for local searchers.
Have high-quality content on your website
Ah, Google’s algorithm—has there ever been a more confounding mystery? One of the few things we know for sure is that whenever Google updates their algorithm, they continue to add more signals that scan the content on your website. This means your website’s content (i.e., blog) plays a significant role in how high your Google Business Page will rank within a particular search result. Google deems websites that have long-form content more valuable, presuming that the topic is covered in-depth and searchers’ are more likely to find answers to their questions.
Double check your contact information
Your contact information—name, address, and phone number—on your website should be accurate and listed in text form, not as an image. This seemingly simple detail can oftentimes be overlooked, and it ends up negatively affecting your local SEO. Google compares your website’s contact information to what is listed on your Business Page. If the two don’t display the same information, your search rankings could suffer. Take a moment to ensure that your website and profile are consistent.
At the end of the day, you’re an agent that services a specific geographic region, and if you give attention to your local SEO strategy, you’ll give your online marketing efforts a valuable boost.