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In our global economy, we don’t think twice about ordering products from halfway around the world. Whether they’re made in a basement in Iowa or a factory in China, they can be shipped to your doorstep.
Etsy, eBay, and Amazon are just a few of the online retailers that can bring visibility to your product. Retailers can also use SEO (search engine optimization) to draw consumers to their websites.
But not all businesses are national or global. Take the local pizza place. Sure, you can order online, but you’ll either pick it up yourself or have it delivered to your front door.
That pizza place will market and advertise within a certain geographical radius. So it will want to use local SEO strategies, especially with the growing popularity of “buying local.”
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The “buy local” movement has gained momentum in recent years. Consumers have become disenfranchised with mass-produced items made in China and other countries, where cheap labor makes it easy to sell products at low costs. Instead, many want to find those same items closer to home.
Shopping locally means you get to buy things made in your own country, state, or city. Proponents cite numerous benefits:
- Money stays in the community. Buying local means customers know exactly where an item is made and often from what materials. The creator then spends their profits in town, on things such as electric bills or groceries. Conversely, buying from Amazon or Walmart likely pads the pockets of an executive.
- Local business policies. Municipal governments that advocate localism support the restaurant in town owned by someone who lives there, rather than a chain restaurant run by an outsider. A resident who owns a franchise might be an exception.
- A sense of community. Local businesses get to know residents by building relationships with them. People stop in to say hello. The owners remember your name, and you’re more likely to return. Many entrepreneurs give back to the community through donations..
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO brings the focus to a geographically local level to get your business noticed. Search engines use certain parameters to rank your listing higher on the page. These include:
- Google Business Profile
- Online directories and citations, such as Yellow Pages, Google Maps, Yahoo’s Localworks, and Foursquare
- Listings on review sites such as Yelp, Glassdoor, and Angie’s List
- The quality of reviews
- Facebook Business Page
- Social listings on Twitter and Instagram
- Information on your listing
- Click-through rates
- Keyword optimization
- Titles and meta descriptions
- Domain authority
Who Benefits from Local SEO?
Businesses that serve local customers use local SEO. These could be:
- Law offices
- Contractors such as plumbers, electricians, and roofers
- Real estate companies
- Medical providers such as doctors, dentists, and chiropractors
- Hair salons
- Local government offices
- Coffee shops
- Auto dealerships
- Local nonprofits
Whether you live in a small town, a suburb, or a large metropolitan area, your business can benefit from local SEO.
I live in a relatively small town, where many residents commute to the city for jobs. But plenty of others operate small businesses out of their homes or from a storefront. There are a few chain stores — a coffee shop, gas station, sandwich shop, and general store. There are no large chain restaurants and no Walmart. The hardware store has a national name, but it’s locally owned.
The rest of the businesses are locally owned. They include restaurants, bars, a small grocery store, food trucks, a laundromat, a store featuring local crafters, and recreation businesses.
To drum up business, there’s a specific kind of advertising based on local social media and word-of-mouth.
When you frequent these places, you develop a relationship. Thomas knows exactly what you want for lunch and might even change his menu based on a conversation you had the week before. John can help you find the exact fitting for your plumbing repair. Michelle will help you pick out a unique gift for your mom’s birthday.
Businesses in my town benefit from local SEO.
This same strategy can also help businesses in a metropolitan area. How does a local bookstore compete with Barnes & Noble? Through local SEO.
How to Get Started with Local SEO
Marketing for a local business takes on a different feel. A blog on your website might be important, but customers focus more on finding out where you are and when you’re available.
Local SEO can drive customers to your website, where you can interest them in further information. That includes the hours you’re open, and the items, services, or food they can buy there. And most likely, they’ll be on their mobile phones looking for this information.
Here are some strategies to get you started:
- Google My Business. Google is the most popular online search engine. Say a customer types in “pizza places near me.” If you serve pizza, you want to make sure your name appears on that list. This web tool will help.
- Optimize your listing. Ensure that your website has all vital business information, including location, maps, reviews, social media posts, and pictures. Your NAP (name, address, and phone number) must be crawlable, which means this information can be discovered and followed by search engine spiders, or bots.
- Make your site mobile-friendly. With the prevalence of mobile phones, it’s vital that your online presence is clear on a mobile device.
- Add local content. Focus your content on local events, partnering with the community, and spotlighting local residents. Bring a personal and relatable aspect to your content.
- Use online directories and citations. Be consistent across all platforms with the correct information and the same abbreviations. If Google can’t verify your information, it may exclude it altogether.
- Optimize your site and listing. Ensure the site loads quickly and is well organized.
A Local SEO Audit
Before deciding how to promote your business further, it’s a good idea to conduct a local SEO audit. This will help you see how you’re performing and where you need to concentrate your focus. You can do this audit yourself if you’re tech-savvy, but an SEO marketing expert can also provide this information.
Here are a few things to look at:
- Google My Business. Use this tool to check your listing to make sure the information is accurate and complete. Does it have your name, address, map, and phone number? How does your business appear in the SERP (search engine results pages)?
- Check for errors. Use Google Search Console to check for errors that would keep your site from being indexed. Be sure your site is crawlable.
- On-page SEO. Does your site have all the SEO elements needed to rank high? Are you using optimal keywords? Do all your links work?
- Business directories. Is your site on all of the top business directories? Verity that the information is accurate and complete.
- Who are your competitors? What are they doing that you aren’t? How can you differentiate your business from theirs?
- Optimize your website. Is it mobile-friendly? Does it load quickly? Do all of your links point to the correct places?
Plan Your Local SEO Strategy
Many of the SEO strategies listed above will apply to your local business. Google Business Profile and other online directories are free and a good place to start.
When customers land on your website, make sure they have all the information they need. Get your name heard through local events, and use those events to create local content for your website and visibility in the community.
You don’t need a big budget to employ many of these strategies. Once you’ve begun to build relationships, the results can cascade.