So, you think you've got your SEO strategy for 2017 completely figured out?
Well, if you haven't factored in local SEO, think again.
According to Google, 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to conduct local searches.
If you've only been implementing general SEO strategies and not local SEO strategies, you're doing your business a major disservice.
This is especially true if you own a small business.
For example, let's say you own an awesome Italian restaurant located in San Diego. Even if you've got the best pasta in the whole state, do you think anyone over in Australia is really sitting at home looking for it?
Probably not. (Although I would travel pretty far for some good gnocchi.)
If you're a small business that targets local customers, you need to become a local SEO expert if you want to beat out the competition.
But just what does it take to become a local SEO expert?
Read this local SEO expert guide to learn our top tips for dominating the local SEO scene in 2017!
Local SEO Expert Tip #1: Meta Descriptions and Tags
You know the old saying, ” A picture is worth a thousand words.”
When it comes to meta titles and meta descriptions, a few words is worth a thousand customers.
And seeing as you have about 50-60 words for the title and 160-200 for the descriptions, you'll want to choose them very wisely.
For the meta title, you'll want those words to include the specific city and state you are serving and one targeted keyword, ideally placed at the beginning of the title. For example, “Johnson Family Law – Top Anoka County Divorce Lawyers & Family Law Attorneys.”
Pretty simple, right?
Also, don't waste any precious words on page names (i.e. “Home,” “About”) that don't provide any useful information.
For the meta description, you'll want to include your business name, location, phone number, keywords, and of course, a compelling and unique message that will make consumers want to click on your listing!
Local SEO Expert Tip #2: Take Advantage of Google My Business
Claiming and optimizing your site in the directory that shows up on Google above the search results is super important for local businesses.
Claiming your business requires a simple (and free!) verification process and can be done through Google.
Once you're verified, you'll want to optimize your listing by making it as complete as possible. Your GMB listing should include your business hours and location, a solid description containing targeted keywords, your business's logo, and at least three photos of your business, products, or services.
Local SEO Expert Tip #3: Check for Consistent NAP
Having consistent NAP- “Name, Address, Phone” is essential for your local SEO ranking.
You'll first want to make sure your NAP information is consistent with your Google My Business listing. (Google sends bots to make sure these two things match up).
In order to do this, you'll need to login to your Google My Business Dashboard to view the names of all businesses associated with that account. Then, you'll want to delete any duplicate pages, as these can have a detrimental impact on your local SEO ranking. Also double check that your business contact and location is accurately updated for the page you have listed.
You'll also want to make sure your NAP info on your site is actually crawlable. In order to do this, check that your NAP info is listed directly, as Google cannot crawl information listed in an image, like your logo.
Local SEO Expert Tip #4: Claim Online Directories
Once you've made sure your NAPs are consistent and that you've claimed your site on Google My Business, it's time to start claiming other territory as well.
Yelp, Merchant Circle and Insider Pages are all major online directories that allow you to claim your business for free. Just like Google My Business, you'll want to optimize your listing with some photos, keywords, and accurate location and business hours.
Other than ensuring your information is accurate and improving your SEO position, there's also another excellent aspect that comes with claiming your business on online directories.
When you claim your listing, you have the ability to respond to online reviews. This helps establish your brand's online presence and also shows customers that you care about them enough to pay attention and respond directly to their comments or concerns. This will help build customer trust.
Local SEO Expert Tip #5: Utilize Customer Reviews
Speaking of customer trust, if you want to stay at the head of the pack as a local SEO expert, you'll need to dedicate some page space to customer reviews.
Reviews are a hot ticket to gaining customers' trust. 82 percent of consumers read online reviews before purchasing and 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
In addition to establishing trust with your customer, reviews also help improve your click-through rates, as the number of stars your business has will display in the Google search.
You can slap these reviews right on your landing page or even dedicate a whole page on your site to them. Just make sure to place the ones on your landing page within an “hReview” tag so Google can catch it when it's crawling.
Local SEO Expert Tip #6: Include a Map on Your Landing Page
Finding your business location on the internet is one thing, finding it in person is another.
In order to make a super friendly user experience for your customers (something Google is starting to prioritize in ranking) embed a map on your site in order to make it really easy for customers to get directions to your physical location.
This is a very straightforward process that can be done by going to Google Maps and generating an embed code for your location.
Now that you know all the tricks of the trade and you're a regular local SEO expert, it's time to start cracking on some of these tips!
However, if you're a small business owner, you're probably already wearing a bunch of hats, and implementing SEO strategy may be a bit much to tackle on your own.
If that's the case, we've got you covered. Contact us today and we can help you figure out just what you need to do in terms of SEO to get your business booming.