7 best ways to gain visibility
Online research is most often the starting point for a local consumer’s quest for nearby products and services.
In reality, 78% use the internet to find information about local businesses in their area more than once a week – and 21% do a local search every dayaccording to BrightLocal’s latest local consumer survey.
You need to be visible in local organic search results and Map Pack if you want to be found. Then you have the opportunity to convert those searchers into in-store traffic, booked appointments, or any other type of paying customer.
In this column, you will find 7 of the most effective ways to create local visibility using SEO.
1. Check for technical errors that could impact indexing
This is basic SEO. You can’t be found if search engines can’t index your site.
First, learn the basics of how search engines crawl and index your website. This foundational knowledge will help guide your SEO efforts in the future.
You may very well decide that technical SEO issues like indexing are too complex for you to handle on top of running your business.
If so, you will at least understand what you are hiring an SEO agency or consultant to do for you.
On the other hand, you might feel confident looking into indexing issues yourself and in that case, these resources can help:
2. Create exceptional content
Content is the vehicle through which all messages, offers and calls to action will be delivered to your audience.
But your small business isn’t just competing with other businesses like yours in search results.
You’re also faced with media publications, news websites, big brands, local review sites, and all sorts of other sources that create relevant content for your products and services.
The bar is set high, and that means your content needs to be exceptional to stand out.
Before you jump in with both feet and start publishing blog posts, take the time to create a local content strategy that aligns with your business goals.
Be sure to incorporate different types of local content and optimize each element for search using these proven local on-page SEO best practices.
3. Incorporate local link building into your SEO strategy
Links are the currency of the web. They are an important trust signal for search engines like Google and suggest that others approve of your content.
John McAlpin explains, “Local links are created to show that other people relevant to the area trust or endorse your business.”
His article “What is a local link and how to find more local link opportunities,” which is part of our local SEO guide, is a great starting point for your local link building strategy.
From there, I highly recommend reading this column by Kevin Rowe, where he shares 50 types of links and what you need to do to attract them.
4. Get your Google Business Profile in order
No local search strategy is complete without a well-optimized Google (GBP) Business Profile.
While Google pulls information about local businesses from a wide variety of sites, directories, and networks across the web, it views its own profiles as a single source of truth about any local business.
Formerly known as the Google My Business program, these profiles have grown richer and more interactive in recent years. And with these updates, they also became more useful for local searchers.
Today, GBPs not only provide key business information such as your location and contact details, but also allow you to:
- Help people understand their experience at your business with a variety of high-quality photos and videos.
- Showcase offers, events and more with Google Posts.
- Engage with customers through messaging, Q&As, and responding to reviews.
- Proactively share differentiating features, health and safety information, payment methods, and more. with attributes.
Sherry Bonelli offers an excellent guide to optimizing the pound here.
5. Make sure local listings are accurate
Google values the search experience above all else. Inaccurate and outdated information that negatively impacts the search experience is therefore a liability and can significantly hinder your local visibility.
Wherever a searcher encounters your business listing online – whether on social media, in a local directory, in the Yellow Pages, on review sites such as Yelp or Trip Advisor – the information they find there find should allow them to convert seamlessly.
If the phone number, address, opening hours, or other key business information is wrong, a searcher might show up at a closed store, for example.
Or be sent by their GPS system to your old location.
Seeing different versions of key business data on the web makes it difficult for search engines to know which is true.
Since Google wants to give each searcher the best possible answer to their query, you don’t want the algorithm wondering if your business information is reliable.
Tracking listings manually is time consuming and incredibly difficult as data aggregators and directories can search for business information and update their listings.
This is how misinformation or outdated listings proliferate, and the wrong address, URL or times can spread everywhere.
6. Monitor and Respond to Local Reviews
Reviews are a very impactful part of the local search experience and in 2021, 77% of local consumers say they always or regularly read reviews when researching local businesses.
Google’s local ranking algorithms are less mysterious than their organic counterparts. Google openly tells us that there is three main local ranking factors: Relevance, Distance and Prominence.
Reviews are part of the Prominence factor, and Google states:
“The number of Google reviews and the review score factor in local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking.”
Jeff Riddall offers a comprehensive overview of the impact of Google reviews on organic and local search rankings here.
Check out Matt Southern’s “Where and How to Get the Right Reviews for Your Business” to learn more.
7. Use relevant local schema
Whereas not a ranking factorSchema markup is a type of structured data that makes it easier for web crawlers to work and helps the search engine better understand the content of your page.
Anything you can do to help Google more effectively match your page to a relevant query is a win.
Schema markup can help trigger rich results that highlight additional information such as breadcrumbs, reviews, FAQs, and site links on search results.
Applying the schema correctly and then testing and validating your markup is critical because mistakes can prevent you from getting those rich results.
Chelsea Alves has written a fantastic guide to local tagging and rich results that can serve as a starting point for adding this tactic to your local SEO strategy.
Bring it all together
Tackling local SEO as a small business can seem daunting. You may not have a dedicated marketing department, and it’s not uncommon for business owners to feel overwhelmed with the administrative and marketing tasks that come with being an entrepreneur.
I hope this guide gives you enough information and resources to determine what you can do in-house and what you may need to outsource.
Hiring an agency or consultant to increase your internal skills is fine, but it’s essential that you have a good understanding of what you’re asking these professionals to do for you.
Remember that local SEO is not a one-time activity, “set it and forget it” to tick the list.
This is an integral part of your marketing and often overlaps with customer service.
To learn more, download Search Engine Journal’s ebook ‘Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings.’
Featured Image: Shutterstock/Deemka Studio