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Local SEO Guide for Small Businesses

Follow our local SEO guide below to increase engagement with your customers online.

The big marketing buzz these days is local SEO, and you’re probably wondering what the big deal is. After all, isn’t traditional marketing enough to attract customers? The answer is, no, traditional marketing is no longer enough to address the mobile shopping habits of today’s consumers. People conduct local searches on their laptops, smartphones and tablets every day to find things close by, for directions, store hours, and to see if particular product is in stock.

What Connected Consumers Want

It’s not so much what consumers are searching for, it’s how they’re searching for it. Recently, Google commissioned two separate research studies for research on local SEO, Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior.

Today’s consumer wants convenience. They want to find products quickly and easily. They are using mobile devices more than ever, too. If you can’t give them the information they seek, they will move on to the next business on the list. Here’s more compelling facts the Google study uncovered:

  1. Four out of five people utilize search engines for local information.
  2. Half of all consumers who did local searches on their smartphones frequented the store within 24 hours.
  3. Over 60 percent of consumers use location information in local ads for a store’s phone number, address and directions.

According to ComScore, 88 percent of smartphone users and 84 percent of tablet users conduct local searches regularly, and that number is rising. With local searches resulting in twice as many purchases than non-local, businesses must understand how to leverage local SEO using strategic search marketing methods.

Here are some time-saving local SEO strategies you can employ today that will have you thanking yourself tomorrow:

Be Mobile Friendly

Optimize your website for mobile devices, because if it isn’t mobile-friendly, any SEO marketing you conduct to drive people to your site will only make them want to leave it. Why waste your time and money on marketing if your site isn’t viewable on mobile devices?

How to Start

Use tools like Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to assess how mobile-friendly your website is for visitors. All you have to do is enter the URL of your website and it generates a checklist of what you should improve, as well as a guide showing you exactly how to make the improvements. You can use their Mobile Guide to learn much more about mobile websites, too.

Be Search Engine Friendly

Make sure that your website shows up in local searches with some simple website SEO. Remember, location, phone numbers and business hours are what people look for, so be certain to update them immediately if any information changes.

How to Start

  • Put your complete address, phone number and hours of operation on the footer of each website page.
  • Add captions to images, which are the second-most read copy element on a webpage.
  • Add an alt tag to your website logo, including company name, city, state, address, and business type.
  • Include at least 300 words of quality content on your home page to let people know what your business is all about.

Be Local Listing Friendly

When listing your business, always remember to include either your NAP, or name, address and phone number, or your WAP, website, address and phone number. Be certain your information is consistent across all the different platforms and databases.

Even a tiny mistake can create major problems, such as a misplaced period. Changing your address causes problems, too, so if you spell out “street” in some listings, don’t change it to “St.” in others.

Aside from your local Chamber of Commerce or business association, add your business to as many online local directories as possible, including:

  • Google My Business: This is the latest Google offering and it is free. Complete your profile and choose as many business categories as possible. Upload images, add business hours, phone numbers and addresses.
  • Yahoo Local Basic: The basic is free, but you can also pay to use advanced options, such as Localworks and Local Enhanced listings.
  • Bing Places for Business: Bing accounts for one third of online searches, so set up a free listing there, too.
  • Apple Maps Connect: The Apple Maps app is popular, and you can add your business for free. You’ll need an Apple ID to sign up.

Be Review Friendly

Encourage your customers to write reviews for you. You should never have to pay for reviews. Subtle reminders should do the trick. Encourage consumers to leave reviews by placing an attractive reminder near your checkouts. Offer incentives, like a small discount or free gift. Add QR codes to cards at checkouts or posters in restrooms to make it easier.

Prompt people to post reviews on the following sites:

  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Bing
  • Foursquare

Adding your business to various directories and review sites can bring your business to the top of most browser searches. Once you’ve done your local SEO footwork, your customers will do their footwork right to your door.

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