Local Search is More Competitive Than Ever: Here’s How to Stay On Top
If you’re reading this article, I’m sure you either own or work for small-medium sized business. You know all of the challenges that come along with it.
Some of the best businesses ever are small-medium sized, and let’s face it, the large ones that got big started there too.
The biggest challenges we face in this demographic is: how do we get our costumers to know about us? There has to be awareness before we can even think about getting repeat costumers.
This is from local search and local SEO efforts. Not sure how what this is or how to stay on top of your game in your industry? Stay tuned.
What is Local Search?
As a small business, I’m sure you’ve heard the word “local search” thrown around every now and then, but what is it, actually?
“Local search” or local SEO revolves around internet search engines (like Google) focusing on providing results relevant to your users’ geographic location.
Like, when you type into your search bar “restaurants in Denver.” The results that show are a product of local search.
Most of local search is explored through search engines. However, when it comes to actually making a transaction, these are usually made offline by visiting the place.
Now that we’ve got the definition out of the way, let’s focus on things your company can be doing to stay on top of local search. It’s a competitive world out there.
Google My Business
Google My Business is another feature that Google set up to show local businesses in search results.
It’s a really simple process. Just visit the Google My Business website and enter your business name, hours, and address. Google recommends to fill out as much information as you can. The more the better!
Take pictures of your business, your product/service, your logo and anything else that might make you unique that costumers would benefit to see.
This seems like a no-brainer step, but increasing the amount of information you provide can lead to a greater presence in local search.
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
Your company’s reviews play a big role in local search ranking. If you haven’t already, you should focus on acquiring a good amount of quality reviews.
Google reviews should obviously be the first priority since that is the first thing users will see, but you should also focus on how your company reviews on other sites, like Angie’s list, Yelp, FourSquare, etc.
Your local business could hold promotions or contests to incentivize users to review your company. Or, next time you have a really happy customer, ask them to take a minute to leave a review.
Having a collection of positive reviews and working towards a five-star rating will push up your search ranking and attract lots of customers.
Get other people talking
Along the lines of reviews, local citations should also be something your company should focus on. As described by Moz, “citations are defined as mentions of your business name and address on other webpages.”
Examples of citations would appear on popular review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, etc. We have all seen it when typing a question into Google — these sites usually appear first or in the top five. As an added bonus, most citation sites have high credibility with Google.
There are many tools to start tracking your local citations and making sure they are consistent. You could start with:
- Moz’s tool to search local citations by category
- WhiteSpark’s tool to monitor citation growth and competition
- GeoRanker’s tool to track and create local citations
Use Schema Markup and Metadata
It may seem repetitive in the marketing industry but schema markup and metadata are both STILL extremely important in local search.
Schema Markup is using vocabulary that search engines have the ability to easily understand. Your company needs to make sure your product or service is easily explained. This is so Google can give users the right answers to their questions.
Schema uses rich snippets to add extra detail to a search listing, and allows your company to tell your user who you are, what you do and other unique information. You can learn more about it here.
And, as always, optimize your site with metadata which includes page titles, keywords, and description.
This is where being a small business will differentiate your marketing efforts. Your business shouldn’t be using the same keywords the big companies are using or there will never be a chance.
Instead, focus on using company-specific keywords that include your location, your neighborhood, and your industry.
Sprinkle these company-specific keywords through your content. Strive to include the name of your business, its location, and the keyword being targeted in your page titles.
Name, Address, and Phone (NAP)
Keeping your company’s name, address and phone number consistent across all platforms in key for local search optimization. Similar to how getting a link from a high authority Google site works, a NAP citation will get you ranking higher in search results as well.
It’s necessary to keep your NAP in the same format across all pages and platforms. Don’t forget to include in it in your Schema Markup!
Local long-form content
New trends for 2017 are showing long form content marketing winning the game. Users want to see quality content that actually answers their questions, and not a bunch of keywords and filler content.
If your company wants to get ahead with local search, they need to make it a point to incorporate long-form content into their content strategy. Long form meaning 1,000 words+.
On the other hand, this content NEEDS to be written locally. You should include topics relevant to your location — like events, news, and promotions going on in your area.
Incorporating your company-specific keywords into this content will give you more and higher chances to rank in local search.
As you can see there are so many factors that go into your local search ranking and Google will always have new updates right around the corner.
The best advice I can give is to stay true to your brand and don’t shy away from the attributes your brand stands for. Incorporating lots of content marketing, customer feedback, and Google search tools will get you there.
Interesting in adopting a local SEO strategy to get your business started? Visit us for an SEO analysis and be on your way to staying on top of the game.