Why Local SEO?

Recognizing the benefits of local SEO for small businesses is crucial for business success. Small businesses may not see why being online is so important, especially if they don’t sell their products or services through their sites. A 2013 comScore study showed that more than 86 percent of smartphone owners use local search on their devices, meaning that those smartphone users are actively looking for local businesses from their phones. Make sure your customers are finding you – not only by being online, but by creating a community around your brand.
If you aren’t sure you need local SEO, check to see how your business is doing. Online tools can help you find out how you compare to other local businesses. If your rankings are lower than your competition’s, these tips and tricks can help get you started. If you live in an area where your business has a lot of competition, you may need to consult an SEO expert to help you.

1. List All Your Contact Information

Make sure your address, phone number, and hours are listed on your site. Put this information on your Facebook page, too, since customers may turn to social networking sites when researching your business. In any listing about your business, always include the basic information. It may seem obvious, but some businesses forget.

2. Develop a Keyword Strategy

If you don’t have a keyword strategy already, think about what your customers might be searching for online to find businesses like yours. Tools such as Google Analytics can help you figure out which keywords are the most searched and most competitive. If you already have a keyword strategy, keep reading.
Once you’ve selected your keywords, make sure you include them on your site. Most of them are probably highly competitive, so consider adding the city you’re located in at the end of the keyword. The “keyword + city” combination tends to be less competitive than the keyword alone.
If you’re close to any attractions, include those on your site, too. Just say something like, “we’re located near the state museum.” If someone searches for a business near the state museum, yours will likely come up first.

3. Join Directory Listings and Google+ Local

Business directories are a popular way for consumers to find information on local businesses. Make sure you’re listed on as many of these directories as possible. Some popular ones include Yelp and Google+ Local. List accurate contact information and your company website on these entries and keep them updated. Also claim your Google+ Local page so you can upload photos and update information. Use this page so you’ll show up in Google’s map results.

4. Respond to Reviews

Many customers check out reviews before they call or come to your business. In fact, according to a 2013 study by Cisco Systems Inc., 65 percent of shoppers research products and services before making a purchase. A lot of that research will be done on directory sites, such as Google+ Local and Yelp, which include customer reviews.
Positive reviews from regular customers are a major boost to local SEO. You can also offer a small incentive to your customers for leaving reviews. You should respond to any reviews you get, positive or negative. Offer solutions to the negative reviewers and thank the positive reviewers. Such interaction from your business will encourage more visitors to leave reviews. Being responsive to reviews and being active on social media will help you create a community around your brand.
By implementing a local SEO strategy, you’ll ensure your customers can find you easily. Have your contact information easy to find, use localized keywords, list your business in directories, accumulate reviews and build a brand community. If you live in an especially competitive area, you might consider consulting an SEO expert to help you with additional local strategies or to improve what you’re already doing.