Run a local business? Then you need a great local SEO marketing strategy to stand out from the crowd. Why? Because Google’s local search is the way people in your area find businesses like yours.
Google takes local search very seriously because it wants more accurate listings to boost the quality of its search results. 50% of all Google searches are now done on mobile devices, and 30% of these searches are for local businesses.
Yet despite these stats, many small, local businesses are failing to harness location-specific marketing to impact their visibility in local searches. The good news is targeted local SEO tactics can switch the odds in your favour.
If you spend time building your brand’s reputation, you can boost your bottom line and grow your local customer base. While it might seem like a daunting task, these 10 lead generation tactics can (literally) help put your business on the map.
List Your Business on Google My Business (GMB)
One way to make sure Google has the right information is to list it on the Google My Business (GMB) directory. This adds your business to Google maps so your details appear when people search for businesses like yours in their local area. Google will verify the information you provide, so make sure it’s accurate!
Pay Attention To Your Website Build And Architecture
The foundation of any modern business is its website. Whether you own a shop or run a law firm, you need a good, clear website that explains what you can offer and where you are located.
If you are a bricks and mortar business with a single location that customers can visit, a simple website with your name, address, phone number (NAP) and business hours clearly displayed, provides you with an adequate entry-level online offering. A separate page for every product or service that your business offers, will make it easy for customers (and Google) to understand what products and services you provide.
If you own a large business with more than one outlet or store, it’s essential that you create a separate sub-page for every physical location your company has. To boost local business awareness, the information on each of these sub-pages must be tailored to that local area. Because Google penalises duplicate content, avoid repeating information about products and services on these sub-pages.
Add Professional / Practitioner Listings
If you run a service-based company with qualified professionals, such as doctors, plumbers, dentists or lawyers, each of your staff should have a web page with information about their qualifications, specialisms and expertise. This makes your qualified staff visible when people search for the nearest professional in their area.
This is a great lead generation tactic because it allows people to find local professionals who can help them, whether they need to find a solicitor who can do their conveyancing, a plumber to fix a broken pipe or a dentist to fill their tooth.
This information will also appear as a listing on Google Maps, so your business and staff will be searchable visually as well as through organic web searches. You might be surprised at how quickly this makes your company brand visible in the local area.
Build Your Citations
Citations are searchable online directories that provide information about local businesses, like Google My Business. The more citations your business has the higher your site will rank on Google’s local search rankings. You can choose to add information about your business manually or use automated software to create multiple citations across many different directories.
Some of the best places to list your businesses are sites like Yelp, Foursquare and Hotfrog. Each citation helps give Google evidence that you are a viable business, so the more citations you create, the better.
As well as signing up to regional directories, list your company details (NAP etc.) on relevant local blogs, as well as industry-focused directories or blogs. If you’re a member of a trade organisation, make sure you’re listed there too.
In the case of larger companies with multiple local outlets, make sure that citations for each company location link to the specific location page on your website – Google will penalise any links in local search that link to a general company page.
Gather Great Reviews
Reviews are one of the most powerful lead generation tactics in any local SEO strategy. They are the social proof that your company is doing a good job, and the more reviews you have, the higher you rank in local Google searches.
Start by making sure your business is properly listed on the main review platforms, such as GMB, Yelp and Facebook. If there are local business review sites, make sure you sign up, and look for industry-specific pages where your clients can leave reviews too.
Google seems to prioritise reviews on its GMB platform, so you could try and focus your first review requests on customers who already have Gmail accounts. Remember that Google doesn’t count reviews or testimonials displayed on your own website.
To get reviews, ask customers to leave a review under their own accounts and using their own devices. You can send a Google Review Link Generator to make it easy. Google will penalise multiple reviews from the same location, IP address or account, so don’t be tempted to fake them.
It’s better to gather reviews slowly over time because some platforms will filter out a sudden wave of reviews as part of their settings. If you have a high volume of customers, you can use Get Five Stars or Infusionsoft to offer an automated review service. Remember to publicly thank any customer who takes the time to write a positive review.
If you receive a bad review, don’t ignore it – respond with accountability and professionalism. Your customer service is important – take the chance to turn a negative into a positive.
Participate in Appropriate Social Networks
Social networks can help drive local lead generation, as this online marketing approach boosts your brand awareness and social shares and creates organic backlinks to your site. These backlinks will, in turn, boost your local SEO visibility.
Decide which social media sites to focus by asking your customers which sites they regularly use. Once you have a clear idea of where to target your attention, set up branded pages and accounts to interact with the local community.
Before you start, decide on your social media communication strategy. Do you want to be funny and ironic? Or do you want to strike a reliable and dependable tone? Update your social media accounts regularly and respond quickly to those who get in touch.
Some networks, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, allow you to target customers with pay-per-click advertising at a particular location, as well as specific interest groups and demographics. This can be a great way to boost company awareness in your local area.
Create Relevant Expert Content
One of the big advantages your small company can have over a big brand is your local knowledge. High-quality local content is incredibly valuable. Simply sharing your knowledge can make your company a local authority in your sector.
Part of this expertise is understanding why people come to your business and how your company can solve your clients’ problems. Your content should focus on what you have to offer your customers, especially answers to the questions people ask you every day.
People want to do business with professionals, so building your reputation as an expert in an interesting and unique way can give your business personality and help you stand out from the competition.
It’s important to vary the content that your company produces, including informative blog posts, videos, infographics and interviews that people find interesting and helpful. Don’t just spam social media accounts with special offers.
Make a plan to reach out to other relevant sites that you can partner with to share content. Don’t forget to check what the competition is doing, and think of ways you can do things even better!
Research Popular Keywords
The Keyword Planner Tool is one of the best places to research keywords that potential customers are using to find local companies like yours. Identify different keywords that are relevant to your business, particularly those with high keyword volumes.
You should check that your web content includes popular keywords so your customers can find you when they search online. The more popular keywords your web content covers, the more often and higher your site will appear in search results.
Another great way of discovering keywords popular in local searches is to dig through the Search Console data for your website. Look for different keywords that are sending traffic to your site and see if you can find any local phrases that might not have individual page content about that yet.
Once you’ve identified any areas where you can expand your content, create new pages to capture this source of traffic. Check your analytics later to see how successful this has been in driving new users to your site.
Check Your Mobile Functionality
Because 50% of Google searches are now done on mobile, you need to make sure your web design is compatible with smaller screens and that your site loads in the 90th percentile on mobile devices. If they must wait too long, your potential customers will look elsewhere.
Use Google’s Page Speed Insights to determine the speed of your site. Google seems to reduce the visibility of slower websites, so it’s in your interest to make sure that your site loads quickly on all devices, particularly on mobile. Your business could depend on it.
Share Local Stories Online and Offline
The most important part of local business is the people they serve. Building relationships with the community is an essential part of this. As well as asking for reviews, you should share your customer success stories through video interviews and case studies. Rather than foregrounding your business, focus on your customers and the ways in which you serve the local community.
You could decide to boost local awareness of your brand by sponsoring a local charity event or combining social media marketing campaigns with local radio or physical advertising that links to local people and places. This will help keep you top of mind the next time potential customers search locally for your services.
Troubleshoot any Visibility Problems
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can have problems with your website’s visibility on local Google searches. The most likely reason is that you have unwittingly violated one of Google’s guidelines.
In the case of minor violations, Google will suspend your account until you sort out any discrepancies in the information you’ve provided. In the worst cases, Google will permanently delete your site from its search listings.
There many reasons why this can happen, but we’ll address the most common ones here:
- The NAP information you’ve provided on GMB and other citation websites don’t match.
- There are duplicate business listings or out of date professional listings for the same address.
- You’ve added extra keywords to your business URL or business name.
- You’ve created a business listing for a virtual office or mailbox.
- You run a service or class that operates from a business you don’t own.
- Through no fault of your own, your industry is cluttered with spam, so the spam filters have higher settings.
In some situations, you can deal with these problems through your GMB account (e.g. duplicate listings), but in more complex situations you’ll need professional help to figure out what has gone wrong and rectify it.
Local SEO marketing can be a rich source of leads for any company, so it makes sense to develop a strategy to make the most of what it has to offer. Red-Fern Media has the expertise in web design, lead generation and online marketing to guide your business to success.