Last week we found a water damage in our home and we had to find a local business to come and check it out. But first we wanted to make sure that the company was reputable with good reviews. Where did we start? Google, of course.
Fortunately, we quickly found a close business and scheduled a meeting for the next day. This is the power of local SEO or search engine optimization – to allow customers to quickly find local suppliers online, read reviews from other customers and identify the best solution for their needs.
The truth is that any business with a physical location or serving a geographic area can benefit from local SEO. You just need to know where to start and that’s exactly what this article is about – a beginner’s guide on how to make local SEO work for your business.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is a strategy that helps businesses gain more visibility in local search results. It helps customers easily find, evaluate and connect with local businesses to serve their needs, while helping businesses raise awareness of the brand, potential customers, traffic and sales.
What do local search results look like?
Local business search results look slightly different from traditional search results, but not completely.
For example, Google usually displays a ‘Pack of Maps’ at the top of the results – showing some of the top-ranked companies. When looking for “painter Chicago”, the Map Pack (in red below) is what you will see first:
Of course, in order to be displayed in the map package, your business must already have a Google business account set up. You can learn how to do it here.
In addition to the Map Pack, you also want to optimize your business website to increase your visibility in local organic search results. These are the results that come right after the package of cards:
Why do you want to ensure that your business also appears in organic results? Since customers may see your ad in the card package, notice that you have 4 or 5 star reviews, and then they will see how your website appears in organic results. This creates a sense of legitimacy and trust immediately, as searchers see your business not only in the card package, but also ranked high in the results below.
You can also rank in local organic results, even if your business is not in that physical location. So your business won’t appear in the map package, but it can still appear below it – as long as your website includes local keywords and unique content for that location.
How to start your business with local SEO
Although there are several elements in this local SEO guide that you will want to complete, the good news is that you don’t have to do them all at once. Take it one by one, then move on to the next.
1. Set up your Google Business Account
As mentioned earlier, you will want to fill out a Google Account. Here you add the name, address and phone number for your business, as well as business category, opening hours, website, etc. You can also choose to publish Google Publications from your account, which appear in your business listing in local search results:
2. Conduct a local keyword survey
Keyword research is as important to local SEO as it is to traditional SEO. With that in mind, researching local keywords is a little easier because all you need is a short list of keywords that people use to find your nearby business.
Of course, you want to use the keywords ‘business + city’. You also want to do research on more general keywords related to your business.
For example, if you search for “artist” on Google, you’ll get this list of suggestions:
The top 3 suggestions are helpful, but nothing else on this list is valuable to local SEO.
However, if you do the same local search using “painter c”, you will get a better list of options:
Once you have some ideas that you can use, you can release them through a tool like Google Keyword Planner to get data such as monthly search volume, trends and annual change. Or you can use the Keyword Planner to find new keywords using the Get Started Website feature.
Either way, be sure to consider how to do keyword research for the full process.
You can then apply the best keywords to your website and your Google Business account, where they can help you reach people searching for the same queries.
3. Provide consistent business information on the Internet
Search engines like Google want to see that information about your business – such as name, address and phone number – is the same across all websites and online properties. This helps verify and validate your business information and helps Google rank your business higher in local search results.
In addition to your own website and Google business account, check your information in business directories (Yelp, BBB, etc.) and other relevant third-party sites. You can learn more about this approach from this article brand SERP.
4. Get online reviews for your business – and manage them too
Another important step in our local SEO guide is getting online reviews. This not only helps search engines rank your business higher in local search results, but also helps customers rate your business accordingly.
Once you start getting more feedback, be sure to respond to them – even negative ones help your local SEO efforts.
5. Regularly monitor and adjust your business results online
Once you’ve completed the previous steps, it’s time to keep track of how your business ranks in local search over time. There are various SEO tools to track your position in the Map Pack, as well as organic search results.
Using this data, you can make adjustments if and when necessary to ensure that your business maintains the highest visibility for your customers.
Master many aspects of SEO, including keyword research, technical SEO, link building, analytics, with a search engine optimization training course.
Learn more about Local SEO
This guide to local SEO is just the beginning. For a more in-depth approach, see Google Maps local SEO management tips or this Simplilearn SEO tutorial.
To learn more about SEO, see Simplilearn DIgital Marketing 101’s free course. If this inspires you to learn more, you can move on with their search engine optimization (SEO) training course. Why stop here? Simplilearn offers a wide variety of digital marketing training camps that can help you build the foundation for a rock star career.