Local SEO is a strategy small businesses need to use to get more customers. If you’re just starting out, you may be wondering where do I start in the advertising world.  Building a website should be high on the list as well as a Facebook business page.

Once you design and publish a website, how are customers going to find you? One very important way is creating a Google My Business listing.  It is a method of managing an online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.  By listing your business and supplying business related information, you can help customers find you so you can tell them all about your business.

The real work begins after publishing your website.  It’s called Local SEO. It is the process of enhancing your Google business page to rank higher in Google’s local search results.  Almost 60% of all searches are looking for a local business that has or provide what they are shopping for.  And recent studies have shown that 78% of local searches resulted in customers calling or coming to their physical location.

Those figures prove that any business that generates revenue from a local customer base like lawn care, auto repair, dog grooming or a hair salon needs to be on the internet, specifically on Google My Business and conducting a local SEO program.  A local SEO strategy is the best method of connecting your local customers to your business.  And a major component of that strategy is mobile devices.

As stated previously, the majority of searches in Google have local intent. Potential customers will search for phrases like “lawn care Houma, LA” from their mobile phone. As a result of that search, a list of 3 websites will appear in a box called snack pack.  Those are the top 3 listing for lawn care in Houma, LA.  Why 3 listing, that is what fills the screen on an Iphone. Google favors websites that are mobile friendly.

Google Search Results ImageLook at the Iphone image and note that a “Call” button was added.  Why, because it is a natural reaction to call what you just looked up when your searching from a mobile device.

Tips For Businesses To Rank Higher in Local SEO

The competition for those top 3 sports is brutal.  There are a few local SEO techniques that can give you a quick competitive edge.

Local Keyword Targeting

Here is the number one local SEO tip: design your Google business page and website to include your local keyword phrases.  The relationship between your website and your Google listing is critically important.  By design, your Google business page will be optimized for your business category and local area; but, not necessarily with your website.  Your business website will need additional steps for optimizing your key pages for your business category and local area.

For example, if you are a lawn care company in Houma, LA, your Google business page would be listed in the “lawn care” category and your address would include your location in Houma.  This is normal information on your Google business page.  But on your website, you would want include “Lawn Care in Houma” within the title and description tags of your homepage meta data.  Also, targeted keyword phrases should be in the other pages of your website.  This creates a logical relationship between keywords and local relevance on your Google business page and business website.

Direct Data for Local SEO

Schema markup the latest scheme in SEO. This new form of optimization is one of the most powerful yet, the least-understood and least-utilized forms of SEO available today.

Direct data, or Schema language, is an agreed upon protocol that all major search engines use to define key sets of data.  Google, Yahoo, and Bing all use Schema language in the search algorithms.

Right now, one third of Google’s search results incorporate rich snippets, which includes schema markup. However, according to Searchmetrics, only 0.3 of all websites use schema markup.

The key point to leveraging Schema language and direct data sets for local SEO is that very few businesses implement this into their overall strategy.  As such, the local businesses that do leverage Schema can give themselves a substantial competitive edge in the local search results. Reportedly as much as four lines up the SEO ladder.

Local Citations

Local citations are nothing more than the presence of your business name, address, and phone number published on different websites and in business directories.  The more relevant the citations are to your type of business the more they will enhance your Google local search results.  For example, you’re a hair stylist in Houma, LA the most powerful citations for local SEO would come from directories that are specifically for hair salons in the city Houma. You and your competition use Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Superpages.  But again, most of your competitors are also using these directories for citation listings.  You can gain a substantial competitive edge by identifying niche directories that are specifically targeting your business category and local area.

These niche directories can be difficult to find, if they exist at all.  If you do find one, they are worth the effort to get a citation listed.  An example here in Houma is businessfinder.nola.com, a business directory in the New Orleans area. Adding citations from niche directories is one way to quickly differentiate your local business from the rest of the crowd.  And as such, Google will use these niche citations in determining your rankings in the local search results. One more that is well worth mentioning is directories like Better Business Bureau and chambers of Commerce. They are not free in fact they can be expensive, but they get Google’s attention big time.

Bringing It All Together

Sad but none the less true, using one tip by itself will be a waste of time; it’s an all or nothing and these are just the basics. The most effective local SEO strategy will combine all three in a strategical manner.  As the competition for those 3 spots heat up, the most important part of your strategy is being consistent in paying attention to details.

The research above stated that, 78% of local searches in Google resulted in off line purchases.  People simply turn to Google to search for local businesses, get directions, or find phone numbers.  I’m sure you have done the same type of search, so doesn’t it seem relevant for your business to be listed there as well?

When your business is found in the snack pack on mobile devices and at the top on desktop computers, you’ll find that you’ll be receiving the majority of the inbound calls, leads, and sales from new customers. And that is how you start your advertising campaign or find new customers. Good luck.



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