“Find your target market.” This is one of the most enduring principles in business and also one of the most elusive. Today, finding a target market has become more nuanced thanks to new technologies and the proliferation of mobile devices.
For many organizations, it comes down to ‘finding target geographic markets’. why? Because people are often very “local” in their search behavior. For example, if you live in Chicago and want pizza, you don’t need search results for pizza restaurants in New York.
What is Local SEO?
Today, there are many strategies businesses can leverage to take advantage of this local search behavior and drive traffic to physical (and virtual) locations. This is commonly known as local SEO.
Essentially, local SEO is a range of strategies and tactics designed to optimize a company’s digital footprint to attract a local audience to a physical or virtual location through online search traffic. Typically, this centers around a corporate “map pack”. This is a collection of business data that can be optimized to rank higher for specific search terms.
For example, if you want pizza-hungry Chicagoans to seek out your slice, you can optimize your Google listings, ads, and website content to increase your chances of appearing in search results.
Why a Local SEO Strategy Matters
Grab your phone, open Google Maps, and search for “pizza near me.” Immediately, you’ll see a list of nearby places with photos and reviews. If you’re a local pizzeria, you’ll want to appear in such search results and you’ll want to make sure your listing is optimized.
Local SEO can drive a significant amount of leads, foot traffic, conversions, and revenue. People use things like Google Maps to find out details like addresses, contact information, and hours of operation. It is often done just before arriving at the location. As Social Media Today reported, “72% of consumers searching for local businesses end up visiting a store within 5 miles of him.” And nearly 80% of his local mobile searches lead to in-store purchases. If your business survival depends on generating leads and revenue, you can’t afford to miss local SEO traffic.
6 Core Local SEO Strategies
Your company may be doing basic local SEO and want to take it to the next level. You may be starting from scratch. Here are 6 of his local SEO strategies that he uses to help his clients maximize their impact.
1. Power up your location page
A location page includes your business’s name, address, phone number, photo, hours of operation, and a link. How you create and optimize your location page will help you display your business in your target location. Setting up and optimizing your Google My Business page is usually a good place to start. This includes providing accurate details about your business, such as your phone number, address and hours of operation. You can add images of your venue, products, services, and other products. Finally, you can optimize your business description and other metadata for search terms your ideal customer might use to find you.
2. Make the most of multiple locations
Leverage the locations page to optimize different locations. Using the Chicago example above, searching in the South Loop produces different results than in Lincoln Park. If you have locations in both Chicago neighborhoods, you’ll need to optimize your individual location pages to target those specific locations.
What are the details specific to each location that can be included on each location page? This is more than just including the location (“South Loop Pizza Restaurant” vs. “Lincoln Park Pizza Restaurant”). Are the menus and contact information the same? how about a photo? All of these must be unique per location page.
3. Build a local backlink portfolio
The more trustworthy and authoritative websites that link to your own website, the better for SEO. When it comes to local SEO, it’s important to generate links from other local sites and businesses. This may include associations, chambers of commerce and local media. A strong local backlink portfolio tells Google that your business deserves to be ranked high in search results.
4. Never underestimate the power of reviews
Reading reviews is now part of local search behavior. In fact, according to Search Engine Journal, “86% of all consumers read local business reviews at least occasionally.”
Reviews are also important to Google. They help determine the credibility of a business. Part of it is based on engagement on the location’s page. So try to get more location-specific reviews.
5. Optimize your website content for local keywords
Keyword research reveals local keyword volume and competition. Think “Pizza Restaurant in the South Loop” instead of “Pizza Restaurant in Chicago”. Once he has a list of local keywords he wants to target, he incorporates them into his title tags, meta descriptions and other SEO elements to increase the visibility of his website.
6. Don’t forget voice search
More and more people are using voice search to search locally. A company study found that 75% of smart speaker owners use their smart speakers to find local businesses every week. Come to think of it, this makes sense. You are at home talking with your spouse and need information about where to have dinner tomorrow night. It’s far more convenient to look to a Google Home or Amazon Echo smart speaker for answers than to grab your phone or open your laptop.
This growth in voice search highlights the need to optimize local content and local listings to also appear in these types of searches. Think about the natural language people might use to conduct voice searches for local businesses like yours. Then test the local voice search yourself to get a feel for how your voice assistant delivers results.
Local SEO is just one part of a broader SEO strategy, but it’s essential for certain types of businesses.