If you own a small business with physical locations such as stores or offices, local search engine optimization (SEO) is a very important factor for your success. Your potential customers are usually walking around with their smartphones or driving around looking for businesses like yours. The question is whether they will choose you or your competitors.
It’s up to you to provide superior products and services. However, local SEO often determines whether people will set foot in your business in the first place.
Working in the local marketing space, specifically text-based marketing, I’ve observed some of the major local SEO trends and best practices on how to profit from them.
Google continues to dominate local SEO.
Google is the most important factor in optimizing your site for local search engine traffic. Google My Business and Google Maps provide guidance and directions to local customers as they search for businesses. Create accurate and up-to-date listings on Google My Business. Upload photos as well as information about your location, phone number, hours of operation, and business description.
Google creates what they call knowledge panels. These are highly visible boxes that bring together people, businesses, and other organizations. You cannot apply to be featured as Google will select businesses that are prioritized in the knowledge panel. However, the more information you provide about your business, the more likely you are to be featured.
Voice search is growing.
Thanks to voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, we’ve grown accustomed to talking to our devices, not just typing. I think voice search will become the most popular type of search as time goes on. Speaking commands is easier and more convenient than using the keyboard. You can do it while driving, cooking, exercising, or whatever.
Therefore, businesses need to understand the impact of voice search on SEO. Get into the mindset of people looking for your business. When people are talking into their phones or voice search assistants, they speak in a natural way instead of typing traditional keywords.
Another tip is to optimize your content for the featured snippets Google uses for voice search. Ideally, your snippet should have a list of features or an FAQ section.
Keep your local keywords in mind.
To optimize your content for local searches, think about the most common keywords that customers use when searching for your industry. This includes keywords related to cities, towns, regions, and neighborhoods.
For example, let’s say you have a salon in downtown Austin, Texas, near the Capital Building. A typed search might be “salon austin,” but a person driving a car is more likely to ask, “where are the saloons near the capital?”
Including local landmarks and neighborhoods in addition to your city is a good way to meet the needs of voice searchers.
Local search ads are becoming more and more popular.
Google Ads is increasingly being used to promote local businesses. Ads that appear below local search and maps penalize businesses that don’t use paid advertising.
If you rely strictly on organic SEO, you’re not only competing with the SEO of other businesses, you’re also competing with those who use paid advertising. To stay competitive, we encourage you to consider investing in local advertising.
Reviews are more important than ever.
Over the last few years, the role of online reviews has changed significantly. As sites like Yelp and Angie’s List became popular, customers began searching for businesses and checking reviews. But with the rise of local SEO, users no longer even need to search for reviews. Google reviews only show up when someone does a search. This makes online reviews more important than ever.
Online reviews are essential for social proof. Research shows that many people value positive reviews as much as personal recommendations. So small businesses should do everything possible to encourage customers to leave reviews.
Do not ask for particularly positive reviews as this is against the terms of service of most sites. However, you can leave gentle reminders in the form of stickers or requests on your website or email.
Serve your mobile customers.
The proliferation of mobile devices goes hand in hand with the growing importance of local SEO. It is convenient to search for shops from your smartphone. If you have a physical store or office, you should pay special attention to mobile users.
• Use responsive design for your website. Test your website loading speed. Make sure your pages load quickly on mobile devices.
• Keep your images mobile friendly by keeping file sizes small.
• Use mobile-friendly fonts and layouts. Make sure the font is large enough to be readable on small screens. A one-column layout is most readable on mobile screens.
Every small business should be aware of local SEO factors to attract more customers. With new trends like voice search and the growth of mobile technology, optimizing your business website for local search is more important than ever.