Search engine optimization (SEO) practices are unquestionably important for any business. The digital marketing industry has found many reasons to accommodate them over the years, as they help businesses grow. However, there are numerous pitfalls to avoid; SEO practices come and go, as they adapt to the digital landscape. Most importantly, many businesses seem to adhere to general SEO guidelines but overlook local SEO. That can indeed be a costly mistake when studies show that 80% of all consumers use search engines for local information. So with that in mind, it’s in your best interest to implement local SEO in your business. Let us explore some vital distinctions, then, and some actionable tips on how to do so.
Traditional SEO vs. Local SEO
First things first, let us briefly define the two and make some important distinctions. You may have fully embraced traditional SEO already, but implementing local SEO to your business is a rather different task.
In essence, local SEO is a subset of traditional SEO. The two naturally overlap, and traditional SEO should be taken into account in all cases. However, local SEO is specialized and thus has notable differences in both purpose and function.
Traditional, organic, or global SEO intends to boost your business’s search result rankings. From search engine results page (SERP) features, such as featured snippets, to organic search results, it seeks to increase visibility. It thus includes such general practices as the following:
- Quality keyword identification
- Page optimization
- Quality content production
Therefore, traditional SEO practices are universally useful. They provide larger audiences for brands, by boosting their search engine rankings for searches related to their products and services.
In turn, local SEO is a subset of the aforementioned practices. In other words, it benefits from them, but it also requires efforts uniquely aimed at local searches. It seeks to expand one’s potential local audience, as the name suggests, using such practices as the following:
- Local keyword identification
- Local-specific website copy creation
- Local listing site profiles
- Local review site presence optimization
Thus, while both are essential, many industries arguably benefit more from local SEO than they do from traditional practices. From small, local businesses to such industries as real estate, legal, and heavy equipment, local SEO does have merit. If you rely on a local audience, implementing local SEO to your business is undeniably important.
Implementing local SEO to your business
With the above in mind, let us explore some local SEO practices that you can consider for your business.
1.Set up and optimize a Google My Business profile
Local searches have to factor in the aforementioned SERP features, with sidebar space being the coveted prize. Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that local businesses can use to optimize their presence, including Search and Google Maps. Setting up and verifying your GMB profile will assure Google that your business is authentic, so you can then begin striving for local SEO.
You should thus encourage reviews, and respond to them whenever possible. Engaging with your customers in this way contributes to a good public image and builds trust. What’s more, engagement and activity indicate to Google that your business is authoritative and trustworthy in its field.
1. Consolidate your NAP information and provide it in HTML text form
Your name, address, and phone number (NAP) should be easily discoverable and consistent across all pages and locations. To begin with, then, you should make sure that they are listed identically everywhere – simply omitting an area code or a company extension can cost you. Update information as it changes, and provide different entries for different locations if you have more than one.
Then, it is vital that your NAP exists on your site in HTML text form. Search engines can’t crawl logos and other images, but they can crawl HTML text. Ideally, you could place your NAP information in the site header or footer.
2. Identify local keywords and optimize content for them
Naturally, implementing local SEO to your business necessitates local keywords. Those can be found in two broad types:
- “Near me”: your business type followed by “near me” (example: “sushi restaurants near me”
- Generic location keywords: keywords related to the location and your business type (example: “best sushi restaurants in NJ”)
Based on your business type, goals, and other factors, you should determine which such keyword combinations are most valuable to you. Once you do, you can create and optimize content for those specific keywords. However, as you do, you should ascertain that you do so organically. Among SEO practices that are no longer effective, keyword abuse and automated content creation are quite prominent. Thus, you should carefully refine your geo-targeted content so that it feels authentic and incites engagement.
3. Create local content
While creating quality content is useful for both traditional and local SEO, creating local content is a more specialized approach. Therefore, you can consider creating content that goes beyond your product or service to better attract local audiences.
Namely, you can create generally educational content, and create and promote content on local events and news. Additionally, you can create content that familiarizes new residents or businesses with your area and industry. Doing so can provide relevant, valuable local signals to your content pages, which can only be beneficial.
4. Optimize your site for mobile devices
Mobile-friendliness is already a vital factor of traditional SEO, but it is equally crucial for local SEO. More and more people conduct searches on their mobile devices, including the vast majority of existing smartphone users. Thus, you should make sure that your site is mobile-friendly, and that all relevant information is easy to find.
In conclusion, it should be clear that implementing local SEO to your business is a worthy endeavor. Both local businesses and specific industries tend to rely on it for lead generation. Of course, such traditional SEO practices as quality inbound links and backlinks, page element optimization, and content structure are still absolutely relevant. Local SEO does require some additional care, however, but the results will justify your investment manifold.
Bio: Daniel Jones is a freelance blog writer and web designer. He writes primarily on the industries of relocation and tech, as well as on digital marketing and SEO.