According to Think With Google, more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices — and 30% of all mobile searches are location-related. That means that it’s more important than ever for small businesses to focus on local SEO.
Around 76% of people who search for nearby results on their smartphones will visit a business within just one day. So how can you reach these customers? By focusing on local search engine optimization. Here are just five tips to help your business dominate local search in 2021.
Make Good Use of GMB
Google My Business, or GMB for short, is a free listing platform that can help businesses appear more prominently in search results (and even show up in the “map pack”). If you haven’t yet claimed or filled out your GMB profile, start with that. Make sure that all fields are complete and that they’re consistent across all platforms (which we’ll get to next). You can even post updates relating to your hours of operation, new products or services, or changes related to COVID-19 concerns. Taking full advantage of GMB can increase your brand awareness and help you appeal to local customers, in particular.
Ensure Consistent NAP Listings
Your GMB profile isn’t the only place on the internet where you can list some basic business information. Local citations appear on a number of different websites and generally act as a directory for businesses. Depending on your industry, you might choose to list your NAP (which stands for name, address, and phone number) on sites like yellowpages.com, yelp.com, angieslist.com, expedia.com, local.yahoo.com, and others. Wherever you list your business info, make sure that it’s consistent across the board. That means even the way you list your physical address (“St.” versus “Street”) matters. Google loves consistency, so take care to ensure your NAP listings are the same across each and every platform for best results.
Generate Online Reviews
Online reviews are critical for small businesses, as customers tend to trust them just as much as personal recommendations. What’s more, a business without any reviews at all will often be viewed as less trustworthy than a business with a handful of negative reviews! In other words, you’ll want to devote some of your efforts to acquiring reviews from your customers.
The best way to convince a customer to leave a review? Ask! Whether you mention it in person, send out an email blast, or post a request on social media, it never hurts to remind a customer that they can have a direct impact on your business by showing their support. Most of the time, a customer won’t hesitate to leave a review if they have a negative experience — but if they have a positive one, they might forget to voice their opinion. Helping your customers realize how important these online reviews are — especially when they’re on your GMB or Facebook pages — can allow you to increase your online presence and show up more prominently in searches.
Create Local Landing Pages
Optimizing for location-based keywords can be a great way for small businesses to appeal to customers nearby. But what if you provide products or services for several different locations? That’s when it might make sense to create separate landing pages for each area you serve. This can allow you to optimize for different customer segments and give you more opportunities to appear in relevant local searches. Just make sure to create unique content for each location page, as duplicate content can be a big red flag for Google.
Devise a Link-Building Strategy
As a local business owner, you need to make sure that your site provides a great experience for visitors. But you also need to concentrate on how your site is perceived by others. Working on ways to improve your site’s domain authority can position you as a leader in your industry and strengthen your ability to appear in search engine results.
To do that, you’ll likely want to develop a link-building strategy. By obtaining backlinks to your site from other reputable site owners, you’ll essentially be receiving their endorsement — which Google loves to see. Those sites will pass along “link juice” to your site and can help you diversify and improve your backlink profile.
For starters, concentrate on creating partnerships with other business owners in your area. Find some organizations in related industries (rather than direct competitors) and propose some kind of arrangement that might include a backlink to your site or other types of promotion. Guest posts, industry round-ups, business spotlight features, and other types of content can allow you to communicate your expertise (e.g., provide value to readers) while building links. You can always work with an SEO reseller company to create content for these opportunities or to locate site publishers who could benefit from what you have to offer.
It’s not always easy to compete when you operate an independent business. But with these tips in mind, you’ll be in a great position to improve your site rankings in 2021.