Local SEO – Strategies and Tactics 101
Local business SEO (Local Search Engine Optimization) is a technique used by companies to increase sales of products and services in targeted geographic markets. Whether it’s franchise locations or business with multiple locations, businesses target specific physical areas to sell products and services to target audiences online. Optimizing websites with local SEO generates traffic from location-based searches and increases awareness, sales, and brand reach.
Connecting with customers online as they search for your type of products or services in the physical area you serve is a must. It increases the possibility that customers will choose your business as the place to shop and serves your bottom line. As the search for local products and services increasingly starts on the web, if your business is not front and center of your customers, you are losing sales. From national franchised brands to local franchise shops, local SEO is the way to build market share and remain top-of-mind in targeted geographic areas.
Traditional SEO (Search Engine Optimization) drives traffic to websites through organic, non-paid search engine results across the web without specifying geographical location. Adding a local aspect to your online marketing efforts allows you to further target your customer in the areas they are looking to purchase. Local marketing has a geographical component that establishes signals of relevance around specific physical locations and identifies your business as a match for local business results.
Local SEO Checkup
Q: Does your website have NAP consistency across online platforms? (NAP: Name, Physical Business Address, Phone Number)
- Include your business name, physical business address (no P. O. Boxes), and business phone number on each page of your business website.
- Perform an audit on your citations* to spruce up your NAP consistency (*A citation is formed upon each complete or partial reference to your business name, address, and phone number online).
- Use tools like White Spark, Yext, Brightlocal to view your active citations.
- Remove duplicate citations
Q: Is your website optimized for local keywords?
- Research local keywords your customers use to search for your type of business.
- Include as many targeted local keywords in your web copy.
Q: Has your business been submitted to local directories like Google My Business?
- Submit your local business to local directories. This has a direct effect on your business’ SEO.
- Local directories to submit: Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yellow Pages, and Manta
Q: Does your website have interesting localized content?
- Include content that is local to your area on your website.
- Use a blog or online newsletter to showcase localized content in a seamless manner.
Adding a local marketing component to your SEO strategy allows your brand to benefit from national exposure while building your market share in specific geographic regions. Citations remain a huge focus to increase rankings. Google uses citations to include businesses in search results and local map listings. You want your business to show up in the right area whenever the right parameters are searched. Citations do not have to be connected to your website to be credited. The goal is to maintain NAP consistency and receive credit for your citations.
Franchises are great examples of paring traditional SEO with Local SEO. For example, let’s say a fitness franchise moves into a new geographical market. The franchise is well-known nationally but needs to establish a local presence with their target audience as the go-to gym in the area. While the franchise continues to run ads nationally, the individual location should focus on attracting local attention and new customers based on its physical location and the outlined tips above.
TIP: To take advantage of local SEO, a franchise should create localized pages on their website, be listed in local directories, and create localized content on their website.
EXAMPLE: When searching “Fitness Gym Atlanta Georgia” on Google, the following results populated:
The local SEO search results matching the searched keywords are highlighted on the Google map. The corresponding business names, addresses, and phone numbers are listed under the map in order of match ranking. Businesses must have citations and NAP consistency to be featured in such local results. Notice the first search result under the featured businesses is yelp.com. This illustrates the importance of having your business listed properly within local directories, properly using citations, and getting credited in paid and non-paid search results.
Local SEO Tactic List
Not sure you are tapping into local SEO? Follow these steps to begin the process.
- Set up your Google My Business and Yelp pages then optimize them.
- Optimize your landing pages with local keywords.
- Manage NAP consistently across all online platforms.
- Get familiar with your citations and manage them like a boss.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews on Google and Yelp.
- Routinely optimize your website for mobile.
- Post local SEO rich content on your website and include links to build relevance.
As Google becomes increasingly localized for products and services, your business should be front and center to take advantage of the increased traffic coming its way. Be in the top-tier search results, ads, and take advantage of retargeting with focused energy on local SEO.
Franchises have a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously use their national name brand recognition and locally show their involvement with a “Shop Local” message. Locally owned and operated businesses are many times favored over big box stores, so take advantage of the local SEO and local marketing efforts to increase customer loyalty with your brand. Franchise marketing plans should encourage local SEO efforts to ensure holistic brand viability.
Local SEO strategies are increasingly becoming a must-have component of a local marketing plan. Local SEO aptitude helps local companies gain awareness and reach within their geographic markets. It also benefits brands looking to build market share in specific geographical areas. Google shows results relevant to a users’ geographic location, so even if you are a large, national brand, it is beneficial to target local SEO as a local option to users.
Local business marketing and local SEO are incredible ways to connect your online customers with your physical business locations. Linking with customers online as they search for your type of product or service in the geographical region you serve increases the possibility your business will be chosen to shop. Showing up in search results is half the battle.
A solid local marketing plan establishes a clear outline of systems and processes to make sure you are taking advantage of all that local SEO has to offer: increased traffic, customers, and business reach. As a small business, a franchise, or a business looking to expand into new markets, local SEO is the way to tap into geographical segments and rank. Businesses that focus on local marketing campaigns and rank their physical locations within local search results are the ones garnering more sales, more of the time. Join the ranks and get your local SEO game in gear.