Local business owners have experienced numerous challenges over the past year. Simply being able to keep your doors open and retain your staff members are major achievements during our ongoing global health crisis.
But now that there’s discernable light at the end of the tunnel, you may be in a position to think beyond mere survival. If you’re looking to grow your business in 2021, you’ll want to leverage the power of local search.
By focusing on local SEO, you can more effectively reach target customers in your area. Not only will this translate to more sales, but it can boost your brand perception and position you as an industry leader.
To that end, here are five local SEO tips you may want to try in 2021 to maximize your success.
Use Location Keywords In On-Site Optimization
This tip may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many local business websites fail to optimize properly for local searches.
You’ll want to conduct keyword research to discover which phrases to target throughout your website. Picking the right keywords (particularly long-tail keywords that mention your location or service area) can allow you to more readily show up in search results for users in your community who are ready to buy.
Rather than trying to rank on broad search terms, you can opt for more specific keywords that accurately capture what local customers are looking for. As long as you make sure that these keywords have decent search volume (without being overly competitive), this can be far better for your SEO strategy.
Once you determine the local keywords you want to target, you can include them in your blog posts, headings, meta descriptions, and service pages. You should also consider creating an FAQ page, as this can allow you to organically use those keywords in a way that’s optimized for voice search technology. Since voice search is becoming more popular among mobile users, that means local searchers are more likely to use it, too. Using location keywords in FAQs and other useful content will increase the likelihood that your site will appear more prominently in relevant searches for nearby solutions.
Make Good Use of Google My Business
Another effective way to improve your chances of appearing in local search results is to take advantage of the Google My Business (GMB) platform. This free tool is easy to use while providing you with valuable “real estate” potential in SERPs.
Claiming your GMB profile and filling out all of the features available to you can help you communicate with potential customers and even appear in the coveted Google “map pack.” Providing Google with as much information as possible can allow the search engine to serve more valuable information to web users — and that will certainly be to your advantage. In fact, recent studies have found that GMB listings rank as the number one influencing factor for local SEO. In other words, you won’t want to miss out on this opportunity.
On GMB, you can include your location, hours of operation, contact information, products and services, images, latest updates, and more. Make sure that the information you provide is consistent and accurate across all platforms, including with your website itself. Remember to update your GMB profile regularly, too!
Don’t Forget About Listing Directories
GMB isn’t the only way to list your local business online. You should also explore other options for internet directories, as these sites can raise your brand’s profile and help your overall rankings.
Platforms like Yelp, Bing, Yahoo! Local, Thumbtack, Better Business Bureau (BBB), Foursquare, Angi (formerly Angie’s List), Yellowbook.com, and many others can provide you with the chance to list some basic information for your organization to heighten your brand visibility. There are also industry-specific directories that may be even more relevant to your audience.
When listing your business information on these sites, double-check to ensure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) are totally consistent across the board. Even small discrepancies can confuse search engines, so you’ll want to list all of your information in the exact same way for every directory.
Generate and Monitor Online Reviews
Online reviews are considered by many to be just as valuable as personal recommendations. But consumers aren’t the only ones who benefit from online reviews.
As a business owner, you’ll want to focus on generating and managing those internet reviews. Not only can they help build trust between your brand and your customers, but they can also drive traffic to your website and boost your rankings.
Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other review platforms provide a lot of potential value for businesses. But if your brand doesn’t have many reviews, it’s going to be harder for you to reach customers. Therefore, you’ll want to make an effort to solicit reviews from satisfied customers.
While you shouldn’t necessarily incentivize this feedback, you can and should remind your customers that leaving a review is a great (and free!) way to support your business. Sometimes, simply asking for a review — either in person or via email — will be enough to see results. There are even software programs you can use to automate this process.
Keeping track of your online reviews is important, too. If you happen to receive a less-than-stellar review, remember that how you respond will often matter more than what the review actually says. Always lead with your values, show empathy and compassion, and never respond in anger. Think of this as a great opportunity to showcase your customer service experience!
Ensure Your Site is Fast and Mobile-Friendly
Visitor experience actually has a major impact on SEO. If two sites provide the same products and a lot of the same information, the site that is easier to use will often win out when Google determines rankings.
That means you’ll want to focus on improving the visitor experience, particularly for mobile users. Because mobile visitors tend to look for local solutions, it makes sense that you’d want to accommodate these web users when optimizing for customers in your immediate area.
Mobile-friendly design should be standard by now, but many business owners may not realize the barriers their sites provide for mobile device use. You can run a mobile-friendly audit to determine any existing problems that need to be addressed. Overall, you’ll want to improve your page speed, remove any intrusive interstitials, and offer a consistent and easy-to-use experience across all devices.
Local businesses are crucial to our economy, but success isn’t guaranteed. By focusing on local SEO solutions, you can adeptly reach your target audience and achieve your goals in 2021.