Nowadays, Google search results are the modern “Main Street.” Like a well-placed sign or eye-grabbing storefront can lure local customers, so can your digital presence.
But, as any business knows, there’s plenty of competition for the best prospects in your region. There’s a heap of scrutiny, too: 87% of consumers now use Google to evaluate local businesses. You want to not only be found — but also seen in a good light at a fast glance.
That’s where local SEO (search engine optimization) strategies come into play.
For 15+ years, Zoe Marketing & Communication has harnessed these tactics to drive traffic to metro Detroit and Chicago businesses through our sister companies, Metro Parent and Chicago Parent. In this blog, we’ll touch on what local SEO is and 10 top tips to bolster it, including:
You’ll learn how these strategies draw traffic and turn web searchers into customers. And you’ll find the next steps for improving your hometown SEO.
Understanding local SEO
Local SEO is the art of optimizing your digital presence to get more business from relevant local searches. Those searches happen mostly on the Google search engine. And they’re done by people actively looking for certain products or services.
It matters because local searches can lead to faster — if not immediate — consumer action. The goal is to appear prominently when folks in your area search for what you offer.
If you don’t, you can lose visibility, and, worst case, the business goes to your competitors.
10 top local SEO strategies
Localizing your website’s SEO is a layered process. These 10 approaches are key pieces of the puzzle. Even focusing on one or two to start can boost your rankings — and give you a platform to build on.
1. Optimize your Google Business Profile
When people “Google your business,” your Google Business Profile pops up first. It has essential details like your address, hours, phone number and, of course, reviews.
Claiming your profile is critical because it’s a direct line to local customers. Ensure your information is comprehensive and accurate. Be sure to regularly update it, too.
You can also build transparency and interest by:
Syncing up and displaying your latest social media posts
Including upcoming local events, sales or other community-minded details
Highlighting special holiday hours, if applicable
Be mindful of reviews, too. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive words. Respond to them to show appreciation and attentiveness. And do the same for negative reviews.
2. Leverage local keywords
Your website should include keywords that reflect local search terms. This includes not only what you offer (e.g., “best coffee shop”) but also where you offer it (“best coffee shop in downtown Columbus”). Use these keywords in your site’s meta titles, descriptions and content.
Identify keywords using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or SEMRush.
Pepper local mentions into content — including city or regional landmarks, titles or nicknames. Be sure to keep it organic, though, and not go overboard.
3. Prioritize mobile friendliness
60% of the Googling public uses a smartphone or tablet to find local products and services. That means if they find and click on you, your website had better display correctly!
Mobile responsive designs ensure your site looks and functions well on all devices.
Most web platforms do this automatically. Even so, always double-check your mobile display. Ensure font is clear and readable, especially on all-important “call to action” buttons.
4. Focus on quality content
Great content that answers people’s concerns and includes localization is a winning duo. It elevates your general SEO and establishes your business as a community leader.
Be mindful of it in your general blogs and pages, and also weave local SEO mentions into:
Guides about your products or services
Spotlights on other happy customers
FAQs that answer common queries
Tailor your blogs based on your industry, too. For example, a Chicago college could highlight the unique aspects of studying in the city, local student life and collaborations with area businesses.
5. Use local business directories
Add your business to local online directories and other citation sites. These platforms list businesses by their “NAP,” or name, address and phone number. And they’re often free.
Ensure your listings are listed, updated and consistent across all websites. Aside from your Google Business Profile, look into NAP options such as:
Local chambers of commerce
Nationwide business directories
List yourself in any reputable local resource to ensure more eyes find you.
6. Build local backlinks
Backlinks from credible sources, like regional media or business associations, can help local SEO. Engage with your community. And look for opportunities to get mentioned or linked to from these sources.
For instance, a local dentist in Ann Arbor could connect with local health blogs to offer expert advice, engage in health forums or look into sponsorship opportunities.
7. Write for voice search
Increasingly, people vocalize local-related questions to their smartphones or speakers.
The rise of voice-activated searches means it’s critical to use more conversational keywords and phrases that people are likely to use when speaking, not typing.
A museum might incorporate questions like, “What are the best exhibits at [museum name] this weekend?” or prompts like, “Directions to [museum name] in [city].”
8. Pay attention to user experience
A website that’s easy to navigate and gives a pleasant user experience, or UX, is more likely to keep visitors engaged. This reduces bounce rates and increases the likelihood of conversions. And both positively impact your local SEO. Here, strategies include (but aren’t limited to):
An easy way to navigate your inventory or services
Clean and clear contact information
Fast-loading web pages
Easy-to-follow calls to action
The goal is to provide a seamless experience for your web visitors that turns them into buyers.
9. Monitor your analytics
Use tools like Google Analytics to track your website’s performance. Understand where your traffic comes from and how people interact with your site. It can give valuable insight for refining your local SEO strategies.
As Zoe Marketing & Communications’ content manager, Kim Kovelle brings nearly 20 years of writing and editing experience in metro Detroit. She has strong roots in community journalism and a knack for making complicated topics make more sense.