12 Local SEO Tips for Business
Search engine optimization is a linchpin for a successful business in 2022 and is even more critical for local businesses. Local businesses have a more centralized market than national or international companies, and your success can hinge on ranking higher on the search engine results page than larger competitors. Local businesses have an opening, though. 46% of all Google searches are local searches. Customers want to support local businesses, it’s just a matter of finding businesses to support. These 12 local search engine optimization strategies can help your company climb to the top of the results page and make it easy for your customers to find you.
Google My Business
If you do nothing else to shore up your digital presence, you need to have a Google My Business profile and keep the information up to date. Google My Business profiles are free to set up and help Google identify important information about your business, such as the NAP: name, address, and phone number. The profile is an essential part of local search engine optimization. It makes everything easy to find for Google and customers looking for your company or services through Google search or maps. Oh, and according to Moz, the Google My Business page is the most significant factor in determining search engine rankings.
For help setting up a Google My Business profile and other local search engine optimization services, set up a meeting today to see how we can help your organic traffic thrive.
The Google My Business profile makes it easy for Google to provide customers with the most relevant results and give them the information they need. Just by setting up and completing a Google My Business profile, your customers will easily be able to find:
- Your address
- Hours of operation
- Phone number
- Business and product photos
- Attributes describing your business
Benefits of A Google My Business Profile
Including your information, hours, services, and contact methods are vital for local search engine optimization. These are the first factors many customers look for in local businesses. Customers want to support local businesses, but they still want convenience. They want to know how close you are, when they can reach you, how they can reach you, and what specific services or products you provide. If you are a bakery located just around the corner from them and open later than your competitors, a customer might rush over to get last-minute cupcakes for a birthday party.
Not only that, but customers want quality. They will look at reviews left on Google and include them in their decision. If one auto shop has 3.7 stars but yours, slightly further away, has 4.5, the customer will be willing to drive further to get their tires rotated.
A growing local search engine optimization trend is to look for specific attributes. They might look for black-owned, LQBTQ+ friendly, or businesses that offer delivery. Google My Business has many attributes you can tag onto your business to help you stand out. Many customers will look for women-owned or veteran-owned businesses to support. By adding those relevant tags to your business profile, Google can help you appear higher on those particular searches.
Another key ranking factor for local search engine optimization is online reviews of your business. Online reviews are crucial to the buyer’s decision-making process. 79% of customers now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Crazy, right? Trusting the word of strangers online as much as family and friends?
Well, these ‘strangers’ have insight into businesses that can’t be found on a website or Facebook page. Their unbiased opinions can shed light onto whether the products you sell are what the customer really wants and give your business credibility.
Why Online Reviews Matter for Local SEO
Reading online reviews can give customers a better sense of what a business is like. While an overall rating gives them a general idea of what your business is like, customers want to see the context for the rating. Do you have excellent customer service? How long do your products last? How quick is your delivery service?
77% of customers always or regularly read reviews for local businesses before they purchase products. 54.7% of customers really dive into reviews, reading at least four before purchasing. They have better expectations for what to reasonably expect from your company with all that research. They help customers feel more confident in going to a business, whether they are looking for a caterer or a new kitchen table.
Responding to Reviews Helps Local SEO
A recent local search engine optimization trend is recognizing and responding to online reviews. It shows that you listen and want to give customers the best experience possible. Customers want to see companies engage with them wherever possible. They want to know that you care.
53.3% of customers expect businesses to reply to their reviews within a week. It makes them feel valued and shows you are taking the time to recognize them. And do take time to leave genuine responses too, because 97% of customers who read reviews also look at company responses. If they see boilerplate responses, they’ll take it as not truly caring about the customer experience or their input.
Transparency Is Key for Online Review
Not every review is going to be good. Some will be downright nasty and sometimes baseless, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore or sweep the reviews under the rug. 62% of customers don’t buy from brands that hide online reviews. Your customers are local, after all. If you hide a review, it’s easy for the word to spread.
If someone leaves a negative review, the urge to get rid of it is understandable, but the best action to optimize your local search engine ranking is to recognize and address the review. Share your side of the story, and if something indeed went wrong, address it and show how you are working to be better.
Customers love to see transparency. Making customer reviews easy to find on your website helps build trust, leading to a higher local search engine ranking. Many customers will turn to Google or Yelp to read reviews, but making them easy to find on your website or the product pages themselves makes your conversion rates 3.5 times higher. Customer reviews don’t just help your reputation or give customers reasonable expectations; they also boost sales.
Zero Click Searches
Google and other search engines are always looking for ways to make the experience for their users better. They’ve improved the experience recently by making it, so users get answers to their questions without clicking a link.
Google is making it easier for users to get the information they are looking for, but they’ve limited the number of users that click through to websites. When users type in a query, Google finds the best answer and shows it directly on the results page. As much as 50% of all Google searches end with the user getting what they needed on the results page and never clicking a link. When users get these “rich snippet” results on a mobile device, it can take up more than half of their small screen.
Are Zero Click Results Bad for Local SEO?
While this is frustrating, the users who want one quick answer and never click on a business’s link probably wouldn’t have stayed on your site long anyway. They would have looked around your website for the one answer they wanted, and if they didn’t find it, they’d leave. Ultimately you aren’t losing out on customers; they weren’t going to subscribe to anything or make a purchase today. By leaning into this local SEO trend, you can gain an advantage.
If they click on your link, they don’t have to scroll through your webpage to find the information. The link takes them directly to the rich snippet and highlights it on the page so they can read the information around it and gain context for your answer.
You aren’t losing out on customers through this zero-click trend. Search engine users get the information they need easier and see your brand in a positive light. They’ll see you as caring about them so that when they need your services, they’ll think of you instead of a competitor.
How Do I Use Zero Click Results?
Creating information-rich snippets of content based on relevant questions will help optimize your local SEO ranking and that your snippet, not a competitor’s, gets to be featured. Even if your rich snippet isn’t clicked on, your brand name and website will still be shown, so you’ll stick in the user’s mind and become a trusted source of information in the future.
One way to lean into this local SEO trend is to feature general questions on your FAQ page, not just questions about your products or services. If you offer carpet services, answer customers’ common questions about what kind of carpet works best for each room, cleaning methods, and differences between styles. Creating blog content to expand on these answers and show your industry knowledge can also help your rich snippets get featured.
Not enough time to create rich snippets to improve your search engine ranking? Our local SEO services can deliver the content you need to help your business climb up the rankings!
Tracking Stock Online
Issues with product supply are no longer news with how well covered the supply chain disruption has been. A trend that affects local search engine optimization is the 800% increase in searches for “in stock” items. Customers know the strain businesses are under and don’t want the frustration of showing up to buy something and finding that it’s gone.
You can add products to your Google My Business profile and manually keep the inventory updated, but that’s an additional, time-consuming task. The most recent update to Google integrates product information through Pointy. It automatically tracks your inventory to give customers the most up-to-date information possible, so you don’t have to continually update it manually.
How Does Showing Available Stock Help Local SEO?
This tool helps local businesses have a leg up over the competitor on the other side of town and online retailers. Product availability on stores like Amazon and Etsy shows you the stock of items in real-time because they can’t ship products to you that aren’t available and create a sense of urgency by clearly showing that there are “Only three left in stock.”
By showing your current stock your customers will be more willing to buy from you rather than a large retailer. They’ll be excited to feel good about buying locally and not having to wait for Amazon to ship their purchase.
Speaking of convenience for customers, a local SEO trend that’s become more important every day is enhancing the user experience. Search engines want their users to have a great experience on their platform. If they recommend websites and content for their users that are frustrating and give them a bad experience, it reflects poorly on the search engine.
Google values websites that invest in the user experience. They know that if they send one of their users to a website with an excellent user experience, they will enjoy their time there and stay on the website longer, making Google look good for recommending the site. The main aspects of user experience that optimize your local search engine ranking are page speed and site navigation.
A massive factor in webpage experience is site speed. Customers and Google want to see web pages load smoothly for a seamless experience entering your website and moving from page to page. Over 40% of customers will leave a website if it doesn’t load within just 3 seconds. The longer a page takes to load, the more frustrated the user becomes. Luckily, there are some quick and easy ways to speed up your website.
Compress Large Files
Large media files are the most common offender of page loading speed. Compressing those files can drastically speed up your page without reducing quality.
Simplify Website Code
Simplifying your webpage’s code can also improve your speed. If your code gives the page four commands to complete an action that could be done with one command, it’ll take longer to complete the task and load.
Caching is the process of saving website information on a customer’s browser. When they return to the website, most of the data will already be there, so they won’t have to wait for the whole web page to download a few pieces.
Having easy-to-follow website navigation is crucial to succeeding in local search engine optimization. Your website navigation is the map of your website, and if customers can’t read it, they won’t get anywhere.
Customers love easy-to-navigate websites, and search engines love them too. Search engines index everything on your website by having a bot crawl through it, find out what each page is about, and map out the website. The bots go through all your links and use them to see how your pages connect to each other. Having a clear site structure helps the bots find everything and catalog it, which helps boost your search engine ranking.
Having a great user experience isn’t limited to computers, though. It’s becoming more important for websites to have a great mobile browsing experience by the day.
Why Does Mobile Optimization Matter for Local SEO?
Over 63% of online traffic is through mobile devices now, and search engines recognize that. Google has started using mobile-first indexing on websites, meaning that when a bot crawls through and catalogs your website to determine your ranking, they are looking at the mobile version. So, if you want to rank well, your website must function just as well on mobile devices as it does on desktops.
Using mobile devices for online searches is much more convenient. People would rather grab their phone right next to them to see why penguins carry eggs on their feet or search for a new purse rather than get out their laptop, wait for it to turn on, and conduct their search.
Making Purchases on Mobile Devices
Users aren’t just conducting searches on mobile devices, though. They are looking through websites, looking for businesses near them, and even making purchases.
Not long ago, customers were skeptical of the security of making a purchase on their phone, but these days they are very comfortable with it. 40% of all e-commerce is done on mobile devices now, and nearly 80% of smartphone users have purchased on their mobile devices in the last six months.
Customers are used to making payments on apps, marking reservations online, and arranging deliveries without phone calls. To have a website optimized for local SEO your site can’t just look good, it must work well and make things easy for your customers.
When optimizing your site for mobile use, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Websites look very different on mobile devices than they do on a desktop. The website needs a vertical format rather than a horizontal one, and the text needs to be larger. If you leave the text the same size, it will be too small to read on a small screen. For navigation, it’s best practice to keep the menu navigation unless the customer hits the button that asks explicitly to see the menu. Space on the tiny screen is valuable, so keeping everything as compact as possible is best.
Because mobile sites operate through touch screens, your mobile site needs to make that more convenient. Drop-down menus, number pads, and the ability to scan a credit card all help make the mobile process easier.
Website design and functionality are essential local search engine optimization services. Check out what we can do for you to make sure your website is ready to go live!
So not only are customers conducting searches on mobile devices, but they are searching through voice commands. A local SEO trend gaining more traction than people realize is customers conducting searches through Siri, Alexa, and other voice command technologies.
Do People Actually Use Voice Search?
It wasn’t long ago that voice command technology couldn’t get a single word right. Now, it’s common for devices to be accurate 95% of the time, making them much more convenient.
But doesn’t it take time to correct it when it is wrong? Sure, but mistakes are so rare now that it’s worth telling Siri to text your friends your ETA or ask it to find the nearest hardware store. Especially when the average person types 35 words a minute but speaks 130 words a minute. If you feel like it’s more efficient, it’s because it is! Almost four times faster. That’s why half of smartphone users are using this feature now.
Voice search is becoming more and more common. It’s not just an every once in a while use either. 41% of adults use voice search every day, and it is even more accurate for younger users. 55% of teenagers, less skeptical of voice command technology because they don’t remember its infancy, conduct voice searches daily.
How Voice Search Affects Local SEO
The most significant difference between typed and voice searches? With typed queries, you can see many different results. When you ask a Google Home for a nearby paint store, it only reads you the TOP result. Ranking number two or three doesn’t matter. You get passed over.
To rank high in for local voice searches, it’s best to focus your efforts on long-tailed keywords specific to your business. When people conduct voice searches, they are longer and flow more like natural sentences than typed searches.
In a typed search, users are likely to keep it short, like “plant shop near me,” while they will use more detail in a voice search. Their query might look like, “Hey Google, where can I get miniature succulents that are easy to take care of nearby?”
Instead of just typing in a few words, their query is a conversational question elaborating on what they are specifically looking for. This allows you to highlight key aspects of your business and rank highly for those qualities that people are looking for. Optimizing for local voice search SEO helps you target customers looking specifically for what you offer, who are more likely to make a purchase, and soon.
As Mother Earth has made clear in the last few years, between record-breaking storms, ice storms in Texas, and heatwaves in Portland, being environmentally conscious is necessary. We can’t put it off any longer, and consumers realize that.
A local SEO trend to be aware of is a 71% growth in search queries for sustainable goods from 2016 to 2020, and 92% of consumers say they are more likely to trust a company that supports environmental or social issues. So, if you aren’t on the sustainability train, hop on because it’s leaving the station.
Consumers want to be environmentally conscious and are always looking for ways to do it. One method they’ve realized cuts down their carbon footprint is to shop locally.
How Does Shopping Locally Support Sustainability?
Customers have happily bought products from large retailers for many years because of their low prices but are learning that many of these products involve oversea shipping, the sixth-largest CO 2 emitter in the world behind China, the United States, India, Japan, and Russia. Shipping emits over one billion tons of carbon every year. So, consumers are looking for ways to cut back carbon emissions easily and go around that by purchasing local products.
Customers want to be sustainable. 68% of millennials bought a product with environmental or social benefit in the last 12 months, so they aren’t just wanting to; they are doing it when they get the opportunity. As a local business, it’s beneficial to lean into this. The growth in sustainability-based queries allows you to highlight what you’re doing to promote sustainability.
How Do I Boost Local SEO Through Sustainability?
Explain your sustainability practices; whether you recycle used denim or conduct your own composting, dedicate space to it on your website. Engage with environmentally conscious groups and non-profits that have ties to your industry. Create sustainability-driven campaigns on social media. Show that you aren’t just talking sustainability; you are acting. Many companies are doing the talk but making it difficult for customers to act sustainability and not actually cutting their own emissions, and consumers can recognize them.
Most importantly, make sustainability easier for the customer. Asking customers to recycle their products every Earth Day doesn’t make the sustainably cut, especially when 91% of recyclable plastics end up getting burned, in a landfill, or leaked into the environment. Suppose you can make sustainable practices easier and more convenient for customers. In that case, they will be more excited to engage with you and ultimately be more loyal to you because of your dedication to the mission.
Google has also created recycling tags for Google My Business profiles so you can showcase your business’s recycling program. For example, batteries are difficult to recycle, and “battery recycling near me” can be a common search term. If your business offers battery recycling services, you can add battery recycling through the recycling tag, so your business appears in Google and Maps searches for battery recycling services. These searches will create more awareness for your business, but they will get more customers in your front door.
Want a local SEO trend that’s more than a trend? Video content is on the rise, as it has been for a while, and is an easy way to boost your search engine ranking. Search engines love to push up video content, and customers trust it.
Video is big. By the end of 2022, video content is expected to make up 82% of the global internet traffic, thanks to increased video consumption. 96% of internet users have said the amount of daily video they consume has increased since the pandemic. YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, after all. And owned by Google, so if you post a video on YouTube that explains how to properly clean a cast-iron skillet, it’ll more easily appear high on the search engine results page than an article would. Some research says video content is 50 times more likely to land on the search engine results page than articles.
The Google search results page can really make video content useful for users. A dedicated section for the most relevant videos even marks essential points in the video or highlights the most relevant section to the user’s query. This is only available for YouTube videos, though.
How Does Video Help Local SEO?
Alright, you get it. Video is big, growing, and beloved by users and search engines alike. But why is it worth the investment? Well, branded videos are crucial to the buyer’s journey. They capture the user’s attention better than articles which, let’s be honest, they usually skim at best. Customers stay on websites five times longer with video content than on sites that don’t. This, in turn, helps boost your website’s search engine ranking because Google notices that users are staying on your site longer.
Video doesn’t just help keep users on your site, though. It helps them convert. Landing pages with videos have an 80% higher conversion rate. Customers look to video content to get a better visual understanding of your brand, how products work, and your services. Hearing someone talk about it and show it sticks in their mind better than reading it.
Customers turn to video to help with their buying decision. 55% of consumers watch a video about a product before deciding whether they will buy it or not. 84% of consumers say they’ve been convinced to buy a product because of a branded video.
Let’s Summarize That
So let’s recap. Videos exponentially increase your likelihood of ranking on search engines. They also increase customer engagement and conversion rate. Customers actively look for videos as part of their decision-making process, and they are often the deciding factor in whether to make a purchase or not. Convinced yet? Especially in local SEO, where you don’t have as many competitors, video content can tremendously boost your profile and give you an edge over your competitors, making you the go-to for services in your area.
Quite possibly the most crucial local SEO trend, which is at the heart of what search engine optimization is all about, is more focus on user intent. Search engine users are more specific with their searches, emphasizing whether they want an answer to a question or are ready to buy. “Buy now” searches have increased by 500% recently, so search engines want to give them content that will. Customers won’t stay on your website long or convert if they don’t quickly and easily find what they are looking for.
Google and other search engines are making more effort to recognize what a user is trying to accomplish in their query. They put more focus on phrases like “near me,” “buy now,” or “how to” to identify what type of content a user is looking for and deliver that rather than giving them videos that give safety tips for saws when they are looking for the nearest store that sells saws.
Search intent doesn’t have to mean discerning between customers ready to buy now and those that need to learn more or are just looking to have a specific question answered. It includes people looking for specific categories of businesses like woman-owned, black-owned, eco-friendly, or delivery. Maybe they aren’t just looking for good ice cream; they are looking for an ice cream shop that supports the LGBTQ+ community.
How DO I Use Search Intent to Improve My Local SEO Ranking?
A key aspect of local search engine optimization is emphasizing what you stand for and your mission. Earlier, we discussed using attributes on Google My Business profiles, and those attributes can help your business stand out from your competitors. Customers search with the intent of not just finding a service or the best price but supporting causes they believe in. With attacks going on against minority businesses, customers may want to support Asian-owned businesses where they can instead of just finding the lowest prices.
Google attributes help, but you can make your mission more prominent by discussing why you follow that mission and any organizations you work with. Maybe you sell hand-carved wood furniture, but you work with shelters to help the homeless population in your community. If customers see a business that supports a cause that resonates with them, you’ll have a customer more loyal than any sale or offer could find.
You are a local business, after all! Including content focusing on your local will help you rank higher in your city or neighborhood searches. Yes, including your address is a massive part of this, but building content that focuses on your community is crucial to showing customers you aren’t just a business but a part of the community.
Customers don’t just search for cities. They also look for neighborhoods. Building website content about your place in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood of Atlanta or La Cienega Heights in Los Angeles will give you more credibility and help you sit on top of the search results page in these highly targeted searches. If customers are looking for jewelry in Beacon Hill of Boston, you could be the go-to store.
In addition to making sure your business is listed on Google, find local business directories to include yourself in. Having your business references in relevant local directories boosts your business’s credibility in the eyes of Google and is a simple way to get backlinks to your website. It’s also helpful to have local sources recommend your business in addition to search engines.
In a world of digital convenience, it’s vital to make things as easy for the customer as possible. They want to be able to find you, learn about your business, and communicate with you in the first place they can pull up. Utilizing an omnichannel marketing strategy will help unify your messaging and make it easy for customers to reach out to you.
A Unified Message
Omnichannel marketing is a strategy for keeping your messages consistent across multiple media channels. An omnichannel strategy helps keep the message across all communication mediums with your customers by creating key phrases to use, specific wording, and tone for all your content.
It can be easy for your message to become confusing and tangled on your website, Facebook, Instagram, and third-party websites, especially when you might be using all those platforms a little differently from the others. Implementing an omnichannel strategy helps give you a reference point of what to say and how to say it.
How Does Omnichannel Marketing Help Local SEO?
Consistent messaging is crucial because many customers won’t just look at your business in one place. They’ll find you on Google, hop onto your website, open up your Pinterest page, and look you up on Yelp all in a matter of minutes. If your message is inconsistent, it could easily confuse potential customers and turn them off to your business. Transparent, consistent messaging will make your business look professional and well put together.
As you may have guessed, it also helps local search engine optimization. Creating a consistent message and targeting specific keywords in your message makes you more appealing to search engines. Spreading your presence across multiple websites, rather than just having a website or Facebook page, boosts your credibility through more links to your website and more ways to be reached.
It also strengthens your hold on specific keyword searches. If you want to rank high in keyword searches for “affordable kitchen appliances St. Louis” and have multiple channels using that same language, you’ll rank higher for that search term.
Using an omnichannel approach also gives your customers many ways to contact you. There are still email and phone calls, but an omnichannel strategy makes things easier because if they are looking you up on Facebook and have a question, they can send you a message right then and there. Takes away a few steps from having to find your phone number or email.
Yes, managing these additional channels is extra work. Mainly to give everyone timely responses as they probably expect. Having numerous ways to reach you will make your customers happier and more relaxed because you’ve made communication more user-friendly. If you are really worried about being overwhelmed by messages, you can always include response time expectations, so they aren’t expecting you to get back within an hour when you are busy. Customers are always willing to wait if they are given some expectations.
Local SEO trends are constantly changing, and to keep up with the changes, it takes a full, dedicated team. If you are ready to set up local search engine optimization services, reach out and set up a meeting with us today!