Small and large businesses have something in common; they all have a local presence. For small businesses, their ability to be found locally is their life. Larger businesses with national or international reach depend on their local communities for a variety of resources. No matter which way you slice it, local matters.
Local SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the biggest focuses for Google, Bing, Facebook, and Apple. They know that people have evolved their searches from “generic phrase” to “generic phrase near me”. While the Internet has opened up the world to our fingertips, we still depend heavily on local information.
How important is local search?
Did you know that 82% of smartphone shoppers are using “near me” searches? Most of them are choosing the first results they find as well. Sounds pretty similar to how you use local data, right?
We use local search when we’re looking for restaurants, entertainment, job searches, home services, and business services. Being found locally is key for any business that wants to grow. That’s why businesses — both small and large — should focus on their “near me” opportunities.
Beyond finding directions or phone numbers, this local data is published by hundreds of sites and data aggregators online and builds up knowledge about your brand. Whether it’s company reviews, business categories, or photos of your business, a profile is being created to help tell your brand’s story. It’s very difficult to opt out of these sites. Which is why it’s often best to take control and manage your brand knowledge.
How do I get started with local optimization?
Local optimization is best managed with a well-rounded web presence. Here are a few basics that businesses big and small can use to improve local rankings with SEO.
1. Build a great website (design and coding).
When it comes to building a great local web presence, start with your own website. Make sure that your website loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and the basic search optimization has been taken care of so that search engines can easily crawl it. When it comes to local and regular search rankings, a sound website is essential to standing out above the rest with your ideal user and the search engines that matter, like Google and Bing.
2. Add local information to your website.
Make it easy for users to find your address and phone number on your website. The footer section of your site is a popular spot for both. Not only does it help customers contact you (always important!), but search engines are most likely reviewing that information as well. In fact, Google Search Console makes it easy for website owners to highlight that information on their website with data highlighters.
3. Claim your Google My Business listing.
There are a wide variety of websites that provide local knowledge about your business. Google My Business is a division of Google that is responsible for publishing accurate local information. You probably use it on a weekly basis to find customers, restaurants, or the closest Starbucks. Claiming this listing allows you to take control of your business information. It’s fairly common to have incorrect hours, phone numbers, business names, and addresses listed. Taking control allows you to correct this information and drive customers to your business. Similar sites that provide local information include:
4. Control all of your local business knowledge.
If you have claimed your Facebook and Google My Business page, it’s time to take the next step in controlling your local web presence. This information is commonly referred to as “local knowledge” and it’s very important when improving your local rankings and customer experience. Google, Apple, and Bing use a variety of data points to help improve the local information (including directions) provided to local searchers.
There are hundreds of sites that publish information about your business. Ideally, you want to make sure that you consistently publish the correct name, address, and phone number (NAP). Most businesses should also ensure that the website published is correct as well (bonus when you’ve taken care of #1 step mentioned earlier). Momentum by Marketwake helps claim, correct, and protect those local resources within a matter of minutes.
5. Request reviews from your loyal customers.
Customer reviews continue to grow in weight when it comes to business’s local presence. Rather than stick your head in the sand and wait for the next review, proactively reach out to your customers and request feedback. When you run a great business, your customers will be more than happy to leave a positive review.
Bad reviews happen for everyone. Most people leave a bad review when they’ve really been neglected. If you can request feedback from your customers proactively, then you are more likely to receive great reviews and bury the occasional negative one.
Here’s why we love reviews:
- Requesting reviews shows that you honestly care.
- Your loyal customers can give you the best feedback, helping you go from good to GREAT.
- Reviews can help your local business rankings improve.
Your local web presence matters, whether your business is large or small, so don’t make the mistake of neglecting your backyard when it comes to growing your company.
If you want insight into how to get started, reach out. We’re happy to get you started with localization that fits your goals.