I talk a lot about local SEO and if you’ve recently updated your site, you may roll your eyes at the appearance of another article about local SEO.
I get it. Believe me, I do. I don’t want to sound like a broken record.
The truth is that local SEO is changing all the time. It’s hard to keep up – and I’m a professional marketer! I know it can be hard for small business owners to stay abreast of changes and keep their sites optimized for local search.
To keep things simple, I’ve put together this local SEO resource for you to use to get the new year started right. I’ll focus on the quickest and easiest things you can do to ensure that your local SEO is up to scratch – and that the people in your target audience can find you.
Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
I’m not going to go into detail here about Google My Business because I’ve written about it extensively before. That said, please don’t ignore GMB in 2020! An optimized listing is your best friend when it comes to local SEO.
Make sure your listing is complete and up-to-date. Add pictures and your company logo if you haven’t already and do everything you can to encourage people to review your business on Google. It’ll help – I promise.
Standardize Your NAP Listings
NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) listings are another topic I’ve covered extensively, but they’ve become more important than ever before thanks to Google’s Hawk update in 2017. Having even one listing that’s not standardized can and will dilute your online presence – so don’t skip this step.
Google your company and make sure that your NAP listing is identical everywhere it appears. Remember that even minor differences (Ave instead of Avenue) can cause a problem. I know this is a painstaking, nitpicky job, but it’s important.
Specify Your Service Area
You own a local business and that means you have a service area. Even if you can technically ship anywhere, it’s still important to let potential customers know where you are.
There are two quick and simple ways to specify your service area without overhauling your entire website. You can:
- Add a bulleted list of cities, districts, or neighborhoods you serve
- Embed a map on your site with pins in your service areas (or indicating your locations if you have more than one)
This easy step will ensure that potential customers who land on your site will be able to see at a glance whether you serve the area where they live.
Create Geo-Targeted Landing Pages
One of the changes included in Google Hawk is that Google made the target search areas smaller than they used to be to (at least in theory) prevent businesses from being elbowed out of search results. What I suggest is creating separate landing pages for each of your service areas. Here are some tips:
- Remember that Google ranks pages and not domain names, so there’s no limit on the number of geo-targeted landing pages you can have.
- Choose highly targeted local keywords and focus on one main keyword per page.
- Do not duplicate content too closely or Google will flag your pages.
- Whenever possible, link geo-targeted social proof to each page by including relevant reviews and testimonials.
Most searches these days are happening on mobile devices. Having geo-targeted pages will help you to take advantage of voice search, including “Near Me” searches that are relevant to your business.
Optimize Your Citation Pages
Did you know that it’s common for consumers to spend only a few minutes on a business website before converting? That might sound unrealistic but it’s true – and it’s because they spend far more time on citation pages before buying anything.
Some of the best-known citation pages are review aggregation sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages, but there are dozens of others – some of which are specific to certain industries.
To get a jump on optimizing your citation pages, check out this master list from Moz, which lists common citation pages by industry. Then, Google your business and make your way through each citation. Keep in mind that, in some cases, it may be worthwhile to upgrade to a premium account, so you can add images and make the most of your business listing.
Use Schema Markup on Your Website
Another local SEO factor that you may have overlooked until know is Schema markup. Schema tells Google how to display your pages when they come up in search – and it can make a big difference in how local customers feel about your page.
You should use Schema markup to provide potential customers with vital information about your business. Many small businesses don’t bother to include a ‘rich snippet” with their Schema markup. You can find more information about how to use Schema markup to boost your SEO here.
Focus on Reviews
There’s no denying that social proof is the name of the game when it comes to local marketing. The research shows that almost all consumers pay at least some attention to online reviews, with many giving them as much credence as a personal recommendation.
You should start with Google My Business because those are the reviews that people are most likely to see when they search for your business. After that, you should look at review aggregation sites such as:
- Angie’s List
- BBB (Better Business Bureau)
- Industry-specific sites
I suggest sending an email request to your subscribers asking them to leave reviews on Google. Link directly to your review page to make it easy for them to comply with your request.
Then, make it a company policy to ask customers for reviews. You can decide what makes sense. For service providers, the best bet is probably to reach out to clients when a job has been completed. For retail, you may want to have your cashiers remind customers to leave reviews when they check out.
For extra credibility, consider linking directly to your review pages from your website. That kind of transparency is something customers value and it will help your local SEO, too!
Getting optimized for 2020 doesn’t need to be complicated and you don’t need to spend a lot of time doing it. The quick fixes I’ve provided here will help you fine-tune your local SEO and grow your business in the new year.