For online businesses, investing in SEO has always made sense. If you want to sell something online, you need people in that space to find you. In fact, it’s the only way they can organically find you.
But what if you’re a local business with a brick-and-mortar presence? SEO is for you too! No matter what kind of business you are running, the overwhelming fact is that your audience will look for you online.
Whether they want to see what you sell in store before stopping by, wants to find your location (and proximity), or they want to know your hours of operation, today’s customer is using the internet to learn about your business. Therefore, your business needs to show up in search results to remain competitive.
4 Ways To Boost Your Store’s Visibility In Local Search Results
You might think SEO isn’t for you, or maybe you know you want to rank in local search results but just don’t know how. In this blog, I’ll outline four of the most effective and least complicated ways you can hack local SEO and get your business seen in your localized search results.
Number 1: Claim and complete your search engine business accounts
Have you ever been wandering around a new area and needed to find a good coffee shop for a quick break? If you have, there’s a good chance your first thought was to dig out your phone and check on Google Maps to see what’s close.
In fact, more than three-quarters of us use our mobile phones to search for businesses while we’re out and about. Gone are the days of stopping strangers in the street to ask for recommendations.
To show up in these drifter’s search results at all, your business needs to hold accounts with each of the main search engines.
So, your first task is to set up a Google My Business account (since Google has the largest market share), and register with Yahoo and Bing Local (for good measure).
All of these accounts store your business’s information like hours of operation, website URL, reviews and more. This makes it quicker and easier for search engines to identify relevant businesses for local searches.
If you don’t have an account, you won’t get seen. If you do, and you’ve filled out everything you can, you stand a much better chance of ranking highly.
Number 2: Encourage online reviews
Thinking back to that coffee shop search, there a few things that are particularly prominent in the localized search results:
- The names of local businesses
- Their location marked with a pin
- A 5-star rating system
By completing your search engine business accounts, you’ll have taken care of the first two. But reviews are more of a long-game.
All business owners understand the value of reviews to their potential customers. But search engines use them as well. In fact, review signals determine 13% of a business’s ranking in local search results.
Essentially, they signal your business’s credibility and indicate whether or not the rest of the information you give about it is true.
If you want to make your store more visible, building your online reviews is both a cheap and effective way to do it.
Number 3: Build online citations
Online citations are mentions of your business in online directories or on other websites. They have a similar SEO effect to backlinks and are particularly effective at building your visibility in local search results.
Essentially, citations are instances of your business’s NAP (name, address and phone number, or just your business’s name) that are off-page (not on your own website).
You can build your citations by using a tool like WhiteSpark to find the best free ‘structured’ citations in your country, or conducting outreach to build ‘unstructured’ citations on other websites. Here’s the difference between the two:
- Structured – any mention of your NAP that requires you to fill in a form with your details (e.g. Google My Business) or register with your details to create an account.
- Unstructured – organic mentions of your NAP on other websites, in guest posts, on social media, etc.
Citations, especially recent ones, tell search engines that your business details are correct (if they are consistent) and that you’re still operating.
Number 4: Blog about your area
Guest blogging for businesses and organizations in your local area is a great way to build your citations. But, your writing efforts should go deeper than that. You should be writing content for your own website and social channels that focus on your local area.
Search engines want to send their users to places that are useful to them. So, they want to know if your business is what it says it is, active and relevant.
If you write useful, localized content, you’ll rank higher in local search results.
Blogging also allows you to target longtail keywords, or keywords that made up of two or more individual words (basically key-phrases). Localized search queries are more likely to be longer. Someone desperately looking for a coffee in your area isn’t going to search ‘coffee’, they’ll type ‘coffee near me’ or ‘coffee in Brighton’.
By blogging about your business or your area, you can target these keywords and rank higher for the type of keywords your potential customers are using to find you.
Bonus tip: If you start to host a lot of multi-media content, you might find your website slowing down. A slower website will negatively impact your SEO and drive potential customers away. So, before starting a new content strategy, consider whether you need to find a better free or paid web host to keep your site speedy.
With more and more people using search engines to find the local businesses they want, it’s never been more important for brick-and-mortar businesses to be visible online. But with different rules to the SEO we all know and love (…to hate), it can be difficult to know where to start. Putting these 5 tips into action is as good a place as any and, before long, you’ll be beating out the competition and grabbing the attention of more local customers.
This is a guest post by Jodie Manners, a professional writer and editor working with UK Web Host Review. She translates dense topics into accessible information to help everyone from small and niche business owners to budding web masters to reach their goals. She explores design, brand psychology, marketing and tech. You can connect with Jodie through LinkedIn.