Don’t Ignore Local SEO if You’re a Small Business
December 4, 2014
Author: Andy Kwok

Find customers that are looking for your business and help them get to your physical location conveniently.

What is Local SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process to increase search traffic to your website by improving the ranking in search engine results. Taking this one step further, Local SEO focuses on delivering search results that relate to the searcher’s physical location.

Local SEO is attached to brick and mortar businesses. While Organic SEO strives to offer authoritative and relevant content, Local SEO helps businesses become relevant within a targeted location.

Google’s Venice update increased the location relevancy in search queries. Google has been delivering results specific to your location based on your IP address, despite searching from a cookie free and incognito browser. In other words, a general non-location search term like “bakery” will deliver results of businesses closest to the searcher’s location. This means that a smaller bakery due to its proximity to the searcher can outrank a larger bakery franchise.

Why your business needs Local SEO

  • Less Competition: No need to compete with similar businesses in the whole country for the same keywords.
  • Targets the right customers: Searchers with local intent are local specific who do not want to waste time going through nationwide bakery shops. Conversely, wouldn’t you rather have the one customer in your neighbourhood looking for your type of service than four customers from across the world that can’t get to your location?
  • Generates new leads: Draw in new customers that are around your neighbourhood deciding if they should walk through your door or go somewhere else.
  • Rise of Mobile Usage: Location is central to mobile search queries; therefore mobile phones connect customers with local businesses effortlessly. Most mobile searches have high local intent that leads to phone inquiries or in-store visits.

A Quick Guide to Local SEO Strategies

Increase relevance and validity of your business within a geographical region by following these best practices:

  • Find local keywords:
    • Use Google’s Keyword Planner and target your specific city to know what keywords local searchers use to find your type of service. You can also find out how many locals are searching for your targeted keywords. The planner will assist you in knowing what keywords are in local demand and what you should use to develop strong content that your customers are looking for.
  • Claim ownership of Google My Business: There is a high value of being on Google+ due to Google’s domination of market share in search engines. Complete your business’ profile, put your business on a map, manage all social interactions, and reviews in one platform. A link posted to your Google page will be crawled by Google first, which increases the chance of your online visibility.
  • Google+ and Website Optimization (On-Page):  Consistent presence of City / Province in:
    • Title
    • Heading
    • Content
  • Consider local idioms or figures of speech: important to acquire searchers using local lingos, ie: Big Apple = NYC or Sin City = Las Vegas.
  • Consistent citations: Links don’t necessarily matter for Local SEO but quality citations do. Citations are references of your business’ name, address, and phone (NAP) on the web are a major factor in local search rankings. Having structured citations in local directories such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, or Yellow Pages validate the credibility of your business. With Local SEO, the quality of these citations has an effect in determining your business’ authority and relevance.
  • Get customer reviews: Local search engines love customer reviews because online users love customer reviews. Arguably, online reviews play 10% in local search engine results.

A great example of what local SEO can achieve is one of our clients – Healthy Touch RMT – a massage therapy clinic in King City, Ontario. After creating a Google Business page and optimizing it for localized highly targeted keywords, the business saw a large increase in new patients. Appearing in the top results on Google Search and Maps brought over 500 new visitors to the Google+ page in the first month alone. Three months in (at the date of the writing), Healthy Touch continues to be seen online by customers looking for her business in their surrounding areas.

One last tip: The main goal of a Local SEO strategy is to get into the local results. But don’t just do it to please the search engines. The best way to achieve long term results is to start making your website for your customers locating your business. Build, connect, and grow a relationship with them online because ultimately, Google loves to deliver what search users love.

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