Search Engine Optimization or SEO is used to help potential clients find your website. As a small business, your website is the base of your marketing and the best way to increase your reach. It is a lead generation tool and requires ongoing attention to ensure you are outranking your competitors. SEO is your best strategy to improve your online presence, and local SEO is even more important for your small business.
Unfortunately, SEO best practices tend to be a bit of a moving target. Google constantly updates the algorithms they use to find the best content to meet user needs. Here we look at the challenges of changing SEO techniques and why your SEO strategy must include local SEO to succeed.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO improves search engine visibility for local brick-and-mortar businesses. When you follow local SEO best practices, you improve organic traffic for those all-important “near me” local searches. Local SEO focuses on your location to ensure search engines recognize your location in relation to local searches.
A Constantly Moving Target
SEO techniques help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). When done properly your website becomes more visible to people looking for solutions your brand, product, or service provides. What always remains the same is learning how to use SEO effectively to not just reach top ranking, but to reach top ranking for the searches that will see results. One of the best ways for your small business to generate more leads and reach your various marketing goals is to use local SEO.
Local SEO helps you concentrate on your specific targets. When you combine local SEO with keywords and phrases that are the most relevant to your business, you begin to see results. Otherwise, your SEO is a shot in the dark hitting targets that are less likely to take the actions you expect. Your goal is to rise in the rankings to generate the right kind of traffic using a local keyword strategy. Ranking for terms not ideal for your business basically makes the traffic generated ineffective.
Quality vs Quantity
Keep in mind being in the number one slot isn’t always necessary. What counts in SEO is ranking well for multiple keywords that count. In fact, you can actually see success by ranking well on subsequent pages with a high clickthrough rate but less traffic. That’s great news for marketers who can’t seem to bring pages into those top slots or off the second page.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: The amount of traffic is not as important as the quality of the traffic. In other words, you can have millions of visitors and zero conversions which again makes that traffic useless. However, if you have hundreds of visitors with the right intent, your conversions rise even though your traffic numbers are lower. It’s all about quality vs quantity. Quality always wins out.
Constantly Evolving SEO
So why do we refer to SEO as constantly evolving? This has everything to do with the search algorithms introduced by search engines. These companies constantly change their algorithms to ensure the content they rank meets the needs of their users. Their goal is to always improve their user experience, which presents an ongoing challenge to marketers trying to rank well with the algorithms.
User Behavior and Social Search
In the past decade search engine companies have caught on to a very important factor in searches: user behaviors. Behaviors shape the SERPs a user sees on search engines. Adding to the mix, social media can also impact your organic traffic trend line. Looking at the past few years, it didn’t make a difference who was finding your content through social search. However, today, local SEO takes tweets, retweets, sharing, and other social signals into account.
Social search also prioritizes content and the people connected to your business whether it’s through a Facebook friend, Twitter follower, or connection through another social network. In some cases, social search even prioritizes content shared by an influencer. Social search understands your interests might lie in content your network finds share-worthy so that content is likely to get surfaced to you. Therefore, when you’re thinking about your local SEO strategy, you need to consider how your social media strategy fits into the puzzle.
How Do You Improve Local SEO?
As a small business, local search is your most powerful tool. To put things in perspective, 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. Therefore, if your business isn’t optimized for local search, the customers ready to shop in your area can’t find you. Local SEO is critical if you want your business to stay relevant to your ideal customer. So how do you improve local SEO? There are tons of ways including:
- Optimize for Google My Business (GMB) by completing your profile
- Engage on social media and add posts to GMB to improve social search
- Ensure your name, address, and phone number are consistent wherever they appear online so your location is clear to search engines
- Optimize online directories and citations to get your name out there to establish you are a legitimate local business
- Perform a local SEO audit to understand your needs for improvement
- Improve your internal linking structure to encourage visitors to get deeper into your site and find solutions to their problems
- Optimize title tags, headers, meta description, and content
- Add location pages to your website to make your location clear to search engines
- Create local content
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly to meet search engine criteria
- Get inbound links with relevance and authority to in turn improve your authority
- Participate in your local community
That’s just to name a few because search engines look at some unexpected elements. This includes site structure and design, visitor behavior, and other external, off-site factors to determine how highly ranked your site should be in their SERPs. Overall, you want to optimize your site for your local keywords, while also making your site very user-friendly.
“Search Experience Optimization”
The final piece of the local SEO puzzle is ensuring people don’t just find your pages but stay there. If you think of search engine optimization as “search experience optimization” you improve how people interact with your content, so they think of you as the solution to their problems.
Traffic alone won’t increase your “page authority” in the eyes of Google. Instead, it creates opportunities to take organic traffic and convert it into customers. By using a smart local SEO strategy you generate relevant traffic to your site. When visitors find the content they need, in a format that keeps them engaged, you will see more conversions.