Internet marketing has come a long way in the last 10 years. Many of the once common online marketing techniques have become old hat and, many of today’s standard practices didn’t even exist back in the internet dark ages.
Such is the case with local SEO (local search engine optimization).
Back in the early and mid 2000s, the goal was to get website traffic from anywhere and everywhere. The more reach the better…quantity over quality.
This time gave rise to the beginning of the abhorrent internet “spam.” It wasn’t just about the selling of questionable products and services, it was the proliferation and sharing of information that not everyone wanted to see.
And now we have cats. Lots and lots of internet cats.
Although cats are cute, posting cat videos in the hope that they will go “viral” is not necessarily the best route for marketing your business (unless, of course, your business consists of selling cats over the internet. But please say it isn’t so.)
Even if you do get to rank #1 on Google for your funny cat video and people come flocking to your website, what will they find? If it’s not more cats, you’re in trouble.
The bottom line is this: your website is a marketing tool to be used for the express purpose of getting the attention of people who may be interested in or have a need for your products and services. Once you have their attention, you’re going share useful information, display your expertise and build a connection with them so they will eventually buy said products and services.
This process plays out a whole lot more effectively when the prospects has easy access to what you’re offering.
In other words…If your business is located in Minnesota and your products and services are local to the town where you live and work in Minnesota — marketing your offering to people who live in Southern California is a waste of time and money.
Local SEO, Simply Put
Your local business needs targeted marketing. Period. Having a worldwide audience is a nice thought, but in terms of smart marketing, it’s not going to put any money in your pocket if you’re a local-only business. You want the people who are mostly likely to use your services to be able to easily find you.
Of course, one of the most important things you can do in this regard is to make sure your Google profile is properly set up. People use the term “search engines” all the time, but really, does anyone go anywhere else these days when they’re searching for something online?
Setting up a Google profile, doesn’t just mean putting up your business information on the Google My Business page. Information must be very detailed, specific, properly categorized and showcase good, quality photos.
In addition to getting properly listed with Google, you’ll also want to:
Optimize Your Site for Local Search
Using relevant keywords, tags and categories to increase your search engine ranking for local search terms.
Optimize Your Social Media Channels for Local Search
You’ll want to use your strongest keywords and consistent location-specific language on all of your social media profiles.
Getting lots of reviews on Google and Yelp can go a long way toward not only improving your local SEO search engine ranking, but good reviews can help make it easier for potential customers to choose you over your local competitors. Never pay for reviews though! Focus on creating easy ways to encourage existing customers to submit a review, such as following up with customers by sending them an email link to your review page.
Build Local Links
This involves getting links back from other local websites that are relevant to your business. This type of backlinking is highly beneficial from an SEO standpoint. Google looks very favorably on local businesses that get endorsed by other reputable businesses and gives it a more authoritative rating.
Get Cited in a Directory
Citations are another important factor to local SEO. A citation is simply a reference on another site of your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP). You could create a Google Alert or use a service like Mention to see if your business is listed anywhere, and you can then go to those directories to incorrect information. Additionally, you can get help from an SEO specialist to help you build citations on various sites.