The mantra of the Internet used to be “go global.” As more people switch to mobile surfing, though, more business leaders are saying “go local.” After all, more than 80 percent of smartphone shoppers say they use local search. More people conduct “near me” searches, so local SEO strategy is important for businesses of all stripes.
Whether you’re a Trade School, College or an eCommerce store, you need a local SEO strategy. Many business leaders feel a little overwhelmed by local SEO. After all, you may not be confident your regular SEO strategy is working. Now you need to tailor it for a local audience?
Don’t let local SEO get the better of your business. This local SEO guide has the best tips and tricks for creating or improving a winning strategy.
Keep Your NAP Updated Everywhere
One of the easiest ways to improve SEO for a local audience is to look after your NAP. NAP is an acronym that stands for:
- Phone number
Essentially, these are your school’s most vital information. If someone wants to look you up, they want to know your name, where you’re located, and how they can contact you.
You’ll likely keep this information up to date on your own website. The details may change across platforms. Are you using the same business name on LinkedIn and Facebook?
The situation may change even more as you find your business in online directories. Did someone else add your business to Yelp? If so, they may not have listed your name correctly, or they may have left off your phone number.
You also need to make sure these entries are up to date. If you moved recently, you may have updated your own social profiles and website. Other websites still show your old address, so it’s time to update.
Why Does it Matter?
Not everyone who searches for your business will find you through your website or Facebook page. Someone may look at an online directory that’s outdated. They end up going to the wrong place or contacting a different business with a similar name.
Keep in mind that search engines may rank pages from online directories higher than your own website.
Most importantly, a consistent NAP across the web improves your authority and trustworthiness. People can be sure they’re contacting the right business when they look you up.
Google is in the business of providing the most up-to-date and accurate information to its users. Ensuring your NAP is consistent keeps Google and your customers happy.
Claim Your Google My Business
Google does look at other online directories and your website. The search engine giant prioritizes information in its My Business directory though. Google uses My Business to inform its Local 3-Pack and other search results.
Your best bet to improve your local SEO is to claim your Google My Business account. Simply head to the business page and begin setting up your account. You’ll need to select your business or add your correct details.
Once you’ve set up an account, Google will mail a code to your address. This verifies your account. The process takes a couple of weeks to complete.
When you receive verification, you can add information to complete your business profile. You’ll want to include:
- Your opening and closing hours
- Your training and services
- Images of your location and classes or services
You may also want to claim your short URL.
Once you’ve filled in your profile, make sure to keep it up to date. If your hours change seasonally, be sure to update them in Google. If you move or change phone numbers, it’s time to add the new information to your My Business page.
Get Some Reviews
One of the features of Google My Business is user reviews. Students can sign in and leave a review of your business, which can then be read by other prospects.
Reviews are key for local SEO, because they provide what’s known as social proof. People are far more likely to buy a product or sign up for a service that’s recommended by other people.
Of course, you can begin soliciting reviews before you set up your Google My Business page. Students reviews help your website rank as well, so you want to include some on your own domain.
How do you get reviews? It’s often as easy as asking for one. Add a button to your website that asks people to leave a review, or have people fill out a feedback form in-store.
It’s even easy to ask in an email or by printing a reminder on a receipt. You can also offer an incentive to customers who do leave online reviews.
Manage Your Online Reputation
Reviews are important to provide social proof for future customers. What happens if you get a negative review? An unhappy student may decide to vent on your My Business page.
Don’t panic if you get a bad review. School owners worry about bad reviews, but they provide opportunities to engage your customers.
If someone’s unhappy with the service or product they received, respond to their review in a measured way. Ask them how you could improve or make the situation right for them.
This is a two-pronged strategy. First, you get the chance to make things right with a customer who wasn’t satisfied.
Resolving their concerns may change their opinion of your business. It may even turn them into a lifelong customer.
Your response also shows other prospective customers that you do pay attention to and care about customer complaints. Responding with an offer to make things right helps your prospects see that you go the extra mile.
In this way, you can manage your online reputation more effectively. While this doesn’t contribute directly to your local SEO, it does help you deliver great customer service. In turn, that can boost your reputation.
Add Some Local Flavor to Your Content
If you’ve done any kind of SEO before, you likely know that content plays a big role. Most SEO consultants recommend having a blog. At the very least, you should be producing content on a regular basis.
Posting new content helps SEO in a few ways. It can give you new keywords to rank for.
It also keeps your page up-to-date and refreshed. Search engine crawlers will keep coming back and index your site more thoroughly.
Quality content is also important to your audience, which is why Google puts so much importance on it.
Content matters as much, if not more, to your local audience. To that end, a good local SEO strategy includes adding some local content.
You could include some local interest blogs, such as posts about upcoming sales or events in your community. If you’re involved in a local charity drive or event, you can use your blog to promote it.
You should also take a look at your keyword strategy and adjust it to better serve your local audience. People in New York and LA may both want your products, but they may use different search terms to find them. By homing in on the terms and phrases each local audience is using, you can create content just for them.
Add Linking to Your Local SEO Strategy
Another key component of SEO is backlinking. To raise your authority, you want to get some quality backlinks to your content. The more reputable sites link to you, the more weight Google and your audience will give your website.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that backlinks are still important to an SEO strategy focused on the local. The good news is that quality local backlinks can sometimes be easier to get.
Contact your local media outlets about guest blogging opportunities. If someone conducts an interview with you or reviews one of your products, make sure they link to your site.
Another way to get quality backlinks is to collaborate with local businesses or organizations. If you’re helping with a charity fundraiser, ask them to link back to your site in the blog post about the event. Team up with another business owner to offer a great promotion program for your local customers.
Avoid Black Hat Techniques
It can be tempting to buy backlinks or to use other “black hat” SEO techniques. This is especially true for small, local businesses. There may not seem to be many opportunities for collaboration or outreach.
Keep in mind that Google punishes sites that use these underhanded techniques. Get creative with your linking strategy instead. A great partnership or a creative event marketing opportunity might be right around the corner.
Optimize for Mobile
As already mentioned, more people are using mobile for their online search activity. The increase in mobile use has led to the rise of local search.
Think about it. If you’re in Dallas and search “Trade School Near Me,” you don’t want to see results about New York’s top-rated vocational schools. It only makes sense that mobile users are searching locally.
Since mobile users search locally, they’re the ones you’re trying to reach with your local SEO. That means you need to optimize your site for mobile users.
Google also noted the change in search behavior. That’s why they implemented mobile-first indexing. In essence, all SEO efforts need to think about mobile or risk being left behind.
So, how do you make your site mobile friendly? The first step is to optimize the design for display on any screen. Responsive design is a must.
Next, you’ll want to make sure the backend of the website is optimized for mobile. Lighter code and optimized images will load faster, which is crucial to busy mobile users. If your site doesn’t load quickly, they’ll turn elsewhere.
Finally, take a look at your web hosting services. Work with your provider to find out how you can deliver your website in a hurry.
Voice Search Plays a Role in Local SEO
Another trend to keep tabs on is the rise of voice search. Mobile users and people with home assistants are driving the use of this hands-free technology.
Instead of typing in keywords and search phrases, voice search users ask a question. The keywords associated with voice search are very different from traditional search.
Most of them are complete sentences or fully formed questions. Keeping track of and including these long-tail keywords will help you rank in voice search results.
A frequently asked questions page is a great way to optimize for voice search. Take a look at the questions people are asking about your business, and answer them in your FAQ. When someone asks this question, Google, Alexa, and Siri will be able to pull the answer in short order.
Team up with the Right SEO Partners
These tips should make it clear local SEO doesn’t need to be rocket science. It can be time-consuming, though, especially for busy marketers and local business owners. It’s also evolving, which means you need to stay on your toes.
Instead of trying to handle everything yourself, team up with a great local SEO provider. Their expert advice can help you create a better strategy. They’ll also stay on top of the latest trends, so you can be ready to take on the next Google update or adopt new keywords.
You can find the best local SEO company by doing some research of your own. Locate a few companies who have expertise in local SEO and talk to them about your needs. Don’t forget to read their reviews and case studies about how they’ve helped their customers.
Start Ranking for Local SEO Now
In the competitive world of digital marketing, there’s no reason to delay your local SEO strategy. With these tips in hand, you’ll be well on your way to improved ranking for your local business.
Need a hand getting started? Get in touch and talk to the experts now. They can help you with all your digital marketing needs and help you fuel your business success.