I just returned from a month in Athens–a huge, sprawling city with densely packed residential areas. I stayed in a cute little Airbnb in Kypseli, a friendly, diverse neighborhood with which I quickly fell in love. Within a week I’d found my favorite bakery, café and bar. I looked forward to morning coffee, afternoon happy hour and Tuesday’s farmers market. This was my community, and they graciously embraced me. It was hard to say goodbye when it was time to go home.
We learned a lot about community during the Covid lockdown
We learned how much we love being part of our local neighborhoods—being greeted by name at our favorite stores, bars, cafes and other local businesses. Community provides a sense of belonging that is deeply satisfying. This is why local SEO is so important. Given a choice, we all choose our local businesses. And Google lets us optimize our websites for local SEO.
How can small businesses grow their SEO?
Fewer than 50 percent of businesses currently optimize for local SEO. Optimizing for local SEO includes auditing your total online presence. It’s not just your website—it’s online directories, Google maps and Local Pack and social media. As a small business owner, if you’re not optimizing for local SEO, you’re missing opportunities to get in front of potential customers and increase revenue.
Does SEO work for small businesses?
A big resounding “Yes”. Optimizing for local SEO is important for every business. An estimated 46% of searches now have a local intent. It’s that community thing again that may be increasing in importance along with the cost of gas. We’re all staying closer to home these days. Boosting your local SEO is a smart business investment.
1. Create and optimize your Google Business Profile (GBP)
Get your clients to review you on your GBP. This may be the single most important thing you can do to boost your Google authority. Google has totally gotten behind this page that used to be Google My Business, then Google Business Page. This is their latest iteration and they’re making it extremely accessible. You can access this page from Google Maps and other Google apps. GBP is free and it’s a workhorse, so use it. Upload your blogs, your products and services and images.
2. List your business on online directories
There are gazillions of them out there. Find those that are most relevant for your industry and make sure you’re updating information consistently across these directories.
3. Reviews are everything
BrightLocal research shows that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. Times have changed Even my 93-year old friend Bill is online and reading reviews before making a purchase these days. Reviews carry a lot of weight. Get your clients to review you on your GBP. Forget Yelp—it’s just gotten too annoying—we always seem to get blackballed for dubious reasons. Repurpose those great reviews on your website. Use them periodically on social media. I’m not an “endless self-promotion” kind of person, but sharing an occasional great review is manageable.
An estimated 74% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more. Research also shows that 84% of searchers trust online reviews as much as a personal reference. Go figure. We trust a random stranger’s opinion as much as that of a trusted friend. For better or worse, the better the reviews, the better your local SEO.
4. Optimize your website for mobile
If there’s anyone out there who still has a website that hasn’t been optimized for mobile, it’s time to get serious about creating a website with some ROI. This is a legitimate marketing expense. If you’re optimizing your overall online presence, you can expect this to work for you. Let me tempt you with the fact that an estimated 75% of all local mobile searches actually produce offline visits to the store within 24 hours.
5. Think local: Work “local” into your website content:
- Mention your local services in your About us page “serving the cities of xxxx”
- Your reviews: When you repurpose these on your website: Add their locations—not their addresses, just the cities where they live. All of these little details add up!
- Make sure you identify your location in your website’s footer
- Check all of your social media sites to make sure the location is correct and synched.
Conclusion: For small business owners who are working virtually, getting web visits and leads from users in a different city, state, or country may or may not help them build your businesses. But with local SEO, we’re increasing traffic from within our own communities, which means a higher visit-to-sale rate. For a brick/mortar business, this is critical.
For those who work virtually, we’ve proved we can do everything online. But sometimes it’s really good to meet a client. I just scheduled two meetings next week with new clients. This seems like a bit of a luxury, but they’re local. Right here in my own community. This is what it’s all about.
Contact Being Top of Mind to help develop a content marketing strategy that’s focused on local SEO. We’re writers and content marketing specialists.