Some small businesses dream of inventing the big idea that appeals to a worldwide customer base. But others are more limited in their prospective customers by the type of business, or a brick and mortar location. A restaurant would be a good example. Although you can expand your capacity through delivery services, most of your business might come from hungry customers who walk through your door.
A cleaning service is another example of limited geographic service capability. Despite the number of cleaning professionals you have on staff, there is still a limited area you can serve. For these businesses, there is no need to have a large scale marketing effort in place, but you do need to find better ways to make people in your target area aware of what you offer. This is where the concept of local search optimization comes into play.
Compared to general search engine optimization, which increases responses in wide-ranging searches, local search increases responsiveness to typed-in or voice-activated localized requests to “find a restaurant near me” or “search for cleaning services in my town.” Although local SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, begins with the premise of using keywords, it is also aimed at linking your business to a specific geographic location:
• Take Care of Your Website: Do everything you can to start the optimization process with your own website. Check keywords, meta data, SEO practices, and contact information to confirm consistency.
• Local Keywords: To increase foot traffic or phone calls to your local business, include location details in all your online marketing efforts. Your address must be very prominent on your website, but make sure you include your city as often as possible in your blogs and social media posts.
• Local Websites: Look for websites that promote local businesses and find out how to get listed on them. This helps you communicate to potential customers who use those sites as their first step in the search process.
• Local Influencers: Are there local social media posters who could be beneficial to your business? These people have blogs, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels, or Pinterest pages which focus on local products or services that are of interest to your customers. Find out who these influencers are, study what they do, and then think of ways you might be able to tie in your business with them.
• Info Sites: Some prospective customers opt to rely on specific sites to find information about local businesses that can meet their needs. Go to pages like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google My Business, Facebook, Yahoo, and Bing Places for Business to claim or update your current business information, as this is crucial to helping prospects find your business quickly.
• Get Reviews: If someone seems happy with your service, ask them to write a review for you on the local sites, or post about it on their social media. Ask if you can use their reviews on your website and social media as well.
• Check Citations: Local search marketing citations are mentions of your business on other websites, like com, for example. It might also be something like an online newspaper article or blog post that includes a mention of your business. These can be important because they send out signals to search engines that your business is reputable. You need to regularly search for any mentions of your business to make sure the information is accurate, and contact the outlet to update it if needed. Google can be a great starting point to learn how your business shows up in searches.
To get a quick idea of how your business appears to other in local searches, you need to clear your browser history and cache so as not to contaminate results. Then open an incognito window so the search engine won’t recognize you, go to Google or Bing, and search as a prospect might to see how your business shows up in their results. If your business is not on the first page of results or isn’t even listed at all, you have got some serious optimizing to do.