SEO changes constantly. Small businesses need to keep abreast of the changes so that they can remain competitive with larger businesses. This is particularly true in the local SEO arena. Local SEO strategies for small businesses make a lot of sense. Local SEO is an area where small businesses can effectively compete with their larger competitors. It is vital that small businesses optimize their on-page and off-page SEO strategies for potential clients who are searching for their type of local business.
Here are some of the best local SEO strategies for small businesses:
- Title and meta description tags are still important. You can – and should – customize your title tags and meta descriptions for each web page. What are title tags and meta descriptions? They are HTML elements that allow you to tell search engine users about the content of your web page. The text of your title and description tags gets displayed in search engine results. Currently, the accepted length for title tags is 50 to 60 characters. Description tags can be between 160 and 200 characters. You want to be careful not to go over this allotted amount or your text will be truncated. Truncated text may cause users to search for another result. You also want to keep your text unique, interesting, and descriptive. If you don’t, your click-through rate will suffer. To include local customers, you should put the name of your city in your title or description. Focus on one target keyword and use it. Think of this text as a mini-ad so be careful when you craft it and have it make an impact on the reader.
- Get listed in online directories and citations. According to Google, roughly four out of five consumers use search engines to find local businesses. Many small businesses have not claimed even a single one of their local business listings online. This is a huge missed opportunity for local businesses, especially small mom and pop stores. You should spend some time getting your business listed correctly and consistently on top online business directories like Yelp, Merchant Circle, and Citysearch. You should also seek out reputable local directories in your region. You can find these by checking your local newspaper’s website and your city’s Chamber of Commerce. You should also get your company’s name, address and phone number, otherwise known as the NAP, on citation sites like Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual. What makes this one of the best local strategies for small businesses to use is that it gets your name out there more often and that will increase the likelihood of it showing up in search engine results.
- Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing. Google My Business is considered a directory, but we’re giving it its own bullet point here because it’s vital to your local SEO success. The good news is that Google My Business is a free listing. You can get incredible exposure with Google My Business if you optimize your listing enough to show-up in Google’s local three-pack. That’s the area on the right-side of the search engine results which showcases top local results. It’s a prime piece of search engine real estate. In order to claim your Google My Business page, visit https://www.google.com/business/. You will want to go through the verification process. Google will send you a postcard at your address with a verification code. Once you are verified, Google will know your business is legitimate. At this point, you will want to optimize your listing with a solid description that includes a keyword or two. You will also want to include categories for your business, business hours and location. You should also consider uploading your logo and several, good photos of your business, inside and out. Google recommends that you upload at least three images of your business for your Google My Business listing.
- Online reviews matter. Small businesses need to realize that online reviews are important. More than 80% of people trust online reviews the same as they would trust someone’s personal recommendation. The two main places where you should try to get reviews are your Google My Business page and your Facebook page. The Google My Business reviews show up when someone searches for your business on Google. If you get a negative review, respond to it quickly and show that you’re willing to rectify the situation. While you can’t eliminate the negative reviews, you can demonstrate that you understand mistakes happen and are willing to work with customers who are unhappy to make them less unhappy. If you get in the habit of thanking customers for good reviews and for addressing the issues in bad reviews, you will gain a lot of local trust. That’s important for your bottom line.
As you can see, there are many local SEO strategies for small businesses. If you focus on these four to start with, you will be well on your way to building solid local SEO. For more information on this increasingly important topic, we encourage you to visit our blog archives.