Are you struggling to get your business noticed in local search results? Do you feel like you’re constantly getting buried under your competitors?
Fear not, because there are ways to boost your business’s visibility and get to the top of Google’s local search results.
In this article, we’ll share some simple tips and strategies that can help increase your chances of getting noticed and attracting more customers.
What is local SEO?
As the digital era continues to evolve, it has become increasingly important for businesses to optimize their online presence.
One of the most powerful tools in the digital marketer’s arsenal is local SEO. Local SEO refers to the optimization of a business or organization’s online presence for specific geographic searches.
By focusing on local SEO, businesses can increase the chances of their website, Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), and other relevant digital assets showing up on the first page of search engine results for locally based searches.
What is Google Business Profile?
Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free online tool provided by Google that allows business owners to create and manage their company’s online listings.
These listings contain important details such as business hours, physical address, website, phone number, and customer reviews. Optimizing your Google Business Profile is crucial to ranking highly on Google Local Search.
Benefits of optimizing for local search
Optimizing for local search can have numerous benefits for your business.
By taking the time to ensure that your Google Business Profile and website are optimized for local search, you can increase your visibility in your local community and business listings, making it easier for potential customers to find you and learn more about your company.
This increased visibility can lead to more foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar location and a boost in online sales.
But the benefits of local search optimization don’t end with increased visibility and sales.
A well-executed local search strategy can also lead to a higher search engine ranking for relevant searches, further increasing your visibility to potential customers.
So, let’s get you set up.
1. Optimize your Google Business Profile
This free tool from Google allows you to manage your business information across the search engine, maps, and other Google properties, making it easier for potential customers to find you.
However, simply creating a GBP profile isn’t enough.
To fully optimize your profile and maximize its benefits, there are several key steps you need to follow.
Begin with starting a Google Business Profile account
Creating a Google Business Profile account should be one of the first steps in your SEO strategy if you’re a business owner looking to improve your online presence.
This is because it’s a free tool that lets you manage how your business appears on Google search results and Google Maps.
To create your Google Business Profile account, go to the Google Business Profile website. If you already have a Google account, you’ll need to sign in. If you don’t, then you’ll need to create one using your business domain email address.
Before you start creating your account, it’s helpful to have all your business information at hand, including the physical address, business hours, phone number, and website URL.
By creating a Google Business Profile, you make it easy for potential customers to find your business using a Google search. By having your profile fully optimized, you’ll potentially rank higher on search results pages and Google Maps.
This means that potential customers who are searching for relevant keywords, like your business category, business description, business location, business hours, primary and secondary categories, and other search queries are more likely to find your business listings.
Fill out all necessary information on your profile
To optimize your Google Business Profile, you need to ensure that all the necessary information is filled out accurately. A complete Profile includes your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, category, website URL, photos, positive reviews, and posts.
It’s important to fill out every piece of information that’s being asked for to receive the maximum rewards.
One crucial aspect of filling out your profile is to ensure that your business’s NAP (name, address, phone number) information is consistent across all platforms, including your website.
Choose the right business category
Selecting the right business category is another important step in optimizing your online presence.
Choosing the wrong category can lead to missed opportunities because of lower ranking factors when customers are searching online for businesses in your industry.
Google Business Profile provides five main categories:
Each of these categories has subcategories that delve deeper into specific industries. For example, under the “Retail” category, you can find subcategories such as “Clothing store,” “Electronics store,” and “Jewelry store.”
When selecting a business category, it is important to choose the most relevant category and subcategory for your business. This will help people find you easily when they search for businesses in your industry.
It will also improve the accuracy of Google’s understanding of your business, which can positively impact your search rankings.
It is worth noting that businesses with physical storefronts are required to choose a primary category, which will determine their placement on Google Maps.
However, businesses that do not have a physical presence should select “Service” as their primary category.
Add photos and encourage customers to leave reviews
One of the most effective ways to improve your Google Business Profile and get more visibility on local search results is by adding photos and encouraging customers to leave reviews.
This can significantly help small businesses appear more legitimate, trustworthy, and appealing to potential customers.
When you add photos, your listings become more reputable, and studies have shown that adding photos can drive more clicks, ultimately leading to more sales.
Thankfully, adding photos to your Google profile is easy and can be done in a few simple steps. Once you have verified your business, simply navigate to the “Photos” tab and choose the type of photo you want to add.
There are many types of photos to choose from, including exterior and interior photos of your business; photos of your products, services, or team members; and photos of events or special promotions.
When selecting photos, make sure to choose those that best describe your business and are relatable to your target audience. People on mobile devices love swiping through photos, so you should make them high-definition and appealing.
This will help potential customers get a feel for what your business is all about and what they can expect from you.
Apart from adding photos, it’s also essential to encourage your customers to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile.
Reviews can help boost your search engine optimization efforts and improve customer perceptions. Moreover, because 98% of consumers feel that reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions, they can ultimately drive sales.
So, be sure to ask your satisfied customers to leave a review, either by sending them an email or by asking them at the point of sale.
Note: You should never buy Google reviews as this goes against Google’s best practices and could hurt your online reputation.
When it comes to responding to your reviews, remember to reply to both positive and negative reviews, as this can demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.
2. Use relevant keywords in your content
To get to the top of Google local search rankings, you need to use relevant keywords in your business profile. This shows Google that your content matches a user’s search intent.
Keywords are the words or phrases that people use when they are searching for a particular product or service.
As such, using relevant keywords in your content signals to Google that your business is relevant to a particular search query.
But don’t just stuff your content with keywords. Instead, use natural language that uses keywords in a way that is contextually relevant to the topic. Doing so can even win you a featured snippet if you provide fast and helpful information at the beginning of your content.
Research target keywords for your business and location
Specifically, you want to identify the most popular words and phrases that potential customers use when searching for local businesses like yours.
By ranking for these keywords, you can appear at the top of organic search results and Google Maps, depending on the type of content you create. This can increase the chances of people finding your business.
A good way to get started with keyword research is to use a keyword research tool. These tools generate lists of relevant keywords with high search volume and low-to-moderate difficulty (if that’s what you’re looking for).
For example, if you have a dog grooming business located in Chicago, some possible keywords to consider include “dog grooming Chicago,” “mobile dog grooming Chicago,” “dog grooming services,” “dog grooming near me,” and “pet grooming Chicago.”
These keywords are specific to your location and accurately describe the services you offer. As such, they can generate a high click-through rate among dog owners who are looking for a grooming service in Chicago.
Incorporate targeted keywords into page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and content body
When optimizing your website for local SEO, it’s essential to incorporate targeted keywords into key elements of your web pages effectively. The words with the most potential should be in your content strategy.
You need to ensure that your page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and content body contain the relevant keywords in a natural manner (i.e., without overstuffing them). Doing this will help search engines easily crawl and rank your web pages, which can increase your chances of getting found.
3. Make sure your nap (name, address, and phone number) is consistent across all platforms
We touched on this earlier, but it’s important to give this topic a little more attention.
That’s because having different addresses or phone numbers across different platforms can affect your credibility as a business, not only with customers but with Google as well.
This may seem like a small detail, but it can greatly impact how search engines view your business and how easy it is for potential customers to find and contact you—especially if your physical location hasn’t been updated and you have customers going to the wrong place.
Check existing listings on other platforms and correct any discrepancies
In addition to your Google Business Profile, there are several other sites where potential customers might look for your business information. Examples of such websites include Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare.
Because search engines try to avoid indexing duplicate content, it is essential to verify your business information across all these platforms and delete any duplicate listings.
Failing to do so can lead to decreased visibility.
It’s also crucial to ensure that your business’s NAP is consistent across all the platforms that feature your company’s business information. Discrepancies between listings can lead search engines to devalue them.
This can significantly affect your search rankings and overall online presence, making it less likely for potential customers to find you in relevant searches.
4. Get listed on citation websites
Getting your business listed on citation websites can play a pivotal role in improving your online visibility.
Citation websites refer to online platforms that display a business’s essential information, your (NAP), and other relevant details.
These sites serve as online business directories, helping potential customers find a business quickly. Surprisingly, not everyone goes to Google as their first choice when looking up a business.
Listing your Google business profiles on such sites can positively impact your search engine rankings, and organic search visibility, helping you generate more traffic to your website.
Find relevant citations for your industry and region
To improve your Google local search rankings, it’s important to make sure your business info is accurate and consistent across the web.
One way to accomplish this is by listing your business on relevant citation websites. The nice things about these sites are they help Google confirm your location and verify the legitimacy of your business.
To find citation websites relevant to your industry and region, start by researching industry-specific directories such as Yelp, YellowPages, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
These directories are tailored to specific industries and provide potential customers with a comprehensive list of businesses in that sector.
Additionally, look for local directories that are relevant to your area, such as CitySearch or Angie (previously “Angie’s List”).
Quality citations play a key role in improving your search rankings, so it’s important to ensure that your business is listed on as many relevant and reputable citation websites as possible.
By taking a proactive approach to managing your citations, you can help boost your online presence and increase your visibility to potential customers who are searching for the products or services you offer.
Online reputation management and small business services
If you want to boost your chances of ranking and add an accelerant to your Google Business Profile, you can consult with an online reputation expert skilled in working with small businesses.
While SEO and online reputation management (ORM) are not the same, they are intricately connected.
For example, Reputation Defender has been improving and preserving online reputations for over 15 years. We help small business owners:
- Get more five-star reviews
- Show up in local business searches
- Control what shows up in your search results
Optimizing your business for local search is a must-do if you want to increase your opportunity to rank at the top of Google local search results.
Your online presence plays a big part in that. If you want help with securing more reviews, improving your local SEO performance, and controlling what shows up in your search results, download our eBook, The definitive guide to ORM for small businesses. Also, grab a copy of your Reputation Report Card. It will give you instant feedback on how others see you online.
This post was contributed by Rockey Simmons, founder of SaaS Marketing Growth.