Everyone running a business with a brick-and-mortar location that serves customers face-to-face knows the value of a good local reputation. This is equally true with your online presence, where the quality of your local SEO can make or break your business.
To help you with this, we’ve compiled a list of 6 local SEO tips, ranging from the basics to advanced steps you can take to increase your SEO rank and generate new leads.
The Benefits of Local SEO
To start off, we should take a look at what local SEO actually is.
Local SEO is the type of SEO you do if you want to appeal to local customers. It means optimizing your site so that you’re at the top of the results page for local searches.
When it comes to local searches, Google offers two types of results:
- The ‘snack pack’ results
- Organic results
As you can see in the image above, the ‘snack pack’ results will show the top three local businesses most relevant to the search. Below those, you’ll find all of the other, organic search results.
For local SEO, you need to focus on ranking high in both of these areas. This will ensure you attract the maximum number of visitors, each one potentially turning into a lead.
Best Local SEO Tips for Lead Generation
Master the Basics
Before you start a more in-depth overhaul of your local SEO, you need to make sure you have your bases covered. The following tips will help you create a foundation of local SEO you can later build on.
Tip 1: Keyword Research
If you want to start generating keywords that will help you rank locally, the first step will be quite obvious. You simply want to use the ‘service in location’ (SiL) format.
For example, let’s say you’re running an SEO agency in Baltimore. The best keywords for this type of business would be something like:
- ‘SEO in Baltimore’
- ‘Best SEO in Baltimore’ or
- ‘SEO company in Baltimore’
To make the process easier, you can use a bulk keyword generator tool to help you generate keywords in bulk. All you have to do is enter your location and the service you provide.
Another good idea would be to look for ideas from other sources. Google Autocomplete can help you with picking more specific, long-tail keywords.
For instance, searching for ‘restaurant in Baltimore’ and looking at the suggestions shows all the specific terms you can use to appear in local searches.
Finally, it also pays to look at the competition. Using a tool like Ahrefs to analyze the websites of local competitors will show you the keywords they are using and how well they rank.
Tip 2: Google My Business
Claiming your Google My Business listing is one of the fundamental parts of local SEO. Optimizing your listing is quick and simple and will give you a great SEO boost.
To claim your listing, you first need to type in your business name. Once you start typing, Google will search the name in its database. If your business pops up, you can claim the listing, else you’ll have to create a new one.
Make sure you only type in your business name, without any keywords or extra text. Adding anything to the name goes against Google My Business guidelines and is likely to do more harm than good.
The next step will ask you to enter your address. This can either be the address of your central office or any physical storefront you might work out of. If you work from home, you can type in your home address.
You can then further refine the location by placing a pin on Google Maps.
After this, you will need to choose a category for your business. Just like with your business name, Google will let you type out a category and choose the most appropriate result.
You will also need to enter your phone number and website URL. With all these in place, you can now verify your listing and claim your business.
Tip 3: NAP and Online Directories
NAP refers to the basic contact info of your business: Name, Address, Phone number. You need to make sure your info is correct and consistent everywhere you post it.
To do this, you’ll have to perform a citation audit. Using a tool like Moz Local will let you know if there are any incomplete or inconsistent NAP citations for your business online.
With this data in hand, you can proceed to correct all the inconsistent citations and bring them in line with how you’re displaying your NAP on your website. This way you will be sure potential leads can contact you, no matter where they find out about your business.
On a related note, you should also list your business on online directories like Yelp or TripAdvisor. The positive reviews you get here will be a major contributing factor to how well you rank in searches.
More Advanced Steps
With the basic steps out of the way, it’s time to get more involved with optimizing for local searches. The following steps may take a bit more time but will have a great impact on your local SEO in the long run.
Tip 4: Local Link Building
Inbound links have a twofold benefit for your SEO. First of all, the more links you have to your website, the better you will rank with Google.
Second, inbound links show that you are a real and legitimate business and will increase your trustworthiness and domain authority.
There are a few ways to get inbound links. You can start by using local resources, like the Chamber of Commerce, trade associations, or other businesses you work with.
You can also look into writing guest posts for blogs on other industry websites. This will also help set you up as an authority in your field.
Finally, organizing local community and business events will help build relationships with business figures and influencers.
Tip 5: Local Schema Markup
Structured data markup, or schema markup, is an additional bit of code on your website that can make it easier for Google to rank it properly. Schema markup contains additional information about your business, like your area of work, the products and services you provide, and so on.
Consider hiring a web developer to add this data to your website. If you want to do it yourself, but maybe aren’t as skilled in coding, you can use Google’s Data Highlighter.
Tip 6: Optimize Your Titles and Meta Descriptions
Titles and meta descriptions offer visitors a first glance of what your website is all about. Optimizing these elements will both help your SEO rank and provide a better user experience.
For an easy way to edit titles and meta descriptions, Yoast SEO stands out as the most popular tool. It will help you optimize your pages in an easy and straightforward way and it offers a helpful preview.
To get the most out of these features, make sure you remember:
- Make your titles as short as possible, while also providing all the necessary information. Every character counts, and you don’t want your title to get cut off in the middle of the sentence.
- For the best local results include the location of your business, such as the area, city, or neighborhood.
- A title should only contain one keyword. Try to place the keyword as close to the beginning as possible.
Getting ahead of the competition isn’t easy in today’s business world, especially on the local level. Local SEO can be just the thing you need to get an edge and generate more leads than ever.
Make sure you cover the basics like claiming your Google My Business listing, finding the best keywords, and making sure your contact info is clear and consistent. These steps alone will give you a good starting point and a boost in SEO.
For even better results, build your inbound links and get into the nitty-gritty of your website with schema, titles, and meta descriptions. The more time and effort you invest in this, the better the results.