by Mark Rogers
How many times have you asked a search engine, “what restaurants are near me?”
People are using search engines to find local businesses. If your business only operates in a small area, you need to be doing local SEO. It’s imperative to ranking higher than your competitors. The first company that shows up in Google search results is often the one that gets the business. Be first.
With that in mind, let’s get your marketing strategy and website in shape so that it’s optimized for local searches. You already know the importance of having a mobile-optimized website so I won’t spend a lot of time on that.
It is worth stressing that if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, stop what you’re doing now and get it fixed. Once your website is mobile-optimized, then come back and read this.
Let’s kick this off:
1. Local backlinks
I’ll start with the most important part of local SEO – backlinks. Yes, backlinks still matter in 2017. If you aren’t familiar with backlinks, a backlink is simply a link on another website that directs people to your website. For example, this link is a backlink for Visit Pittsburgh.
So, how do you get local backlinks for your website? It’s not as difficult as it sounds.
A great place to start is to find websites/publications that give out local business awards. Pittsburgh Magazine does this every year for area restaurants. Typically, these publications have some sort of nomination form that you can fill out. If you win, the organization will usually include a link back to your site. That’s one backlink you can take to the bank.
Another option is to host a community event. Every city (Pittsburgh included) has multiple websites that list happenings in the city. Most of the time, these listings will include a link back to the original source (your website in this case). Notice the links in this screenshot, they link to CMOA’s website:
That’s another link you can cash in on.
A third easy option to get backlinks is to offer student, alumni, or organization discounts. What do I mean by that? This is simply just offering a discount to different groups of people. Chances are, those groups will include a link back to your site. BIKEPGH is a great example of this. The page I just linked to mentions discounts to a bunch of area businesses, and it links to each one of those businesses. Backlinks for days.
2. Review Sites
You knew this was coming. Review sites (Yelp, Google Reviews, Angie’s List, etc.) play a big role in local SEO, perhaps more so than you think. Not only are review sites important for sales, according to Moz, Google is more likely to rank your website higher if you have a bunch of highly rated reviews on any of the popular review websites.
If you’re struggling to get reviews, it could be as simple as just asking. If your company keeps a list of customer emails, create an automated email that will go out to your customers shortly after they purchase something from you. In that email, ask for the review, and explain why you’re asking them.
If you don’t have your customer’s emails, you can remind them to leave an online review during the checkout process. Or, put it on their receipt.
3. Build your social presence
Social media engagement is a ranking factor for Google. There’s no doubt about that. Make sure to link your social media profiles to your website, and do your best to build up your audience on social media. Instagram and Facebook are the two best platforms for B2C companies, but take the time to decide if LinkedIn, Twitter, or any of the others are right for your business.
There are a ton of ways to build up an engaged audience on social media. A great way is to offer discounts/giveaways for customers who follow you or share one of your updates. Pig Iron Public House does this with great results. This one post had hundreds of comments.
I’ll sum this up in 3 sentences. Local SEO is vital for your business. If you aren’t doing it, it’s time to catch up. Small businesses that are effectively doing this are winning customers and making more money.
Mark is the Digital Marketing Strategist at Carney, a marketing and design agency in Murrysville. Mark is obsessive about SEO, content marketing, digital advertising, and copywriting. You likely won’t see him without a cup of coffee, his computer, and a pair of rock climbing shoes. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.