How To Promote Your Business Locally: SEO Techniques and Solutions
SEO techniques are in a constant state of flux. What worked last year may not yield the same results this year, and that’s especially true when it comes to local SEO. If you’re wondering how to promote your business locally in 2020, you’ve come to the right place. This article explains the top 7 most effective local SEO techniques you need to implement in order to outrank your competitors in 2020.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing websites for searchers seeking local information.
Think of an exchange student who is looking for a bookstore in a city he or she doesn’t know well. Such a student doesn’t care about bookstores that are 50 miles away regardless of how large their inventory is or how low their prices are. They are interested only in local bookstores, creating a huge opportunity for small business owners to outrank even the largest players on the market and attract new customers.
According to statistics shared by Go Gulf, 46% of the 3.5 billion searches that happen on Google every day are seeking local information, and 97% of search engine users searched online to find a local business. The growth of such searches has been fueled largely by smartphones and mobile internet, which have made it possible to use search engines anywhere and at any time.
Google, whose search engine market share both worldwide and in the US is around 90%, displays local search results above organic search results, in a dedicated section known as the Snack Pack, Local 3 Pack, and Map Pack. Local search results are also prominently displayed in Google Maps, and our tips on how to promote your business locally will help you rank highly there as well.
Top 7 Best Local SEO Techniques
Local SEO can be an exhausting topic, and it’s possible to write an entire book about it and still have plenty left to discuss. We selected the top 7 best local SEO techniques described below based on their importance for promoting a business online in 2020.
If you would like to take your local SEO to the next level, we recommend you partner with a provider of local SEO solutions like ComboApp, a full-cycle local SEO company that provides a full range of on-page and off-page SEO services.
1. Create or Claim Your Google My Business Listing
As explained by this local SEO case study by Moz, Google My Business signals (such as proximity, categories, keyword in business title, etc.) are the number one local ranking factor, so that’s where you need to start.
If you haven’t done so already, list your business on Google My Business. The process is very simple, and it’s likely that one of your customers has already listed your business. In such a case, all you need to do is claim the listing. Google will send a postcard to your business address with a PIN that allows you to verify the ownership of your business.
Having your business listed on Google My Business is arguably the most important item on any local SEO checklist, but you can do a lot more to increase your chance of being discovered by potential customers.
To optimize your Google My Business listing, provide accurate information about your services, hours of operation, accepted payment methods, parking, and other things your customers might want to know before they pay you a visit. It’s always a good idea to include at least a couple of images that show your business both from outside and inside.
When you’re done with your Google My Business listing, you should also put your business on Bing Places for Business so that Bing users can discover your business just as easily as Google users. In the US, the search engine market share of Bing is a little over 6%, which is not an insignificant number.
2. Sign Up for Local Directories
Local directories that list businesses within a particular niche represent a great opportunity to score valuable backlinks and improve your local SEO. To find directories that are relevant to your business, search for keywords like “[your city] business directory” or “[your niche] directory.”
Most local directories won’t charge you any money to list your business because they make money from advertising. When listing your business on local directories, make sure that all information about it is accurate and consistent.
At the very least, your listings should include your business name, address, phone number, and website. It’s also a good idea to briefly describe your business (it’s okay to use the same description over and over again) and add a few photos.
Some directories charge money for featuring your business more prominently, but they’re hardly ever worth it because roughly four out of five consumers use search engines for local searches anyway. If you stumble upon a local directory that refuses to feature your business unless you pay a membership fee, feel free to avoid it.
3. Get Reviews from Customers
Customer reviews are an important local SEO ranking factor, and they also make your business appear to be more trustworthy, making it more likely for local customers to buy from you. BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey revealed that 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and, out of those who read them, 88% trust them as much as personal recommendations.
Google advises business owners to remind their customers to leave online reviews and let them know that it’s quick and easy to do so both on mobile devices and desktop computers. The search giant also recommends business owners to reply to reviews, arguing that customers who feel valued are more likely to come back.
Confusingly, Yelp actively discourages businesses from asking for reviews, warning that those who ask may hurt their Yelp rating. The business directory service explained this policy in a blog post that links to a study claiming that solicitation leads to bias.
“Instead of asking for or incentivizing reviews, businesses should let reviews accrue organically. The best way for businesses to earn good reviews is to focus on providing excellent products and customer service and encouraging all customers to check out their Yelp reviews,” explains Yelp.
If Yelp is the biggest driver of new customers to your business, you may want to play by its rules as much as you can. If not, don’t hesitate to follow Google’s advice and ask your customers to leave online reviews. Just make sure you ask them in a neutral way and don’t encourage them to write positive reviews or, even worse, offer rewards for positive reviews.
4. Perfect Your Local Keyword Targeting
Since the rollout of the Google Pigeon ranking algorithm in July 2014, Google has been using distance and geographical location as important ranking factors. By targeting the right local keywords, you can rank above all your competition and drive more customers to your business.
To perform local keyword research, all you need is Google’s own Keyword Planner. This free keyword research tool lets you filter keyword searches based on location, making it easy to discover popular search terms in your area. Another great tool to research keywords for a specific geographical location you want to target is KWFinder. For example, when looking up search queries for the keyword “barbershop” in the Chicago area, KWFinder will get you not only the most popular searches related to this keyword but also provide an average cost per click for a paid SEO campaign in that region.
In case you want to compare how CPC and keywords search volume in the selected region differ from other locations, just change the region in KWFinder and you’ll get updated numbers. Below you can see search queries containing keyword “barbershop” in New York area and their respective costs for paid search campaigns.
Once you have researched and compiled a list of popular local search queries, you need to target them by including specific keywords in your website’s title and meta description tags, section headings, and, of course, the content itself. Make sure your meta description tags fit Google’s meta description length limits. You can use the Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool from SEOmofo to simulate Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
5. Have a Mobile-Friendly Website
Online searches, in general, are shifting from desktop computers to mobile devices, but this shift is especially pronounced when it comes to local searches.
A 2017 study from Acquisio revealed that 75% of all mobile searches that exhibit local intent actually produce in-store, offline visits within 24 hours, which confirms what many practitioners of whitehat SEO techniques have known for a long time: local searches can be highly lucrative.
In general, a mobile-friendly website is any website that displays well on desktop computers and mobile devices alike (dual websites are a big no-no in 2020), is optimized for readability on smaller screens, and loads quickly even with a slower mobile internet connection.
You can check if Google considers your website to be mobile-friendly using Google Mobile-Friendly Test. All you need to do is enter the full URL of the website that you want to test, and the tool will list any mobile usability problems that it finds.
If you don’t know how to fix mobile-usability errors, you can contact ComboApp, leading experts in digital marketing solutions, product management, app marketing, SEO and content strategy, user acquisition, and analytics.
6. Invest in Local Content Marketing
Content should be an integral part of your local SEO strategy because it can increase traffic to your website by hundreds of percent.
The main thing that separates local content marketing from traditional content marketing is the target audience. You should always strive to create content that people in your area are likely to be interested in the most. If you run a small brewery, for example, you can talk about the history of beer in your city, your brewing process, community events you’re participating in, and so on.
Make sure to include relevant keywords in title tags, meta description, body copy, anchor text, section headings, and alt text in images. If you keep producing high-quality local content—either by yourself or with the help of a company that provides local SEO services, such as ComboApp—it will be only a matter of time before people start sharing your content on social media and linking to it from other websites, earning you valuable backlinks.
Instead of waiting for potential customers to find your content via search engines, you can also target potential customers directly by publishing guest posts on other blogs or in your city newspaper.
7. Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search, the use of speech recognition to search the web, is one of the biggest local SEO trends in 2020. Around 60% of smartphone users have already tried it at least once in the past 12 months, and it’s estimated that the number of voice search users will increase to 122.7 million by 2021.
Compared with regular search, voice search users tend to use more long-tail keywords, and they also show a strong preference for conversational language. Whereas “best barber Central London” would be a good example of a regular search query, most voice search users would say, “What’s the best barbershop in Central London?”
As a business owner, you can optimize your website for voice search by including long-tail keywords in your content and adjusting its tone to fit the more conversational tone of speaking. It’s also a good idea to look beyond Google and optimize your website for Bing, which provides search results for Alexa and Cortana.
Because 40.7% of answers to voice search queries come from featured snippets, you should target them by answering specific questions in a concise manner. A recent study from Backlinko found that voice search results are typically 29 words long, so that’s a good number to target. To incorporate concise answers to specific questions in a natural manner, you can create a dedicated FAQ page or add a short FAQ section to each article you publish on your website.
No business in 2020 can afford to ignore local SEO. By implementing the 7 local SEO strategies described in this article, you can get a head start on your competition and secure a top spot for your business in search results. If you’re new to SEO, not sure how to promote your business locally or simply prefer to maintain focus on your core business, we recommend you partner with a full-cycle local SEO company like ComboApp and let experts in local SEO solutions come up with the right strategy for your business.
Simply call us at 773.305.0886 or click on the Contact Us button in the header of this site. Whether you need help with promoting a new website or an existing business, we look forward to putting our SEO experience and expertise at your service.