Definition & Research
Local SEO is a vital part of the digital marketing equation. Many times, businesses are laser focused on getting their idea out to as many people as they can, they ignore the people closest to them. Whether you are a local plumber or a global enterprise, local SEO should always be step one in your digital marketing strategy.
If you are a local business, you cannot afford to lack an online presence, in order to be successful in today’s business landscape you need to have customers be able to find you online and for that happen you need your current and past customers to be talking about you online. Gone are the days of the local yellow book, local newspapers are in a free fall rendering them useless, and sending mailers direct to customers often give poor returns and end up in the trash. Today, people are constantly on the move, searching on their phones for the goods & services they need on a moment’s notice. This all culminates to one idea: dominate your industry’s local search using Local SEO best practices.
Local directories used to be mailed on an annual basis and put in the hands of customers to find local businesses they know and trust. All of these traditional directories and more are now online workings in conjunction with one another to promote the best local businesses based on how the online community thinks about them. Interaction is king on the internet and how businesses react and interact to customer reviews and social media influence heavily on where your business will show up in the local search results.
Where to start – The first place to start is your business’ local listings. A local listing is what makes up the “Map Pack” – and is derived from your business’ name, address, and phone number. Again, there are a myriad of directories that track this data, which Is a blessing and curse.
The good part is that your business information is at least out on the internet being looked at and considered by potential customers, but you better hope that it is the right information. It is your responsibility as a business owner to go through these directories, claim your business listing, and make sure the correct business name, address, and phone number is going out across the board – otherwise you could be losing out on potential customers because they went to the wrong building or called the wrong number. On top of Map pack, make sure to have content that describes your business and service. Detail the industry you work in, all of the goods and services you provide, as well as the areas you service. This information will make it easier for customers to find you based on their searches and tells search engines what your company is all about.
Another very important aspect of local search is the role of reviews and interacting with your customer base. Reviews provide your past customers with a voice to speak about their experience with your business or an account of the services you provided them. They also give potential customers more information about your business away from what you may say on your website. “Guaranteed service in under an hour?” “No obligation estimates” etc.
This is all well and good to say, but customer reviews can reveal the true nature of a business or employees. Reviews also give a place for happy customers to praise your company and have a dialogue with you as an owner on these sites. By interacting with customers happy or upset, alike, you show them that you appreciate their business or show them that you understand their grievances and try to come to resolution if possible.
It is just as important to get reviews on as many different platforms & sites as it is to have your business listed on them. By having a diverse portfolio of reviews, you gain a broader visibility online, thus boosting you in local searches.
Social Media & Local
Your social following plays a big role in your local SEO profile as well. Most business owners are keenly aware of social media and its importance, but using it correctly and efficiently is the difference in an effective local strategy. Just like local listings, it is important to be present on all forms of social media and have a united front in terms of information, but businesses should also remember to focus their efforts where their customers are the most.
By surveying your customers, you can get a head start on your social strategy and know where to look before spending a dime. Just like reviews, your social media should be a place to interact with your customers, highlight good customer stories, and work through issues with dissatisfied customers.
For strategy (link out to social media momentum page) each site offers different advantages and disadvantages in terms of customer acquisition, conversion, and interaction, but covering all your bases with a uniformed information is what will bolster your local presence.