It’s no doubt the secret sauce that will help you overtake your local competitors is to show up in local search results. That’s it. However, few small businesses are making enough effort with their local search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy to dominate their local turf.
Here are some tips that will help you kick-start your local SEO campaign:
1. Set up a Google Business Page
Google continues to be the most used search engine. In fact, Google.com.au and Google.com are listed by Alexa.com as number one and two respectively among the top sites in Australia today. To get in Google’s good graces, you need to claim your Google business listing. One way of doing this is to create a Google Business Page where you can provide the right information and keywords for your business. The information you provide here will be shared with Google users across their products including Google Maps and of course, Google Search. Once your information is published, there is a higher chance of your business showing up in the local results. To create an account, follow these simple steps.
2. Create a Bing Business Place
Yes, there’s the other search engine that’s unlikely to be high on your radar. Bing is Microsoft’s search engine and it’s ranked in the top 10 sites locally, according to Alexa. Even if you don’t personally use this search engine, there’s a good chance some people from your target market are using it. You don’t want to risk being not found there. With Bing Business Places, you can add your business to the Bing Search engine directory. This ensures you show up in Bing or Yahoo search when people search for relevant keywords. Claim your Bing listing here.
3. Sign up to Local Business Directories.
Beware: not all online business directories are good for your business. There are some that require ridiculous payments, have broken forms or have no real traffic value. However, directories such as Yelp.com.au, Yellowpages.com.au, Truelocal.com.au and HotFrog.com.au are consistently on the list of top business directories in Australia. There are other sites as well that you can check. But just be sure they will give you the results you need. Allowing your business to be listed in all the directories that you find may harm your Google ranking – not to mention waste your time.
4. Get customers to review your business
Use your business listings to solicit reviews of your products or services from your satisfied and repeat customers. The reviews you receive on these sites contribute towards ranking your business ahead of your competitors in online search results.
5. Optimise your website
What’s the use of being found in Google when your customers can’t find your website? Get your website fixed! Remove all broken or dead links and update your information. Add local information like the complete list of your branches and their addresses to rank better in local search results. Include your address, operating hours, and other information on your contact page. You can also add this information to your website’s footer so that it is available on every page of the website.
6. Produce localised content
What I mean by this is for you to start blogging about anything local, such as events, news and community issues, as an inbound marketing strategy. Create unique content for the community you want to target. Work towards building trust, respect and high regard for your website and develop a strong link profile with authority sites.
7. Be social
Again I am emphasising the need for you to be active in social media. Use social media to share links to your website, products or services and your content. Links on social networks help search engines understand which websites are credible and should be ranked for what keyword phrases. Also, work on being recognised by your local media and well-known websites. Be the credible source of information for journalists who cover subjects related to your business or services. Contribute stories to local publications especially those with an online presence. Getting mentioned by trusted sites and personalities of your target market can help boost your credibility and help rank your business.
You already know that almost all your potential customers are now online. They use search engines to find the things they want. They go to online maps to check out businesses around their location. According to Deloitte, 65% of customers now use a digital device before shopping and 31% do so while shopping.
Search engines have long acknowledged these realities and that’s why they continuously adjust their algorithms. So be smart and know the rules of doing local SEO before it’s too late.
Since starting her outsourced national marketing consultancy Marketing Angels in 2000, Michelle Gamble has helped hundreds of SMEs get smarter marketing. Michelle helps businesses find more effective ways to grow their brands and businesses.