Chances are pretty good that if you’re reading this right now, you’re probably the owner (or person in charge of marketing) of a local business. The last few years have been a rough ride for many local businesses, and things don’t appear to be getting much easier. It’s time for you to double down on what gives you the biggest competitive edge over the eCommerce giants of the world and the big box behemoths that have been trying to move in on your beloved local community. That competitive advantage is that you are local; you know the community you’re in and you’re right down the street from your customers, but how are they going to find you? That’s where local SEO comes in.
Local SEO is simply the whole cornucopia of strategies and tactics that increase your visibility in Local Search - like Google Maps, Apple Maps, Bing, and many others. The more visible you are on these search engines, the more new customers discover you and fall in love with your business. If you’re shopping for local business marketing services, it can be helpful to know what sorts of things are included in Local SEO Packages.
Local SEO Services
A Local SEO Audit
In order to measure the results of your Local SEO efforts, it is vital to establish a clear baseline. What was happening before you started optimizing your website and local listings? If you don’t know where you started from, you can’t accurately get a picture of how far you have come and to what degree your SEO campaign is impacting your local visibility.
A Local SEO Audit can contain many data points, and the more complete a report you can get, the better. At bare minimum, your audit should include the following metrics:
- Local Search Rankings
- Local Listings & Citations
- Website On-Page and Technical SEO Audit
Our Free Local SEO Audit includes all that PLUS Website Authority Score, GoogleMyBusiness Health, and a Social Channels Audit
A Well-Defined Strategy
Once you have your audit in hand, you should have a clear picture of what parts of your Local SEO are in need of the most attention. A well-defined Local SEO Strategy should address these opportunities for growth in a prioritized manner, allowing you to get some quick wins as early as possible and build momentum as your local visibility grows.
As a business owner, you might think you know what customers are searching for when they find your business. The truth is that a thorough keyword analysis almost always uncovers some surprises. You may find that there are some obvious keyword opportunities in your local area that you can target to gain an advantage over your competition. In contrast, you may also find that you could be wasting a lot of energy competing for a different search term entirely that doesn’t have the local volume or conversion value to result in a profitable return for your business.
Website Design & Development
Good SEO starts on your website… as in [yourbusiness].com. If you don’t have a professional and SEO-optimized website for your business, you will need to include the design and development of a strong online property into your Local SEO package. If you're currently using a Facebook Page, a Thumbtack Page, or a link to anything other than your very own website, you are creating a big opportunity for your competitors to outperform you in local search.
On-Page and Technical SEO
On-Page and Technical SEO refers to the optimization of content and code on your website to have the best impact on how search engines read and understand your site. This can include implementing schema, ensuring all images have alt-text, filling in meta descriptions; the list goes on and on.
Your business's GMB profile has a profound effect on where you stand in the local rankings (for Google at least). There are a lot of elements that go into optimizing your GoogleMyBusiness profile. It's important to make sure that you choose the right categories for your business with your market and competition in mind. Additionally, you'll regularly want to add new content to your profile including photos, videos, and posts.
Local Citation Building
Building local citations are a core part of any local SEO package. In order to increase your local rankings, your business must be listed on as many relevant and prominent directories as possible. This helps search engines trust that your business information, namely your name, address, and phone number, is correct and reliable.
Local Backlink Campaign
Backlinks are any link on the internet that links to your site, and ideally, links from a relevant and high-profile source. Acquiring these takes a not insignificant amount of effort, but the payoff is worth it. A wealth of links will separate you from your local competitors, not to mention increase the visibility of your site wherever it is referred.
In order to acquire backlinks, you will need compelling and high-quality content to link to. Content is a vital part of SEO in general, and local SEO is no different. Content strategy, keyword research, consultation, and creation can all be on the table inside a local SEO package.
Analysis & Reporting
This one is probably a no-brainer. How will you know how your local SEO efforts are making a difference in your business without meaningful analytics and clear reporting. Ultimately, it is up to you to communicate with your agency or SEO provider which KPIs are important to you. This will ensure that you can maintain visibility on how your business is improving.
Review signals are among some of the most influential factors in your local search rankings. It is incredibly important, therefore, that you develop a process for acquiring positive reviews, responding to reviewers, and limiting negative reviews on all relevant platforms... especially GoogleMyBusiness. There are different ways of going about this, from manual attention, to software tools, to custom-built solutions. Whatever the case may be, your business's review reputation is definitely not something that you want to ignore!
Last in our list is social media. While this doesn't directly affect your local SEO metrics per se, it can have a major impact on how local customers view your brand and business. Chances are pretty good that when someone searches for your business name, your social properties will appear in the top ten search results. These properties need to be attractive to your potential customer, and they need to reflect the mission and message of your brand.
There you have it!
I know that is quite the laundry list of potential services. In all likelihood, your local SEO package will not contain every last one of these services. The fact of the matter is, each one of these services will have an impact in where your business appears when your local customers are searching for products and services like those that you offer. The more that you invest into your local SEO, the more your business will stand out from the competition.
What are you currently doing to increase your local rankings? Let me know in the comments below!