Local SEO Tips: Nearly two-thirds of all searches on mobile devices are local. In fact, as of 2018, Americans now spend more time on their mobile devices than they do watching television. In recent years, the growth in “near me” searches has not only increased but, for some businesses, it has skyrocketed. Banks, gas stations, and restaurants are the biggest winners but all businesses are benefiting from the proliferation of mobile search, including voice search.
Experts predict the importance of local mobile search will only increase over the next decade. Unfortunately, some local businesses are late to the game. In my experience contractors, real estate agents, doctors, non-profits, and Boutiques are not working hard enough to get their piece of the “near me” pie.
If you’re a business owner in a local market, here are three things you can do to increase your local web traffic:
1. Google My Business and Bing Places Optimization
Location. Location. Location. I’m not talking about real estate. I’m talking about your business’ digital vibes or lack thereof. Google is smart. In fact, Google does two things to determine whether or not they’re going to put a digital fence around your business. First, they crawl your content. This gives Google some context as it relates to your niche. Second, it finds citations, which is your business’ Name, Address, and Phone Number. Citations generally occur in local business directories, such as Yelp.com. They more often Google sees these citations, the more likely they are to carve out a geo-location for your business.
The citation Google considers the most authoritative is, of course, Google’s. It is shocking to me how careless business owners can be with their Google properties. In fact, less than 50% of local retailers have claimed their auto-generated Google My Business listing. And, 82% haven’t claimed their Bing listing! FACEPALM!
Generally, it’s as easy as filling out as many fields as you can. I’ll be preparing a comprehensive walkthrough video. (Sub the blog) In the meantime, if you need help, call us.
BONUS LOCAL SEO TIP: Get a Virtual Office If You Work From Home
If you don’t have an office, consider getting a virtual office. Here’s what you need to know:
- Is it a local chain? You DO NOT want a virtual office from a company that has locations all over the country. This is an easy footprint for Google to detect. They can shut down a whole chain of listings with a click of a button. Why? Who knows? Google doesn’t ask. Google doesn’t tell. Better safe than sorry.
- Ask the receptionist if virtual office customers get a suite number. You will need this to differentiate your business from the others.
- Ask the receptionist if other businesses receive verification postcards from Google.
This will increase the likelihood that Google will verify your business.
2. Create 8 More Citations
As previously mentioned a citation is a mention of your business. Particularly your business’ name, address, and phone number. It’s important to note when you are creating your citations, repeat them EXACTLY as they appear in your Google My Business listing. Why? Because if you, for example, type your address as “Unit A” versus “Suite A” on another page, you may confuse Google. Think of these as votes or confirmations that Google and Bing use to rank your listing. Why risk losing a vote? Below are 8 more powerful citation sources you can use to signal Google and Bing you are who you say you are and that you deserve to be present in your market.
- Facebook Business Page
- YouTube Channel
3. Use Keywords When You Name Your Image Files
Choose the right file name
Image SEO starts with the file name. You want Google to know what the image is about without even looking at it, so use your focus keyphrase in the image file name. It’s simple: if your image shows a sunrise in Paris over Notre Dame Cathedral, the file name shouldn’t be DSC4536.jpg, but notre-dame-paris-sunrise.jpg. The main keyphrase would be Notre Dame, as that is the main subject of the photo, which is why it’s at the beginning of the file name.
4. Upload As Many Photos As You Can
Google My Business loves images and they obviously favor businesses who actively upload fresh images to their gallery. If you follow through with Step 3, your images may also rank for your relevant keywords under Google’s image tab. In fact, I’m certain that if you are consistent with steps 3 & 4, over time you will dominate Google Images for your keywords in your geolocation.
As you can see, images on a Google My Business listing can drive tons of business to your company. It’s well worth the effort to take and optimize some decent images and upload one per day. If you own a coffee shop, and you see a regular you’ve become friendly with, ask them to take a selfie with you. Take pictures of the masterpieces your barista prepares every morning. Be proactive and consistent and you will eventually reap the benefits of Google’s local rank algorithm.
5. Do Reviews Help Local SEO?
The short answer is yes, Google Reviews do help improve search rankings and overall Local SEO efforts. While there are a lot of factors involved in search rankings, online customer reviews can be a strong signal to search engines that communicates trustworthiness and authority.
So what can you do? Ask! Preferably, ask in person. If you have a custom who frequents your business, go out of your way to say hello and get to know them. The next time the enter your store or practice, use their name. Unfortunately, this is so rare that it often shocks people when you do it.
Here’s how the conversation should go:
YOU: Hello Lisa! Welcome back. Let me know if I can help you.
LISA: Hey thanks!
(Lisa shops for a bit)
YOU (at checkout): Hey Lisa, could you find a minute or two to leave us your honest feedback? I could text or email you a link if you like.
Rarely will a happy customer say “No.”
If you really want to uplift your citations, ask the customer for a selfie. Imagine dozens of happy customers on Google, Yelp, & Bing smiling with the owner of the business. I can’t think of anything that will create more digital curb appeal.
As an agency owner, I can tell you that my greatest tool is a proactive owner. No reputation management company on earth can do for you what you can do for yourself!
In the words of the great Jerry Maguire…
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