As someone who loves food, finding the best places to eat is somewhat important to me when moving to a new area. The day I got settled into my new apartment in Cedar Falls, I did what any other hungry person would do: I opened Google on my phone and searched for local restaurants.
As I scrolled, I saw plenty of names that I didn’t recognize. They all piqued my interest, but I ended up settling on a fast-food restaurant called Raising Cane’s. I had heard of it before but didn’t know where it was located or what hours it was open.
With that quick and simple search, I was able to find the address, a map, hours of operation, a click to call option, a link to their website, pictures of their menu items, a link to their Facebook page, customer reviews, and a link to an article about when the store opened in Cedar Falls. All right in the palm of my hand. It confirmed my decision to give them a try and I’m now a regular customer.
Stories like this are a great lesson for businesses: your online information and search engine optimization (SEO) elements can be the difference between a sale and a scroll.
First things first: what is SEO and “Local” SEO?
Put simply, SEO is a collection of tactics that can improve the chances your website is displayed when a user searches for something on Google (and other search engines such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.). Local SEO means those tactics are geared towards getting your website to display as a local business on the results page.
Implementing SEO tactics can feel daunting but consider it more like a marathon than a sprint. It’s something that requires upkeep rather than a set and forget mindset. Here are three of the best places to start:
1. Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile
If you’re a business owner, utilizing Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business) is important. For service industry businesses serving a local audience, it’s essential. Search Engine Journal reports that 83% of local consumers use Google Search to find information about local businesses and 90% will make a purchase within one week of their initial search.
As the name indicates, Google Business Profile is essentially your online business profile, and it gives business owners the ability to control their company’s profile on Google in several ways, including:
- Editing hours, contact information, and location
- Creating a description of your business
- Publicly respond to reviews
- Direct message or email reviewers and users
- Adding photos of the business
Thankfully, Google makes the process quite easy. Simply visit google.com/business/ and the site walks you through the steps and options. You can set notifications to remind you to change your hours for holidays, alerts for customer messages and more.
2. Make your website mobile-friendly
In a world where people are attached to their cell phones more than ever, a strong mobile website is crucial for any business.
After you’ve claimed your GMB profile and your business information is visible from a search, you don’t want to lose that potential customer when they click over to your website, and it takes too long to open. Images and videos are a great way to entertain users, but they can also bog down the experience, so reconsider having large photo and video file sizes.
Once a user has opened your website, the buttons, icons, and other call-to-action elements should be clear and concise and funnel them to the action you want them to take, whether that’s purchasing something, directing them to your location, downloading an app, contacting you, etc.
Other simple tips:
- Make content easy to read visually. Avoid large blocks of copy that can appear as a wall of words
- Forms should be as short as possible
- Avoid the use of pop-ups
Wondering if your current website is optimal for mobile? A good place to start is by using the Mobile-Friendly Test by Google.
3. Create local content for your website
An important component of successful SEO is creating content on your website that search engines like Google will see as helpful and relevant to users. To improve local SEO, create content that highlights what’s happening in your area. Ways to accomplish this include:
- Create a blog on your website and write blog posts that potential customers will find useful: testimonials, customer stories, employee news, new menu items, local events, etc. Be sure to consider the words that users might be searching for, including location-specific phrases, such as “(city name) restaurants.”
- Create a news page on your website and add links to online stories about your business.
- Get involved in your local community and partner with other businesses and organization and take part in festivals, parades, and other local events. This not only increases your exposure in the community, it can also boost your local SEO when those events and news items that include your website link are shared online.
Ready to make your business more visible online?
Like all things marketing, local SEO is most successful when it’s a part of a larger marketing strategy. These three tactics are scratching the surface of ways you can boost your search results power. Whether you’ve already got several steps mastered, or need help starting from scratch, we’re here when you’re ready to talk.
Contact us today and let’s start improving your local SEO together.