A Guide to the Basics of Local SEO

Whether you’re running a small, local business or heading a global, enterprise-level operation, your prospective customers are looking for your business online. By choosing to ignore local search, you are leaving money on the table, especially as more and more searchers look for local businesses on mobile devices.


Local SEO can help you put your site’s best foot forward when it comes to visibility in the search engines and bring new customers right to your business. The key to success is to make the right decisions in your online marketing.

1. Be there when customers look for you online

Playing hard to get may be good for dating but it’s bad for business. To attract new customers via local search, start building and improving your local search presence. This includes putting the right information about your business on Search, Maps and Google+ using Google My Business. It connects you directly with customers no matter what device they’re using or what information they are looking for- driving directions to your business, hours of operations or a local phone number.

Additionally, you can also connect with customers and building lasting relationships by bringing your Google+ page to life. To that end, showcase your products or services with beautiful pictures. Post what’s new on your Google+ page. Use Hangouts to produce face-to-face video chat, an easy and engaging way to reach out and connect with your customers the world over.

2. Market through local listings

When it comes to local search marketing, the core work of any campaign is the creation of local business listings, in addition to getting your business on Google. Local listings are online profiles for your business on websites and directories such as Bing Places, Yahoo! Local and Yelp. They contain your business name, address, phone number and other details. In turn, each new listing increases your chances of being found by customers. To create a local business listing in any index, you will need four things:

  • A business name

  • A local phone number that matches your location

  • A physical street address

  • A business model where you have face-to-face contact with your customers

Additionally, although most entities will ask whether your business already exists in their index, don’t be surprised if a few don’t, even if you’ve never created a listing there. You need to claim any listing of your business that exists online and establish that you are the owner of the business and therefore entitled to maintain its presence on the web.

3. Leverage local reviews and ratings

Reviews are not new to business. The difference is that in the last few years, we have been able to participate in the conversations that happen between consumers. This is especially true with the emergence of numerous review sites, which have created an unprecedented, ongoing online conversation about local businesses. If you don’t tap into the power of these conversations, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to add value in your community.

The key to success is to have a diverse review profile with a collection of reviews on many different websites. To that end, encourage customers to leave reviews for you in their favorite places. In general, review sites that syndicate their reviews with other sites, for example Google, are more valuable than those that keep their reviews to themselves. To acquire reviews:

  • Link to your review profiles from your website

  • Request customers to leave a review at the time of service

  • Offer a small incentive to encourage people to take time out of their busy schedule to write a review

  • Request reviews with an after-service follow-up email or phone call

4. Optimize your website for local search

Your website is at the hub of your overall digital presence. You need to optimize it for local search. This includes optimizing:

  • Your content

Content is the foundation of digital marketing success. To optimize your content for local search, research key phrases that your prospective customers are interested in and answer high-volume search queries in your content area.

  • Your website organization

Website organization, also known as site architecture, refers to the arrangement of pages on your website. For a good site architecture, target a specific key phrase on each page of your website with your most important content featured on or linked to from the homepage. If you have multiple locations, each location should have its own dedicated page with a business name, address, phone number and other information such as hours of operation.

5. Build a social media following locally

And finally, while most business owners are already using social media in their personal lives, you need to do the same to grow your business. This includes building a social media following locally by choosing what kinds of content to post and driving conversations with prospective customers. To connect with the right people on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any of the other social sites:

  • Scout the competition for ideas and to pick up on trends

  • Post engaging content

  • Partner with local charities and nonprofits for maximum reach

  • Find a few people to follow

  • Consider paid advertising

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