Local SEO Strategy For Small To Medium Sized Businesses
If we always say that change is the only constant in online marketing this is even more important in local SEO. Taking this into account, although we have already discussed extensively on how to optimize your site for local SEO in the past, this post will entail certain local SEO strategies that have been prioritized.
In 2012, it was reported that 61% of local searches resulted in purchases. In 2013, ever since Google's Hummingbird update was released, the search engines have become smarter than ever before in returning relevant, personalized and even localized results for searches. Take advantage of being the first one to use the local SEO strategies that we highlighted for you:
Local SEO Strategies
You might have already optimized for local SEO in the past and the old rules still work, but there are newer strategies that weigh in hugely:
Long Tail And Meaningful Keywords
You may have to rethink your keyword strategy on the website and around every content linked to your website. With Google's Hummingbird update in the picture, keywords in the form of questions (e.g. what is the best pizza place in Manhattan) deliver as good and relevant search results as their robot-friendly counterparts (e.g. Pizza Place Manhattan).
Take a look at the following example for Pizza Place Manhattan.
Local Search Result For Pizza Place Manhattan
And now take a look at Google search result for what is the best pizza place in Manhattan.
Local Search Result For What Is The Best Pizza Place In Manhattan
In the traditional search, both these search terms would have given you similar results. But now 90 percent of those results do not bear resemblance to each other. That is because Google search understands the user intent much better. So, if you want to target the second category of search users, you would rather use long tail keywords in your site content as well as every other content linked to your site. But it does not mean that if you use long tail keywords, you will show up in the first page of Google Map results for that keyword. There is a combination of many other factors in play here and they are discussed below.
Adam Steele from Lean Marketing and Mike Blumenthals of Blumenthal.com did some recent local pack (set of local search results) case study on Google SERPs. They found that these local results were influenced by individual website's organic SEO ranking. This means that if you rank well for organic SEO, you will rank better in local search results as well. So, do not give up on your organic SEO efforts and keep working with meta title and meta description optimization,heading tag optimization, page speed, image optimization, url optimization, rich snippets, social media optimization, strategic link building, content marketing, conversion optimization, to name a few.
Optimized Google Maps And Google Plus Local
Google maps have always been a core local SEO ranking factor with local businesses. The integration of Google maps and business previews from the corresponding Google+ Local have increasingly strong correlation to local SEO.
However, this has since been superseded by Google My Business, which consolidates all of Google's services for Local Businesses.
Google Maps And Google Plus Local Local SEO Strategy
Thus, if you have an optimized Google Maps and Google Plus Local page, your local SEO strategy is headed towards the right direction. Take note of the major local SEO optimization points below with respect to Google Maps and Google Plus Local
- Accurate NAP – When accurate NAP (name, address and phone number) details are available.
- Address Match On Website – The NAP details must match with that on your website.
- Proximity to Google's City Marker – When your location is closer to a city recognized by Google on the map.
- Number of Reviews – The higher the number of reviews on Google+ page, the better.
- Quality of Links – The quality of websites that mention your business, website or NAP details (with a link to your website).
- Number of Local Citations – Citations from local business listing sites or review sites.
- Number of Third-Party Reviews – Number of reviews you receive on sites other than Google+.
Pinterest's Place Pins, which is now part of Rich Pins, is great for local businesses in the food and hospitality industry.
Place Pins Feature For Desktop And Smartphones On Pinterest
Users of Pinterest, can pin new destinations that they already have on their boards or search new places on the map. The map search is powered by FourSquare.
If you have a good fan following for the amazing services you give to your local visitors in a restaurant, resort or hotel, pinners can view your NAP and service details and images of your business related products and services right on the map. Read this article that gives a step-by-step guide to Place Pins, to local businesses.
There is no change to this local SEO strategy, only that it gains in importance. In the post Hummingbird era, local citations from quality directories and other locally relevant sites are still very important to gain higher local SEO ranking on Google search. Check with Get Listed how well you are listed around the web in locally relevant sites. Use this tool to check if you are listed under the right business category with Google Places. We recommend using a Microsoft Excel worksheet or similar to keep track of all your business listings. You can use this template to save and track your business's local listing. Keep your listings duly updated with accurate NAP details. We have hand-picked a list of quality business listing sites for major countries. Check whether you are listed in them:
Forty per cent of mobile searches have local intent. Local SEO is not influenced by mobile SEO (yet), but mobile SEO sure depends on local SEO. This is because not every small, mid-sized and large businesses have optimized for mobile yet. Their website's rankings on desktop thus cannot be influenced based on their website's mobile performance. But in the near future there exists a possibility that search engines rank sites with mobile-friendly websites too, on account of the rising numbers in smartphone and tablet users.
On the other hand, when you are on top of your local SEO, you have a higher advantage of ranking high on mobile SEO. In such cases, if a mobile user happens to visit your site, you will be required to give them an awesome mobile experience, otherwise it is just going to affect your local rankings on mobile. Take a look at some statistics that support my point on why mobile SEO is important for local SEO of small to medium businesses:
- Ninety percent of American adults own a mobile phone out of which 58 percent own smartphones. (Source: PewResearch)
- Sixty-three percent use the mobile to access websites. (Source:PewResearch)
- Google's study on mobile search suggests that 40 percent of mobile searchers are for local services or resources. (Source:Google)
- Every three out of four mobile searches is a follow-up action that includes tasks such as research, store visit, social media sharing and a phone call. (Source:Econsultancy)
If your small business does not have a mobile-friend site yet, check out our three part series of blogs for that give you a list of responsive web design tools:
Search engines such as Google spare no time in updating their algorithms to improve the quality of local SERPs. This poses a real challenge, especially for the small and mid-sized local businesses, who cannot afford local SEO experts to keep their site up-to-date to these changing trends.
But, it is not all that difficult on your own either. Just know what you are doing and prioritize your local SEO strategies accordingly. You will compete alongside bigger brands on local search, sooner enough.
These were the priority-based local strategies. Let me know how many of these strategies you have adopted already this year?