5 Local SEO Tips for Small Business

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As the online world quickly becomes the new store front for many businesses, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is a hot topic for small business. Potential customers are researching your business and reading reviews before ever picking up the phone to give you a call. Because of this, local SEO specifically has become more important than ever before.

How is Local SEO Different from Organic SEO?

Organic SEO is concerned with the sea of blue links you normally see on a search engine results page (SERP). Local SEO, on the other hand, deals with map listings that are created via Google My Business and appear in what we call the “local pack.” Type in any geo-specific query and above all the other results, you will see a map that presents a list of business with their address, reviews, and phone number. While it’s true that organic and local rankings are related, the algorithm that defines local rankings relies on a few additional factors. Bearing this in mind, here are 5 quick tips for small businesses to ensure they are getting the most out of their local SEO efforts.

  1. Get Reviews

Reviews have a two-pronged effect for local rankings. First, they act as one of the most prominent ranking signals for search engines. For reviews on Google, the number, average rating, age, content, and even the authority of the reviewer is used as a factor to determine the order in which the business show up. Run a search in any local market and I guarantee that most of the top results have a strong review presence.

Second, aside from rankings, reviews are huge for conversions. 92% of customers read online reviews and a law firm study found that 84% of customers said that a firm needed a score of 4 stars or higher to even be taken into consideration. Furthermore, many consumers are cross checking reviews between Google, Yelp, and Facebook before deciding, so make sure you are getting reviews across all the available platforms.

  1. Respond to Reviews

Let’s face it, negative reviews are going to happen. Depending on the number of reviews you have, all it can take is a few disgruntled customers to drag down your average rating. Moreover, Google has been historically poor at removing fake or spam reviews. Therefore, the best thing you can do is respond to those reviews! If a customer was being unreasonable or misstated the facts, say so. If the review is fake and you have never heard of the reviewer before, call them out on it. If someone leaves you a nice review, thank them. People scroll through and read your reviews, so make sure your side of the story is heard and give credit where it is due. Furthermore, a business who seems more engaged with their customers online will be more attractive to prospective clients.

  1. Create a Linkable Asset for Local Links

When looking at your backlink profile, Google understands what IP addresses and locations the links are coming from. Therefore, getting links from local sources are going to send the right signals about your business. Take for example a study by Hill Law Firm in San Antonio which mapped out the most dangerous zones for pedestrians in Texas. By crunching some data and offering something of value to the surrounding community, they were able to gain links from local news sources and even be featured on local TV stations. This is something that can be replicated for attorneys in almost any city or town and can provide excellent local visibility with a little effort.

  1. Use Proper Schema Markup

Taking a more technical SEO turn, schema markup can be great tool for local businesses. Schema code tells search engines key information about your business, such as the name, address, and phone number (NAP) which allows search engines to pull information from your website and present them as rich snippets to searchers. Schema markup can also be used with testimonials on your site to provide those little yellow stars under a search result for one of your site’s pages.

  1. Outmaneuver the Possum Update

In September 2016, Google introduced the Possum update, which is one of the largest updates to ever hit the local search ecosystem. One of the most controversial effects of the update was the filtration of similar Google My Business listings based on the address and business category. This means that if two or more businesses with the same primary category share a suite, or even exist in the same building, Google would be inclined to filter some of those listings out in favor of others who are “playing possum.” Therefore, if you are trying to decide on an office space, be sure to run a quick search on the address beforehand and see if there is any competition that may have a chance of filtering out your listing. 

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