With the rise of mobile devices, and thus mobile searches, local SERP (Search Engine Result Page) and local presence are extremely important in dictating the success of your business.
However, Local SEO strategies are admittedly, easier said than done. There are many factors that can determine Local SERP from the name, address, and phone number (NAP), organic reviews, as well as getting the most of local directories and catalogs, among many others.
So, on this article, we will have a deeper discussion on Local SEO strategies. We will focus on giving you actionable tips, examples of best practices, as well as how to measure your progress. By the end of this article, you will have a clearer picture on how to optimize your Local SERP and presence.
So, without further ado, let us begin with the first one: optimizing your NAP.
Optimizing Local SEO with Consistent NAP
NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) is the three most important factor for your Local SEO. NAP consistency means your business's Name, Adress, and Phone Number are consistently listed the same across the web. Besides those three, it is also important to have your website's address and social media addresses listed consistently.
Why is NAP consistency important for local SEO? Let us answer this with a case study. Say, your business name, address, and phone number is: XYZ company, 123 New ABC Road, Imaginary City, NY 12345, 123-444-5555. What happened if you list your address as 123 New ABC Rd? For a human reader, most likely it will not pose a problem.
However, we should remember that SERP is dictated not by humans, but by algorithms. Those two different addresses above might not pose a problem for human readers but are two totally different addresses for the algorithm.
So, how can we check whether our NAP is consistent? Simply Google your business name and see if there is any variance. If yes, you can fix your NAP by going to each website where your business is listed, creating an account, and change the listing manually. It's a painful, repetitive process, but is a necessary component of Local SEO strategies.
Below are several tips regarding NAP you can try:
Optimizing your business name should be the easiest between the three, simply because you have the most control over it. It is important to decide how you want your name to have a presence online, and stay consistent. For example, if you are an LLC, do you want to include that in your proper business name? The key is to keep it consistent across different listings.
We have discussed this in the example above. It is true that Google has gotten better and better at distinguishing small differences in the address. However, it is always good to keep format consistency of your address.
The best way to decide on the format is to check it on Google Maps. Enter your business address on Google Maps, and Maps will return results for your search. Use the topmost suggestion as your default format, and stay consistent. Don't forget to check the accuracy of your address with online tools like this one from EDQ.
Optimizing Phone Number
If you have several active numbers, decide which one you want to use in your online listings. Both the number and the format should always be consistent.
Include NAP In Your Website Footer
You should include your NAP on the footer of your website, every page when possible. Ideally, you will want it to be in an HTML text format that is easily crawlable by Google's ranking bots. Avoid using NAP in an image format, because the bots won't recognize it.
Take Advantage Of Local Directory Listing Services
This is a nice list compiling all the best local directory listings out there. Using these services will make the job less time-consuming, and it is easier to ensure consistency with them. They are also especially useful when you change address or phone number, or do a total rebranding.
Build Local Credibility: Handle Negative Reviews The Right Way
Online credibility is not only important for your local SEO purposes, but also for the success of your business in general. We all know how in this modern age of social media, reviews can indeed make or break your business. Maintaining reviews on Google Maps and other local directories will be the most important aspect of your local credibility. Of course, delivering great products and/or services consistently is the best way to build your credibility.
We all know that negative reviews are the bane of most, if not all businesses nowadays. Yet, no matter how hard you try to deliver, you will always get one bad review or another.
It is almost impossible to remove a bad review in this age where the 'internet is forever'. So, what can you do to minimize the problem? Always reply all the bad reviews and try to resolve the problem. Show that you care and want to do better in the future. If necessary, you can send them complimentary products or services, depending on the case.
Create Local-Focused Contents
For brick-and-mortar businesses, local contents are not only your written articles but everything surrounding the business itself. If you are a restaurant, obviously you know that having 'grammable' interior and foods will secure your social media presence, and that is also a very powerful content.
Yet, that's not to say written contents are not important, it is still especially useful especially as a part of local SEO strategies. Here are some tips to optimize your on-site contents:
More Is Not Always Better
One of the worst practices in local SEO is having too many 'location' targeted articles. It can obviously be effective, but since 2015 Google has penalized overdone location pages, dubbed the 'doorway pages'.
So, avoid low-quality local content pages, and instead focus on quality. As per Google's own words considering doorway pages, the content should be an integral part of your user's experience, and should always be relevant.
On simpler terms, the contents should be made for humans. You can post 30 different pages of your products targeted to 30 different locations, but those pages are totally useless for human beings. Although your end goal is local SEO, you should prioritize usefulness of your contents first and foremost.
Limit The Number of Pages to Your Customers' Needs
How many pages do you actually need? The answer is the number you need to answer your customers' questions. If you have answered all those relevant questions, you simply don't need to keep adding contents.
Build Local Links
If you absolutely feel the need to create more contents, yet you've already fulfilled your customer's needs, focus on contents that can generate local backlinks. The type of contents will be different depending on your industry. For example, FnB businesses can create an event with local communities with strong online presences, and build contents around that event. Expert roundup posts are always effective if your industry or niche allows. The possibilities are only limited to your imaginations.
Optimize Your Landing Page
Although on-site optimization is not the end goal of SEO, it is still very important. As we have mentioned before, on-site optimization can account for 20% of your local SEO success. Obviously, the first page you should optimize on-site is your landing page(s). This is a relatively old article on optimizing your local SEO landing page, yet still relevant today.
The key to local SEO is consistency, not only in optimizing your site on and off-site but also in maintaining your offline credibility in general. It is a long and tedious process, but will definitely be worth it in the long run. You can also work with local SEO Experts to make sure your website and map listing are optimized properly.
Statistics have shown that 50% of customers who did a local search visited a store within a day. So, you can't underestimate the importance of local SEO in this mobile-focused world.