If you run a store-front business or offer a service that is within a specific local-based geographic area, then you will want to focus your marketing efforts on getting in front of local traffic.
Since many marketing initiatives are of a more global nature that don’t help you at all, there’s actually a few specific things you can do to ensure you are visible in front of the local people that you want to attract to your business.
Aside from using targeted Facebook and Google Ads, local search optimization can help your business be found in searches when people are looking for a business likes yours in their area.
So what can you do to get your website to rank better for local search?
Here’s 13 techniques to improve your rankings locally:
1. Make a list of local regions you’d like to rank for: This will include your city, your major metropolitan area, county, and province or state. Think about the neighboring towns that your business can also service in addition to your own. Then create long-tail keyword phrases for each of these. For example instead of optimizing for ‘home staging,’ you can optimize for several phrases including: ‘Yourcityhere home staging,’ ‘Yourmetroregionhere home staging,’ ‘YourCountyhere home staging,’ ‘Yourregionhere home staging’ etc.
2. Add your business address at the footer of your website in text: This not only acts as a clue that shows Google you are a local business but also shows your website visitors that they are in the right place. Showing your location and the areas served on your website is vital for localized businesses. It’s also a good idea to embed a dynamic Google Map for good measure and ease of customers finding your location.
3. Add a link to your business on Google Maps: Check to see if your business is showing up on Google Maps and if not, add a submission to have it included. Not only will this serve to help customers find directions to your place, but it’s also another marker that tells Google where you are locally.
4. Write a webpage or blog post dedicated to each local keyword phrase: Using the keywords and geographic locations throughout your website is also important for the search engines to keep you top of mind in their search results. I’m not a huge fan of this technique because it can crowd your website, but you can create a local keyword phrase-based webpage or blog post for each page including each service you offer to give those rankings a boost. Avoid adding these pages to the primary navigation if possible; however, they do still need to link back to your website home page to be indexed.
5. Optimize each webpage to rank well for the keyword you are targeting: Put the keyword phrase in several spots in the wording and coding of your website pages including:
- Meta keyword and description tags;
- File name or URL of the page. For example: best-home-staging-Abbotsford.HTML;
- Header of the page within an H1 tag;
- Sub headers of the page within H2 and H3 tags;
- File names of graphics used on the page;
- Hyperlinked text containing the keyword phrase, ideally located in the first and last paragraph of the page;
- Header tag using the keyword phrase at the end of the page.
6. Regularly write and post new local content: Adding new content to a website, especially as a blog post, is important for all websites. Making that new content location-based with your keywords in it makes it even more valuable. This could be a press release about things you are doing in the community. You could do a review of a new local service or product. You can also create a recommended links page that shares information about other complementary local businesses.
7. Get back links on other local business sites: Ask other local businesses if you can trade links. When they post a link or recommendation to your website, it improves your own website rankings.
8. Take and share local pictures: Make a point to take pictures of your business doing things in local places. Name these pictures when you post them to your website or blog with file names including your local keyword phrases. When people go into Google Photo Search and look for “best home stager in Abbotsford,” if you have a photo with that file name, your image will come up at the top.
9. Reference local landmarks: If you are near any major landmarks, reference them on your website. For example if someone is typing “bedroom lamp shop near Grand Central Station” if you have that referenced on your website you can come up in Google searches for that phrase.
10. Use Alt tags: Make sure all the images used on your website have local keyword phrase file names and alt tags.
11. Create an XML map or Site Map: This makes it easier for Google to spider all the pages of your website.
12. Manually submit your website to local and niche directories: Using local directories and major directories with local listings is invaluable to getting your local business found. Directories such as Yelp, Foresquare. Moz, Hotfrog and Houzz are great places to start. Create a full profile and be sure to add lots of pictures.
13. Use Review Sites: Leverage the power of review sites. Create free business accounts with some of the big reviews sites like Yellow Pages, Insider Pages, Angie’s List, etc. and encourage happy customers and regulars to write reviews about your business. Good reviews can go a long way with your customers and the search engines.
Once you have optimized your website for local SEO, there are other off-site methods you can follow to boost your local search results as well. Take the time to review your website and add local keywords, links, content and images and you’ll be on your way to getting more local customers.