Do you run a local business that is in dire need of some love from the locals? Local SEO is the way to go! Local businesses all over the world are turning toward local SEO to leverage the true power of local searches. To get an idea of the untapped potential of local SEO, Search Engine Roundtable suggests that 46% of searches on Google are known to have “local intent.” Getting on top of your local SEO game is a surefire way to get noticed by potential customers.
I am Sebastian Kubis, the director of MerchMark LTD, an SEO and digital marketing company focused on improving the visibility of small to medium-sized businesses. As the director of a leading SEO company, I have a special interest in the viability of local SEO and its amazing marketing potential.
This article will answer some of your burning questions regarding local SEO and its many different aspects. From building citations to keeping your Google business profile alive, I’ll discuss some important elements that might help you get started with local SEO for your own business.
How to Build Citations Perfectly for Local SEO.
Contrary to popular belief, marketing your brand online is not all about building links to improve your rankings. It also has a lot to do with creating value for the customer that speaks for itself. This can garner brand citations, which ultimately have a lot of benefits.
Brand citations occur when your website or name is mentioned in another site without any links to your website or social media profile. These citations can be highly important when it comes to local SEO. They play a huge role in getting your business noticed by local customers through highly targeted mobile searches.
To determine your location on Google Maps, Google uses something known as NAP which stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. This aids customers in finding relevant results through their Google Searches. NAP citations can be quite difficult to build but they are well worth the trouble. Here’s how you can build NAP citations perfectly for local SEO:
Step 1: Conducting a NAP Audit
In order to get started, the first thing you have to do is run a NAP audit to confirm if your NAP data is 100% consistent everywhere. This includes your website, your Google My Business profile, business directories, local listing sites, or anywhere your business is mentioned online. This can be done through citation tools such as Loganix or WhiteSpark. Regardless of which service or tool you end up going for, the two most important things you need are the current updated NAP for your business and all historical NAP information that you need to update. Using this information, the tool will search the internet and generate a report with a list of citations.
Step 2: Update and Correct your NAP Citations
Go through the generated report and find all the NAP citations that need to be fixed or updated. You will end up with two categories of NAP citations:
- NAP Citations you Can Change: Since doing this one by one can be tedious, you can use tools such as Yext or Bright Local to update such citations.
- NAP Citations Needed to be Changed by Third-party: This may include citations on a local resource page that have to be changed manually by a third person. For this, you will have to reach out to their representatives’ one at a time. Draft a nice email and get going!
Step 3: Finding New Citation Opportunities
After you have covered the usual suspects, namely Yelp, FourSquare, and Angie’s list, you need to find new opportunities for citations. Local sites are a great place for some citation building. Being cited on such sites can help you reach out to locals and boost your conversion rate. Finding such opportunities can be a bit tricky. You can utilize link building tools such as link intersect from Ahrefs to find citations. Here’s what you have to do:
- Collect a few competitors or local businesses and enter them into the tool.
- The tool will generate a report with all the websites which have linked the businesses you entered.
- Now you can go through the results and look for viable citation and/or link opportunities.
Another way to build your own NAP citations it to reverse engineer your competitor’s NAP. You can do this using the same tools you used for conducting your own NAP audit. Just pop their NAP details into the tool and then it will give you a list of all their citations. You can use these as inspiration or a blueprint to build your own NAP citations.
What Are the Best Ways to Keep Your Google Business Page Alive?
Your Google business profile is crucial when it comes to your local SEO rankings. To make the most out of your Google My Business profile, you need to keep it alive and thriving. Here are some of the best ways to do that:
1. Consistency is Key
Consistency can make or break your Google business profile. Everything entered in your Google profile should be an exact match with everything on your website and even your NAP citations. Google is stringent about inconsistencies and bases the legitimacy of your business on it. If your business information on GMB is different from the information on websites such as Yelp or your own website, Google counts this as a big red flag. That is why it is essential to keep all your business information and citations updated. Double-check how your business address is written in different locations. Even small discrepancies such as the difference between “Avenue” and “Ave.” can be picked up by Google as an inconsistency.
2. Make sure your Profile is Complete
It is important to be highly thorough while filling your Google business profile. While Google does give you a profile completion score, the score seems greatly exaggerated. I would suggest you go beyond that score to rank better for competitive keywords. Make sure to fill in important, but often neglected sections, such as secondary categories and the Services and Products tab.
3. Update your Business Data Regularly
While business data such as closing hours, opening hours, and other basic information may not directly impact your rankings, it is important to update such info regularly. This can have a massive real-world impact as customers often Google such info before visiting your store. You don’t want an angry and dissatisfied customer leaving a scathing review just because the store was closed when you said it would be open!
4. Focus on Google Reviews
Google reviews are the top local ranking signals, so you have to make sure you’re getting a lot of them. While you obviously want a ton of positive reviews, it is important to reply to every single one regardless of how good or bad it is. This can leave a good impression on customers who are going through your reviews to make an assessment of your business. It shows that your business is responsive and that it actually cares about what customers think.
To get customer reviews, you will have to ask your customers to leave a review. However, like many of us, customers can be lazy, so you need to make it VERY easy for them to leave a review. Minimize the work they have to put in to give you a review so they have no choice but to comply. How do you do that? Well, you can generate a nice little review link and email it to them. You can easily generate a review link by going to the “Get more reviews” tab on your GMB profile.
5. Add Photos and videos
You can add pictures and videos of your products, your team, or your location on the profile to gain more credibility. Visuals are instantly more attractive to customers and can really grab their attention.
6. Add FAQs
Instead of your customers calling you or posting in the Q/A section, you can act proactively and create some FAQs for them. Answer common questions your customers may have about your services so they can easily find that information.
7. Post on your Profile
Keep your GMB profile active by posting deals, new blogs, or other interesting developments. This can increase engagement and help keep the profile alive.
8. Monitor Insights
GMB provides insights such as how customers found your business, the search query they entered, and their interaction with your business. These are useful insights that should be monitored to tailor a better experience for the customer and to rank better in Local SEO.
How Local Directories’ Submissions Impact on Local SEO Performance?
Local business directories are an important factor when it comes to your local SEO rankings. Such directories often list your NAP or links to your profile. However, most of the local directories only include no-follow links. Despite this, they can have a huge impact on your local SEO performance. Here are some benefits of submitting to local directories:
Boost Online Visibility
You may not be able to get any backlinks out of it but being on a local directory can drastically increase your online visibility. Having your business information listed on popular local directories will ensure that potential customers can find you there. This can also increase traffic to your website and you may even have more walk-in customers in your store.
Better Organic Search Rankings
Listings in local directories increase your number of NAP citations. As I mentioned above, consistent NAP citations can help you boost your ranking and your credibility.
Perfect for Small Businesses
Local directories are highly fruitful for small businesses that are struggling to get noticed. Unlike big corporations, such businesses do not have the resources or financial assets to increase their online visibility. Local directories offer a cost-effective way of placing these businesses on customers’ radars. Google my Business is a completely free-of-cost service that is highly impactful when it comes to online visibility and rankings for local businesses.
In short, your local SEO performance will do much better with some local directory listings.
Why Guest Posts Publications Are Vital for Local SEO?
Local businesses stand to gain a lot from guest posts. From winning over new customers to increasing local SEO rankings, guest blogging can do all that and more for your local business. This is due to the simple reason that guest posts can help you reach a much bigger audience than you normally can. It can also generate links and citations to your business, which is important for a good local SEO ranking. The benefits of guest posts can keep multiplying as you unlock new opportunities for posting on national publications or hosting renowned authority figures on your own website.
Here are some other benefits of guest posting:
Establish yourself as an Authority
Guest posting on well-established publications can help you put your brand in the limelight and establish yourself as an authority locally. As a local business owner, your guest posts can attract the attention of locals and generate an interest in your business. This can help you compete with other local businesses and even global businesses on a local stage. As you establish your name and gain an audience, locals would be willing to trust your business over others resulting in massive conversions for your business.
Widen your Horizons
Guest blogging on other sites can help you show off your diverse range of knowledge and know-how. Since you can’t always cover certain things on your own website, doing it in a publication might give your customers an inside look into your thought processes and ideologies. Such blog posts may help you influence others and even expand your business. On the other hand, accepting guest posts on your own site can also attract customers from different avenues and bring a new flavour to your content. Such crossovers will improve your local SEO ranking drastically.
Expand your Network
Guest blogging can help you expand your network, which can make way to partnerships and fruitful business relations. As a local business, having an active network may put you on the radar of other local and international businesses. You can also utilize these connections to organize local events and cross-sell products.
Reach a Wider Audience
Posting on other publications can help you reach a much wider audience than you can on your own website. This can create a lot of traction and bring in important investors, sponsorships, venture capitalists, and customers interested in your products. Now that we’ve discussed some of the benefits of guest posting for local SEO, I’d like to mention some of the challenges you may face and how you can be mindful of them to make the most out of guest posts.
Making the Most out of your Guest Posts
Finding the Right Business for your Guest Posts
Not every business may be right for you to collaborate with. When it comes to guest posting you have to find valuable businesses whose audience would be interested in your business as well. This can be challenging as many local businesses do not maintain a blog and ones who do may not be willing to let you post. The real challenge is to find a relevant local business willing to let you post on their blog.
Choose Relevant Topics
You guest posts need to be something that your customers would want to read about. The topics should be chosen with the target audience in mind. Ensure that they are valuable to the customer and do not go off on irrelevant tangents that the customer has no interest in. Guest posting can be even trickier as you have to keep in mind the interest of your host’s audience and the audience you want to attract to your own website.
Do Not Expect Miracles
Guest posting is not a magic wand that will grant you 10,000 new visitors on your website. It is a technique that requires great patience to be successfully executed. One guest post can hardly make any difference, but it may lead to many other guest posts that will add up to make a difference. This is more of a long-term strategy that shows its full benefits over time.
Why Should You Opt-In Press Release Submissions for Your Local SEO?
What Are Press Releases?
In case you’ve not heard of press releases before, they are defined as an official statement distributed to newspapers or publications to provide information on a particular matter. Press releases are often written pieces of content but may also come in audio or video form. Your business can issue press releases about upcoming events or product launches. These can then be distributed to publishers that are interested in the news.
Are Press Releases Still Relevant?
After 2013, many had abandoned press releases as an effective strategy for increasing SEO rankings. This was followed by Google’s announcement that all press release links would be considered paid links. Google also encouraged press releases to use no-follow links. This was because many were paying for press releases for link building to boost their SEO rankings. Since Google does not consider paid links and no-follow links in their ranking algorithm, this would mean that press release links would no longer contribute to the SEO rankings.
But did that really end the effectiveness of press releases for SEO? I would beg to differ. Despite the fact that the links included in press releases no longer affect your search rankings, press releases continue to be a useful tool for local SEO. This is due to one very interesting benefit of press releases; yes, I’m talking about citations.
As I have discussed before, citations include any mention of your Name, Address, and Phone Number known as NAP. For example, if your business is listed in a local directory such as Yelp, the listing of your NAP means that it is a citation. Similarly, if you put your NAP in the byline of your press release, each published press release acts as a citation for your business. Upon issuing a single press release you can potentially end up with hundreds of citations.
The Benefits of Citations
Now that you know that your press releases can score you some major citations, let’s take a look at why citation building is so important in the first place.
Leverage Social Signals
You can reach out to the brand who has mentioned or cited you to request a do-follow link. This turns normal citations into an opportunity for link building that can help you rank higher. Brand citations are a sign that your brand is being discovered and that you are creating value for customers. The more value you create, the higher your visibility will be. Link building is moving to the future and citations are going to be an important part of it. This is why it is important to monitor your citations and mentions.
Helps in Determining Authority
Your citations help Google determine the authority of your business, website, or brand. Due to Blackhat SEO practices where users were seen buying better rankings, Google has changed up their algorithm and its requirements to generate more organic rankings. Now, Google may interpret citations as a sign of the popularity and authority of a brand.
Vital for Local SEO
I have already discussed this before but citations are highly essential when it comes to local SEO. According to research, 88% of users who search for businesses on a mobile will call or visit the business they’ve found within one day. As you can see, it is all connected. The more citations you have, the better you will rank locally, which in turn increases the chances of your business showing up on local searches.
In a nutshell, the importance of press releases cannot be ignored when it comes to citation building. A good quantity and quality of citations can truly help you rank better in a more organic way. Press releases can help you gain an advantage over your competitors as it encourages multiple citations to be formed out of only a single press release.
How to do Press Releases Right?
A good press release strategy can help you make the most out of your press releases. Here are some things you can do to generate effective press releases:
Include Important Keywords
As a local business, the area you operate in is quite important. Associate your business with a particular area and use area-specific keywords in your press release. It should be clear to the search engine that you wish to dominate and rank within a certain area. However, you should not overuse the keywords as this can make your press release look like spam. Monitor the keyword density and keep it below the acceptable limit. You can use tools to find out other keywords that are related to your main keyword.
Mention your NAP
Mention your NAP in the press release to create citations of your website. This ensures that you will have credible citations on websites that post your press releases. As I mentioned earlier, keeping your NAP consistent is also highly crucial. So crosscheck your NAP before placing it in the press release.
Embed a Google Map
Use a press release service through which you can embed the Google map of your business inside the release. Being mentioned on authority sites can increase the rankings of the Google map listings and will generate more traffic for your Google My Business profile.
Drive Attention to your Press Release
Drive more attention to the press release by promoting it on various social media platforms such as Facebook and rally the community around it. As it gets more shares, likes, and followers, Google will take it as a positive sign and it may lead to a boost in your press release rankings.
Monitor Results Closely
After sending out the press release, you should monitor the rankings of your target keywords closely to see its effects. One press release may not do the trick but a bunch of press releases over time can make a massive difference.
Here are some things to take care of when it comes to your press release:
- When it comes to press releases, quality wins over quantity. Do not create press releases about anything. The news you deliver should be exciting and interesting to grab attention.
- Choose your platforms wisely. Do not post your press release on just any platform. Only go for the most relevant ones depending on your target audience and location.
- Avoid spamming editors with your press releases. That’ll only lead you to their spam inbox!
If you are a small to medium-sized business, leveraging the power of local SEO is your best bet for increasing your traffic and boosting conversions. The first step is to uncover where you stand when it comes to your website ranking. If you’re a business owner looking for such growth, I’m offering SEO audits and consultations for free. Find out what you’re doing wrong through my free of cost SEO audit and create an optimization strategy to make your rankings and conversions skyrocket.