Millions of local businesses struggled to survive 2020. But now that we’re halfway through 2021, the organizations that managed to muscle through are looking for ways to truly thrive post-pandemic.
Although many digital marketing budgets were slashed in the early days of this health crisis, business owners have realized that online promotion is one of the most affordable and effective ways to stay open – and even grow over time.
That said, local businesses need to take a different approach to marketing than large corporations do. Over the last year or so, you may have realized just how much power your community’s support can have.
By tapping into that community through online channels, you can create a consistent lead funnel and strong sales strategy that can translate to long-term success.
In other words, you need to start using local SEO. As any white label SEO company will tell you, search engine optimization is what allows your business to be found online. And when you give it a local spin, you’ll be in a better position to reach customers in your immediate area.
After all, data shows that almost half of all internet searches are geared towards finding local information. What’s more, when local customers look for nearby solutions, they’re more likely to visit or call that business within a short period of time (and subsequently make a purchase).
As such, it’s crucial to reach customers within your area.With that in mind, here are just a few local SEO tips your small business should try in 2021 and beyond.
1. Create individual landing pages
It’s a good idea to keep your website’s design relatively simple. But that doesn’t always mean you should aim for as few pages as possible.
In many cases, having different landing pages for each business location or service area can be better for SEO.
Say you’re trying to reach customers who are looking for solutions in their township. Even if your business address isn’t actually in that town, you might provide products or services directly to consumers within that area.
If you optimize with local keywords and create individual landing pages for these different locations, you may be more likely to appear in search results for people looking for nearby answers to their questions.
Resist the urge to cram everything on one page. Instead, give Google more to index.
Say you run a landscaping business located in the Houston, Texas area. Houston is a large city, which can work to your advantage. But when users located in the suburbs are looking for local solutions, you might have to compete with lots of other companies to get the attention you deserve.
Instead of having a single page that mentions your location, you can create a handful of landing pages to help you reach clients located throughout your community.
Establishing separate landing pages for landscaping in Katy, Sugar Land, and Richmond, TX can allow you to connect with customers and provide more in-depth information that internet users want to know.
Whether you operate a small chain or your services are offered within a specific radius or geographic area, having distinct landing pages for each spot you serve can improve your online visibility.
2. Start using Google My Business
Google My Business, or GMB, is a fantastic tool for small business owners. This platform is free and easy to use, allowing you to list a wealth of information about your organization online.
It’s separate from your website, but it can increase your presence in search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s also more likely to encourage interaction on mobile devices.
By taking advantage of GMB, your business might even appear in Google’s “map pack,” which can drive a lot of web traffic and conversions.
If you aren’t yet using Google My Business, take the step to claim your profile and fill out as much information as possible. Make sure that this information is consistent with what’s on your website and social media channels.
You can also post photos and regular updates (think of them as tweets or short-form blog posts) to keep customers informed.
GMB was a huge help to many businesses during the pandemic, as the platform makes it easy to update hours of operation or to post important changes and health information. But even as restrictions are lifted throughout the U.S., Google My Business can provide a great opportunity to reach new customers and eliminate confusion.
Keep in mind that you can also optimize your GMB profile just as you would your own website. You’ll want to use relevant keywords in the “from the business” section and provide valuable information that sets your company apart from others in your area.
You should aim to be as specific as possible, especially when selecting business categories.
Don’t forget to answer any questions that customers may ask through GMB! Since anyone can actually answer these queries, you’ll want to stay on top of new entries to ensure everything is accurate.
You can even ask and answer your own questions (and include some high-value keywords!) to improve your ranking!
3. Increase your online reviews
Online reviews matter just as much as (or even more than!) personal recommendations. Without online reviews for your business, you’ll have a difficult time building trust with your customers.
Website testimonials aren’t enough; although they’re valuable in their own way, many customers view them as being biased. Reviews that live on third-party websites, however, are typically seen as more trustworthy.
As a result, you’ll want to work on managing your online reputation – and that involves generating and responding to your reviews.
In many cases, simply asking some of your loyal customers to show their support will be enough to convince them. Remind them in emails or during in-person visits that you value their feedback and that sharing their experience is a great way to help your business grow.
You’ll want to focus on a few main platforms for reviews. Facebook, Yelp, and Google My Business are among the most popular, though there are others that may be more industry-specific. They’re typically the easiest for customers to use, as well, especially if they already have and use accounts on these channels.
Make it even easier for customers to leave a review by sharing a direct link on social media or in an email. That way, they won’t have to put much effort into voicing their support.
Generating reviews is the first important step, as many customers will actually be more concerned about a lack of reviews than a few negative ones.
Once you’ve started receiving some reviews, you’ll want to respond to each one promptly and with compassion. Remember that review management is an important part of protecting your brand’s reputation. Just as importantly, it’s a great way to showcase your customer service skills.
Don’t ever let your emotions get the best of you when handling reviews. You shouldn’t respond with anger or attempt to have a negative review removed (unless it’s dishonest). Chances are that customers will care more about your response than what the review itself actually says.
By increasing your presence on platforms like Facebook, Yelp, and GMB with more reviews, you’ll add legitimacy to your brand and can build better customer relationships. You’ll also drive more traffic to your site (and you may increase your search rankings in the process!).
4. Optimize for mobile and voice
Although you might think of the internet as a great tool for reaching customers located all across the country, remember that the consumers living in your community are also extremely likely to use their smartphones to find you.
Nearly half of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices. What’s more, Think With Google estimates that over three-quarters of consumers who search on their smartphones for solutions will visit a nearby business within a day.
From these statistics, it’s clear that it’s crucial for local businesses to appeal to mobile customers.
One simple way to do that is to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Your site should provide the same great experience on smartphones and tablets as it does on desktops and laptops. It should be speedy, secure, legible, and easy to navigate while being free of annoying pop-ups.
If you aren’t sure whether your site is responsive or accessible on mobile, you can run Google’s search console test that will tell you where potential problems lie. Then, you can work to fix those issues.
Failing to address a lack of mobile-friendly design will drive customers away and make it harder to improve your rankings in search results, so you should make mobile-friendliness a priority for your business.
It may also be worth optimizing your site for voice-powered searches. Since mobile users are likely to use this technology to find quick solutions to their problems, it’s smart to do what you can to show up in voice-powered searches.
Creating an FAQ page (featuring the kinds of questions real users would speak into their phones) can provide an easy way for you to incorporate voice search SEO while positioning your brand as a helpful and trustworthy source of information. Don’t forget to optimize your FAQ page with relevant, specific keywords!
If your business relies on customers in your community, adding local SEO to your marketing strategy simply makes sense. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to reach these customers more effectively while making the most of your marketing budget.