3 Ways to Find More Customers With Local SEO
If you’re aiming to reach customers in one area, making your SEO strategy more location-specific is crucial.
According to a survey by Google, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. 50% of consumers who search via smartphones visit a store within a day.
With those statistics, local SEO could be a huge game changer for your business.
In this blog post, we’re going to discuss five steps that could help you improve your local search engine listing and ranking. With these steps, you can get found by customers in your area who are looking for your product or service.
Let’s get started.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO means optimising your website to target location-specific keywords. You’re optimising to get found by customers searching for businesses nearby.
Imagine you’re going out for dinner with your family. You’d like to try eating pizza at a new restaurant, but you’re not quite sure where.
In scenarios like this, most people would Google to find a nearby restaurant. Most of them won’t use the keyword “Italian restaurant,” because that’s too general.
Instead, they’re going to use the keywords “Italian restaurant” along with their suburb to get more specific results.
That is the power of local SEO. It leads customers with the intent of buying to your business.
Create a free listing on Google My Business.
The days of phonebooks are long gone.
Nowadays, businesses rely on the Internet to get found by potential customers. You can start doing this by creating listings on Google, Bing and other platforms.
A listing contains your business name, business hours, customer reviews, address and phone number. Most online directories will allow you to add photos.
Creating a listing on Google My Business is one of the easiest ways to get started in local SEO. The entire process is very intuitive and doesn’t require professional assistance. It’s as easy as filling out a form.
If you sign up, you retain control over how your business appears in search engine map listings and other Google properties.
There are even certain instances where Google automatically creates listings. Claiming a listing is a simple process. You’ll need to login to your Google account and prove you’re the business owner via the following options:
- instant verification
- bulk verification
Aside from showing your business information and customer reviews, Google My Business also lets you answer questions from customers.
Google My Business also acts as an analytics tool. It lets you see how many clicks your listing is getting so you can recalibrate based on performance.
On top of all that, Google My Business is free. You don’t have to spend a cent to create and optimise your listing.
How to Optimise Your Google My Business Listing
Update your information regularly.
Google My Business lets you add the following information to your listing:
- Business Name
- Service area
- A brief description of your business
- Opening date
Adding all this information could set you apart from competitors. Earlier, we mentioned that 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.
With those numbers, you’d think businesses are scrambling to create listings, but that isn’t the case. 56% of local businesses have failed to claim their Google My Business listings.
And failing to claim your listing could have a huge impact on your business. Anyone can go ahead and change your business information.
By clicking on the Suggest an edit link on a listing, you could change their phone number and other pertinent details. If someone did this, can you imagine the revenue you could lose?
That is why claiming and regularly reviewing your listing is super important. After you claim your listing, you can log into your Google My Business account and view your notifications. You will then see if anyone made changes to your listing.
Utilise the posting features.
Earlier, we compared creating online business listings to phonebooks.
But they’re so much more than that.
Google My Business also acts a social media platform. You could post status updates, coupon codes, photos and videos. This is a great way to:
- inform customers about events you’re participating in.
- announce sales and promos.
- promote new or existing products and services.
Unlike posts on Facebook pages, your Google My Business posts are shown in chronological order. They’re shown to every person who comes across your listing. Old posts are only pushed down when you post something new.
The best part is this is all free.
Get as many reviews as you can.
No matter how great your marketing strategy is, you need word-of-mouth to gain more customers.
And word-of-mouth has now gone digital. People can decide whether to do business with you based on customer reviews written by strangers.
According to a recent survey, almost 95% of shoppers read reviews before deciding on a purchase. 93% of consumers depend on reviews to decide which local business they’ll support.
It’s obvious how powerful customer reviews are.
Before we proceed, we need to make it clear that this strategy isn’t applicable to all online directories.
For example, Yelp, another popular directory, states in their Support Center that you “may be hurting your Yelp rating by proactively asking your customers for reviews.”
It’s great news then that Google thinks asking customers for reviews is a good thing…as long as you do it properly.
- Asking for proper reviews means you’re not offering discounts or benefits in exchange for reviews.
- It also means not asking people who may have close personal ties with you, your employees or your business in general.
In Google My Business Help, they recommend the following best practices:
- Remind your customers to leave reviews. – Don’t stop at reminding them. Make sure they know where and how easy it is to leave a review.
- Reply to reviews to build your customers’ trust. – Grab the opportunity to respond to customer reviews, both positive and negative. You can thank customers who give your business positive reviews. You can show you’re receptive to feedback and willing to improve by responding to negative reviews.
By this point, you might be wondering how to get more customer reviews. Here are a few ways:
How to Get More Customer Reviews
Don’t be afraid to ask customers to give you reviews.
Before existing customers can review your business, they need to know you have a Google My Business Listing. Here are a few ways to inform them:
- Ask them in person.
- Post links on all your social media profiles.
- Include a link in your email signature.
- Include a link in your newsletter.
Make sure you’re not making customers uncomfortable by asking them repeatedly. Keep in mind that you’re merely telling them that they can leave you a review. They’re not obligated to do so.
As long as you’re not being pushy, it’s fine to ask.
Teach customers how to leave reviews.
It’s possible that your customers may not know how to leave reviews.
Simply posting or sending links isn’t enough. You have to give them step-by-step instructions or at least provide helpful resources.
Earlier, we mentioned that you can post links to your Google My Business listing on your social media profiles. When posting links, make sure to include instructions.
- As soon as they access the link, what do they need to click on?
- Do they need to sign into their Google accounts?
- How do they save their reviews?
Answer possible questions that may arise during the process to ensure you get a review. You can include brief instructions on your social media posts or write an entire blog post that you can link to.
Place schema markup on your website.
What is schema markup?
Schema markup is a tag you can embed in your website. It tells Google to display your content differently in search engine results.
For example, you want to know how to add the Yoast plugin to your website. As soon as you type the words “add yoast plugin” on Google, it’s going to show you a bunch of results.
However, the first thing it shows you grabs your attention right away. It’s a set of instructions surrounded by a box along with a screenshot of the website it’s from.
That’s schema markup in action.
By this point, you might be thinking how this might be relevant to your business. Used correctly, schema markup could do wonders for getting potential customers to choose your business.
Let’s say that you have multiple locations, and you have a separate page for each location on your website. Each page has all the information potential customers could need. The address, phone numbers and hours of operation.
You could use schema markup to emphasise your address. When customers search for products you offer near them, the schema markup could help your listing stand out in search results.
According to a survey, businesses that used this strategy saw an increase in traffic by as much as 65% compared to the previous month.
You can also add schema markup to emphasise information about your products, events you’re participating in and other information that could be useful to customers.
Adding schema markup could boost your search engine rankings. However, it may be difficult for someone with little or no coding knowledge. If you find this step too difficult, it would be better to seek professional assistance.
Paying more attention to your local SEO strategy is more important than ever.
Claiming your Google My Business listing could make you more competitive in the digital space. It lets you provide information about your business, track engagement and receive reviews. All without paying a cent.
Once you’ve claimed your listing, attempt to get as many unbiased reviews as possible. Google encourages you to do this. If you do this properly, you could send a signal to search engines that people trust your business, giving your rankings a boost.
Using schema markup on relevant information on your website could complete your local SEO strategy. It allows you to prominently display your contact and product information in search engine results, drawing attention away from competitors.
Cornerstone Digital is an SEO agency in Sydney. Want to boost your rankings in local search results? Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at [email protected]
A self-professed book and digital marketing nerd, Darlyn Herradura focuses on building trust between customers and businesses with the written word. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.