5 tips to dominate local SEO

Too often, entrepreneurs leave money on the table (and customers in the
dark) by failing to drive traffic to their business.

Small-business owners should formulate a creative content plan that focuses
on dominating local search engine optimization searches. Otherwise, content
plans might be too general or not tailored toward a local target audience.

Some entrepreneurs just build a website and hope people stumble upon it. If
you want to get an edge, however, your content should be optimized for your
unique local markets, and your site must be crafted with mobile browsers in
mind.

Here are five SEO tips to keep in mind:

1. Set up your Google My Business page.

When people are looking for a local business, Google is typically the first
place they look.

To makes sure your business shows up at the top of the Google search, claim
your Google Business Page. To do this, click here, then follow the
prompts. If your business does not appear, click on “Add Your Business.”
The next step requires a two- to three-week wait for a postcard to arrive
via snail mail.

After receiving your postcard, you can verify your business and add
information, almost like a social media page. Then you can add business
hours, photos, phone numbers and a link to your website.

Another great aspect of claiming your business is being able to receive and
respond to reviews, which is a wonderful tool for customer engagement.

Here are additional tips to optimize your Google My Business page:

  • Don’t skip the description section. Write a thorough,
    detailed, catchy description of products or services your company offers.
  • Choose the correct categories for your business. This
    ensures that a general search for “plumbers (or whatever) near me” will
    include your business.
  • Upload plenty of flattering business photos. Be sure
    your business is neither too empty nor too busy when you photograph it. It
    should appear to be popular, but not so busy that it turns people off.
  • Ask loyal customers to post honest reviews of your business on Google.

2. Blog about local events and news.

Write about topics that locals will be searching for. Is the annual
Renaissance Fair approaching? Take time to blog about the subject, and make
it relate to your business in a relevant way. Attend local events, and
invite your audience to join you.

[FREE GUIDE: 10 techniques to beef up your networking]

Write about local events on social media sites, too. Ask followers whether
they plan to attend local events, and let popular opinion influence your
content strategy. This fosters genuine customer engagement. Piggybacking
off local events is a clever way to boost your local SEO.

3. Add local area meta descriptions.

Writing an effective meta description is about anticipating potential clients’ needs when searching for
businesses. Google recently
changed its meta description length from 160 to 320 characters. This doesn’t mean
that you should use all 320 characters, but use the space wisely by
including relevant local phrases.

A
good meta description should account for three specific pieces of information:

  • Your customer’s problem
  • Your business’s solution
  • The outcome of your service

To optimize these steps for your area, include geographically specific
terms, such as:

Q & A plumbing has been serving the South Beach area for 40 years. We
specialize in clogged drains, leak repair, garbage disposal installation
and water heater repair for Miami, Coral Gables, Fontainebleau and Hialeah.
Call us now to fix all your plumbing problems.

Meta descriptions do not directly affect
your website ranking in Google, but they will affect the relevance of your
website for certain keywords consumers might use. So, review your meta
descriptions to see how they could be better tailored to your local market.
If need be, beef up your descriptions by taking advantage of Google’s
expanded character allotment.

4. Encourage customers to leave reviews.

One survey
found that 97 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
Don’t be shy about asking friends, family and loyal customers for help.
Google, Yelp, Angie’s List and Facebook are all important platforms for
garnering reviews.

Unfortunately, people are more apt to leave a negative review than to take
the time to leave a positive one. One grumpy customer will take the
initiative to write a one-star review, while 10 delighted customers simply
move on with their day. To remedy this, always encourage happy customers to
leave reviews for your business.

However, do not offer incentives for leaving reviews. This
practice is
illegal, so don’t even consider it.

Whatever type of review you receive, be sure to respond. Bad reviews can be
mitigated by responding professionally and offering to do better the next
time. Discounts never hurt, either.

Online reviews have an outsize influence on your business, so take control
of this SEO linchpin.

5. Network with other local businesses.

Make nice with neighboring companies and nearby nonprofits.

Follow other local businesses online, and comment on their posts. Most are
likely to reciprocate, and adding to others’ discussions can help you reach
new people.

Form symbiotic content relationships. Consider welcoming local guest
writers onto your blog. Invite business owners with complementary interests
to write for your site. For example, if you run an RV company, forge a
partnership with local campgrounds to expand your audience.

Successfully manage local SEO content

With a little extra work, you can dominate your local SEO content. Think of
yourself as a consumer, and use that insight to help with SEO optimization.
How do you conduct online research? Which keywords do you use?

Try to anticipate what local consumers will be searching for, then include
relevant keywords on your site, in your meta descriptions and in your
social media accounts. Optimizing your content will attract more customers,
generate more traffic and, hopefully, bring in more revenue.

A version of this post first appeared on

Content Equals Money.

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