SEO is a marketing discipline that focuses on improving visibility in search engine results that are non-paid. It involves both the practical and innovative elements essential to drive traffic, improve rankings, and boosts visibility in search engines.
Local SEO is the optimization of your online properties so you can be found in localized searches. It is an extremely competitive field that has countless businesses aiming to reach on top of the rankings. As Google’s local SEO metrics and analytics have progressed, the goal of finding appropriate local SEO tactics would ensure you have the edge over your rivals.
It is important to note that local SEO is not just national SEO with local terms. At least not entirely. The differences can be criditcal to local success.
Local SEO actually functions with a separate algorithm from Google’s national SEO foundation, using a completely different series of ranking criteria, and formulating different sets of results based on the circumstances. When a user inserts a geographic indication (for instance, the name of the city or area), or if location data is shared automatically, a local “3-pack” pops up at the top of the search results. These top 3 positions are coveted since they receive a lot of visibility and online traffic.
Importance of Local SEO for Businesses
Over the years, Google has shown partial favoritism towards, smaller, more agile businesses. While the majority of its ranking biases are linked with a brand’s authority and history, Google also wants to give the people what they want – and that normally means displaying local service or location that user can drive to.
In addition to that, Google also loves to give people customized results. While its individualized and predictive features are comparatively limited, for the time being, the search engine is already able to produce specific results on the basis of what the person is searching. As Google flourishes even further and users start demanding even more customized results, the importance of local optimization will grow even further.
Lastly, since competition is ever-increasing, business owners will be compelled to find smaller niches in order to attain pertinent visibility. One of the main ways to do this is by optimizing your business locally, which means local SEO will only grow in prominence as competition continues to intensify.
10 Effective Local SEO Strategies of 2018 In the Bay Area
With the competition being as ruthless as it is, the best thing for businesses, especially smaller ones, is to observe local SEO strategies that are not being utilized by their competitors and use it for their own advantage. By utilizing the following 10 strategies and resources, you can all but guarantee that your Bay Area-based business will be found when target customers search online.
1. Reserve Your Spot on All Local Business Directories
Did you know that 80% of consumers depend on internet searches for selecting local businesses? Nevertheless, not a lot of local businesses state their localized business listings. Those that do, however, gain a lot. Before the local SEO search platform reaches its saturation point, make sure that you get the first-come-first-serve advantage. Here’s what you got to do:
- List your local Bay Area business on top local business directories such as Yelp, Merchant Circle and Citysearch.
- Create a business profile and properly complete it.
- Start creating your business pages on high-value business directories, such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Whitepages, etc.
- Check your local Chamber of Commerce (or other similar agencies) websites and newspapers for probabilities of making your listing.
- Ensure your local business’s name, phone number, and address are consistent and list it down on aggregator networks such as Factual, Neustar, and Infogroup.
- Search for any niche-based directories for your company and make sure your listings are secured.
By keeping your NAP (Name Address Phone) correct through out all major listings, you reduce the chance of confusing Google and increase your chance of being show.
2. Optimize Site Security
When it comes to website optimization, site security is one of the first aspects you need to enhance. This is one feature that your local rivals may have overlooked, which can make their websites more vulnerable to viruses, malicious content, and unreliable links.
If your site is running on WordPress, then you have access to some of the top website security procedures that allow firewall protection, and also helps you build a backup site in case your current website gets compromised somehow.
If your site is compromised, Google will let you know through Google Search Console, but they may also pull your site from the rankings and will most certainly let people know that your site “possibly hacked” in the search results.
One of the biggest variables in site security is your web host. We have learned this the hard way, and that is why we use WPengine whenever possible. In fact, we offer hosting and maintenance of your WordPress site as s service, due to the high importance of speed and security.
3. Take Advantage of the Google AdWords Keyword Planner
Keywords or key phrases are one of the main components of local SEO and are basically used in web content to increase the visibility of your site when people try to find it.
The Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a tool designed to strengthen your local SEO keywords. During the keyword research phase, you can pinpoint the traffic for particular keywords and also look for new local keywords on the basis of local searches. The Keyword Planner tool also allows you to carry out research based on geographic regions. Not only is it a valuable tool for your local SEO keyword strategies, but is also perhaps one of the most beneficial SEO tools that are also free.
For instance, if you run a Bay Area-based business, then the Google AdWords Keyword Planner will help you identify phrases, terms, and words that potential customers are searching for related to your business that you might not have thought of before.
After you have fully understood the basics of using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool, there are various strategies you can adopt later that will help take your local SEO campaign to the next level.
4. Pay Attention to Reputation Management
Customer reviews are some of the most integral factors that potential clients take into account when doing local searches. Favorable testimonials obviously help establish trust and credibility, as well as strengthen your online presence.
A recent survey carried out to assess user behaviors in terms of reviews and ratings of local businesses revealed the following facts:
- 70% of users are happy to rate and review if requested to do so.
- 84% of people look into online feedback prior to making a purchase
One way of improving your reputation management is through mentioning the importance of reviews to present clients. Tell them how reviews will help them and that quality matters.
Be careful how you bring this up! Recognize we did not say ask, Yelp and other review sites look down on this and can ban you from their reviews. Choose your words carefully, such as “Would you consider making a review”. There is no need to mention where to leave the review, if they don’t know about Yelp you don’t want them to be leaving a review, it will most likely get filtered out.
The best way to get reviews is to continually do a good job and let the reviews come naturally.
Users can leave reviews on your social media accounts as well as your website. It is always recommended to invest in a monitoring tool that will track all of your business reviews, so you can see what everyone is saying about your product or service.
5. Utilize the Power of Link-Building
Link-building is one of the well-hidden secrets of local SEO that can do wonders if utilized properly. Link building for local SEO differs from the general link building since you get a ton of value from local links even if the forte of the backlink source site is not directly linked to your own business. That’s because, in case of local businesses, relationships are crucial, which in turn mirrors in Google’s search system for local SEO. However, getting local backlinks calls for some effective marketing, and isn’t something that can be done while resting on your cushioned seat. Listed below are some suggestions:
- See if there are any local sponsorship opportunities around you and if so, get in touch with the sponsors
- Put together a donation drive
- Partake in events involving the local community and then get involved in their websites.
- Take active interest in local portals and newsgroups
- Research low-cost ads on local classifieds
6. Aim For Quality Content instead of Quantity Content
We all know by now that content is king when it comes to strengthening your online presence and ranking higher on Google search results. Whether you are using images or audio, or videos, you need to demonstrate some kind of media in every post. The majority of users are looking for someone who can respond to their problems fast and communicates well. In addition to creating valuable content, you also need to let people know that your business is an approachable one and that you are here to help.
For this reason, showing your contact information, especially phone number, is extremely crucial in all areas of your website. If one of your potential clients decides to reach out to you while reading your content, you should have a visible and easily accessible phone number that they can dial or click.
Creating high-quality content in combination with CTAs is imperative for offering users a memorable experience. What you need to do is find the perfect combination of making desirable content backed by a well-designed website that offers prominent and easy-to-access email addresses and phone numbers.
7. Insert Relevant Keywords Throughout Various Listings
Increasing your business’s visibility via a range of local listings is vital if you are to have an effective local SEO strategy. Here’s what you can do:
- Insert your local keywords in unique descriptions throughout various listings
- Ensure that your images are recent
- Always include your business category.
After you have compiled a list, it is time to promote it. Reviews are important for not only boosting your rankings, but also for encouraging viewers to actually take action.
8. Create and Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
One of the easiest and very effective ways of strategizing your local SEO is through claiming a Google My Business Profile. Basically, this is a business listing that pops up for local searches and requires you to have a physical address and location for you to be able to claim a listing. You can easily optimize this listing with the help of contact information, category, business hours and images.
9. Capitalize on Social Media
It is a widely understood fact that trust and credibility are key to the success of any business, regardless of its size. Engaging with present and potential patients through various social media platforms and opening up about your business is an excellent way of achieving that trust. In addition to that, social media activity plays a key role in both national and local SEO. That’s because when you post links to your social media handles, you create more website traffic. This, in turn, helps improve your ranking in Google.
When someone likes follows, or shares an image, video, or post, it sends a social signal to search engines, which will help boost your brand’s credibility on your third-party website. For this reason, you need to be on as many social network platforms as possible and interact with your local followers on a regular basis. In addition to that, you should also focus on advertising local events, sponsoring local teams, and offering discounts for residents – and then sharing all that information through social media.
10. Strategize Keywords
Keywords are a crucial feature of local SEO. If used poorly, these keywords can badly impact your Google rankings. Keep in mind that search engines are designed to identify pages that are full of relevant keywords designed particularly for the purpose of search engine optimization. It should also be noted that customers do not really find pages that have dedicated completely to keywords, very useful, and therefore not likely to stick around for long. However, a few but well-placed keywords can take your SEO game to the next level, especially in the title tags, meta descriptions and landing pages.
So make sure to spend enough time coming up with keywords that are precise and relevant to your business, and place them strategically. A few well-placed keywords, along with testimonials on local pages and quality backlinks go a long way.
Even by implementing a few of the above mentioned local SEO strategies correctly, your website will most probably experience a boost in local business in the Bay Area. Just make sure that you are patient and consistent with your efforts and utilizing techniques that specifically cater to your own business.