Wednesday, November 25th, 2020
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Local SEO is important.
In fact, 46% of all searches on Google are local.
That means if you’re a local business and you don’t have your local SEO in order, you’re missing an opportunity every time someone searches for your products or services online.
And there’s a lot of people searching.
About 89% of people search for a local business on their smartphone at least once a week, with 58% searching daily.
And from that search, 72% will visit a store within five miles.
These searchers are unlikely to find you if your local SEO is poor.
What, Exactly, Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of increasing the online visibility of local businesses. It’s similar organic SEO, but with an added geographical component.
Specifically, you’re aiming to rank high in the search engine result pages (SERPs) for local searches.
There’s no point in a New York restaurant ranking high in Houston’s local search results. They want people searching for restaurants in New York to find them.
So it’s imperative to improve your local SEO if you want to increase your organic local traffic.
According to Moz’s 2018 local search ranking factors, Google My Business Signals, including proximity, are a top ranking factor.
These are the signals that help local businesses rank in Google’s three-pack.
But what’s the “pack?”
The Google three-pack is the collection of the top three results for your local search.
This used to be a 7-pack, but it was truncated to be a better fit for mobile searches.
That’s where you want your business to sit.
So how do you get it there?
Here’s some local SEO tips that will get your business noticed.
1. Optimize Your Website for Local SEO
If your website isn’t properly optimized, it will be hard for you to climb the SERPs.
Check your website’s SEO now to see how it could be improved.
For local SEO, in addition to standard SEO best practices, you need to do the following:
Create a Dedicated Contact Page
These days, people want more detailed information about your business.
On your contact page, make sure you clearly show your “NAP:”
I would also recommend that you display your email, like Seattle’s Velo Bike Shop has done on their site:
Include All of Your Business Addresses
If you have 10 or fewer locations, include the complete name, address, and phone number of each in the sitewide footer element on your website.
Make Phone Numbers Clickable on Mobile Devices
Some 30% of mobile searches are location-related.
So it’s vital that your site is optimized for mobile devices.
Also, 76% of local searches result in a phone call.
So make sure your phone number is clickable.
If someone finds your website on their mobile device and wants to call you, they might be annoyed to find they have to switch between apps to type in the number manually.
Here, Barrio Restaurant has ensured their phone number is clickable when viewed on mobile devices.
When the user clicks the phone number, their phone will prompt them if they’d like to call the number.
Google has a post that walks you through how to make a phone number clickable on your website.
Add a Map or Your Locations
The whole point of local SEO is to make it easier for people to find you, right?
In this example, Starbucks gets it right, including an interactive map of all their locations.
Google considers testimonials a trust signal, and it helps people feel confident that you are a real business.
And that’s why Local SEO Guide has a whole page dedicated to these types of reviews.
Collect and prominently display testimonials from local customers on your website for an added local SEO boost.
It makes it easier for search engines to understand what your website is about.
By adding the appropriate Schema markup for local businesses to your website, you’re telling Google you’re a local business and not some big brand.
In turn, this can help to boost your local rankings.
To make this process easier, Hall Analysis has created a tool to help you create your Schema markup.
Just fill in your information, then copy the code on the right-hand side of the page.
Next, paste the code in the <head> section of your HTML document or website builder.
After you’ve added your Schema markup, you’ll want to test it with Google’s structured data testing tool.
This tool should pull out your information, and show it on the right-hand side:
Once you’ve optimized your website for local SEO, you should be in a better position to improve your rankings and increase local organic traffic.
2. Claim Your Online Profiles – Especially Google My Business
Your website isn’t the only place you need to be online.
And don’t forget any popular local-review sites.
Because when it comes to local searches, Google’s 3-pack is often followed by these review sites:
Google My Business
Filling out your profile on Google My Business is a good place to start.
This profile allows you to manage your presence on Google’s search engine.
By filling out your profile completely and collecting reviews (which we’ll talk about in a minute), you’ll improve your ranking.
Google Maps will also show searchers a detailed profile of your business, like Seattle Coffee Works.
This is huge. So huge I wrote an entire post on how to optimize your Google My Business page.
Especially when you remember that 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps.
Any Local Listings
You’ll often see the occasional local review site among the heavy hitters, like TripAdvisor and Yelp.
You can find the sites that are relevant to your business and location by searching keywords like:
- [target location] reviews
- [industry/niche] [target location] reviews
Claim Other Social Profiles to Improve Local SEO
You’ll also want to set up profiles on the social media channels relevant to your target demographic.
Be sure to follow social media best practices.
When setting up your profiles, it’s very important to make sure your information is identical on each platform.
Remember, consistency is key.
By setting up these profiles, you’ll become more visible to potential customers. You’ll also provide search engines with more information about your business, which will help to boost your ranking.
3. Create Local Content
Blogging is essential to SEO.
Just in case you haven’t already, create a blog on your website.
If possible, host your blog on your business’s domain for optimal SEO benefits.
For example, “www.website.com/blog” instead of “blog.website.com” or “websiteblog.com.”
Here’s Stonyfield’s blog:
This way, as you acquire links to your blog, you’ll also gain links to your business’s main site.
And if you remember the pie charts at the beginning of this article, links are the second most important localized organic-ranking factor.
So, as your blog’s search engine rankings increase, so do the rankings of your website.
When writing the posts, make sure to include local city and neighborhood names wherever you can.
Not everyone will use your city name when searching, so be sure you also include neighboring towns and cities, neighborhoods, and unofficial terms that locals may use.
Include local news and happenings, which will not only boost your SEO but will also provide useful information to your audience.
Capitalize on the popularity of an upcoming community event, election, fair, etc.
Or, sponsor local events, teams, or organizations, and write about them.
Try to cover local events from the perspective of a local business owner.
You can also interview local experts within or outside your company.
Here, Stonyfield gets involved in a local charity initiative.
But don’t write about your business.
David Meerman Scott, an online marketing strategist, says it perfectly:
“Stop talking about your products and services. People don’t care about products and services; they care about themselves.”
Write posts that help and benefit your reader in some way. Aim to become a trusted source in your industry.
Here, none of Stonyfield’s most popular blog posts are about their business or products directly.
Instead, they are aimed at helping the reader in some way.
While you build your blog audience, you also want to collect inbound links.
A good way to start is to join conversations in other local business blogs.
You might want to avoid direct competitors, but are there any complementary or related business blogs in your community?
Participate by leaving thoughtful comments or mentioning (and linking) their posts on your blog.
Building relationships with other businesses is a great way to establish your website and attract links back to your blog.
Another thing you can do is conduct a backlink audit of your top competitors. You can use Ubersuggest to do this. Here’s how.
Step #1: Enter your competitor’s URL and click “search.”
Step #2: Click “backlinks” in the left sidebar to conduct your audit.
The final section of the results page lists every backlink, along with:
- Domain score: Measures the overall strength of the website, from 1 (low) to 100 (high)
- Page score: Measures the overall strength of the page, from 1 (low) to 100 (high)
- Link type: Text or image
- Anchor text: The clickable text that leads to your website
- First seen: The first time Ubersuggest robots identified the backlink
- Last seen: The last time Ubersuggest robots confirmed the backlink
So, if Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio is one of your competitors, you should review every backlink with an eye toward two things:
- Quality (measured by domain score)
- Your ability to secure a link
Reach out to the same sites and tell them why they should link to your site, too. It’s hit or miss, but even if you only pick up a few backlinks it’s a step in the right direction.
Know Who You’re Targeting
If you don’t know who you’re writing for, it’s extremely difficult to create valuable content that hits the mark.
So once you’ve created your reader personas, you need to understand your target neighborhoods and their demographics.
Nielsen created an excellent tool called Zip Code Lookup to help you do just that.
Simply input your zip code, and you’ll receive information like the median income, age, and consumer spending.
The tool also provides a title summing up the area, like “Urban Elders” or “Aspiring A-Listers.”
Local Content Mistakes to Avoid
Be sure to avoid common mistakes as you focus locally.
Don’t take content from other websites — even from your manufacturers — unless you’re using it as an attributed source or quote in your own original content.
Be wary of the multi-website approach for your business.
4. Get Reviews for a Local SEO Boost
Before the internet, it was easier for bad businesses to spin their branding and dupe customers.
Thankfully, the internet has put more power into consumers’ hands.
Now, everyone can instantly see whether you’re as good as you say you are.
Research shows that 81 percent of people read reviews and check ratings, and more than one-in-three consumers comment on blogs or contribute to online forums.
What’s more, 97% say customer reviews factor into their buying decisions.
So, basically everyone.
What’s the state of your online reviews?
If you have anything other than a four- or five-star rating on the major review sites, you might be in trouble.
Poor ratings turn potential customers off. And a lack of ratings may not instill trust and confidence in your brand.
However, a Harvard Business School study found that even bumping up your score by one star can help boost revenues by almost 10%.
Reviews also stand out to prospects as they’re often featured in local search results.
They actually make up 15% of the local pack-ranking factors.
Acquiring reviews is an ongoing process and one you’ll be engaged in for the life of your business.
Every business will receive negative reviews at some point along the way.
When you do, be sure to respond professionally and personally.
The best way to prevent negative reviews is to provide an incredible product or service.
By delighting your customers, you’ll limit bad reviews and encourage good ones.
So now that you’ve gotten your business properly listed on the main review platforms, it’s time to fill them with positive customer reviews and photos, like The Station:
According to Moz, Google reviews are believed to have the greatest impact on Google’s local rankings.
You can create a shareable Google review link to promote to your audience here.
Things to Avoid When Asking for Online Reviews
Before you start asking for reviews on any platform, make sure you know its guidelines and terms of service.
You want to channel your customer’s positivity to influence new potential customers.
What goes around comes around, right?
So don’t do anything pushy, like set up a review station or kiosk to ask for reviews.
Make sure to have local customers leave reviews using their own devices and under their own accounts.
Also, don’t ask for too many reviews at once. A sudden influx of positive reviews can look suspicious and may result in filtering on some platforms.
Once more, acquiring reviews should be a steady, ongoing process for your business.
5. Build Citations for Local SEO
What exactly are citations?
They’re mentions of your business name, address, phone number, or website (NAP+W) anywhere on the web, even if there is no link to your website.
Citations are important to your local SEO efforts because its signals make up 11% of local pack-ranking factors.
Make sure you only build citations for real physical locations, as P.O. boxes and virtual offices are not acceptable.
You can build a unique set of citations for every physical location you have.
But make sure the name, address, phone number, and website URL are correct and identical on each citation you build.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, mismatched NAP account for 41% of the total ranking issues.
So once again, consistency is key.
That said, search engine algorithms are clever enough to understand most abbreviations.
It’s important to check whether your abbreviation will be picked up and read correctly by search engines.
For a full list of acceptable abbreviations, check out Whitespark’s complete table.
Here are some ways to build citations.
Local Search Engines
Search engines like Google or Bing crawl the web for citations to validate or update the information in their own indexes.
You can help the search engines do this by listing your businesses on sites like Yelp, Hotfrog, and Foursquare. (Though it’s worth noting that FourSquare’s city guide is much less popular these days.)
Dedicate some time and resources to making sure your business is listed in as many relevant, quality local business directories as possible.
Local blogs are a fantastic place to get your business listed to boost your local SEO.
These blogs are well-indexed by search engines and are highly associated with a particular city, region, or neighborhood.
As you acquire links from these blogs, search engines will increasingly view your business as trusted and relevant in the local search engines.
Local blogs will be different for each location, but you can find ones relevant to you and your business by searching terms like:
- [target location] [niche/industry] blog
Often, the top local blogs will have the name of the city or region in their title or domain, like Seattle Theatre.
Locally Focused Directories
Like local blogs, local directories are strongly associated with a geographic area and they’re well indexed by search engines.
Directories edited by a human are preferred.
This is because they’re less susceptible to spam, so they tend to be more trusted by the local search engines.
To start with, add your business to Best of the Web’s Regional Directory.
Then you can search for specific local directories by using search terms like:
- [Target city] directory
- [State] directory
Industry-Focused Directories or Blogs
You can also gain citations from industry focused blogs and directories.
These websites are focused on the topics and keywords related to your products and services.
Although these sites don’t always have a local focus, they may be counted as citation sources by local search engines.
Do you have a membership directory for your trade organization or a blog that’s popular among readers in your niche?
Both are likely to be crawled by the local search engines for citations.
Porch is a directory of local contractors like painters, plumbers, and electricians.
You can find industry directories and blogs relevant to your business by searching terms like:
- [your industry] directory
- [your keyword] directory
- Top [your industry] blogs
Fighting to climb the SERPs can be tough for businesses, especially if you’re a small business with limited resources.
But local SEO is critical to your business success.
As people rely more and more on search engines and reviews to find what they need, you’ll need to boost your local rankings to be found.
So climb the local SERPs by optimizing your website, producing great local content, acquiring citations, and earning reviews.
But, don’t limit yourself to technical local SEO practices like citations and web optimization, though.
Build relationships with other relevant local business, participate in community events, and join local organizations.
Online efforts are always a reflection of offline realities. If your business is bad, your reviews will be, too.
So, focus on building the best business you can.
What local SEO techniques have produced great results for your business?
In these modern times of digital transformation, it may seem like most digital marketing strategies are designed for online businesses.
So are there any digital marketing strategies for brick-and-mortar businesses?
Yes, there are, and one of the most effective ones is hyperlocal marketing.
What is Hyperlocal Marketing?
As the name suggests, hyperlocal marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on reaching customers in your vicinity. It is targeted to motivated people who are ready to buy your products.
The main goal of hyperlocal marketing is to increase foot traffic to your business. This is achieved by strategically placing the right ads in front of the right people at the right time.
It could also serve the purpose of raising brand awareness in your specific locale.
Several factors are considered, with the main one being your prospect’s location.
Hence the name hyperlocal marketing.
Advantages of Hyperlocal Marketing
Many businesses are adopting hyperlocal marketing for the tremendous results it brings. It has many advantages over other marketing methods for both online and offline businesses. Here are the top five:
Bring in Hot Hyperlocal Leads
Because it is a very niche marketing technique, hyperlocal marketing has the advantage of bringing in leads that are ready to make a purchase. That’s because most of the people targeted by hyperlocal ad campaigns are already looking for the product or service you offer.
Take, for example, someone looking for a coffee shop. They’ll search for a coffee shop “near me,” and if they are in your vicinity, your coffee shop will be recommended to them by search engines. Or, they’ll be served one of your ads on their social media timelines.
Even if they’re not actively looking for a coffee shop, you can send out push notifications alerting people in your vicinity of a special you’re running.
Don’t Require Huge Ad Spend
Because you don’t have to run regional or nationwide campaigns, your ad spend can be kept at a bare minimum.
You also save on your advertising budget because you’re targeting a hyper-specific audience. This has the effect of reducing your cost per target while increasing your return on ad spend (ROAS).
Easy to Set Up and Run
Again, the niche nature of hyperlocal ad campaigns makes it easy to set up and run. It’s also easier to create personalized ads, resulting in higher conversion rates.
Easy to Measure Performance
When it comes to measuring performance, it’s easy to track as you can tell where your foot traffic is coming from.
Help Build Relationships with Customers
One of the biggest keys to growing a business is to build relationships with your customers.
Executed well, hyperlocal marketing will help people in your geographic area know that they can depend on you when they need a product or service you offer. As a result, most will turn into repeat customers. Better yet, they can end up being your brand ambassadors.
Hyperlocal Ads Work in Real-Time
A big advantage of hyperlocal marketing is that it works in real-time. This ability increases conversion rates as it offers prospects deals on products or services they’re actively looking for.
With all these advantages, you can’t afford to ignore hyperlocal marketing.
How Does Hyperlocal Advertising Work?
Thanks to technology, marketers can pinpoint the exact locations of their prospects. This can be done through:
- IP addresses
- Bluetooth signals
Knowing a prospect’s location is crucial to running hyperlocal ad campaigns as it allows you to narrow down your audience to a specific area. Most ad platforms, like Google and Facebook, give you the option of targeting a particular locality, making it easy for you to create your hyperlocal ad campaigns.
Once you’ve determined your target area, you can then set triggers that will deploy your ads.
Examples of triggers can include:
- Search queries
- Search history
- Behavioral activity (places your prospects have recently visited)
Depending on your campaign, your hyperlocal ads could be in the form of text messages, app notifications, email alerts, ads on search engine results pages (SERPs), and more. It could even be a combination. These are sent to the prospects’ mobile device when they enter your selected boundary and perform an action that sets off your triggers.
Fundamentals to Get Right Before Launching Hyperlocal Ad Campaigns
Now you know what hyperlocal marketing is, and you also see why it’s so essential to your marketing strategy.
Let’s look at some fundamentals you must get right before creating your hyperlocal ad campaigns that drive results.
Optimize Your Google My Business Page
One of your first stops as you lay the foundation for your hyperlocal ad campaigns is your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
GMB is a free tool from Google that enables businesses to manage their online presence on Google search results. It’s especially useful for brick-and-mortar businesses as it helps Google users find businesses near them.
You must optimize your GMB listing as Google uses three main criteria when serving users with GMB listings:
- Relevance. For your business to be deemed relevant, it must match a searcher’s query.
- Prominence. This has to do with whether or not your business is reliable enough to recommend to users.
- Proximity. Is your business close enough to the user to recommend?
If you can optimize for these three, you’ll stand a better chance of success with your hyperlocal ad campaigns.
So how do you optimize your GMB listing?
Optimizing for GMB Relevance
- Create detailed keyword-focused business descriptions
- Choose the right category that describes your business
- Set your workdays and operating hours
Optimizing for GMB Prominence
- Get high-quality reviews
- Use high-quality images
- Manage your online reputation well
Optimizing for GMB Proximity
While it’s virtually impossible to influence a searcher’s proximity to your business, there are a few best practices you can follow to improve your chances of Google serving your GMB listing in search results.
One such best practice is to create separate landing pages for each of your locations if you have more than one business location.
Another tip is to leverage famous landmarks near you. Including these in your business description will help your business show up when users search using that landmark as a reference. Here’s an arbitrary example:
With your GMB listing optimized, we can now move on to other fundamental elements you need to get right if your hyperlocal ad campaigns are to give you a healthy ROAS.
Ensure Your Local Search and Mobile Optimization is On Point
Local SEO plays a huge role in the effectiveness of your hyperlocal ad campaigns.
Research by Google shows that “near me” searches on mobile have increased by over 500% over the last few years.
A few tips to help you with this include:
- Create hyperlocal content (using location-specific keywords)
- Feature your location in some of your URLs
- Create location-specific metadata
- Focus on long-tail keywords
- Optimize for voice search
- Include contact info on your website
Besides optimizing for local SEO you must make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
Most local searches are performed on mobile devices, and if your website doesn’t display correctly on mobile devices, you stand a chance of losing your prospects. With hyperlocal marketing, a positive online user experience (UX) can help drive your offline conversions.
If your brand can rank high for local search queries, it is easier for you to win at hyperlocal marketing. So, invest in ranking for your local search terms, and make sure to give your prospects a positive UX online, too.
Tips for Creating Hyperlocal Ad Campaigns That Drive Results
Ready to create hyperlocal ad campaigns that drive results?
Let’s take a look at a few tips that will help you reach your marketing goals.
Use the Right Keywords For Hyperlocal Campaigns
Keywords play a critical role in the success of ad campaigns. For your hyperlocal ad campaigns to be effective, you must focus on location-based keywords. This is where tools like Ubersuggest come in handy.
However, stopping at the right keywords to target is only half the battle, as keyword research is concerned.
You must also consider negative keywords.
These are keywords where you don’t want your ad to appear. That’s because negative keywords serve no purpose in helping you reach your goals. However, they can be dangerous as they could drive your ad spend up.
Tap Into the Local Culture
When creating the copy for your hyperlocal ads, tap into the local culture.
In short, leverage local stereotypes and incorporate local lingo if possible.
This will add a touch of personalization to your ad campaigns. As a result, your prospects will feel safe following your ad to your location.
Tapping into the local culture will also help your brand become acceptable as a relevant part of the community.
This can increase brand loyalty.
Ride on the Back of Your Competitors
When setting up your hyperlocal ad campaigns, your biggest help can come from the most unlikely source.
Yes, I mean your competitors.
How can they help you?
Run campaigns in the vicinity of their locations.
Of course, for this strategy to work, you must be able to prove why you’re the better option. You can do this by pitching your unique value proposition (UVP) or by offering an incentive.
One of the best examples of this strategy is Burger King’s WhopperDetour campaign. Burger King drove traffic to their stores by offering app users Whopper sandwiches for a mere penny as long as they were in the vicinity (within 600 feet) of a McDonald’s.
The best thing about this strategy is that your ads will go out to people ready to make a purchase. Converting them into paying customers becomes a piece of cake.
Target Events Near You
People love events.
They love the excitement building up to an event that they’re planning on attending.
You can leverage that excitement by creating hyperlocal ad campaigns targeted at said events.
Not only will this help you get your target audience’s attention, but it will also help you leverage the excitement created by the event.
And every marketer knows that the happier a person is, the easier it is to sell to them.
Another advantage of targeting events is that they attract people from areas outside your location. This element helps increase your brand awareness beyond your geographical area.
Marry Hyperlocal Marketing With Out-of-Home Advertising
Considered the oldest form of hyperlocal marketing, out-of-home (OOH) advertising leverages display ads placed physically in the vicinity of your business. Examples of OOH include billboards and other forms of signage that can be used to grab attention and convey a marketing message to your audience.
While it may be old-school, OOH has moved with the times and is now digital. With the use of digital signage, you can continue your online hyperlocal marketing campaigns offline. This makes for a better customer journey that has higher chances of conversions.
Hyperlocal marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar business. Especially in this day and age when competition for customers is stiff, you need to up your game to achieve your marketing goals.
And hyperlocal marketing could just be the shot in the arm that your business needs.
While it may seem counterintuitive to market to a smaller target group, going hyperlocal has the advantage of improving your lead quality.
As a result, you reduce your cost per lead (CPL) while increasing your ROAS.
Now that’s definitely a win in any marketing playbook.
If you’ve run hyperlocal ad campaigns before, what was your experience with them like?
I’d like to show you a short video case study which Chris Cantell made recently – showing just how insanely powerful for ranking is this one thing:
Chris and I have been teaching the importance of making your page hyper relevant for a couple of year now, in our webinars. Importance which, as you will see from this video, cannot be underestimated.
In short, if you have the right relevance, you will outrank even massive authority competing sites!!!
…as you’ll see in the video.
How is it that we know how to make our pages relevant?
You see, we’ve studied Google’s patents. This information comes right out of one of their patent applications.
Patent information is publicly available, and gives us deep insight right into the heart of the Google algorithm.
The rest of the industry is finally beginning to talk about this.
They seem to have named it by the curious acronym “TF IDF” (which stands for term frequency-inverse document frequency – it’s a name that speaks of the inclusion of relevant terms, words and phrases, in your page).
Fortunately, those of you who have followed us for a while or seen our webinars know exactly how to achieve relevance, and those of you in SEO Breakthrough have our relevant keyword master tool to automate the process of harvesting these relevant words and phrases from the internet!
Anyway, have a look at this video, it’s very informative. I think you’ll be blown away by the comparison between these sites:
All the best
John Pearce and Chris Cantell
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Develop Your Marketing Machine to Plan for Marketing Success Do you ever before really feel like you’re continuously running about, attempting to obtain your advertising products placed with each other and also out the door? Or are you continuously jumping on the newest advertising concept, and also tossing away your time as well as cash …
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