DIY Local SEO: Give Your Local Search Presence a Tune Up in 4 Simple Steps
Local SEO strategy doesn’t have to be overwhelming!
Figuring out the latest developments in SEO is hard enough for websites, but if you own a brick-and-mortar business or offer a localized service – realtors, therapists, lawyers, doctors, cleaning services, photographers, and many more – mastering the ins and outs of local SEO can be especially daunting. Yet as Google responds to the rise of mobile searches and users’ expectations of personalized content by offering more and more localized results, you simply can’t afford to ignore local SEO.
At Wheelhouse, we help our local SEO clients by diving deep into the details of each local platform and tactic to solve their specific problems, but we also want to be helpful to everyone out there who’s just looking for some quick guidance to help them get a handle on local SEO. So, we’ve put together four simple steps you can follow today to start taking control of your localized search presence. We want to make local SEO so simple you can truly do it yourself.
Step 1: Keep a high profile – Confirm, claim or create profiles on GMB and other key platforms.
The most important steps you can take to improve your local search presence are also some of the simplest and free-est: either create a Google My Business profile or confirm or claim one that already exists. With a GMB profile, your ability to raise your search visibility and fine-tune what users can learn about your business in search results increases significantly, but without one, you’re barely even playing the game.
Once you have GMB up and running, there are several other key local profiles to consider: Facebook, Yelp, Bing and LinkedIn. Not all of these are necessary or relevant for every business type, but with minimal light research you can tailor your own approach to building out your local profiles online.
Step 2: Take your NAP – Make sure your name, address and phone number are accurate.
Much like a cranky preschooler or a zonked college student, local SEO problems often start with missing your NAP – in this case, Name – Address – Phone Number.
Once your GMB and all other relevant profiles are created, claimed, or confirmed and ready to go, one optimization should take precedent over all others: make sure your business name, address, and phone number are accurate.
If you have any pages with store, branch or location information on your website, you should make sure your NAP information is accurate and consistent there too (and with a little bit more savvy you can use Local Business Schema to clearly identify NAP information on your website and make Google’s life that much easier).
While NAPH just isn’t as good of an acronym, you also want to prioritize making sure that your business hours (if applicable) are 100% accurate and consistent. You can also enhance your NAP and other location information by listening to your customers: whether they’re having problems with confusing parking, daunting one-way streets or ambiguous signage, you can show empathy and help them solve any problems they’re having in finding you by adding more detail to your location pages or local profiles.
Step 3: Put your best foot forward – Add attractive photos, accurate descriptions and other meaningful profile content.
Having profiles and accurate NAP data will help you start showing up where you should in searches, but the more appealing and relevant the content is in your local profiles and webpages, the more likely users will be to click and engage.
Your GMB photos are a great place to start in improving your content. Choose attractive pictures that capture your brand and highlight the distinctive benefits of your products or services. And if you are going to feature an exterior or interior photo of your office or storefront, make sure it’s appealing, well-lit and recognizable: a photo that makes your workplace seem dull or ugly or that could confuse potential customers trying to find your business on foot will hurt you more than they help.
You can also take some time to fill in your description on GMB or other profiles, taking the time to choose relevant keywords and to describe your products or services in a way that will be genuinely helpful and engaging for customers.
Don’t forget to optimize your business categories. You have the opportunity to assign one primary category, and a handful of secondary business categories when relevant. Proper business categories are one of the most impactful areas of your local listings because they enable your local listings to surface in the most relevant search results (as Google does its best to surface the most appropriate business listings for local search queries).
Step 4: Plan to dominate – Identify opportunities for localized content, review solicitation and response, and local link building and citations.
Localized Content Strategy
In the age of localized search results, optimized profiles and accurate information are just the start. The most successful businesses develop a localized content strategy, using posts, articles, webpages, infographics, videos and other content types to speak to the specific needs of their local customers and to demonstrate their deep knowledge of their communities and markets.
Like any content strategy, you can approach the challenge of localized content through keyword and competitive research, but you also can tap into the tribal knowledge of your colleagues. Every bit of knowledge you’ve collectively gained by living where you live and working where you work over the years can be leveraged to create highly specific local content that can help Google see you as a more authoritative presence in your localized competitive landscape.
If you’re familiar with SEO-focused content strategy – building topical authority, helping users accomplish their tasks, featuring keywords in contextually relevant and genuinely helpful ways – think about what it can look like to execute localized versions of those tactics on your website. Ask yourself:
What local examples or case studies, local data or insights, regional certifications or accomplishments, local volunteering or pro-bono work, local testimonials or client success stories, etc. can you highlight in your content to combine the most enduring and valuable SEO strategies with the new realities of local SEO?
As you plan for further investment in your local SEO, you should also consider the most effective (and ethical) method for you to invite customers to leave you reviews on GMB, Yelp or other platforms. You can’t solicit positive reviews or offer quid pro quo arrangements to get them, but you can ask nicely for honest, constructive feedback.
And when you get reviews – whether they’re positive, negative or mixed – be sure to respond gratefully and helpfully to as many of them as possible: potential customers will appreciate your efforts and Google values responses to reviews alongside the quantity and quality of the reviews themselves.
Google My Business Posts
You can also read more about GMB’s post feature and use posts to highlight events, new or improved products or services, and any other content that you want to be front and center when users see your GMB profile.
- Step 1: Confirm, claim or create profiles on Google My Business and other key platforms
- Step 2: Make sure your name, address and phone number are accurate.
- Step 3: Add attractive photos, accurate descriptions and key info about staff, hours, etc.
- Step 4: Look ahead: localized content, strong reviews, local link building and citations.