For businesses with physical stores that rely on foot traffic, local search is an essential cornerstone of an online marketing strategy. 24 percent of all searches have local intent, and in order for these searchers to find your local business, steps must be taken to optimize your company’s online presence. The following five tips are an excellent place to start.
1. Claim All Local Profiles
The obvious basics are Google Maps, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yellowbook and Mapquest. Do you have an entire afternoon set aside for this one task? Go above & beyond by diving into Hubspot’s list of the top 50 business directories for local search. Sidenote: We’re assuming you’ve already set up a profile on the major social media networks as they are just as important. When optimizing for local SEO, every additional profile gives an extra boost.
2. Ensure NAP Consistency
Okay, you have dozens of profiles to work with – now what? An important detail for local search that many overlook is NAP – Name, Address, Phone number – consistency. Your business name should be exactly the same on each profile. For example, our local SEO rankings could take a hit if we accidentally optimized for both SteadyRain and SteadyRain, LLC.
Addresses can get tricky as well. In our case, 716 Geyer Ave. and 716 Geyer Avenue are different. We have to make sure each profile has the same address to ensure local search results are consistent. Pick either a five or nine-digit zip code. Put either Suite 400 or Ste 400. Consistency is key!
Don’t forget to focus on just one phone number. The biggest issue with this detail is choosing a 1-800 number for some profiles and a local number for others. Determine which would be more attractive to your target audience, and stick with it. Branding tip: go with either periods or dashes for your phone numbers. A mix of 314-555-2097 and 314.555.2097 looks messy.
These may seem like minor details, but when optimizing for local search, these seemingly unimportant inconsistencies can cost you leads and conversions. Better safe than sorry when focusing on local SEO.
3. Research and Utilize Powerful Keywords
Once you’ve claimed your profiles and made sure your business details are consistent, the next step is to really zero in on optimization for local search. Much like website search engine optimization, local SEO requires focused keyword research. Study your target audience and explore keyword options. Local search queries will probably include your company’s location, so keep that in mind. Basic search engine optimization rules apply – stick to white hat SEO, avoid keyword stuffing, etc.
Again, the best profiles weave in keywords with valuable content. Local search visitors are visiting these directories to learn more about your business, so create copy built to provide them with useful information. Natural content partnered with powerful keywords is by far the best way to reach your target audience.
4. Monitor Your Online Reputation
Now that everything’s set up, the fun part starts – constant monitoring. Set up a schedule to check on your company profiles, and stick to it. It’s crucial that you visit these directories regularly, because visitors may be trying to connect with your company on them. If you’re not around to reply, you may not lose only one customer but dozens of others who notice your lack of response. For directories who allow comments and rankings related to customer experience, this is crucial. If someone has a bad experience with your company, don’t you want to fix the situation as soon as possible? Public response gives you a unique opportunity to show other potential customers you care about providing excellent business. This is no less important for a customer with complimentary comments. Thanking them graciously shows you appreciate their business. Never underestimate the power of rankings and reviews for local search!
While you’re monitoring, don’t forget to focus on and evaluate your local SEO tactics. Are your keywords working? If you find a better phrase for local search, every single directory or profile should be updated. It takes time, but it’s time well spent if you want to reach your target audience.
5. Local Linking Strategies
This local search strategy is very subtle and can take quite a bit of time to build, but if done correctly, it builds positive connections throughout your company’s community and can uncover leads you never expected. Businesses within the same community often have one underlying goal – drawing people into the area.
How can you work with other businesses so that you both benefit? Outline a well-thought out plan to connect with other local businesses and pitch them your ideas. Are you an ice-cream shop across the street from a movie theater? Strike a deal with the theater to recommend visiting one another within your directory profiles to customers visiting the area. For example, “Planning a date night? Grab a specialty cone at Awesome Ice-Cream Shop after seeing the latest rom-com at Super Cine!”
Again, this local search strategy takes time, commitment and prioritization of relationship-building, but it pays off. Achieving mentions in another directory profile or on another local business’ website opens your business up to a world of new customers and boosts awareness of your business in an entirely new section of local search. Don’t be afraid to approach other businesses in your community about this strategy (obviously, avoid including your competition), and remember that reciprocation is key.
Local SEO Strategy Consulting
Need help? Our online marketing team helps clients build and maintain profiles highly optimized for local search, contributing to increased leads and overall brand awareness. Contact SteadyRain today to learn more about how we can help your business make an impact in local search results.