If you own a local business, you might be thinking that you don’t need online marketing. While it is true that local companies can do well with traditional marketing channels, there are indeed benefits to having a robust online presence. One of the ways of accomplishing that is improving your local SEO (Search Engine Optimization.)
Despite some misconceptions people tend to have about optimizing a website for local audiences, it’s a great way to make a business more discoverable in your immediate area. Here are five tips to build local engagement by implementing a good SEO strategy:
1. Get a Google My Business Listing
Google My Business listings put your business in front of local searchers; even those who don’t input a location keyword. If you have a Google My Business listing, your business can be displayed via Google Maps once your prospects do a “near me” search. It gives searchers all the relevant data for finding you, and shows them your reviews too, which makes you appear more trustworthy.
2. Optimize Local Backlinks
Gathering relevant backlinks is a standard SEO strategy which is also applicable to local SEO. However, for this, you’ll want to focus on other locally-optimized sites. Avoid your direct competitors. You’ll want to turn to other local publications instead — those who would publish a press release or a guest post containing your backlink. It takes work but is worth it considering the importance of backlinks for your overall ranking.
3. Use Location Keywords
Keywords are an essential SEO tool, whether for general or local search. However, they’ll be a bit different in the latter case, since you have to use a location keyword. For example, you can’t optimize your Toronto-based business for local search if your keywords never contain the word “Toronto.” If your business is present at more than one location that you want to draw attention to, you’ll need another strategy. Build a separate landing page for each branch, and focus on optimizing them separately with appropriate location keywords.
4. Make Sure Your Content Is Locally Relevant
Having good content that describes your product or services is undoubtedly essential. You will help your SEO strategy by not ignoring local events. Making your business relevant to the events in your immediate area, you’ll succeed in improving your customer engagement.
5. Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
Another way of boosting your customer engagement is encouraging them to review your business. Not only does this increase your credibility (if the reviews are good,) it also makes your business more visible locally. One drawback of this is that it’s more likely for an angry customer than a delighted one to leave a review. However, you can respond to bad reviews professionally, and let other searchers draw their conclusions.
A digital marketing strategy can take 4-6 months before it shows any tangible results. If you wish to see results faster, you might benefit more from a website refresh and PPC ads. Give me a call, and I’ll be happy to discuss ways in which I can help, including my local SEO services and optimization.
Rob Dunford is a Marketing Consultant in the Great Toronto Area with over 20 years of experience in implementing marketing plans for small businesses.