Local search began more than a decade ago with consumers searching for places, and directions on how to get to those places, on their computers. Now, there are nearly 800 million GPS-enabled smartphones to help consumers get around and local search has rapidly expanded. Nearly 90% of smartphone users conduct local searches on their device. Really, what’s the point in having a smartphone if you don’t use it for local search?
Of course, not all those searches take place in the Internet browser; many consumers also use apps to search locally. Surprisingly, Facebook is the second most popular app for local search after Google Maps.
So how do small to medium sized businesses incorporate social, local, and mobile into their SEO strategy? Here are a few ways:
- Businesses should include their location as part of their keyword strategy. Usually the combination of city and keyword is sufficient to trigger Google’s local algorithm.
- Businesses need to claim their listing on Google+ Local (formerly, Google Places). This will ensure they are listed on Google Maps, and this local listing is what will show in Google’s localized search results. This will also help your business to appear in search results for Google’s mobile apps.
- Businesses need to have multiple “citations” online. A citation is the business name, address, and phone number all on the same page. Directory listings are a great way to boost SEO with local citations. There are tools where you can write your entry once and have it populated across multiple directories automatically. But this will cost you. Or you could just spend a few hours and do it yourself (or have your marketing intern do it). I find the later is better because you know what’s been submitted and you can control your digital footprint better. Nothing worse than finding out some auto-bot submitted your company info to a Ukraine directory you have no control of.
- Businesses also need high-quality, positive reviews, particularly on the business’s Google+ Local page. Positive reviews from regular customers are a major boost to local SEO, and consumers often consider customer reviews before making a purchase. Dealing with bad reviews is an additional conversation. But business should concentrate on getting good reviews and the bad ones will be forgotten.
- Include your business address, phone number, and operating hours on your company Facebook page. Searchers on mobile often turn to Facebook for local search, and they usually take immediate action on their search by calling or visiting a business or making a purchase within one hour of he search. Be sure to give them the information they need to contact you.
There are many other SEO strategies that a business should use to grow. But employing the five tactics above will help your business catch the eye of local searchers and increase your local traffic.