For the right business, local search engine optimization, or local SEO, can be the bread and butter of your lead generation plan. It places the focus on building visibility in your local community; giving businesses the opportunity to better serve those around them and build relationships that lead to repeat customers.
Unfortunately, local SEO isn’t perfect.
Businesses may encounter obstacles while pursuing local SEO and not know how to overcome them. Do not worry, we’re here to review the biggest local SEO challenges and the best tactics to work around them.
Local SEO involves optimizing a website and its landing pages with a specific geographic region in mind. More often than not, the best candidates for local SEO strategies have physical locations that their customers can actually visit, or, they offer services confined to one area.
Who needs local SEO?
Common examples of businesses well-suited for local SEO would be restaurants, banks with local branches, or service providers, like a plumber, that cater to a specific area with clear geographic boundaries.
A local sandwich shop is a perfect example of how a local SEO strategy can improve business and visibility.
In this hypothetical situation, let’s create a local SEO strategy for a sandwich shop in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood. This sandwich shop is very interested in ranking for keywords like “sandwich for lunch Chicago,” or maybe specifically, “sandwich shop Wrigleyville.”
Their goal is to grab the attention of people who live in, or are visiting, the neighborhood who are hungry for sandwiches. But if you expand the reach to people living in neighboring states, or across the country, your audience for “sandwich shop” is likely to lose interest.
As a result, national rankings for “sandwich shop” are not as important to their business goals. A locally focused search strategy will prioritize the most critical customers — those living nearby — and optimize accordingly.
Unlike the restaurants or bank branch locations, service-based organizations have a more flexible working area.
A plumbing company, for example, may service the entire Chicagoland area — city and suburbs alike. This particular hypothetical type of service company may only be willing to travel two to three hours away from its home-based in Hinsdale, Illinois to service customers, but its reach includes a number of neighborhoods, cities and towns.
Foundational SEO practices are helpful, but insufficient for businesses that operate within specific radii. Technical elements of SEO must be done with a local SEO mindset and local SEO tactics in order to achieve the desired results.
For example, Google My Business (GMB) pages become very important for regional businesses. Landing pages attached to a company’s GMB need to be built with local SEO best practices in order to eliminate irrelevant traffic and clicks.
Now, let’s go over four ways to overcome the challenges facing your local SEO strategy:
While each one works great on its own, when combined together, you can see amplified results and improvements in visibility in your local market.
Optimized local landing pages need to be built with customer relevancy in mind. Your customer should walk away from the listing with the impression that your business is ingrained in the local community.
Problem: How do I build a landing page that’s optimized for local SEO?
Solution: Your Google My Business (GMB) listing should automatically take users to a localized landing page focused specifically on that city, suburb, town, community, etc. That landing page should be optimized with the following:
These elements make the page more relevant to local searches within that area, while simultaneously boosting the ranking of your Google My Business listing (for that area).
It’s important to note that your website’s homepage will rank for a lot of things. However, your GMB listing needs all the local “juice” in its landing page to increase visibility.
Another critical local SEO tactic includes link building. When we talk about local SEO and link building, there’s an added layer of citations that are critical to your local link building strategy’s success.
Problem: Where do I start with local link building?
Solution: Seek out citation opportunities on local websites that reference your business location, address, phone number, and local landing page.
Think of a ‘citation’ as any instance where your business’s physical location and contact information are referenced on the internet (with a link). When Google sees this NAP (name, address, phone number) information in multiple, prominent directories online, they will consider this location in higher regard when making ranking decisions.
Focus on making sure your business has local citations in places like Yelp, Apple Maps, and other relevant business directories. Claiming and managing all of these citations can be rough, at DTC we can help identify the places that offer the greatest value to your business goals and can walk you through the local citation process.
The focus should always be on quality, rather than quantity, of local citations.
In regards to local link building, start with the relationships you already have. Are there businesses that you have partnered with or events you have sponsored? Can you ask those partners to put a link on your site? Also, are there any publications that have talked about your business but didn’t add a link?
Try searching for your brand name and see if any sites have mentioned you, reach out to them to add a backlink to your site. If not, can you reach out to a blog that covers your industry and offer to write content for them in exchange for a link? Try to provide something of value to enhance the guest post, such as data, insight, perhaps even a video.
And lastly, it usually costs a fee, but paying for a spot on your local chamber of commerce website is always a good way to procure a local link.
Figuring out how to do local SEO can be difficult on your own. The best local SEO tip we have (if you can’t partner with an agency) is to create a thorough tracking system to monitor your success month over month.
Problem: How do I track my local SEO success?
Solution: You have to have the right tracking system in place to know if your local strategy is working and gaining traction. Not every business is going to have the same goals, which is why it is important to identify what you hope to achieve with this strategy and identify how to best measure that.
There are specific things to set up if local SEO is important to you.
Firstly, you want to make sure you are keeping tabs on your Google My Business insights and local landing pages to make sure those are gaining traction.
Secondly, you can implement a UTM tracker for the “Website” button on your GMB page to track clicks, and user behavior if a visitor enters your site through your Google My Business page. This is very helpful for gauging ongoing performance and seeing if your GMB page is leading to actual on-site conversions.
You know that you have loyal and happy customers, but maybe that’s not reflected in your GMB reviews. Most of the time we find that businesses are unsure the best way to approach this or are confused on how to ask the customer to leave a review.
Problem: How do I consistently generate reviews for my Google My Business page?
Solution: There are two primary ways to generate reviews for your Google My Business page: reminding customers in store, and soliciting reviews via email.
Reminding customers “in-store” means making sure that you and your staff remind/ask customers to leave a review online. Some may go a step further and show them costumers to do so with a handout or business card.
The other way to ask is through emails, which is something that DTC has helped numerous clients with. We take the time to generate an email drip campaign so you don’t have to, and we can send reminders at a rate that is comfortable and not bothersome.
In summary, traversing the challenges of local SEO can be a daunting task. That’s why you need the right team and the right local SEO strategy in place to help your business grow in the right direction. At Digital Third Coast we understand how local SEO works and are currently adapting as the industry changes and grows. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build your local SEO strategy.
Local businesses have their own set of hurdles to overcome to achieve their definition of success. The best local SEO solution may vary for each type of business, but the goal is the same: improve visibility to one’s local audience.
We recommend you start with the simplest tasks to complete: listing optimizations. By updating and completing profiles in local business directories, local listings, and your Google My Business page, you can start to see incremental improvements to your visibility in search engine results, and you’ll improve your users’ experience. Beyond that, soliciting positive reviews from happy customers and maintaining review platforms can go a long way with building your local reputation.
Many local businesses are small businesses, and sometimes, the simplest SEO strategy implementations can make a big difference in their local search results.
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