Looking online has become the main way that customers now search for local businesses. In 2014 each month there was an incredible 140 billion local searches, according to research by BIA/Kelsey. In order to be competitive online in 2015, it is not enough to simply have a website. Businesses need to make sure that their website is optimized for local search.
Here I’ll show you how to do that in three simple steps.
Step One: Find The Keywords You Want To Rank For
Before you are able to create targeted content for local search you need to know which keywords you want to rank for. When doing local online marketing you want to target not only industry terms but also geo-specific keywords. For example, rather than trying to rank for the word “corporate video production” you would target the phrase “Birmingham commercial plumbers”. There are a number of different tools that you can use to find these keywords.
Related Keywords – Type in your root keyword into Google, in the above case this might be “Birmingham Plumber”, and see which related keywords you receive at the bottom of the page.
Spy On Your Competitors – Free tools like Spyfu and SEMRush enable you to enter your competitors website URL and see which keywords that they are already ranking for. Look for geo-specfic keywords which are likely to convert into buying customers.
Google Keyword Planner – Google keyword planner allows you to get an approximate sense of the different search volumes for keyword phrases. To use keyword planner simply enter your root keyword (see above) and the planner tool will provide you with related keywords and how many monthly searches these receive. While Google Keyword Planner isn’t 100% accurate it will give you a sense of the relative search volume between different search terms.
Now that you have the keywords that you want to target you can move onto the next step which is creating localized content.
Step Two: Create Local Blog Content
If you want to do really well in local search then you will need to have a blog. Having a blog will allow you to write content which specifically targets the local search term phrases that you have discovered above. Businesses often struggle with what types of topics that they can cover in order to produce local content. Here are some ideas:
Case Studies – Case studies are a great way to highlight how you have successfully delivered for your customers in the past. It’s fantastic verifiable proof that your products and services produce positive results. But, case studies are also perfect for targeting local search terms. Because you will be profiling local businesses in your case studies you cannot almost help but include geo-specific search terms.
Local Guides – A local guide can be a fantastic resource for people in your community. For example, a fitness equipment retailer might create a guide of little known hiking or running trails in the area. Once you have created this guide and posted it on your site let community groups, local government authorities or tourist websites now about it. They can then provide it as a helpful resource for their visitors and link to it from their website.
Events – There is a good chance that your business already sponsors a local sports or cultural group. Perhaps your employers participate in a charity fundraising event. Or maybe you just like to attend the annual city parade. No matter what your level of involvement in these local events are you can write about them on your blog. This is a great way to show that you are a proud local business and to include geo-specific search terms on your website.
Step Three: Submit Your Business To Local Directories
If you are a local business, then one of the first places you should add your website are local directories. There are a wide range of free directories where you can submit information about your business. Some of the most popular include:
- Google Places
- Yahoo Local Listings
- Yellow Pages
- Merchant Circle
When adding your business to these local directories it is important that you keep your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) consistent between these directories and what you have on your website. Google dislikes it when information about a business varies between different online sources.
Having reviews is one of the most criteria for gaining prominence in these directories. Therefore it’s important to encourage people to leave reviews. When people buy from you send them an email which requests that they leave a review. You should also include social buttons to directory sites like Yelp on your website so that people are able to easily click-through.
There is plenty more that you can do in order to increase your likelihood of being found by local searchers, but if you follow the three steps above you should be well ahead of much of your competition.
To ensure you carry out the steps above, I suggest creating a “Local search weekly calendar”. For each day list a specific action you will take – finding keywords, adding blog content, submitting to directories. By being consistent and doing at least one task each day, you will soon find that you are soon yielding big results from your local online marketing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eva Moorman is a freelance writer, blogger and avid online marketer. When not writing about the tech, business or start-up world, you will find her riding her motorcycle or travelling.