When business owners talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), they usually speak of programming, landing pages, clicks, advertising, links, and other technicalities. They almost always make no mention of local SEO, which refers to the business’ visibility on search engine sites, with Google as the most popular.
As Helen Overland says, “There are a number of misconceptions about SEO, about what it is and how to do SEO, and one of the biggest misconceptions that we hear a lot about doing SEO is that all SEO is just spam, and that is just plain and simply not true!” This is a part of Overland’s SEO lecture on Shopify.
You remember the time when you were looking for a Chinese restaurant around your area, and you see a list of businesses nearby, as recommended by Google? Your friend just then tells you there is a very popular restaurant near you as well, but you don’t see it on the list. Thanks to your friend’s recommendation, you had the best pork dumplings you ever had in your life.
But your friend can only do so much with marketing. Any business, no matter how popular it is among locals, cannot drive up its name without local SEO. It is local SEO that drives people into choosing a hotel over others or a shop over its competitors. The quality of business reviews, photos, and description (with address and phone number) all make a big difference in marketing your business.
The power of local SEO should not be underestimated. A recent survey shows that 71% check out a business online before visiting it for the first time, and 78% of mobile searches end up with successful offline purchases. That’s a staggering point to drive in proving the success of local SEO.
If you are a business owner and do not have a local SEO in place, where do you start? And if you do have one and you can’t see results, how do you re-curate your listing?
Here are two of the most important tips for you to improve your local SEO:
- Create a business listing on Google My Business
It is free and very easy to set up an account on Google My Business. Before doing so though, you must make sure you’ve prepared a good and catchy description for your business, picked out great photos of your business and what you offer, and laid out accurate details such as, address, phone number, email address and operating times. You also must make sure you know where to pin your business on the map. All these pre-set up tips may sound trivial, but you’d be surprised at the number of companies who fail on these. There is nothing more frustrating than publishing your business on Google, then quickly realizing you’ve pinned the location in the wrong area. It does not only create confusion; it also takes a while for Google to change this. So, you may end up driving people to wrong locations, and forever lose them in the process.
Setting up an account and publishing your listing does not end there though, as Google sends you a snail mail to your business address for verification. Once you receive this mail, you must immediately punch in the code for your listing because the code is only valid for 30 days.
- Ask customers for reviews
Reviews make a big chunk of why people choose you over your competitors. Once you’ve established a client base, you may ask them to write a review for you on your business listing, as well as on your social media sites. Never pay anyone to put a review for you. You must focus on building an organic client base because it is only through this that you can know the real strengths and weaknesses of your business. What’s great with real reviews is that other potential customers can also contact these reviewers for clarification. This feedback loop can cause a domino effect, and if you’re good with what you’re doing, your efforts are eventually rewarded.
A survey conducted by Dimensional Research show that an astounding 90% of customers are influenced by business reviews when making decisions. That’s a big factor to take when building your business for local SEO.
You do not have to spend so much in driving up your sales through expensive online and offline advertising. You can start with letting people know that you exist and that you can provide an excellent service that they might be looking for. Do not overlook the power of local SEO, so remember 1) Create a business listing on Google My Business; and, 2) Ask customers for reviews.