This is a guest post by Aljaz Fajmut, a digital nomad, entrepreneur, and founder of RankTrackr, Exit Mist, and Nightwatch.io – all 3 being topnotch badass SEO tracking & lead gen tools that you should definitely check out…
Want your small business to be seen by more local people? If so, you now need to focus on your digital marketing methods, as well as your offline ones.
20 years ago, businesses could drive traffic via word of mouth, billboards, radio ads and vinyl banners. In 2018, most – if not all – of their customers are online, and these customers are using Google to not only find them but also to buy from them. Indeed, 4 out of 5 of us now use Google to find local businesses.
This means that your business needs to master the art of local SEO, which means optimizing your website for search engines so that you’re as visible as possible. This will drive more of the right traffic, increase awareness, and ultimately boost conversions and sales.
And while SEO can be a complex, ongoing process, local SEO can also be easier than you might think. Let’s take a look at how to effectively use it for your small business.
Claim Your Business on Yelp
The great thing about an online directory like Yelp is that it does all the SEO work for you. Once you’ve added your business to a credible online directory, they’ll help to rank it for you.
Of course, you might be asking “But what about all the negative reviews that people post to Yelp? Won’t that hinder my business?”
The thing is that 84% of your customers trust online reviews. This means that they go to directories like Yelp to not only find the service your business provides but also to find your business – and what people think of your business.
For this reason alone, it’s important that you claim your business listing on Yelp and optimize it. There might be some negative reviews but you can even turn these in your favor by responding to them and demonstrating empathy for customers who’ve had a poor experience with your business.
The chances are, however, that as long as your business is going a great job, most customers will leave positive, glowing reviews – and these reviews will influence new customers positively.
Moreover, Yelp also lets you upload official business photos that help to create a better first impression with new customers.
Tweak Your Meta Descriptions and Title Tags
Writing meta descriptions and title tags is a bit of an art. If you’ve ever written them before 2018, you’ll recall how short they had to be. However, Google has since increased them so that you can now use 60 characters for your title tags and 200 for your meta descriptions before they become truncated. This gives you a bit more leeway but you still need to be artful and use the space well.
Remember, you need to make sure that every single word counts.
When it comes to local SEO, you want to reach local customers. As such, it’s key that you add the name of the city you’re in, as well as the particular area you serve. Include the service you provide and add your main keyword.
Here’s an example of a meta description optimized for local SEO:
“Welcome to Jerry’s Electrics4U. Jerry’s Electrics4U is proud to be a leading contractor in the Houston area. By combining our expertise of …”
Claim Your “Google My Business”
Google My Business is just as big a biggie as Yelp. The reason you should claim your business is simple: Once claimed, your business will start to show up on Google Maps, thus making it more visible and pointing people in the right direction so they know exactly where you’re located.
Claiming your business is really simple, and it’s also totally free. Just hop over to Google My Business and go through the verification process. This will take a bit of time because Google needs to physically send you a postcard with your PIN on it but it’s necessary because Google needs to know that you’re definitely the business owner.
Once your business has been verified, you then need to optimize your listing with your business hours, a strong description and so on. Add photos, too, and make sure that you complete each section. Don’t leave a single stone unturned.
Add Lots of Online Reviews
Lastly, we’ve already covered the importance of online reviews. But as well as making the most of Yelp, you need to add more online reviews to your own website.
Not only do online reviews create more trust among consumers; they also act as a ranking factor. The more positive reviews you have, the higher you will rank on Google.
Not sure how to generate more reviews? Simply reach out to customers via email a few days after they’ve purchased a product and ask if they’d be kind enough to leave you a review. Most will.
These are 4 ways to use local SEO for your small business. Claim your business on Yelp and Google My Business, encourage more online reviews, and optimize your meta descriptions and title tags — and you’ll be on the right track. And whatever you do, don’t forget to monitor your SEO efforts so that know what changes to make!
Aljaz Fajmut is an internet entrepreneur and founder of ExitMist and Nightwatch — a search visibility tool of the next generation.