As a small business owner, you probably rely on local customers for the lion’s share of patronage and profits. So if you’re not localizing your SEO efforts, you could be missing out on a major opportunity to reach a relevant audience, increase local awareness, and bring in business both in the real world and online.
The problem here is twofold. Many business owners lack the requisite knowledge to properly localize their SEO. In addition, you might not have a ton of extra capital to devote to SEO efforts and you likely want to get the most bang for your buck by casting a wide net. However, you are really shooting yourself in the foot by failing to focus your efforts on a local market.
In order to see the best results, it’s imperative that you spend some time figuring out how to bolster your local SEO efforts. Since the best defense is a good offense, you also need to understand the common blunders that could derail your efforts. Here are a few local SEO problems many small businesses face and how you can avoid or combat them.
Failure to Claim Listings
There are several online directories designed to help consumers find the businesses that suit their needs. Google My Business, Yelp, and Yellow Pages are some of the biggest and best known. Whether you have signed up for these services or not, there’s a chance your business is already listed.
The onus is on you, however, to claim your listings, and there are a number of reasons why you should. In most cases, these listings are free, although there may be paid services available to provide you with additional options. When you claim your listing, you gain the opportunity to ensure that there are no mistakes on your pages, as well as interact with the public.
You want to make sure, first and foremost, that your name, location, and contact information (including URL) are correct and up-to-date. Otherwise customers could be looking in the wrong place and failing to find you. In addition, claiming listings gives you the chance to read and respond to questions, comments, and reviews, opening lines of communication with customers and gaining the ability to turn negative impressions into positive ones.
Lack of Reviews (or Bad Reviews)
Once you’ve claimed listings, it’s important to build a virtual cache of good reviews from satisfied customers. Consider how often you personally use a site like Yelp to find local businesses like eateries, auto shops, and so on. Do the reviews you see influence your decision to patronize certain businesses? If so, you can see the benefit of earning good reviews.
A lack of online reviews, or worse, poor ratings and reviews, can really damage your local business prospects. So you need to find ways to encourage satisfied customers to review you, and you should contact dissatisfied parties in order to turn their opinions around.
Improper Tagging and Keywords
Local SEO relies to some extent on what happens behind the scenes, or between the lines as the case may be. When you post content to a blog, social media accounts, and other online platforms, you need to make sure the hidden data helps to direct local inquiries.
Using tags and keywords that contain your business name and location (city) can help to drive targeted traffic and ensure greater visibility to a local search audience. Someone seeking local services might enter a search query like “dry cleaning Chicago” or “coffee San Francisco”. If you want them to find you, including these keywords and tags in your content can be extremely useful.
Don’t forget that you can also embed data in images. This is just one more way to include data that will drive local consumers to your door, so to speak.
Posting to a blog and/or social media accounts gives you opportunities to optimize as well as provide added value to customers and followers. The problem is that you have to maintain a regular schedule of posting and create consistently high-quality content in order to preserve interest. If you fail on either account you’ll find that whatever you do post is a waste of time, or worse, that it drives customers away.
Failure to Track and Analyze
Like most business owners, you’re probably pretty busy just trying to keep your business afloat. The thing you need to understand is that spending some time and money on local SEO efforts can significantly increase your visibility, visitors, and potential profits.
However, it’s not enough to list with directories, tag your posts, and read reviews. You also need to track your efforts and analyze the results to see what’s working and what isn’t. Plus, you should keep an eye on competitors to see how their efforts are received. The knowledge you gain will help you to hone your efforts and see better results in the future.