Here Are the Answers to Your Hottest Local SEO Questions
- by Alyson Shane
Looking for answers to your hottest local SEO questions? We've got 'em!
SEO is a "hot button" topic these days, and as businesses look for ways to expand their organic (non-paid) reach in order to help potential customers find them, many are waking up to the fact that spending a little time optimizing their website and Google My Business pages will help their business rank higher on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP.)
With that in mind, today we're going to answer some of the most common questions we hear from our clients when it comes to optimizing for local SEO. Let's dive right in:
"How has local SEO changed recently?"
Google makes so many updates to their search algorithms and associated business services that it can feel confusing to keep track of it all, so here are some of the most important changes that have taken place over the past few years:
- Google has anchored Local Packs (the top three results you see after performing a search) to pretty much every SERP that it considers to be locally-focused. This is a big boon for businesses who have registered an account with Google My Business, Google Maps, etc.
- Google My Business has also rolled out several features to help differentiate your business from your competitors, including: Posts, Product Posts, Q&A, Messages, Video, and more. By completing and updating as many of these features as possible, you can really hone your content offerings to target local search.
- There have been a lot of rumblings recently about the explosion of voice and mobile search, but to date these trends haven't appeared to affect local SEO beyond ensuring that your data is clean and consistent across the web. This will be beneficial when the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes even more commonplace than it already is because it will allow businesses to easily integrate into these systems.
- Reviews and link building continues to be critical for local SEO success.
"How do I beat out competitors like Yelp when I have a small budget?"
The good news for small and medium businesses (SMBs) is that Google has an incentive to show more truly local businesses in each Local SERP, which means there's less opportunity for big companies like Yelp to dominate over the competition, even if you have a modest budget.
As long as you have your basic website, Google My Business Page, and your local citations set up and up-to-date, earning a high ranking on an SERP becomes a game of links, reviews, and content.
In particular, SMBs need to focus on gaining positive customer reviews on Google, Yelp, and any other site that's relevant to your target market or industry. Another way to attract new customers is to make use of the Posts feature in Google My Business, which is a great (free!) way to attract new customers who may already be familiar with your brand.
"How much does social media impact my local SEO efforts?"
Social media doesn't appear to play a huge role outside of reviews. Instead, focus your "social SEO" efforts into being active on social platforms where you know your customers spend their time. For example, if your business markets products at women who are 45+, then your business should have an active Facebook Business Page, at the very least.
"How do I differentiate myself from other local businesses in my industry?"
The best way to truly differentiate yourself from local competitors is to build a brand with a voice and tone that sounds unique online, and which helps potential customers see you as "different" than other, similar businesses.
This typically comes down to how well you convey your values, and how well you can explain how your product or services will solve your customers' problems.
Of course, many businesses who are just starting out and don't have a lot of word-of-mouth activity can still earn high local SEO rankings by setting up their website and GMB pages and focusing on getting links and reviews.
"What are the 'must-haves' for succeeding in local SEO?"
Businesses that kill it at the local SEO game all share the same qualities:
- Their a website is easy for Google to recognize, understand, and navigate.
- Their Google My Business pages are optimized them using Posts, Q&As, etc.
- All their local citations are in place in GMB.
- They have a content strategy to target high-converting search queries.
- They consistently generate customer reviews.
- They build and get links.
Remember: winning at local SEO isn't a one-time play; it takes ongoing effort to make sure that your website continues to rank highly in local SERP results!
Optimize Your Local SEO Today
Getting your business listed in Google's SERP Local Pack won't happen overnight, but by taking the proper steps to optimize your website, Google My Business profile, and focusing on getting a steady stream of reviews from places like Google, Yelp, and other niche-specific review sites, you can start to work your way into that exclusive club of anchored Local Packs.
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