Okay, okay, let's get this out of the way immediately: There is no magic local SEO formula.
But wait! We didn't bring you here just to trick you. There may be no magic local SEO formula, but there is something that comes close, and we'd like to share it with you in this article.
If you’re a local business owner, you likely have some familiarity with the concept of search engine optimization (SEO) and online marketing. While you may not understand everything about it, you do understand how necessary it is to today’s businesses.
The problem is that there are so many things to keep track of. Local SEO can be overwhelming and confusing, to say the least! Now, we aren’t here to tell you that there is a magical formula for SEO success—otherwise, everyone would be doing it, right? However, we are digital marketing experts, and through our years of experience, we have identified the closest thing to a magic local SEO formula. So what are the ingredients, and how can you make them work for you?
To start, the two big ingredients are organic local SEO and offline marketing.
That’s right—online marketing is essential in today’s digital world, but so is storefront marketing. If you don’t have a storefront, the game plan changes a bit, but it’s still important to remember that you are responsible for at least some offline—aka “old-fashioned”—marketing. Let’s start by reviewing the offline aspect.
Let’s say you run a local bakery. You have a website and you’re ready to start marketing. But you’re probably already well aware that you’re not only going to be getting business from people searching Google for local bakeries. No, you’re going to want to have the people in your area talking about your services—word-of-mouth recommendations, walk-ins, or newspaper articles drumming up excitement because these are all things that are still valuable in today’s marketing strategies. In fact, they’re necessary if you run a local business. So, in other words, you’re still going to have to put in the effort to see the best results.
To see the best results here, you’ll want to consider the following things:
Customer service: Nothing gets around faster than word of poor customer service. Be sure you listen to your clients’ concerns and address them promptly!
Honesty in business: Whether it’s price gouging or ripping off another business owner’s ideas, it’s unfortunately not unheard of for new business owners to be dishonest, even if it’s unintentional. Make sure you are honest in how you run your business. Your reputation absolutely depends on it.
Cleanliness and atmosphere: This should be a no-brainer, but it deserves to be mentioned. Keep your store clean, and ensure your staff reflects this. People will remember a dirty or unwelcoming store. Loud music will make people flee rather than shop. And disorganized displays will just frustrate your customers.
Quality assurance: Finally, make sure that you check your inventory for quality issues. Address any you find immediately. Waiting until someone complains to fix a problem is just setting yourself up for a tense situation that could easily damage your reputation if not handled correctly.
Organic local SEO
So, let’s continue with the bakery scenario. Your bakery is not located in a big city; rather, it is in a smaller area maybe 20 miles or so from a big city. In this case, because you lack a physical location in the big city, you’re unlikely to get local rankings there specifically. Google strongly ties the physical location of your storefront to local search results. That being said, you can still target the larger city by mentioning it on your landing page, in your content, and any other marketing you do, such as social media, PPC ads, or video. This is called “organic” SEO and is the second big ingredient in our formula. This takes a lot of time and effort, as Google does not respond to these ranking cues overnight. Organic local SEO is a time-intensive process, in terms of both initial setup and subsequent maintenance. It is not always easy, either.
That being said, there are times in which your competition may simply be too great for you to get your content or website at the top of the search results for your chosen area. In this case, you’ll have to combine your organic SEO efforts with customer outreach to see the best results.
To get the most out of organic local SEO:
Keep listings up to date
Regularly update your website with lots of quality content, including images or videos
Target your website to a specific group of cities, not a general “area” (like a county, for example)
Remain active on social media and promote all locations/service areas regularly
Encourage customers to leave reviews on Yelp, etc., as this helps Google place your business
Combine offline and online marketing strategies by running a contest on Facebook or offering coupons for customers to use in-store
The moral of the story here is that it takes a lot to be competitive in today’s online world. You’ll have to combine some old-fashioned know-how with modern, science-backed marketing techniques to see the greatest return on your investments. Your best course of action is to hire someone to help you with the organic local SEO part of the formula and make sure to take care of the offline marketing part on your own. SEO experts don’t have access to your storefront, but they do have access to a wealth of knowledge to give you a competitive edge in the search results.
Interested in learning more? Drop us a line. We’ll be glad to answer your questions!