Local Marketing 2020 Series: Search Engine Optimization and Local SEO

Right after the Big Game and all the hype around the national campaigns, we promised you we’d delve into local marketing and strategies you can use. We start with search engine optimization and how to use it to your advantage in your local market.

This isn’t the time nor place for a crash course in SEO. However, this post is the perfect forum to discuss the astounding potential of organic local traffic. The truth is, the small business world is a bit behind on the digital revolution. You still see a good portion of coffee shops and dry cleaners with non-responsive websites, no social media presence and the list of offenses goes on. Use this to your advantage! You can make a big impact on your business online with relatively low effort and basic search engine optimization practices.

Start with a blog and maybe consider some keyword-rich landing pages as well. Make sure your site adapts to all devices, includes enticing META descriptions, has the proper title and heading formats, and plenty of unique, valuable content.

One important trend to watch in SEO is the emergence of high volume “near me” terms. If your business supplies services or products in a certain area, begin optimizing your site around [geo+service] keywords. This strategy will lessen the competitiveness of the market. So instead of optimizing your site around “Chinese Restaurant” that will compete nationally, optimize it around “Top Charleston Chinese Restaurant” and watch it rank well over time.

Local SEO will help your business go even further. When the search engines look at your business name, address, phone number and URL across the web, the more consistent it is, the more authority is given. Make sure you not only claim but optimize as many directory and business profile listings as you can find. At minimum, open accounts on the following top business profile sites.

Many business owners allow their preconceived notions about sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare to prevent them from taking advantage of what they have to offer. Whether it’s a few nasty reviews, unflattering photos, unsolicited feedback or just a general lack of understanding, your reasons for complicity are not worth the negative impact. It’s time to adjust your perspective.

These aggregate sites can also be your best friend — if you embrace their local marketing power. Play the game. Claim your listing, update your details, correct your categories, upload some images, double-check your hours and address. If they ask you to pay for a premium service, do it. Your customers are going to these third-party services before (or in lieu of) your own website. Take advantage of what little control you are given and ensure the best representation of your business. Platforms such as Yext and Moz Local provide an efficient means of managing the growing number of directories people use to discover products and services in your city.

Be sure to check out our next Local Marketing Series blog where we look at how to use social media to its fullest.