Establishing a local presence on the web is unquestionably one of the most effective ways to grow your business. According to Google, 97% of consumers look for local businesses online. By concentrating on Google local SEO, you can bring highly targeted traffic to your website. But, is Google Local SEO a shrouded mystery for you? Why do you need it? How do you go about it? Whoa…too many questions jostling your mind? Let’s get started. Here is a guide to help you increase the online visibility of your business through Google local SEO.

Why do Businesses need Google Local SEO?

Businesses need Google Local SEO because optimizing a business online for local search is a powerful way to reach consumers and in-turn get traffic to a website. In earlier days, it was the Yellow Pages phone book that did the trick to get you to the nearest local business…today its the online search engines on computers and mobile devices that is bringing people closer to local businesses to meet their needs.

Simple enough? Here are some stats to re-affirm your trust.

1. Statistics released by ComScore on Activity on Google Local over the last 6 months.

2. These stats show why Google is the reigning guru among other search engines.

How to increase your business’ online visibility through Google Local SEO?

If you have a local business, keep these strategies in mind to implement Google local SEO into your marketing campaign:

1. Know Your Target Consumers

To make sure, you are going in the right direction in your SEO marketing campaign, you need to be well acquainted with your target consumers. Why? Behavior and habits shown by consumers offline and online vary. A physical jewelry store may get tough competition from online-only jewelry store. Knowing your consumers will not only let you serve them better by tailoring your product according to their likes and dislikes, but also get you refined targeted consumers.

2. Register on Google Places for Business

If you are a local brand name and you have not registered on Google Business, mark my words, you are missing out on something big! By registering on Google Places, you receive instant exposure in your local area. It is absolutely free and helps consumers find businesses through Google search and Google Maps. When registering, make sure that your profile is 100% complete, images are uploaded and target keywords are set, thereby increasing your chances of being discovered by users.

Another major benefit of this is…

Like you see in the image above, when a user who is logged into Google makes a search, Google displays Google+ business higher than regular Google searches. So, combining your Google Places profile with your Google+ page will mean that your business will appear higher in SERPs. This gives you an added advantage over other local competitors.

3. Get Reviews/Feedback from Customers

Getting reviews, testimonials and feedback from customers has always been seen as a trust building factor. Keep an eye on review sites like MouthShut, Yelp, Insider Pages, Angie’s List, Merchant Circle etc. Being a part of Google+ Local will give you a huge advantage as it provides reviews and ratings on businesses from consumers. This is how a search on Google+ Local with reviews and ratings looks like.

4. Have a Strong Content Strategy

To be very clearly visible on Google Local, optimizing your website and blog with targeted keywords also plays a major role. Make sure your blog is updated at regular intervals because search engines rank websites which update frequently higher than those which do not. Post valuable content which offers your readers a chance to share it with others. Also make sure that your ‘About Us’ and ‘Contact Us’ pages are updated for people to get in touch with you. Add keywords and phrases in your titles, headlines and meta tags.

P.S. – DO NOT ‘stuff’ keywords into your blog and website. Google penalizes content which is ‘stuffed’ with keywords. 

5. Use Google Authorship

Google Authorship helps Google understand the credibility of an individual who has written a piece of content and identify a spammer. Google uses the rel=”author” structured data to identify the authority of the blogger.

6. Use Google Rich Snippets

Google rich snippets extract information from your Google profile and website and display them along your listing on search results. Along side the typical page title, URL and meta description, rich snippets include photos, ratings, Google authorship etc.

Rich snippets not only add to the presentation and visibility of your page in search results, but also better click through rate. Here are two examples of rich snippets as seen on Google search results.

7. Social Media Sharing

When optimizing for local business, how can I miss out on social media? Social media shares has an important impact on SERP rankings as it gives you an opportunity to connect with your customers (existing & potential) for the content you produce and strengthens your brand. Nurturing these relationships will amplify your SEO in the long run.

Post your business on social media sites like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. Word-of-mouth publicity by fans and followers also help get more business.

8. Create Different Landing Pages for Different Locations

If you have multiple locations, it is a good practice to have different landing pages for all of them and optimizing each one of them with location specific keywords.

Different Landing Pages for Each Location = Increased Local Search Rankings

In fact, this practice will not only increase your organic search rankings, but also be seen a different websites by Google Maps. Killing two birds with one stone, eh!

9. Register on Lead Generation Websites

Business directories and lead generation websites are a good bet to gain local exposure. Most of these websites offer free listing services and are not time consuming to set up. Once updated, these sites will help you get higher ranking in search engine results because Google lists businesses with 100% profile information.

Here are Top 5 lead generation websites in Australia, South Africa, US, United Kingdom and India for local businesses.

10. Be Mobile Friendly

Of the estimated 30 billion annual mobile searches across the globe, 12 billion are local searches. (Search Engine Land)

Wow, isn’t this some number! For Google local SEO, having a mobile friendly website is a major factor. Most of these viewers who search for local businesses end up visiting the store and purchasing the product. Mobiles are more geocentric than desktop devices and offer highly targeted local results, since in most cases, users are logged in to their Google Maps accounts on phones. Use responsive designs which detect devices and adjust accordingly – smartphones, tablets, laptops, big screen monitors etc.

I hope these tips will help you put together your Google local SEO marketing strategy in place. Have I missed out on anything? Do leave me a comment. :)

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