LOCAL; Improving Business Visibility Online and Offline.
The value of SEO.
Search engines such as Google strive to give searchers the most relevant results possible, meaning that they emphasize local results. Because searchers are most likely to click on the first three organic results compared to the rest of the organic results combined, creating a local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy aimed at improving the rankings in these local search results is of the upmost importance.
The goal of local SEO.
To create moment-of-interest connections between patients and local businesses. When potential clients are searching for information on search engines, local SEO prioritizes local businesses.
Several factors influencing local search result rankings, include
- Directory citations
- On-page signals
- Local reviews
Digital directories, are a good place to begin. These are the modern age yellow pages, an easy place for consumers to look-up information about businesses with an easy to search and use interface. Almost half of people in the U.S. use online directories to find businesses before purchasing local goods or services, accord
ing to research by BIA/Kelsey. One of the biggest developments coming out of the yellow pages of yesterday is that there are dozens of digital directories, meaning that being listed in one directory is not enough. One of the key strategy components for businesses local SEO plan is using directory listings as they are one of the main factors that go into local search rankings.
Business citation best practices
It is important for business to track citation details on page and off page to make certain they are consistent. Search engines penalize small differences in phone numbers, addresses, hours of operation and other information, and downgrade businesses that have inconsistent data across different platforms. Even things as simple as “street” and “st.” are not the same and should not be used interchangeably.
Unique phone numbers
Whether you run multiple businesses out of one location or have multiple locations for one business, use unique phone numbers for each location and business. Search engines penalize businesses when the same phone number is used for multiple businesses or locations. Alternatively, only list phone numbers that are not shared.
Claim search engine listings
Each of the major search engines, Google, Bing and Yahoo!, have their own unique business listings. As the most popular search engine, Google is the best pace to begin claiming listings. Bing and Yahoo!, when combined, have roughly 40% of the search engine market making them important tools.
For search engine listings, a complete profile that includes pictures, hours of operation, and links to social media profiles is essential. Professionals with complete profiles have an advantage in local search over those who don’t fill out all of the fields.
Digital directories can take days or weeks before uploading or updating information. Google listing claims can sometimes only be made by having a postcard mailed to your business. In essence, each of the smaller directories must wait for the larger ones to update before the information can be passed down. Businesses should update all information including phone numbers, hours of operation and location openings and closings as early as possible to ensure the directories have time to update their listings.
Where Online and Offline Meet
If you’re just in Yelp or the Yellow Pages, you’re not truly “local” yet.
The true local web includes not just local retail or service businesses within a given city, but local web marketing includes
• Local Partnerships
• Social Media
• Local PR
Partnerships with other local organizations are the way to access true local web traffic and to influence local PR, social media and search rankings.
Social media marketing
Going local with social media is the process of drawing pages and influencers that are region-specific to yourself. This could mean individual bloggers or local celebrities. This provides a way to meet potential customers without the noise of traditional marketing tactics. True local social media opportunities can be found by connections ad partnerships with nonprofits, clubs, events and organizations looking for monetary or in-kind donations. An additional effective method of using Social media being to partner with a nonprofit for an employee volunteer day can secure social media mentions to the organization’s local following.
Local news is alive and well, it just has a new address… online.
The upside to the relocation of local journalism is that there are now many more options when it comes to outreach — consider bloggers as members of the press. Many of them share local news and hold themselves to legal standards.
There are two main routes to generate traffic and engagement through Blogs
First you can find local influencers by using advanced operators to search “about” pages for mentions of your target city, and see who comes up. Local blogger engagement can be on a one-off basis or continued relationship.
Secondly you can develop the blog content yourself on site to boost SEO and become a local authority on the subjects of your business.
In-person engagement: Where true local tactics link together
Event engagement is as local as it gets. Events may come with a booth, tickets or a table at the dinner party. And it’s a tactic primed for creative thinking. Local presence can drive so much more than awareness; a presence at these events can be used to:
¥ sign up new customers;
¥ hand out promotion codes;
¥ engage with local bloggers and press; and
¥ reward existing local customers.
If you spend money on local advertising, why not let people know that they can come meet you at an event? If you design your event engagement properly, there might be a case for local press or bloggers to be there. There are a lot of ways to weave these pieces together by being physically in a location, at a specific event.