It’s not easy for small business owners to devote time and effort to pursuits like online optimization strategies. But if you’re going to bother to set up a website and social profiles, it’s important to make sure that they’re working for your business by expanding your online presence and increasing your opportunities to connect with prospective customers. Of course, you have dual goals when you operate a brick-and-mortar business in addition to your online store – you are marketing to both a local and a national or international audience.
And while your average SEO efforts will contribute to both goals on some level, you really need to engage in local SEO if you want to see a bump in local visitors as a result of your online efforts. Here are just a few quick and easy local SEO tips that will help you to get the results you want with minimal hassle.
- Create and claim local profiles. It’s hard to find a business these days that doesn’t have accounts on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s important to target social sites geared towards local communities, as well. So you might want to look into creating profiles on sites like Google+, Yelp, Foursquare, and even industry-specific platforms like Urbanspoon, just for example. In some cases, pages will already be in place; all you have to do is claim them to begin adding pertinent information (your location, business hours, and more), posting pics, and encouraging satisfied customers to add reviews. All of this requires relatively minimal effort (although profiles on sites like Google+ will require some ongoing effort) and the results will be increased ranking and exposure.
- Add a NAP. Your name, address, and phone number are important when you engage in local SEO strategies. And you need to make sure this relevant information is listed on every page of your website, as well as all of your social profiles, directory listings, and so on. As an added note, you’ll make it easier for search engines to recognize you when you format this data to match across all platforms. For example, don’t list your address as “Front Street West” in one place and “Front St. W” in another.
- Encourage sharing. Regardless of whether you’re working on a local, national, or international level, increasing rankings and online presence relies on building a network of backlinks. And one of the best ways to do it is to have others do the heavy lifting for you. By making sharing easy and desirable, you can actually encourage your patrons to spread your name for you. For local SEO efforts, this could mean creating easily sharable content (like pics, videos, and infographics) that contain references to your location or your community.
- Geotag. There are plenty of often overlooked SEO tips you might fall victim to, but don’t let a lack of geotagging be one of them. Any time you update content, add pics and videos, or send out messages, you should include metadata pertaining to your location. This can help you to be found by both search engines and potential customers seeking local services.
- Get on Pinterest. For some reason, many small business owners have failed to realize the opportunities for local SEO provided by this popular pinboard site. But while you’re toiling away on posts for Facebook and teasers for Twitter, you could be saving yourself a lot of time and hassle by letting pictures say your thousand words (or 140 characters) for you. Pinterest is not designed as a marketing tool for local businesses, but this is exactly what makes it ideal for your purposes. You can not only use it to post alluring photos of your products, but you can add a personal dimension with pics of your shop and your employees, as well as pinboards that highlight your local environs. And you can do it all in a non-intimidating, no-hard-sell forum. This site allows you to offer potential customers a glimpse of your place within the local community, personalizing their experience and perhaps even encouraging them to interact by sending in photos of their own. By including Pinterest in your local SEO strategies you stand to benefit on several levels.