So much attention nowadays goes to digital, global businesses that operate successfully without any borders. And yet, the entire world is brimming with small, local businesses that help grow the local economy, bring innovation to their society, and improve the quality of life for their community. These businesses are in the majority, as they take up a large portion of the business world, and they are, by nature, highly competitive. That brings us to SEO: why should small companies, some counting even fewer than 20 employees, rank better in a crowded local search realm?
To put things in a bit of perspective: 60% of American adults use their smartphones and tablets to search for local services and products. The same study shows that 78% of local mobile searches end up becoming actual offline purchases. What if your potential customers don’t come across your store in the results and head to one of your many competitors? Fortunately, as complex and competitive as this ecosystem may be, there are simple procedures you can introduce that will make a major difference for your ranking in search engines.
Search engines go through piles of information every day in order to decide on which brands to put at the top of the results page every time one of your customers enters a search query. One very relevant SEO factor, no matter what industry your business belongs to or where you’re located, is the information consistency you provide online. If your physical address, contact information such as phone numbers and emails, and even your full company name are not consistently presented across the web, you risk showing up much lower on the results page – if you make it to the first one at all.
It’s a reflection of the service you provide. One customer might end up at the wrong address, the other might waste their time calling an unrelated phone number. Not to mention diminishing the reputability of your business with inconsistency, because consistent information is used to verify the trustworthiness of your business. All in all, it doesn’t look good when you scatter different bits of information across the web, sending many customers as well as search engine crawlers on a wild goose chase.
Data-based SEO strategies
General rules, time-tested approaches, and a wide array of approved tactics are always welcome when a business tries to rank higher to get in front of a larger audience. This especially makes sense for companies that work in a densely-populated community, both in terms of potential customers and existing competitors. As an example, New York has 2.1 million small businesses, employing over half of their population, and taking up 99.8% of the entire NY business ecosystem. Standing out in that particular crowd takes so much more than standard industry tips and tricks.
In order to achieve optimal results, strategies for successful SEO in New York and similarly crowded business environments need to be tailor-made to every particular business in question. Your local SEO strategy needs to go beyond simple vanity metrics (as handy as they may be for certain aspects of your strategy), as well as general industry-relevant keywords. To make sure you are ranked better than all those thousands of competitors in your local ecosystem, make sure to truly abandon cookie-cutter solutions and carve a brand-unique approach to gain a significant advantage.
The digital world is so much more than merely a massive shopping cart we’ll gladly forget about as soon as the products we ordered are delivered. We have started using the digital in very similar ways to our real, offline world, and it drastically impacts our decision-making process. While we used to talk to our friends to find out their favorite brand of yoghurt, we now rely on an endless database available online to make even the simplest buying decisions. The store with the best reviews that’s closest to us will be the most likely winner. Unless you’re willing to go all the way to Greece from your home in Singapore to try genuine Greek yoghurt.
In essence, search engines serve as a database of word-of-mouth for your future customers. You need to use your website, as well as all available and relevant platforms to showcase your current customers’ impressions in order to attract more people to your store, gain traction online as well as offline, and build your brand’s reputation.
Game-changing local content
It’s no news that content is one of the most influential factors in terms of your SEO game. Brands, local or not, that do not invest heavily in content creation and dissemination often fail to maximize their SEO potential, and their bottom line suffers the consequences. If you want your customers to find you with greater ease, then you need to give them a multitude of valuable reasons to look for you, or for search engines to place you high in search results.
For local brands, that means localizing their content, as well. If you’re running a local pastry shop, you need to make sure that the locals know about you by providing locally relevant pieces of content filled with locally relevant keywords and links. That means anything from coverage of local events relevant for your niche, incentivizing customers to post images of consuming your products around town (local hashtags help, too), all the way to posting local recipes, organizing local cook-offs, you name it. Be creative with how you localize your content, and search engines will love you for it.
Local SEO deserves much more of your attention, especially if you run a business in a competitive local market. Use these tips to your advantage and make sure that your brand stands out in the online and offline worlds alike.
About the Author:
Keith Coppersmith is a business and marketing expert who has experienced both the rise and fall of many businesses. As a regular contributor at BizzmarkBlog, he enjoys writing and providing insight of the marketing industry based on both practice and theory.