How to Win With Local SEO in 2018

Local search engine optimization mike nittoli

Local SEO is getting bigger and bigger in 2018. It doesn’t look like this trend is slowing down anytime soon. Consumers are now able to search for nearby restaurants, entertainment spots, as well as service centers and get turn by turn directions using their smartphones. By optimizing to increase local search visibility, small businesses can easily generate new customers. It doesn’t matter whether you are a traditional local store, a service business or even a mobile operator. Including local SEO in your digital strategy allows you to pull relevant customers from the surrounding community.

This article offers 10 excellent tips from experience working with a local San Diego SEO consultant over 5 years.

1. Keep it consistent
Inconsistent information can scatter your local SEO strategy. It’s common for small businesses to include one phone number on their Facebook page, and a different one altogether on their Google+ profile. Search engines may de-prioritize your listing when they become aware of discrepancies in the basic contact information. Make sure that your name, address and business phone number is the same on all channels – Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, and Twitter.

2. Local keyword optimization
Your local optimization strategy is not complete if you’re not using local keywords. Customers will include location-relevant information in their search phrase. Let’s say someone in Hillcrest, San Diego in need of a gas station. They will most likely key in “gas station Hillcrest” on their Google search. As a gas station owner, your content needs to be optimized for this local phrase. Make sure you include all the important local keywords that people are using in your page titles and header tags.

At my San Diego SEO agency, we look at how we can use existing content to maximize local optimization.

3. Invest in local citations
Local citations are one of my best local SEO hacks. You can think of a citation of as any reference (or mention) of your business on websites such as Yellowpages, FourSquare, Yelp, Angie’s List, and BBB. All these are highly authoritative platforms that can add a lot of weight to your local claim. It’s important to make sure you provide consistent information on all these platforms.

At my San Diego SEO agency, we noted that most businesses just focused on Yelp and left out the other platforms. This is like leaving money on the table as far as local SEO is concerned. A good local optimization strategy should include citations on all high quality local business directories. There are up to 50 of them.

4. Google My Business
Google My Business is arguably – if not obviously – the most powerful local SEO factor. Listing your small business on this platform is a must-do. It creates an opportunity for netting customers and also offers valuable insights on how people find your business. You can manage and respond to reviews left by customers, and add the best photos of your business or services. Make sure you enter consistent and accurate information (name, address, business hours, category) and do the same on Bing Places for Businesses.

5. Optimize for mobile
More than half of all local searches are done on mobile. It’s paramount that your website is optimized for mobile. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to see how good your website is for the mobile audience. Website loading speed is also another important factor to help boost your local SEO efforts. Website visitors have dozens of pages competing for their attention every day. For this reason, they tend to have an incredibly short attention span. Few people will be patient enough to wait for a slow loading website.

6. Embed a Google Map
Embed a map on your site’s contact page to give visitors a better idea where your business is. Adding a Google Map on your site can be a helping factor to boost local optimization. Google will be able to source clues from both the information you provided on your local listings and the on-page map to get your location right. There’s a good chance a website with an on-page map will rank better on Google+ Local.

7. Take advantage of Local Structured Data Markup
Despite Google saying it likes it when websites use structured data, only a third of SEO’s are taking advantage of this. Structured data makes it easier for Google and other search engines to show results that are more accurate for users. The good news is that Google has availed various tools that make it easier for small business owners and webmasters leverage structured data. You may use the Structured Data Testing Tool to verify correctness or the Data Highlighter Tool.

8. Encourage Reviews
88% of customers say trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. That’s according to a 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal. More and more customer are using Google for local recommendations and referrals. You may offer incentives for customers who agree to leave a review on Google+ Local, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Urbanspoon or Angie’s List for your business.

One thing I do as a San Diego SEO expert is to contact loyal customers and offer them a significant discount if they can leave a review. Because these are already people who trust the business, they almost always leave great, positive reviews.

If you happen to get a negative review, make sure to manage it as soon as possible. Keep your response professional and address the issue that appears to have motivated the negative mention. People are going to feel better about your business if you are proactively addressing customers’ concerns. So don’t just ignore negative reviews and hope they’ll disappear.

9. Use local link building
This is another one of my best local SEO optimization hacks. I use this all the time in my work as a San Diego SEO expert. Local link building is different from general link building because it provides more relevance. Getting backlinks from other local businesses (even if they are not in the same industry as you) works out great. Consider looking for sponsorship opportunities, organize a donation drive, or get involved in community events. You might also participate in local newsgroups to increase your chances of attracting links from other local businesses.

10. Leverage Pay-Per-Click Advertising
In addition to the local optimization hacks I have shared above, implementing a local PPC campaign can greatly benefit your business. The goal is to target a specific audience for your business. This is more so important if you offer a product or service that is quite hard for people to find locally. Most consumers will conduct an internet search before making a purchase. Your local advertising campaign should be well optimized so you get maximum returns on investment.

Local SEO San Diego CA by Mike Nittoli
Outwitting your competitors often requires that you think strategically and competitively. As I like to put it, there are always two games being played – the visible game that everyone can see, and the ‘invisible’ game that usually leads to success. We play the ‘invisible’ game to win when optimizing your San Diego business for maximum local search impact.

Contact me today to get started with a local SEO strategy that works!

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