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If you own a small business, you probably depend on customers within your general proximity. In order to reach those customers, however, you need to extend your marketing efforts beyond physical billboards, print advertisements, and signage.

Even if your customers live or work nearby, you can’t count only on foot traffic or local media to get the word out about your business. Instead, you need to embrace digital marketing techniques that can increase your reach and boost your brand awareness.

Fortunately, Google likes to prioritize local search results. Because search engines know that customers ideally want solutions that are nearby, small businesses have huge opportunities to reach consumers within their immediate vicinity.

However, you’ll need to leverage the power of local SEO if you want to accomplish that goal. Location-based search engine optimization can allow your business to be found more easily in relevant searches. So what can you do to boost your local search visibility this year? Check out the five tips below.

Optimize Your GMB Profile

Google My Business, known as GMB, is a free platform that Google offers for business owners. This platform allows you to list a ton of helpful information about your business, your products, your services, and pertinent updates for customers. It’s a highly beneficial resource for customers that can allow brands to boost their online presence (particularly in local search).

Since businesses that take full advantage of GMB are more likely to appear in the map pack and other places in search results, you’ll want to fill in all relevant fields and update your profile regularly. This can allow you to reach customers and provide essential info at a quick glance, making search results even more convenient to consume for users.

Prioritize NAP Consistency

Local listings can be an important part of your off-site SEO strategy. Your NAP — which stands for name, address, and phone number — is a crucial part of any local listing, including GMB. It might seem basic, but it’s a point you can’t afford to overlook. When you’re claiming your GMB page or securing a listing in an online directory, you need to double-check your NAP to ensure consistency across every platform.

That doesn’t just refer to getting your phone number right or eliminating any typos. It also means that small details — like Street vs. St. or any punctuation in your business name — are the same on every platform. By paying close attention and eliminating any discrepancies, you can maximize your chances of showing up in relevant search results.

Focus on Voice Search

Any white label SEO program will tell you that voice search is going to continue to grow in popularity. With more than half of all web searches being conducted on mobile devices, voice search functionality makes it even easier for mobile users to find the answers they need. Mobile usage, local SEO, and voice-powered technology are all intrinsically linked — so if you want to appeal to customers in your area, it makes sense that you’d want to focus on mobile-friendliness and voice search.

Voice technology has changed the way we look for information online, so you’ll need to adjust your SEO strategy to align with user behavior. To optimize your site and local listings for voice search, focus on conversational content, create FAQ pages, and ensure your site poses no barriers for mobile users.

Create Location Pages

If you’re trying to appeal to consumers in your area, it doesn’t make sense to adopt an overly broad SEO strategy. In trying to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up losing out. So if you serve a specific area or want to target nearby customers, make that known on your website!

One way to do this is by creating specific location pages. This makes a lot of sense if your business serves a few different areas or you have several different physical locations for your organization. Location-specific landing pages provide you with more opportunities to optimize — and more opportunities to rank.

Generate (And Respond To) Reviews

Online reviews are immensely important, as most consumers value them just as much (if not more than) personal recommendations. Customers want to know about the experiences of others and they tend to value those opinions highly. In many cases, a business without any online reviews is perceived as less trustworthy than one with negative reviews!

That said, negative reviews can be hurtful for any small business. So you need to focus on generating positive reviews from customers — and responding to any negative ones you receive with grace and compassion.

GMB, Facebook, and Yelp are among the most popular review sites, though there are others that may come into play for different industries. As part of your marketing efforts, devote time to generating honest reviews from satisfied customers. If you let them know how crucial this support is for you, they’ll probably be more than happy to do it. And if you receive any negative reviews, remember that the way you respond usually matters more than the review itself. Make sure that your response aligns with your company’s values and that you never come across as defensive. Thank them for their business, apologize if needed, and show how you’ll remedy the situation — even if the customer isn’t always right.

As a local business owner, you need to be able to compete and reach customers in your area. With these tips in mind, you can boost your local search visibility and achieve your goals in 2021.