As many small business owners have discovered, local SEO is key to getting  bodies in the door. Utilizing local SEO can help you reach your local target market, gain and retain customer loyalty, and overcome the competition.

Local SEO vs. Organic SEO

The focus of organic SEO is to get more visitors to discover your website through search engines and to improve your ranking on search engine results page (SERP). In this case, it doesn’t matter whether your online store or business also has a physical location – organic SEO is mainly concerned with relevant, traffic-boosting online content.

The main goal of local SEO  is to improve your website’s ranking on a local search results page. In other words, ranking high locally depends on how well your website is optimized for location-based search.

Location-Specific Keywords

Let’s say you own an online store that sells men’s outerwear and your goal is to increase organic traffic. In this case, you would use keywords such as “men’s jackets”, “men’s winter coats”, “winter coats for men”, etc. to improve your SERP ranking for these specific keywords. If, however, you wanted to bring more in-store customers to your men’s outerwear store in Denver, you would use location-based keywords, such as “men’s winter coats Denver”, “men’s jackets Denver”, “Denver men’s winter jackets”, etc. to improve your local ranking on Google. To stay relevant, even as a brick and mortar storefront, utilizing location-based keywords is absolutely vital. Studies have found that 71% of customers look up the location of a business before visiting for the first time.

Optimize for Mobile

The proliferation of smartphones is one of the main reasons local SEO is so important today. People now regularly use their phones to find information such as store location, directions, opening and closing times, and stock availability. As a result, 50% of consumers who perform local search on their smartphones visit a store within a day.

People are now performing local searches on their smartphones from every place imaginable. According to a Google study of over 5,000 U.S. smartphone users, 51% of people search for local businesses on public transport, 41% of them do so in-store, 33% search while at workplace, 25% are in hotels when they conduct local search, and 20% of people use their smartphones to perform a local search while waiting at the airport.

Did you know that by 2020, around 80% of online purchases will be made via smartphones? Smartphones have revolutionized the way communicate, conduct business, and consume content. A growing number of people are now using smartphones to look up products and services on the go and what they want from local businesses are quick, no-nonsense solutions.

The first step to improving local SEO is optimizing your website for mobile users. To do this, you need to make customer experience your priority. Use responsive design and straightforward call-to-actions, make sure the physical address and contact phone number are featured prominently on your mobile-friendly website, and develop a location-based mobile ad campaign.

Respond to Google Reviews

The importance of Google Reviews for small local businesses cannot be overstated. Reviews are a form of social proof: when a customer conducts a local search for a product or service, they will likely assess how reliable your business is by looking at other people’s reviews. In 2017, 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and 85% of them say online reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations.

Google recently lowered its star rating threshold, which means you can now get a star rating for only one or two reviews. Therefore, high ratings are increasingly important. Since Google won’t let you delete a negative review unless it violates their review policies, the best way to gain some control over the reviews and improve your local SEO is to engage with your customers directly and respond to all reviews (especially the ones you’d rather ignore).

In this way, you can achieve two things that are crucial for the success of small businesses: build customer trust and set yourself apart from the competitors.

Out of 1.5 million results, these 3 restaurants landed at the top. Those Google Reviews are a major reason. Out of 1.5 million results, these 3 restaurants landed at the top. Those Google Reviews are a major reason.

Build Local Links

Don’t forget to develop a viable link-building strategy. Local link building can help you increase referral traffic, improve your website’s domain authority, and outrank your competitors.

Remember: What matters most for local link-building is location, location, location. Try to get as many local links as you can by taking a more hands-on approach to building real-world relationships with businesses in your community.

A few ways to secure more local links is to sponsor a local event, attend or organize meetups, and work to build a relationship with the local media. Sure, all of this takes time and effort, but link-building is all about creating strong relationships. In order to improve both your organic and local SEO, get out and make your presence felt in the local community.