For most businesses, local presence is vital to gaining customers. But if people can’t find your business online, you’ll find it hard to compete on the local stage. To grow your business you need to ensure customers can find you when they search for your services or products online with SEO.

Enter Local SEO. Local SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, helps make your business easier to find and interact with online. When you partner with Ashford Creative for your local SEO needs, you stand to gain more customers and business from the people closest to you.

What Is Local SEO?

As the Internet grows, more and more people are relying on search engines to find information about every aspect of their lives. People search Google, Bing, and other search engines for practically everything, from restaurant reviews to recipes, from used cars for sale to cheap flights to their vacation spot. But Google and other search engines don’t treat all of these searches the same.

For example, if you type “air conditioners” into Google, you will mostly get results that tell you about brands of air conditioners and major retailers that sell them, such as Walmart or Home Depot. But if you type “air conditioners near me,” you will instead get results that focus on local businesses and contractors that offer A/C services and products. We call this a “local search” because the search results are tied to a location.

For small and medium businesses, local searches are much more important than the first because they show searcher intent. The first search could be shopping-related, but it’s not likely to lead to a conversion. In contrast, a local search represents someone looking for help or products close by. That searcher is probably closer to making a purchase or appointment. And that means that, for SMBs, local searches are some of the most important for gaining more business.

Local SEO, then, is the process of optimizing your business’s online presence for local searches – in other words, helping to make sure your business comes up in search results when people nearby are looking for what you offer.

Why Local SEO is Important

When you optimize your business for local searches, you tap into a huge potential market of people who are already interested in what you offer. Most people who perform local searches are already looking for something to buy, and want to know where to buy it or who to trust. According to Google, 50% of people who search for local businesses on their phone visit one of those businesses within the next day. Furthermore, 78% of local searches lead to a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, and up to 97% of people have searched for info about local businesses online.

Local SEO can help your business in three key areas:

  • Visibility – Helping to make your business easier to find and keeping it in customers’ minds.
  • Leads – Getting more attention from potential customers and turning that attention into actionable leads.
  • Conversions – Increasing your sales, bookings, and visits by bringing more people to your store.

How to Increase Business Through Local SEO

If you want to leverage local SEO activities to help your business perform better, you’re on the right track. However, local SEO isn’t just a series of simple tasks you can perform to immediately get higher rankings and more customers. There are many different tools and techniques to use. Every business will need to consider the best ways to reach their customers online and how SEO can help.

Some of the most common local SEO tools and strategies are:

Website Optimizations

One of the biggest things you can do to get better search engine visibility is to optimize your website for local search. Some SEO activities can be complicated, but not all are. In fact, most of the top SEO optimizations for your website are pretty straightforward:

  • Make sure every page on your site has a unique title that mentions your services or location.
  • Tailor your website content to your location, and ensure your content is unique – no copy-pasting from other sites! Also, remember to write content for humans, not Google – don’t pack keywords into every sentence. Instead, write natural, focused content that people will want to read.
  • Link to other local websites, and attempt to get links back from them (but don’t pay for links or spam them everywhere – that can get you penalized).
  • Implement tags on your site to make it easier for search engines to read.

Google Maps and Google My Business

You may have noticed that, when you search for local businesses on Google, you often get results that link either to Google Maps listings or to information pages that include hours, reviews, links, and other basic business info. You can put your business in these listings by signing up for and managing a Google My Business account and activating your Google Maps listing.

Why do you want to be on Google My Business and Google Maps? A few simple reasons:

  • Most search traffic comes from Google, and Google prioritizes its own products. The map and business listings are usually at the top of the search results, so people see them first.
  • Businesses with a well-built Google profile can seem more trustworthy than businesses without data.
  • Google My Business provides a platform for collecting customer reviews and answering common questions. Studies show that customers trust businesses with reviews, and Google places its local reviews front and center in search results.

Citation Building

Along with activating your Google listings, you also want to make sure your business is visible on other major platforms that collect and present local data. These services include sites like Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, YP and more. Placing listings on these sites can help make your site more visible and makes it look more credible to searchers.

There are a few keys to keep in mind when you’re working with citations:

  • Consistency is key! Make sure all your information is correct and the same on all your citations, especially your business’ Name, Address, Phone, and Website. (We call these factors NAPW, and it’s important that they are consistent on all your listings and profiles.
  • Don’t spam links – Google and other search engines will penalize you if you use too many citation links to try to boost your rankings.
  • Citation builder services can help, but they’re often expensive and sometimes will take your citations down if you cancel your subscription.

Why to Partner with Local SEO Pros

In general, improving your local SEO means spending time doing lots of small optimizations and keeping track of what works best. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t have that kind of time. You’re busy running your business itself – you probably don’t want to spend time writing web page content or checking phone numbers on citation sites.

That’s why we offer local SEO services here at Ashford Creative. We understand how challenging it can be to gain visibility online, and we want to help your business succeed. Local SEO is key to getting better results online, especially if you are a brick-and-mortar business. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you achieve your online goals, contact us today and schedule a free consultation. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!