LOCAL SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
“Local SEO is a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that helps your business be more visible in local search results on Google. Any business that has a physical location or serves a geographic area can benefit from local SEO.”
What is Local Search Engine Optimization?
The definition of Local Search Engine Optimization above pretty well sums up the technical meaning of it, but what does it really mean in reference to YOUR local business?
Local Search Engine Optimization (or Local SEO) is a digital marketing practice of optimizing a businesses online digital properties in such a way that search engines (primarily Google Search) recognize that business as an authority in the niche or context of whatever term(s) the user is searching for. Let’s break that down even further.
Online Digital Properties are any online content that a business owns that promotes or markets its goods and services online. Websites, Google Business Profiles, Google Business Pages, Facebook Business Pages, Twitter Business Pages, LinkedIn Pages, YouTube Pages and Videos, Podcasts, Instagram Pages, any other online pages, and any and all posts created on all of those pages, are all considered Online Digital Properties. Google (and all other search engines) is constantly looking at all of this digital data in relation to all kinds of search terms (called keywords) that people searching online type in. The search engines use sophisticated algorithms to decide how search results are posted and ranked in relation to what searchers are looking for.
So for example, let’s say a person (Rhonda) is out in their car and wants to find a cup of coffee. They may type “coffee near me” or “coffee <town they are located in>” into Google Maps or a Google Search on their phone. Google will then show them a list of businesses nearby that sell coffee. But how does Google decide how those businesses show up in the search results and which ones are near the top of the list (ranking)?
Well, that’s where the “secret sauce” comes in. Without getting too far out into the technical weeds, let’s just say that 1) Google considers lots of factors, 2) Google will not share those factors with us, and 3) Google changes those factors all the time! That’s just great right?
Why is this important? Think about when you personally are searching for a product or service to buy on your phone or computer. There are always multiple sources of what you’re looking for right? Do you always review ALL of those sources before making a decision to check them out or to buy? I’ll bet you don’t. Just like all of us, you look at the top 3 or 4 in the list and make a decision.
Keeping all that in mind, let’s go back to the example of Rhonda looking for her cup of coffee. And then let’s assume that YOU are the owner of a coffee shop near her. Do you want your coffee shop to be showing up at or near the top of her search results? OF COURSE YOU DO! The likelihood of her searching past the first three search results is VERY small so being one of those three is vital if you want Rhonda to come get that coffee (and maybe a scone) from YOUR coffee shop.
So, how do you make sure that your business is one of those three? By optimizing all of your businesses online content in such a way that Google “sees” your coffee shop as THE MOST likely place for Rhonda to satisfy the parameters of what she is looking for. In other words, you want Rhonda to see your place as the BEST place to get what she is looking for. To achieve that, your online digital properties must be optimized to make Google see it that way.
Holy Moley That’s a Lot! Now What?
The “Bad News” is that Local Search Engine Optimization can be complicated, intricate and is ever changing. It is often as much “art” as science. It takes consistent effort and some technical know-how to achieve desired results. The “Good News” is that it can be done and will GREATLY increase the number of customers, prospects and leads that you attract to your business, resulting in more sales and profits for you.
While online marketing and local SEO is a needed service for any small business owner who wants to generate more sales and beat the competition, it is also a very extensive and diverse field which can easily become a black hole that devours your marketing time and budget! Proper SEO requires strategies, time and effort. Basic online marketing techniques can be enacted by anyone. There is a vast amount of free information and training in search engine optimization techniques online. As a business owner, you could study and enact marketing efforts on your own. Or, you could hire professionals to do it for you.
Your Action Plan
Step one is to decide if you really NEED Search Engine Optimization for the online marketing of your local business. If your company is already as large as you ever want it to grow, and you have more than enough guaranteed repeat business to keep it that way, then you may not need to invest in ANY online marketing. However, this type of company is very rare.
Most businesses have a life of their own. They are constantly changing, growing, or shrinking. Marketing is an essential service for any business. For example, Coca-Cola is the most recognized brand name on planet earth. Almost every human knows what a Coke is, and yet the Coca-Cola company spends many millions of dollars every year on marketing. Why? Because even for a brand like Coca-Cola, their customers need to be constantly reminded and new prospective customers are born every day! Your local small business needs marketing for the same reason! If you want to grow, you need to market.
Step two is to decide how much Local Search Engine Optimization service you need (or have budget for). This can be difficult to evaluate. We highly recommend that you reach out for help with this from a reputable, professional digital marketer or agency in your area. There is a LOT to online marketing, and getting experienced and knowledgeable advice of how to spend your marketing dollars is critical. Most agencies will give you at least a free evaluation of your current marketing efforts, your competition, and a suggested plan of action to help you reach your goals. Take advantage of that!
Step three is to interview marketers and agencies to pick someone to work with. Take your time and make sure that they understand your market, your particular situation, and your goals. At Elevate Solutions Group we consider ourselves more of a partner in your business than a service provider. Your relationship with a marketer for your business should be a trusting, open and long lasting one. Beware, as there are PLENTY of less than reputable companies out there who will promise you the moon, get you to sign a long-term contract and promptly disappear! Choose wisely.
Step four is to establish goals and a budget. Getting these two things to match can be the most difficult part of your marketing journey. Again, a knowledgeable digital marketing pro can help you with this. Figure out what you want or need for your business (leads, repeat traffic, new customers, upsells?), then make a plan and get started! The sooner the better! Just a tip here; solid, effective, long-lasting search engine optimization techniques take some time to work. They are NOT an instant fix. If someone promises you quick results and “instant page 1 ranking” of your Google Business Profile……RUN! You’ll be wasting money with those kind of “experts.” Good SEO takes consistent, effective effort, but results in your ranking and results sticking with Google and producing more business for you!
Step five is to activate your SEO efforts. Start building out your digital properties in an SEO-friendly fashion and be constant and consistent. Just a few of the things you should do immediately are:
- Optimize your Google Business Profile
- Add a 360 Virtual Tour to all your digital properties
- Rework your website with keyword optimization, photos, and videos
- POST, POST, POST – Create as many posts in your social media sites, your Google Business Profile and your blog as possible
- Rinse and Repeat – Keep doing these things consistently
These efforts alone should result in a better Google Search ranking for your business
Well, it’s decision time now my friend! If you’ve read this far it’s because you realize that your business really does need to be optimized online and needs a higher ranking in Google Searches and Google Maps. So now it’s time to GO! You can take these tips and do some online research (there are literally thousands of articles and videos online about how to do Local SEO), OR you can just reach out to us and get a FREE evaluation of your current rankings and some suggestions about what Elevate Solutions Group can do for your business.
At ESG we consider companies our partners, not our clients. We have a vested interest in your local businesses success! Give us a shout today!
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Elevate Solutions Group helps small businesses grow by attracting, engaging and retaining customers using a combination of the latest digital marketing technologies and old-school common sense marketing.