Now the game becomes about optimizing your online presence and business listings to effectively capture the potential customers in your area. Without certain elements present, your competition will rule the roost for your niche and local market.
To help you get your digital existence up to snuff and highly prosperous for 2016, here are five tips and tricks to dominate the local SERPs:
1. Set Up Your Google My Business Page
Some state that Google+ is dead, but this simply isn’t true. When Google displays local search results with a map for locations, the information presented is not coming from the business’ website; it is harvested from Google+ Local business pages.
To optimize Google My Business to its fullest, a few steps must be taken. First, be sure to include as much relevant information possible on the products or services that your business provides. This will help Google determine relevance for any given query. Additionally, you need to verify all contact information — such as your website, e-mail, hours of operation, address and phone number — is up-to-date. This will help to establish authority as well as ensure your business is listed correctly in Google Maps. It is also helpful to claim a customer URL to make your page easier to find.
It is imperative to include relevant categories to your business so your listing will be displayed accordingly. The more you select the better. Just make sure that all of your choices are compatible with your business, otherwise, it will do more harm than good. Lastly, be sure to include high-quality images for your business; visuals are becoming quite powerful in the world of SEO too.
2. Be Responsive
A mobile responsive design has become a pivotal factor to SEO overall — Google’s algorithm updates see to it that websites that are not mobile-friendly are penalized accordingly. It has been stated time and time again: if your site is not optimized for mobile interactions, you are missing out on massive amounts of opportunity; especially with mobile-only Internet users surpassing desktop-only users. Sites like MobileTest.me can help you see if your website renders properly or is still in need of some work. If you are a bit unclear on the core tenants of responsive designs, there is a plethora of information available online to help get your site in the mobile game.
3. Acquire Local Citations
Gaining citations is a critical factor to local SEO. To help build authority, get your website listed on as many reputable directory or local citation sites like Yelp and Zagat as possible; here is a list of 50 to help save some time hunting these down. This list is only a sliver of such sites on the Web, so be sure to put in the leg work to gain additional listings. The more trustworthy citations you have pointing toward your site, the more authority you will gain. Additionally, tools like Synup, which is local-SEO focused, can help you accomplish this task in no time.
4. Build Online Reviews
Online reviews have become so powerful, they can truly make or break a business. When it comes to your reviews, this will largely determine how much new business you will receive because 88 percent of consumers read reviews to determine the quality of a local business; and with these critiques appearing on Yelp, Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, and tons of other sites, you had better be sure that yours look great.
The most beneficial thing you can do in this area is to be proactive about the reviews you have. Engage with those who have left comments about your business to show the community that you pay attention and care about their experience. If you come across a negative posting, it is especially important to respond to these folks. By offering superior customer service, you can turn that unfortunate evaluation into a positive encounter.
To help earn reviews from customers, you can always remind your patrons to provide feedback on Google, which is actually encouraged by the search engine. You can also promote in-store offers in exchange for an honest evaluation on one of your pages.
5. Create Stellar Content
No matter how you look at it, outstanding content is the cornerstone of SEO. This will help drive visitors to your page, support your keyword strategy, and ultimately boost rankings and visibility. If you fail to incorporate content into your SEO blueprint, you are simply giving you competitors an opening to take cash out of your pocket.
Create and share valuable content about your services, niche and local community through your blog, social profiles, and wherever else you can get it posted.
Local SEO can be a challenging undertaking, but all of the information and tools you need are at your disposal. Take the time to optimize your Google pages, social profiles, and mobile website, and your business will be poised for a bountiful 2016.
What steps have you taken towards local search dominance and how has it effected your business? How do you think local SEO will change in 2016?