If you want to use your website to reach people in your area, then you need to learn the strategies of Local SEO agencies.
In this article, I’ll go over 15 strategies that most Local SEO agencies should be using.
The Strategies We’ll Cover:
- Optimize your Google My Business page
- List your business on Bing Places
- Use your competitor’s keywords
- Use regional keywords
- Incorporate long-tail keywords
- Use purchase-intent keywords
- Optimize images
- Make sure your website is responsive
- Use keywords in your URL
- Incorporate structured data
- Citations matter
- Solicit reviews
- Find sponsorship opportunities
- Use Screaming Frog
- Always be optimizing
What Is a Local SEO Agency?
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to answer one very important question: what is Local Business SEO?
In a nutshell, it’s a search engine strategy that’s designed for local businesses.
If you run a brick-and-mortar shop in your community, then you need Local SEO to attract more customers. That’s the case whether your business is a restaurant, laundromat, specialty food store, fitness center, or any other kind of shop.
Local business SEO is important because people in your target market are using search engines to find your kind of business. If you don’t optimize your site for local search, those folks will likely find one of your competitors instead.
Then you lose market share.
So do yourself a favor: if you run a local business, learn the optimization secrets used by Local SEO agencies.
I’ll list several of them here.
1. Strategies for Local SEO Agencies: You Need to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Although it’s a great idea to optimize your website for local search, you also need to optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
First things first, though: if you haven’t yet claimed your GMB listing, you need to do that yesterday.
Once you’ve done that, go the extra mile and optimize the listing. Here are some pro-tips that you should follow:
- Complete your profile 100%. Not 90%. Not 95%. 100%.
- Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) appears on all your web properties as it does on GMB. If you abbreviate “Street” to “St.” in your address on GMB, then make sure you do so everywhere. If you include your corporate structure in your business name on GMB (for example: “John’s Bikes, LLC”), then make sure you include it everywhere else.
- Pick a profile photo that effectively markets your brand. You’re looking for visual clickbait that’s directly related to your business model.
- Use keywords in your image file names. For example, if you run a bakery in Kalamazoo, MI, consider naming your image file something like bagels-1-kalamazoo.jpg. Follow that pattern for all images you upload.
- Pick the most specific category related to your business. Avoid general categories like “Clothing” when you can pick “Women’s Clothing.”
- Select multiple categories if necessary. For example, you can select both “Men’s Clothing” and “Women’s Clothing” if you sell both kinds of clothing in your store.
2. Bing Places Can Help You Build Market Share
Many local SEO agencies make the mistake of ignoring Bing completely. That’s certainly not the best Local SEO strategy.
And although Google is a much larger search engine than Bing, that doesn’t mean you should shut out Bing completely. There are people who use it.
That’s why you should list your business with GMB’s little brother: Bing Places.
You might just get the jump on your competitors by using Bing Places. It’s possible that many of them are ignoring it.
As a result, you can pick up some additional market share by appealing to an entire market segment that they’re ignoring.
Fortunately, it’s easy to get listed on Bing Places. Just click the link above, select “Get Started,” and follow the prompts.
3. Your Competitors Have the Keywords You’re Looking For
You probably already know that an important aspect of SEO is keyword research.
But here’s what most local SEO agencies already know: the competition’s already using the good ones.
The silver lining is that they’ve probably already done that research for you.
Even better news: you can find out which keywords they’re using to land new business. That’s why some people think the best Local SEO strategy is to copy the effort of a competitor.
Get thee to a tool like SEMRush. Plug in the domain name of one of your competitors and find out which keywords get them the most clicks.
Then, create “service” or “product” pages on your website and optimize them for those same keywords.
For example, let’s say you’re running a clothing store and find that one of your competitors in town is pulling in clicks for “ladies cocktail dresses.” You also sell cocktail dresses but don’t make a point to advertise it on your website.
Now you know you need to make a point about it. Create a web page that shows off your best cocktail dresses with the title “Ladies Cocktail Dresses in Kalamazoo” (or wherever you’re located).
Sprinkle that search term (“Ladies Cocktail Dresses”) throughout the content as well. That will help it rank.
4. Regional Keywords Make a Difference
I touched on this in the previous point, but it’s important to emphasize it: regional keywords will help you rank.
Just above, I explained how to optimize for the keyword “Ladies Cocktail Dresses.” If you were running a national brand, you could have just created a page with that title.
But you’re not running a national brand. You’re running a local business, and any local SEO agencies worth their salt will know that makes a big difference.
That’s why it’s important that you include regional keywords in your titles. In the example above, I added “in Kalamazoo” to the title.
Why is that necessary? Because women in Kalamazoo will literally search for “ladies cocktail dresses in Kalamazoo” when they’re looking at local shopping options.
Since the title of the page in the example above matches that search term, it’s likely to rank well in local search.
Go over your website and make sure that your title tags are populated with regional keywords. You’ll probably get more clicks that way.
It’s especially important that the title of your website includes not only the nature of your business but also its location as well.
For example: “Deirdre’s Women’s Clothing Shop in Kalamazoo, MI” is a far better title than “Deirdre’s Women’s Clothing Shop.”
Here’s another pro-tip: keep your title tags under 55 characters. Otherwise, they might get truncated in the search results.
5. Strategies for Local SEO Agencies: Long Tail Keywords Are Your Friends
If you’re unfamiliar with long tail keywords, they’re search terms that include four or more words. For example: “buy red ladies cocktail dress in Kalamazoo” is a long tail keyword.
Some local SEO agencies ignore long tail keywords because they only get a few clicks every month. That’s a mistake.
Why? For two reasons.
First, one or two additional customers per month can mean one or two additional loyal customers over the life of your business.
Second, you can optimize for several long tail keywords and reel in plenty of additional business.
Fortunately, there are quite a few free tools you can use to find long tail keywords related to your niche.
Just head over to UberSuggest, Soovle, or KeywordTool.io. Then, plug in one of your “seed” keywords (for example: “ladies cocktail dress”).
The tool will show you lots of related keywords. Some of them will be long tail.
6. Purchase-Intent Keywords Ring the Cash Register
Remember, at the end of the day you’re selling stuff. You’re in business to make money.
That’s why you want to find people who are willing to spend money.
Do that by optimizing your site for purchase-intent keywords.
For example: if somebody searches for “ladies cocktail dress on sale” (another long tail keyword, by the way), then you can be pretty sure that individual wants to buy a cocktail dress.
The “on sale” part of the search term is a dead giveaway.
Likewise, search terms such as “affordable cocktail dress,” “inexpensive cocktail dress,” and “buy cocktail dress” also carry purchase intent.
Make sure that you find keywords related to your brand that have purchase intent. Then, optimize pages on your website for those keywords.
7. Image Optimization Is Important, Too
Way too many of these agencies ignore image optimization. They do so at their peril.
Whenever you upload an image to your website, you should optimize it for local search.
For starters, make sure the image file size isn’t too large. A huge image can slow down your website and hurt your rank.
Also remember: you’re trying to appeal to people on a mobile device. Some of them will be using a data plan while searching for your business as they’re out and about. You don’t want to hit them with a massive image that uses up a significant amount of their monthly allowance.
Enlist the aid of a tool like Adobe Photoshop to save the image in JPEG format and at the smallest dimensions possible. Try to keep it under 100K.
Also, add an “alt text” to your image. WordPress makes it easy to do that every time you upload a pic. If you’re not using WordPress, you’ll have to manually add the alt text.
Populate the alt text with keywords relevant to the surrounding content.
As with GMB, you should also optimize your image file name. Again, let keywords be your guide and substitute spaces with dashes (for example: cocktail-dress.jpg).
8. You’ve Already Lost If Your Website Isn’t Responsive
It’s no longer an option to have a mobile-ready website. It’s mandatory.
If your site looks great on a desktop or laptop, but requires a whole lot of scrolling, pinching, and squeezing for mobile users, then you need a design overhaul.
Hire a web development team to give you a responsive website. That way, your site will be easy to navigate whether someone is browsing it on a desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, or phablet.
Keep in mind: it’s not just users who will get turned off to your brand if you have a mobile-hostile website. Google will as well.
The Big G is currently in the process of rolling out its mobile-first index. Sites that aren’t user-friendly to its mobile agent won’t rank well.
9. Keywords Belong in URLs, Too
You shouldn’t just optimize your web content and images. You should optimize your URLs as well.
Most folks at Local SEO agencies know that part of the secret to ranking well in the search results is to include keywords in the URLs themselves.
Fortunately, if you’re letting WordPress create your titles, it will probably already optimize your URLs with appropriate keywords. That’s because WordPress can construct the URL from the title itself.
For example, if your title is “Cocktail Dresses on Sale in Kalamazoo,” WordPress will create a URL that looks like this: https://yoursite.com/2018/07/10/cocktail-dresses-on-sale-in-kalamazoo.
You see what it did there? It just transformed your title into the trailing portion of the URL. That’s important for SEO as well.
If you’re not using WordPress, you’ll have to do that manually. It’s no fun, but it will help you rank your web pages.
10. Strategies for Local SEO Agencies: Structured Data Can Get You More Clicks
Here’s another strategy that most Local SEO agencies are using: structured data can get you clicks.
What is structured data? It’s info that’s marked up on your website so that search engines can parse it more easily.
Sometimes, search engines will show some of your marked up data in the search results.
You might have seen a listing in Google that included a star rating. Google gets that rating by examining the markup on the page.
The markup itself is defined by Schema.org. You can spend quite a bit of time browsing through that website to find out about all the types of data that you can mark up.
Of particular importance to you, though, is the LocalBusiness schema. That’s going to help you tell the search engines a lot about your business.
If you browse through the LocalBusiness schema, you’ll see that you can include the following important details about your business:
- Currencies accepted
- Opening hours
- Payments accepted
- Area served
- Email address
- Fax number
- Legal name
- Number of employees
- Parent organization
And there’s quite a bit more. It’s a great idea to use Schema.org markup to include as much detail as you can about your business.
Keep in mind: adding markup to a website involves some technical work. If you’re not comfortable with that, you’ll have to outsource the project to a qualified development team.
Once your team is finished, be sure to run your page through the markup testing tool to make sure that everything has been defined properly.
As a local business, you should also make use of the Product, Service, Review, and AggregateRating schemas where applicable.
11. Citations Matter
You also need to get citations to your local business website.
If you aren’t familiar with citations, they’re mentions on other websites that include your business NAP. Citations are just one of the many ways that the search engines “learn” about your business.
Go online and search for directories related to your business model. Then, visit each of those directories and look for an “Add Listing” link. Click that link and begin the process of adding your listing to the directory.
Keep in mind the rule from Point #1 above: make sure your NAP appears exactly the same way on all web properties. Don’t change it in the slightest!
You can also find local business directories in your immediate area. Be sure to get listed on their websites as well.
One way to find local business directories is to go to Google and search for something like “[City name] business directory.” Also, search for something like “[City name] blog.” That also gets plenty of results.
Both “Kalamazoo business directory” and “Kalamazoo blog” bring up plenty of results.
And don’t forget about the more popular sites like Yelp and FourSquare. They can give you lots of bonus points with the search engines.
Finally, there are tools you can use to help you get citations. Here are a few of the best:
12. You Have to Solicit Reviews
It would be a wonderful world if all of your customers had plenty of free time to leave positive reviews on your GMB page. Unfortunately, they don’t.
That’s why they need a little “nudging.”
Fortunately, you can give them just the nudge they need by sending each customer an email asking for a review. In that email, provide a link to where the person can leave a review.
Of course, you can’t do that if you don’t have customer email addresses. Make it a point to collect emails by offering a monthly drawing with a free giveaway to the winner.
Then, use those email addresses to ask for reviews.
One thing you should not do, however, is offer an incentive in exchange for positive reviews. That’s against Google’s terms of service.
Reviews are important because Google likes to give higher-rated businesses top priority in the search results. If you can collect plenty of 4- and 5-star reviews, you should do well.
Of course, good reviews don’t just help you rank well. They’ll also bring more customers to your store. People like to frequent businesses that their neighbors have praised.
Here are a few ways you can encourage your happiest customers to leave positive reviews:
- Give them plenty of places to leave reviews – Allow your customers to leave reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and whatever other platforms you’re using to promote your business.
- Optimize your site – You should also make it easy for customers to leave reviews on your website. Also, highlight your reviews so they’re clearly visible on the website and in search. Be sure to implement the Review element in schema markup.
- Ask at the right moments – If you solicit reviews, it’s almost as important to know when to ask as it is to know who to ask. Ping people to leave reviews after they’ve used your product or service successfully, when they come back for a second purchase, after they’ve tagged your brand on social media, or when they’re browsing your website for an extended period of time.
- Start a conversation – Sometimes it’s best to opt for a roundabout approach when it comes to soliciting reviews. Instead of just asking for a review, why not begin by asking customers how they like the product or if they’re ready to purchase again. If you come across a very happy customer, that person is more likely to help your business by leaving a positive review.
13. Strategies for Local SEO Agencies: Sponsorship Can Get You Noticed
Do you have a Little League sports team in your area? If so, sponsor it.
How does that help with Local SEO? In a number of ways.
First of all, you’re likely to get a backlink to your website from the team’s website. That backlink will help improve your Domain Authority (DA).
When you have a higher DA, you’re more likely to rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Second, your business could get mentioned on social media. Again, that’s digital gold.
Finally, your business might also get covered in local news reports. That’s not only free PR, but you’ll also likely earn a backlink from local news websites as well.
14. Screaming Frog Can Help You Uncover SEO Problems
It’s a really good idea to perform an on-site SEO audit. You can do that manually or you can use a tool.
As you might imagine, it’s much easier to use a tool.
Pick up Screaming Frog and use it to traverse all over your website, looking for problems along the way. Once it’s finished, it will give you a report showing you exactly what’s wrong.
Then, you need to take action.
For example, if Screaming Frog tells you that it found missing meta titles, then you need to add them. If it shows you web pages where the title tag doesn’t match the H1 tag, then you need to make them match.
It’s really that simple.
Those kinds of fixes can result in huge improvements in terms of Local SEO.
15. Remember: You’re Never Done
Here’s the last strategy: you’re never done.
As in: you’re never done optimizing your website. You’re never done auditing your website for problems. You’re never done trying to reach new customers.
Too many marketers and entrepreneurs think they can set up a great website, sit back, and watch the customers walk through the door. That’s not how it works.
You always have to look for ways to improve your site. You need to constantly be on the lookout for marketing opportunities.
One of the ways you can keep on promoting your brand is with content marketing. That’s an SEO strategy that involves blogging.
Specifically, you should write blog posts that are relevant to people in your target market. More importantly, though, you’ll optimize those posts for keywords that you found during your keyword research efforts (see above).
When you continually crank out content that’s valuable to potential customers, you’ll generate some online buzz about your business. That will bring in more revenue.
You also need to keep up with all the latest SEO news. Bookmark sites like Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal so that you can be sure that your digital marketing strategies are up to date.
Wrapping Up Strategies for Local SEO Agencies
There you have it: 15 strategies that all Local SEO agencies should be using.
Go through the list above and find the opportunities most relevant to your business. Then, get started on making the appropriate changes today.
After a while, you’ll notice more customers flocking to your website.