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Local Online Marketing: 6 Tips For Local SEO and Search Engine Marketing

Local Online Marketing: 6 Tips For Local SEO and Search Engine Marketing

Customers won’t just happen upon your business by chance. Well, some might. Generally, you’ll find that a lot of customers you receive have found your business online beforehand. Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information? Or, even that 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else? You do now. Local online marketing is not only important for your business, but is essential for the success of your brick-and-mortar stores if you want more internet users to become budding customers. 

We’ll show you everything you need to know to optimise your local online marketing strategy, rank higher on Search Engine Results Pages, and improve footfall and sales to your retail store. Let’s get started.

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What is Local Online Marketing?

Local online marketing is a marketing strategy that targets new or existing customers located within a specific geographic area. This area will normally be within a certain radius of the business, or one of the businesses locations. 

The goal of local online marketing is to target customers ‘local’ to your business online, and drive potential customers to your retail store. While eCommerce has become a staple within our commercial infrastructure, the value of in-store shopping, and brick-and-mortar stores can not be underestimated. Your goal, then, is to focus on hyper-localised marketing strategies to show these potential customers who you are, what you sell, where you sell, and more. 

Okay, so what does this look like in context? Let’s say you run a jewellery store and you’d like to increase foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar locations. Whenever people in the local area are looking to buy jewellery, they’ll most likely search for something like ‘jewellery near me’. 

If you’re doing local online marketing the way you should be doing it, you’ll be finding that you’re not only ranking highly in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), but you’ll also find that you have a steady stream of customers. If you don’t, well, we’ll show you how to change that.

How to Optimise Your Local Online Marketing

Search engines can seem to work in mysterious ways. Why is it that last week your business was ranking well on SERPS, but this week it has dropped in the rankings? How can you improve your position? Or, even perform better than you ever have before. Welcome to the Wild West of the World Wide Web. And, it all starts with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). 

Note: This article will tackle a small part of SEO, which is, as you would have guessed, Local Online Marketing SEO. However, to really understand what we’re recommending you to do, with respect to your business, we’ll give you a brief crash course in search engines and SEO.

Search engines allow users to find information relevant to their search intent (based on keywords or phrases). Search engines use programmes, often called spiders, bots, or crawlers, to look through the internet and find new web pages, or updated web pages. Web pages are ranked based on a number of, seemingly ever-changing, ranking factors (which can lead to frequent fluctuations in SERP performance).

When a user enters a search term, the search engine will consider which webpage is most relevant to the user based on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Plus, a bunch of other ranking factors. Things like your web page’s title tags, H1 tags, meta descriptions, content, and keywords are all taken into account. 

If you want to optimise your local online marketing, you need to create, tweak, or improve every single element that search engines use to decide whether your business is relevant enough to display to potential customers.

1. Update Your Listing on Google My Business

Google is the world’s most-used search engine with a search engine market share of more than 90%. That’s more than 4 billion people that are using Google. And, there are 8.5 billion searches made per day and approximately 2 trillion global searches per year. Needless to say, that’s quite a lot. If you’re looking at improving your local online marketing, Google My Business is the best place to start. 

When users search for services in their local area, they are often met with a listing of three local businesses that match their search query. This is known as the Local SEO 3-Pack. Here’s an example:

Source: Google

If you want to appear in Local SEO 3-Packs for relevant searches, you will need to fully optimise your Google My Business profile. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Fill out your profile completely with all the details of your business. E.g., opening and closing hours, business address, contact information (phone number and email address), and a link to your website.
  • Add photos of your business’ exterior, interior, products, and staff. The way your business is visually represented can tell customers a lot.
  • Frequently check and update your Google My Business listing to make sure all the info is up to date and accurate.

2. Optimise Your Website for Local SEO (Schema Markup)

Once you’ve optimised your Google My Business listing, your next step is to optimise your website for local SEO. So, make sure that your name, address, and phone number is consistent throughout your webpage and anywhere else you’ve included this info. 

You should next focus on adding Schema Markup to your business’ webpage. Schema markup, also known as structured data, is code that helps search engines read, understand, and categorise webpage content. The best way to understand it is that schema markup is like a language that all search engines understand. 

Adding schema markup to your website allows your website to communicate better with search engines, as they understand you better. When Google understands your website on a deeper level, it can provide more tailored, specific results to its users. 

If you’ve ever seen items like rich snippets, rich cards, or the knowledge panel on SERPS, this is information that has been gathered from structured data (a.k.a schema markup).  When successful, schema markups can positively impact click-through rate by displaying your website search result in a more informative way.

3. Implement SEO Best Practices for Your Website

‘What on earth are SEO best practices?’ I hear you ask. Well, there’s a chance, if you run your own website, you’ve already encountered what ‘best practices’ are. 

SEO best practices, generally, are a set of tasks designed to improve a website’s rankings in SERPs. They’re generally related to keyword research, on-site optimisation, and building backlinks, or internal links. 

Note: Do you remember when we mentioned how Google’s algorithm is always changing? Well, because it’s always changing, it means that best practices tend to change, too. So, before we get started on what you need to look out for, just be aware that SEO is a sisyphean task. No amount of optimisation you undertake will ever be enough, and if you drop the ball even for a few weeks, you may find your business has dropped significantly in Google’s rankings. Sorry to burst your bubble. It’s a cruel game, we know. Anyway, let’s get started.

Title Tags

A title tag is a title that appears both in a browser’s title bar and on SERPs. Adding relevant keywords to your title tags can have a positive impact on your rankings.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are HTML tags that summarise the content of your website. They’re small bodies of text that show under a website’s title tag in SERPs, and shouldn’t be longer than 160 characters.

By including the right keywords in your meta descriptions, you indicate the relevance of your website to search engines. 

Image Alt-Text

Alt-texts are HTML tags applied to images. They provide search engines with a description of an image’s content.

They exist because search engine crawlers can’t interpret images. This is why properly formatted alt-text has a positive effect on rankings. They’re also incredibly useful for those who are visually impaired as screen readers can describe the images for those who can’t read it themselves.

4. Place Your Business in Web Directories

Once upon a time, if you were listed on several online business directories, and included links to these directories on your website, the Google algorithm would rank you favourably.

Listing your business on the main web directories, on the other hand, is an essential part of local search marketing. We’ve already covered the main one: Google My Business. 

  • Bing Places – Bing may only be the first choice of search engine for 6% of internet users, but it’s still the default search engine for all Microsoft products.
  • Yelp – Yelp is an important tool for local search engine marketing. It not only helps customers find your business, but exposes them to positive reviews to gauge the quality of your products and customer service.
  • Foursquare – Foursquare is a fast growing online business directory. It’s a platform helping small businesses get found online by targeting prospective customers through a pay-per-click system.

5. Manage Online Reviews

In a survey by Uberall, 47% of consumers say they go home and write a review of their experience after purchasing. 72% of customers won’t take any sort of action when it comes to making a buying decision until they’ve read reviews, and 15% don’t trust businesses that have no reviews to show.

Reviews act as an online sounding board for your business. Once left by a customer, they’re then read by others who find you in local searches. You can’t control whether a customer will leave a good or a bad review, but how you respond makes all the difference.

Seeing negative reviews can give customers a basic idea of the worst-case scenario for your business, and also reinforce a sense of transparency. Even the best businesses will have an unhappy customer at some point, and customers may be more likely to believe twenty great reviews when there’s one negative counteracting it. Tactfully responding to a bad review is an opportunity to showcase the quality of your customer service.

A graceful response to customer complaints can save a user’s perception of your business.

  • Respond quickly and calmly
  • Ask them to contact a specific email or phone number to resolve it privately
  • Flag fake reviews with Google6. Improve Your Internal Linking Structure

6. Improve Your Internal Linking Structure

Internal linking is where you link between different web pages on your website. This is really important for good site health, and boosting your SEO rankings. Google doesn’t like, crudely named, ‘Orphan pages’, so if you have any webpages that aren’t being linked to anywhere on your website, Google, generally speaking, will not rank it highly in SERPs. 

Healthy internal linking strategies will allow for: 

  • Easier website navigation
  • Improve website hierarchy and information architecture
  • Simple distribution of page authority and ranking power amongst pages (i.e. link equity, or link juice).

Discover New Ways to Sell with Lightspeed

Merchants around the world are looking for alternative ways to sell and connect with customers. That’s making local online marketing quickly one of the main ways businesses can reach customers who may be a little more reluctant than usual to pop to their local high street.

With all-in-one cloud-based solutions like Lightspeed ePOS, you can offer solutions like click-and-collect and eCommerce which give customers more reason to find you online. Want to know more? Let’s talk.

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