In a recent article, we listed several ways to attract more customers to your business. As those tips demonstrated, the key to success in small business advertising is being top of mind and easy to find. Being at the top of search engine’s lists helps, too! That’s what search engine optimization (SEO) is designed to do. But global SEO performance can only do so much. Small businesses seeking customers in their local communities need local SEO to reach their target market.
What is SEO and why should you care?
SEO is the language digital marketers and web developers use to tell search engines such as Google, Microsoft’s Bing, and Yahoo’s Search what your website is about. Search engines are programs that analyze millions of websites to find the answer to an individual web user’s search. So, when a potential customer goes online to search for a qualified therapist and types in a word or phrase, it is the search engine that brings them results. People in the SEO industry refer to this list of results as SERPs, or search engine results pages.
Why do SEO and SERP matter to your business?
Searching is one of the ways new customers find you. According to this article by Rieva Lesonsky, writing for SCORE, your online presence is now as important as word-of-mouth when it comes to winning customers. Your online presence consists of anything that pops up online when a consumer searches your name or the name of your business. The most common places you’re present online are on your website, social media accounts, and online reviews.
Consumers look for products and services by searching online from their home computers and mobile phones. In a fast-paced world, consumers increasingly expect to be able to make a purchase or service decision based on what they find through their online searches. When your online presence is search engine optimized, you increase the likelihood that your business will appear at the top of the SERPs when a consumer goes looking for services.
How does local SEO help you get noticed?
Of course, with millions of websites, being on page one of search engine results can be a challenge. For example, when a consumer enters a medical search term, the top page results will probably include links to large websites with lots of information, such as Mayo Clinic or WebMd. So, how do small businesses compete? The answer is local SEO.
Local SEO has probably always played a role in search. After all, a person seeking a registered massage therapist in Boston doesn’t really care who offers massage therapy in Des Moines. But in recent years, as search engines have become more sophisticated and more searches originate from mobile phones, location has become pivotal to search. In fact, SEO experts predict that Google will continue to prioritize the local user search experience in 2017.
While not every SEO fix is easy to implement, there are several steps you can take to make your local online presence clear.
To make your massage therapy practice standout in the local SERPs, start with these easy steps:
Have a physical presence. Local SEO search results rely on proximity to choose which businesses to list. A physical address within the area that you provide services will help increase your odds of ranking well in SERPs. If possible, use a phone number with a local area code, too.
Be consistent. Being listed in local business directories can contribute to the success of your local SEO efforts. However, the effect can be diluted if your business information isn’t uniform. Use the same format for your business name, address, and phone number for each listing and citation. When you have a spare moment, check your existing online listings and correct any errors or inconsistencies you find.
Claim your name. Registering with Google My Business is important not just because it provides web searchers with information about your services, but also because Google uses it as a ranking signal. Google isn’t the only place you’ll want to register, though. You can register your business with Bing Places for Business, and Yahoo Local, too.
Speak your customer’s language. When your customers are searching for goods or services online, they aren’t using industry jargon or technical terms. To increase your chances of being found online, use customer driven words in your online marketing content.
An SEO expert can help you uncover the language to use with keyword research, but you can also do some sleuthing of your own. Comments and posts on Facebook and Twitter and customer reviews can all reveal the common terms consumers use. Incorporate these user-friendly terms in your website’s content.
Maximize your efficiency through optimization.
Computers and automation can help small businesses achieve amazing results, but they can’t provide your personal touch. Your time is invested best when it is spent serving your customers. Optimizing your web presence lets you spend less time marketing and more time earning. Use these tips to help you make it to the top of your local listings and watch your business grow.
If you’d like to learn more about search engines and their algorithms, Google explains the details in this interactive article. To find out more about local SEO and what ranking factors are most important, visit Moz.com’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors report.