Maybe you’ve just opened an ultra-hip coffee shop, roasting your own beans, scoffing people who ask for decaf, and are waiting for the loyal customers (addicts) to roll in. Handing out flyers in a coffee-costume probably isn’t going to cut it, even if it does end up on Instagram #coffeewoes. It’s not a surprise to know that prospective customers go online to look and vet new businesses. In fact, 90% of them use a search engine. Optimizing your website for local search results is essential! Building a local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy heightens your chances of attracting new customers to your business, coffee guzzlers or not.
Here are our 5 tried and tested recommendations you can use right now to improve your local SEO love.
1. Know what could-be customers want.
A local SEO strategy involves knowing what your potential customers are looking for. This is done through finding the keywords they use in searches. If you’re a coffee shop in Toronto, then “best coffee shop Toronto” will be relevant keywords to you. You can get quite detailed with keyword research, but really it comes down to listing the important words that are relevant to what you know about your business, and thinking about how potential consumers might use them in a query.
2. Improve your web content.
Once you know what those not-yet-in-the-door customers are searching for, it’s time to start optimizing your website’s content. That doesn’t mean loading the content gun with keyword bullets and firing at random. Search engines reward good quality content, which means content that people actually want to read, comment on and share with their peers. Blogging about local happenings, relevant industry news, and keeping our website up to date are ways to do this in a way that both humans and the robots like.
Where you would consider having some of the keywords to describe your business is in the meta-description or better yet, in the name of your company, which will most likely be your meta-title. Gibraltar Coffee Café is much better than Gibraltar Place. You dig? This will make it more likely to show up as one of the main found items in a search.
3. Manage those local profile pages.
Unfortunately your website isn’t going to be enough, even with all that great content you’ve just put on there. It’s a must to have exposure in order to be relevant for those who are searching for your products and services. You’ll see in the screenshot above, it’s not just the websites that come up but other local profile and prominent blog pages. Regular updates of your Local Directory References such as Yelp, Tripadvisor, CitySearch and of course, Google Places. Local SEO considers Name-area-place listing (NAP). It’s to reflect how people would be searching for your company or a company like it. They would enter the location that they were searching for. The information that is immediate listed about your company should be catering to this consideration, ensuring that your website, services, location and mandate (meta-description) are all quickly visible.
4. Get customers involved!
One of the best ways to improve your online presence is by recruiting customers to be your local SEO soldiers.
It’s no secret: we care what others think.
Yodle’s survey found that over 75% of customers value online reviews when looking at local business. What’s funny, 90% of customers said they would leave a review if they were asked, but only 7% had been approached to do so. Take advantage of the goodwill of your customers. They don’t mind, and it’s a pay it forward attitude that can create a virtuous cycle of new customers helping to spread the (usually) good word.
Give your customers a number of different avenues to write their reviews, including Google+, Tripadvisor, and Yelp. Before careful about asking too directly though, Yelp’s policy states that you can’t ask customers for reviews, but you can tell them you’re on the site. With the others it’s fine, what we wouldn’t recommend doing is incentivizing them. Authentic reviews connect with people in a way that contrived, positive ones don’t.
5. Be consistent across all platforms.
“It says on Google they’re open till 9pm.”
“But on their website it says 8pm.”
“I know this other place nearby that’s definitely open.”
Don’t allow the above conversation to be a possibility. You can avoid confusing people by being consistent across your website, social pages, local profile pages, and directory websites. It’s important your business name, address, phone numbers, and hours be the same in every listing.
When you make a change, be it to the menu, your hours or anything relevant to your customers, make sure the change doesn’t happen in one place and not the others. Don’t use variants either, if you’re on Hip Street and the full address is spelt out on your website, don’t abbreviate it to Hip St. somewhere else.
So ditch that steamy coffee costume, and get focused on your local SEO strategy, unless of course you enjoy being mocked online with abusive hashtags. If you’re interested in knowing more about local SEO, or want some experts in the field to help craft a strategy, we may know someone.