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Local SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the biggest topics in digital marketing right now. Why? Shouldn’t it be enough just to improve your standing on search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for your product or service? Actually, no. Remember, your end goal is not to be the top result in a Google search – your end goal is to get more new customers and retain more of your current customers.

That means ensuring that your business appears at the top of SERPs for relevant searches. Let’s say, for example, that you sell designer jeans and your business is located in New York. Showing up as the first result for someone in New Mexico isn’t going to do much for your sales. You want shoppers in New York to find you, which means you need to focus on local SEO techniques to increase your sales and get more customers.

Mobile Technology Makes Local SEO Even More Important

In fact, local SEO is more important than ever before, thanks to the rise of mobile technology. Consider how many of your potential customers will search for your product or service while they’re on the go. A lot of those searches look like, “[product] near me.” With that kind of search query on a mobile device, Google or Bing will take the user’s current location and search for businesses nearby that fulfill the search requirements.

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If you’re on top of your local SEO game, then you’ll be one of the first businesses to appear, even if your location is slightly farther away than your competition. Remember, these searches aren’t just based on location but also relevance. If you let Google know where you are, who you are, and what you do, you’ll be much more likely to show up in the searches that matter most to your business – the ones made by people who want your product, in your area, right now.

Of course, simply including your address on your site and peppering your content with the right keywords and location anchors is only the beginning for local SEO. If that’s all you do, then you’re really not giving your business much credibility with Google and you won’t rise very far in the rankings of searches for businesses in your field and your area. Here are a few tips to help you improve your local SEO for your small business:

1. Embrace Online Reviews

Next, list your business on online review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List and encourage your customers to leave you reviews. Google and Bing are both using review sites for their SERPs more than ever before, so this step helps drive your rankings up, but that’s not all it does for you. Reviews build your credibility with your customers, as well as making you more visible to search engines.

For example, when was the last time you purchased something on Amazon without checking out the reviews first? One or two bad reviews won’t dissuade you from buying a product, but if an item has nothing but bad reviews or has no reviews at all, you’re going to keep looking for a more trustworthy seller.

That kind of behavior is common among online shoppers and users looking for local businesses, too. How often have you heard people say, “Let’s go to this restaurant. It has really great reviews!”? It happens all the time, and it could give you an edge over your competition.

2. Get (Accurately) Listed

In addition to search engines’ local business listings, you should also get local citations on data aggregator sites and other business listings, as well. The more of these citations your business has, the more search credibility you’ll have with Google and other search engines.

The key here, though, is to ensure that your business is always listed accurately. Make sure that you’ve categorized your business correctly and that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) data is always correct and up to date. If any of this information changes, be sure to go back and update your listings. Duplicate listings and/or mismatched contact information will not help you in local searches. In fact, these errors can significantly damage your SERP rankings.

3. Get Social

It looks very much like 2016 will be the year of the social search engine. Pinterest has already jumped into the search game, and Facebook is expanding its search capabilities, as well. With these expansions, you can expect more social media reviews of your business to show up in local searches. Thus, the more involved you are across social media platforms, the better your local SEO will be.

So, in addition to keeping up with your social media pages, search each of your social platforms for reviews and mentions of your business. If you see bad reviews, politely and professionally contact the reviewer(s) to find out what you can do to fix the problem. Remember, the more good reviews you have, the more your potential customers will trust your business and choose you over the competition.

4. Upload Quality Pictures

Some listings sites will let you include photos for your business listing page. Don’t skip this step. In normal searches, Google and Bing both favor sites with images and video media over sites that are all text, and the same is true for local searches, too. Not only that, but including quality pictures of your business, your top-selling products, and/or happy customers will boost the likelihood of people choosing your page over other search results.

Think of it this way… Given a list of businesses near you that make a product you’re looking for, which one do you choose? If you’re not familiar with any of them, you’re likely going to choose the one with the high quality pictures that show that they have the products you want and that they care about customer service. If you have good photos on your page and good customer reviews on Yelp and other sites, you’re going to fly to the top of local SERP rankings, and your potential customers are going to be much more likely to choose your site, too.

Contact Gauge Digital Media Today

Local SEO for small business is very similar to general SEO. It may seem, on the surface, like you can improve your optimization with keywords and location anchors, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Want to learn more about improving local SEO for your business? Call Gauge Digital Media today at 410-376-7709 or fill out our online contact form. We love talking about digital marketing and web design, and we’d love to help you improve your rankings and your sales.