Whether you are a freelance consultant or head of an agency, you surely have a website that you dream of being ranked first in Google's search results. However, it can be extremely difficult to position yourself on competitive keywords, at the scale of a country or a big city …
But if your business is aimed at a well defined area, and provided you implement an effective local SEO strategy, you can fully consider appearing on the front page on Google for a user looking for a company like yours near.
According to recent figures released by Go Globe, 46% of searches on Google would be local. It would be a shame to deprive you of this visibility potential, which is also totally free.
If you're curious about how to boost your local visibility, discover four secrets to propel you to the top!
1. Optimize your metadata
In 2018, the optimization of metadata is still relevant! The title tag and the description tag are HTML tags that you can optimize to give a better idea of the content of your page. The title and description will appear in Google search results. Consider them as a mini advertisement and make users want to click!
Be sure to include your main keywords as well as your area of activity in your title and description. And most importantly, keep in mind that you are writing for humans, not for search engines!
If your site is under WordPress, nothing more simple. Just add an SEO plug-in like Yoast and be sure to fill in the "Title" and "Description" fields.
2. Create a Google My Business account
Have you ever noticed the company listings displayed to the right of the search results? These are free Google My Business listings.
With Google My Business, people searching for your business, or a similar business, will see your business listing in Google Search, but also on Google Maps. This business listing includes, among other things, your contact information, your opening hours, your telephone number, your website, photos of your company or the opinions of your customers. It would be a shame to deprive oneself of such visibility!
When creating your account, be sure to fill in all the information. Once your company profile is created, regularly check your information and keep it up-to-date. Indeed, anyone can edit the information on your Google listing.
Registering on Google My Business does not exempt you from registering your site on other local sites and directories (eg ICC website, Kompass, Tripadvisor, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Cityvox, Gralon, etc.). In this case, it is important that your name, address and phone number (also known as NAP in SEO) are consistent across all platforms.
3. Respond to online reviews
The opinions of your customers are precious! According to Bright Local, a major player in SEO, 97% of consumers consult online reviews to get an idea about a local business and 73% of consumers trust a local business if they have read positive reviews about it.
The Google My Business business listing, like most platforms and directories, displays your customers' reviews. These comments represent a real advantage for your visibility on the Internet, but also a challenge because they are not very controllable. If a customer leaves a negative opinion, answer it always and as quickly as possible. Be polite, concise and sincere. Thank him for his contribution and provide him with useful information.
You can also encourage your loyal customers to share positive feedback about your business, through a poster, a flyer, or just by asking them. Discover more ideas for online reviews for your small business, agency or micro enterprise.
4. Set up a local link-earning strategy
External links pointing to your site can boost its ranking in Google search results in a remarkable way. Yet few local actors take the trouble to create a real link-earning strategy. Take your chance to beat your competition!
You may have heard of link-building and tactics "Black hat", consisting of buying links, exchanging links, submitting massive press releases or links to forum posts. So 2013! These practices are over, and especially penalized by Google. Today, Google promotes natural links, from credible sources, and pointing to unique and useful content.
So, how to earn these high quality links?
For example, you could sponsor a local event, host a meetup, donate to a local organization or participate in a local competition. If these events and associations have their own websites, you could ask to be listed there. It is also likely that the press will mention you.
Another very effective technique is to contact the local press when you have a strong news (eg launch of your activity, opening of a shop, exceptional growth, intensive recruitment, organization of an event, etc.). Journalists can include a link to your site if they deem it relevant. To find journalists' e-mails, visit the "Contact" section of the media. If no email is available, look for the reporter's name at the bottom of an article on a similar topic and contact him via Twitter or Linkedin. Your message to reporters must go straight to the point: answer the questions Who, What, Where, When.
Finally, you can create a blog where you share your expertise. If your content is good and original enough, your articles will probably be shared on social networks, so other blogs will mention yours and include a link to your content.
Visibility in search results, presence on Google Maps, transparency through customer reviews … Google can be the best ally of your online reputation. But it can also be a threat if you do not put your customers at the center of your concerns.
Thanks to a local SEO strategy, including quality content and links and a sincere interest for your customers, you will soon see growing not only traffic to your site, but also to your physical establishment.
About the Author
Marie Mure-Ravaud is Senior SEO Specialist at Vistaprint, an e-commerce company offering personalized marketing materials, where she is responsible for the SEO of some 50 sites with millions of URLs. For the past 8 years she has been building web brand authority through SEO, Content Marketing and Digital Press Relations.