9 ways to save your Local SEO efforts from being sabotaged by the wrong geographic focus

Last Updated on July 1, 2021 by Amy Geldean

Did you know that four out of five consumers search to find local information? Did you know that 88% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit or call a store within a day?

What does this mean for your business? Well, in simple terms, if your business isn’t optimized for local search, you could be missing out on 80% of your potential customers.

Despite its importance, many businesses are still getting it wrong. They end up getting bad results that are not only a waste of money but costs them revenue.

So, what is local SEO and how should you use the right geographic focus in your campaigns? This post will show you how to use local search to reach potential customers.

What Are the Principles of SEO?

By this time, you probably already know what SEO is. If you don’t, here’s a short recap of its underlying principles.

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the practice of persuading search engines to recommend your content to their users as the best solution to their problem. In simple terms, it helps you to increase your website’s ranking on search engines for search terms related to your business. And higher rankings mean more visitors, more leads, and, yes, more revenue.

But how exactly does SEO work? Google says that every time you search, there are thousands, sometimes millions, of webpages with helpful information. How it figures out which results to show starts long before you even type and is guided by a commitment to you to provide the best information.

In a fraction of a second, its search algorithms sort through hundreds of billions of webpages in our Search index to find the most relevant, useful results for what you’re looking for.

This means that you must make sure that Google can properly crawl your site, create relevant content that is related to your business, and build up your site’s authority so that it’s trusted by search engines. In technical terms, these are known as technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.

With SEO you can:

  • Ensure that your business is visible to potential customers when they’re searching on Google.
  • Drive targeted traffic to your site from people who are looking for what your business has to offer.
  • Improve organic traffic to your site that you don’t have to pay for.
  • Get a strong competitive advantage.

A Typical SEO Campaign

To see it in practice, an example of a typical SEO campaign may be helpful. Imagine you’ve got a shop that sells golf equipment called Duffers. You want to let customers find your shop, and you decide that you’ll use SEO to drive traffic to your shop’s site.

Your first step would be to find the right keywords for your campaign. Doing your research, you decide on several keywords like ‘golf clubs for sale’, ‘putters for sale’, and ‘drivers for sale’.

The next step is to publish and optimize your content for these keywords. To do this effectively, you need to understand what users are searching for, why they’re searching for it, and what they expect once they find it. Knowing this, you create content that flows, is valuable, and has both internal and external links.

During this step, you’ll also optimize your meta description, page URL, title tag, and images for your keywords.

But it doesn’t stop there. You’ll also build backlinks to your website. To recap, these are links on external 3rd party sites that link to your site. Although getting backlinks can be a challenge, they are an excellent tool to improve your SEO ranking.

That’s it, you’re done. Your strategy is implemented and now you can just sit back and watch the leads roll in.

Not so quick, you may have run into a snag.

The Location Conundrum

The problem you’ve run into is that you’ve used broad keywords. So, although you may offer golf clubs for sale, these broad keywords compete against many other retailers that could rank higher. This, in turn, makes it difficult for prospective customers to find your business.

This can, for example, mean that golfers looking for golf equipment for sale find results pointing to many other golf stores. So, by using these broad keywords, you effectively compete against the TGWs and Golf Galaxy’s of this world in search ranking.

Also, you’ve not used any geographic modifiers in your keywords. Being a small local business, your primary market is local golfers looking to replace their clubs. However, since your local SEO is not optimized it is likely they will see results of the golf superstore a few towns away. Small businesses need to focus their keyword in order to compete with national chain stores.

What does this mean for your business? Ultimately, it means that a huge part of your target market doesn’t know about your business. And if they don’t know about your business, you have fewer customers and fewer sales.

To illustrate the point, SEMRush ran over 30 tests on keywords without a geo-modifier compared to keywords with a geographic geo-modifier. In one example they used the focus keyword ‘debt relief’ and they compared it to the keyword ‘illinois debt relief’. What were the results?

Well, in all the results, both the click-through-rate and the conversion rate were higher for the keywords that had a location next to them. The specific example above, for instance, had a 10-times higher click-through-rate and just over 250% increase in conversion rate when it was a local keyword.

And the results make complete sense. The wider you go, the more competition and the lower your conversion rate will be. So, in this sense, it’s wise to not take your location SEO too wide.

The logical conclusion is then that using the wrong keywords without geo-modifiers comes at a huge cost. But wait, isn’t SEO free?

Technically it is because you’re not paying anything for a search engine to rank your content. The search engines rank your site based on expertise, authority, and trust. And this is where the costs come in.

It costs money, and time to build these up. It requires skill and specialist knowledge to create high-quality content and to optimize your business’s SEO for proper rankings in search results. Here, in-house SEO specialists or freelancers don’t come cheap. Over time, all these expenses can add up.

Also, you’ll need tools to manage your local SEO campaign and these aren’t free either. You’ll, for instance, want tools that can give you:

  • Analytics on your own site
  • Analytics on competitors’ websites
  • Intelligence on your backlink sources
  • Intelligence on competitor backlink sources
  • Keyword research and keyword ranking difficulty analysis
  • Search results tracking
  • Site audits
  • Social media campaign tools
  • Social media tracking
  • Brand and reputation monitoring.

These tools typically come with a fixed monthly cost that you have to pay, whether your SEO strategy is working or not. For example, you may pay $99 per month for a platform that gives you most of these features.

If you add that to the initial costs, it can get pricy. Now, if you do the math, it’s easy to see that you would want the strategy that gives you the highest conversion rate. And often what happens when an SEO strategy doesn’t work is businesses throwing extra money after the strategy in the hopes of it turning around.

And that’s where local SEO comes in.

What Is a Local SEO?

Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a business, product, or service for a search query that is location-specific. In other words, it’s optimizing your website to increase traffic, leads, and brand awareness from a local search.

Search engines use users’ location based on IP address and geolocation to determine the most relevant results to show to the user. So, in the golf store example, if prospective customers search for golf clubs for sale, the search engine will display businesses relevant to their location. Therefore, if the location of your business is not specified on your website or in your content, you’re losing out.

In fact, these stats show just how important it is:

  • 46% of all Google searches are users looking for local information.
  • 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles.
  • 97% of people learn more about a local company online
  • 88% of users who search for local businesses on mobile devices either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
  • 8% of local smartphone searches led to a purchase within a day, while only 7% of non-local searches led to a sale.
  • 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase.
  • “Near me” or “close by” type searches grew by more than 900% over two years.
  • Local searches result in purchases 28% of the time.
  • 92% of users will pick businesses on the first page of local search results.
  • 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.

Considering this, it’s easy to see why a strong local SEO strategy is the key to driving more local customers to your business.

So, how do you improve your local SEO?

Tips to Improve Your Local SEO

Search engines rely on things like local content, social profile pages, and citations to find and provide users with the most relevant local results. So, any local SEO strategy starts off by optimizing these three areas. Optimize for Google My Business

Create and verify a Google My Business page, use a Google Post, and encourage customers to share reviews online. Also, respond to reviews from local customers, specifying your location. If Google can verify your business as authentic, your local ranking will be higher, and may just be rewarded with a coveted sidebar space in Google local search.

Improve Your Internal Linking Structure

Adjusting your internal linking on your site will boost your SEO rankings. It makes website navigation easier, makes site hierarchy clearer, and distributes page authority and ranking power among pages.

Optimize Your URL, Title Tags, Headers, Meta Description, and Content

Every time you create content for your site, it is a new page to your site and another opportunity to be found by search engines. So, you need to optimize the content every time by using high-volume keywords in the URL, title, header, and meta-description.

Add Location Pages To Your Website

If you have more than one store, it can help to create location pages for every store. These then provide customers with your name, address, contact details, store hours, and unique store descriptions related to every store.

If you only have one store, you can accomplish the same by creating a location-specific About Us page for your website.

Create Local Content

Create valuable content that specifically relates to where you are. This attracts a local audience and makes your site appear higher in the SERP. A content strategy should be created whereby a content marketing plan can be laid out over the course of the year. This content calendar will ensure that a target keyword receives adequate attention over the course of the year.

Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly

Local search and mobile search go hand in hand. People will often look for local businesses on their mobile device to find reviews, directions, and contact information. So, by making your site mobile-friendly, you make it easier for customers to find you through organic search.

Make Sure Your Name, Address, and Phone Number Are Consistent Online

Set up your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) and keep it consistent. This should be included as crawlable HTML on your site and the most common location is in the footer of your site.

This will make it easier for both customers and search engines to find you.

Optimize Online Directories and Citations

Make sure that your listings on Apple, Yelp, Google, Bing, and Trip Advisor are complete and consistent. Differences in address, contact number, or spelling mistakes can cause problems because search engines won’t show business information if their algorithm can’t determine which information is right.

Get Inbound Links With Relevance and Authority

Getting inbound links or backlinking is extremely powerful in showing you are an authority in your industry. In turn, it shows search engines that you are a legitimate company which will boost your local SEO.

Some ways in which you could do this is by sponsorships, scholarships, or guest blogging.

Engage on Social Media

Google considers content shared on social media such as Facebook and Linkedin as important, so share your Google My Business page and add posts to your page. It may be beneficial to hire a digital marketing agency that could handle your social media marketing efforts.

Final Thoughts

There you go. Now, you’ve got the tools to make local search engine optimization work for you. In the long run, you’ll save money, increase your reach, get more leads, and increase your revenue.

With this in mind, isn’t it time you optimize your local SEO? If you’re looking for a local SEO company to help you grow search engine results, get started with us today!

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