With the current economy, marketing teams are stretched and expected to do more with less.
If you’re a marketer focused on generating local revenue, you know there’s stiff competition waiting to slow down your local marketing initiatives.
In times like these, it’s important to maintain a consistent output framework that allows you to stand out in local search results.
Here’s a checklist of 5 areas to focus on when you only have 30 minutes a week or less to devote to local marketing efforts.
1. Optimize your Google business profile listing and social profiles
A complete and verified Google business profile listing is one of the cornerstones of local search engine optimization.
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make when it comes to local search engine optimization is simply uploading a minimal amount of information into Google Business Profile (GBP) and then putting it on autopilot.
A powerful lever to rank your business higher in local SEO listings is to complete all name, address and phone number (NAP) information, add images, categories, hours of operation and more.
Once your GBP entry is filled in, you need to make sure it’s verified. Verification can be done by phone, SMS, email or video. Here are the instructions you need to make sure it gets checked.
Once verified, this is where you need to make sure you pay attention to your listing to respond to customer reviews or questions.
Check back at least monthly (if not more often) to upload new images and check your listing’s performance within GBP.
Follow the same process for your main social media profiles.
Local searches on social media have increased dramatically in the last decade, and you want to make sure you’re found on Google as well as you are on Facebook and Twitter.
2. Complete an order and request a review
Generating five-star reviews is one of the most powerful ways to increase your presence in local search engine results pages (SERPs).
By increasing your average rating and review volume, local SERPs tend to push those results up. Additionally, the social proof gained from five-star reviews is an invaluable way of getting customers to trust your brand.
Before making any concerted efforts to generate reviews, you need to be careful about how you collect reviews from customers.
Platforms like Yelp have “review filters” that omit certain reviews or penalize your business listing if they appear to have been unnaturally requested by the business owner.
Here are two effective ways to generate more reviews (without filtering them):
- Manually: After completing an order or delivering a product or service, simply request a review and leave a link (on the invoice) for your customer to leave their review.
- Automated: Tools like GradeUs, Birdeye, and GatherUp all offer automated solutions to direct people to your social profiles to leave a review. If your business has more than 3-5 new customers per week, this is the more convenient and effective way (compared to requesting the review manually).
3. Create localized blog or website page content
Your business needs some level of localized content to rank in local search
Without local signals on your website, search engines are less likely to associate you with your target region.
Here are some common ways to localize your content:
Include localized modifiers in the text and image descriptions on your product/service pages to help your audience make the localized connection.
One of the biggest mistakes local businesses make when building their product pages is making the text generic enough that the page could be used for a business in any city.
Conversely, don’t clutter your web text with localized terms. Search engines are pretty good at demoting your content if your text looks unnaturally full of local keywords.
The best way to check is to read your copy to a friend. If it sounds unnatural to any of you, you may have overdone yourself when adding localized keyword modifiers.
If you offer services in locations near you, show pictures of your work with a description of the type of product/service you offer and some localized modifiers in the description.
If your business has multiple locations, each of your locations should have its own page on your website.
On these store pages, you should include your NAP, hours of operation, a description of your store’s location, and pictures of your location (both indoors and outdoors if possible). These branch pages should also link to their respective GBP page.
4. Build backlinks from your network
The good thing about local SEO and link building is that in most cases you don’t need to create thousands of links. Rather, in most cases you only need a handful more than your local competitors to support your SEO positioning.
The easiest way to build backlinks to your website is to generate them from the companies you have a relationship with.
Here are some scenarios that address the types of links you might follow in everyday business activities:
- An electrical or HVAC company has a professional connection with a local real estate agent. The broker usually refers this service provider (by word of mouth) to his client network. Depending on the broker’s website, the service provider might get a link back to the broker’s website if there is a “Trusted Local Providers” section there.
- A business owner sponsors a booth at the local fair each year. This is an excellent opportunity to get a mention and link by making sure your business is listed somewhere on the show’s website.
So as a first step, make a list of all the business connections you have in your area and identify the reasons why those connections point to you.
5. Generate local citations
Citations are simply mentions of your company name, address and phone number on a website.
Citations are primarily found in general local directories (like Google Maps), but can also be found in niche-specific directories like APlaceForMom.com, a directory site dedicated to senior living.
Quotes don’t necessarily have to include a link to give you value. Google considers mentioning your company name a mark of local authority.
Here are the top two ways to increase your citations:
- Manually: The easiest way to get your first quotes is to get your business listed on Google Maps, Yelp, Bing, and Facebook. Consistency is key to filling out your company profiles on these websites. If your business address is on a boulevard, avoid using different combinations of that spelling or initials each time you create a new listing.
- Automated: There are local tools for creating quotes from Moz, BrightLocal, SEMrush and more. Although these tools are paid for, all you have to do is enter your business information and then do all the listing creation for you.
Personally, I like a mix of both methods, as automated listing tools can’t always fill in all information fields or fully verify profiles.
First, focus on Google, Yelp, Bing, and Facebook.
Then look for 5 to 10 niche specific directories (that regularly show up in searches for your target keywords) and try to list your business there.
In summary, while you may not have a lot of time to devote to local SEO, that doesn’t mean you can’t get impressive results.
All you have to do is be strategic about how you use this time and what areas you focus on.
Dedicating 30 minutes a week to the five areas covered above will result in more traffic, leads, and customers for your business within months.
Selected image: Production Perig/Shutterstock