When 60% of local businesses don’t even list their phone number on their website, there’s a good chance that an even larger percentage are not putting effort into local SEO. But when 43% of searches performed today use a local keyword, and 86% of those searches convert to a phone call or visit to the physical location, local businesses need to pay attention to their geographic SEO strategy if they want to stay competitive. Those who don’t miss out on all of that traffic and leave it for a competitor. Your website is critical for capturing your local customer base, but simply having the website won’t be enough to get you noticed.
The key to having a successful local SEO strategy is to get a large amount of high-quality content on your site that contains keywords relevant to your geographic area and industry. Here are a few ways you can develop a geographic SEO strategy for your business and rank for local keywords.
Write “Best Of” List Posts about Related Industries
This is a seldom-used practice that is, quite frankly, genius. Not only are these posts great for local SEO, but they also position your company as a thought-leader for the local area. These “best of” lists help your rankings by targeting specific, less-competitive keywords while also offering valuable information to your potential customers.
The hard part with this tactic is deciding on the most relevant industries for your company to post about, and doing the research to create a quality article. The trick is to think about questions and resources your customers might have or need in conjunction with your product or service. For example, if you’re a nail salon in New York City, then some good ideas for “best of” list posts would be:
- The top hair salons in New York City
- The best clothing boutiques in New York City
- The top health spas in New York City
With “best of” list posts, you begin by thinking like the customer. In the case of the nail salon, a typical customer may be preparing for a big event, and getting her hair done and buying a new dress may be part of the preparations. A customer may also be looking for a day of pampering or relaxation, so a health spa, a hair salon, or a clothing boutique would be the next stop after the manicure. If you’re not a nail salon, consider businesses that customers use with your services, services that customers often ask about, or products that compliment what you offer.
Create Content Covering Local Laws and Ordinances
Most local businesses, although not all, have to work with local regulations and laws in order to conduct business and to serve customers appropriately. An excellent way to build local SEO is to create content about these laws and ordinances, educating customers and fellow business owners about what they need to know in order to do business with you or what goes on behind the scenes in order to create your product or service.
Much like the “best of” lists, these topics and keywords usually aren’t very competitive, so covering them makes it easy to get your business at the top of the results. Also, this information is typically tough to find, so clearly explaining it in a user-friendly, accurate, and comprehensive format will generate plenty of attention, links, and traffic — all of which help your search rankings.
River Pools and Spas, a pool installation company in Virginia, used this tactic as part of their geographic SEO strategy. They wrote a blog post covering the zoning and permit laws for pool installation for every county in which they did business. Not only were they able to rank for niche SEO keywords, but they also reached many potential customers who were thinking about installing a pool but may not have heard of the company yet. These potential customers were still considering the purchase of a pool period, let alone evaluating a contractor to install it, and now they have a provider in front of them addressing a critical need in the buying process. Who do you think they are going to trust when it comes time to hire someone to put in their pool?
This illustrates another benefit of covering local laws and ordinances. It allows you to reach potential customers who are further up the buying cycle, who may not have started researching specific companies yet but are still only evaluating whether or not the entire product category is a good choice for them. By providing helpful resources to prospects this far in advance of the purchase decision, you can establish your reputation with them before your competition and close more sales as a result.
Invest in FAQ Content
The biggest change with Google’s latest update to its search engine, nicknamed “Hummingbird,” is that the search engine will now deliver results that encompass the “intent” of the query and not just match words on a webpage to words in the search box. Therefore, a search query like “how to fix a ceiling fan” will deliver more results of local businesses, instead of just finding pages that have those 6 words on them, because Google will understand that you probably have a ceiling fan in your home that needs fixing, and will most likely need a local home repair company to fix it. Creating FAQ content will allow your business to capitalize on this type of search traffic.
The best way to present your FAQ content is to give each question its own page or blog post. An FAQ page with the answers listed in sequence or a dropdown menu won’t be as effective, since having only one page with many different questions and keywords on it can dilute it’s impact. You want multiple pages to match up with multiple searches because search engines evaluate the “quality” of a match based on how completely the page addresses the search criteria. More pages also means more ways for local customers to find you online and more keywords for which you can rank.
This strategy also requires you to list questions that your customers actually ask and care about the answers to, instead of just posting your boilerplate sales pitch in the form of questions. For example, don’t bother with questions like:
- What is [insert product]?
- How much is [insert product]?
- Will [insert product] be a good fit for me?
- How do I contact [insert company]?
If you need help coming up with good questions to list in your FAQ, then the best place to start is with your sales team. Ask them which questions potential customers most frequently ask. If you’ve already gone through those questions, then move on to those that aren’t specifically related to your product, but the entire category or field your business works in that would be asked by prospects in the earliest stages of the purchase process. Inbound marketing software firm HubSpot has an excellent blog post series like this, answering questions such as, “What is social prospecting?” It’s an informative post that covers the entire field, without digressing into why you need to purchase HubSpot’s marketing software to help your business improve its social prospecting activities.
Local SEO is about establishing your business’ online reputation in your geographic area. You do that by creating content that will show up in your neighbor’s search results and demonstrate that you care about the town where you do business. It’s through content and genuine local SEO rankings that you prove your company offers quality service and is the best in the area, which will cause you to rise up the search rankings and generate more business organically.
What has your business done to increase local SEO traffic?