Local SEO, Fine-Tuned for Today and Tomorrow
Savvy entrepreneurs aren't simply hoping for a great new year; they're making it happen. A few key moves will send customers your way.
Now's the time to sharpen your SEO strategy. Here's how to position yourself to capitalize on the new year and capture new business.
Win the local game
How important is local SEO? For businesses with physical locations, it’s everything. Just look at the numbers recently published on Hubspot.
- 46% of all Google searches seek local information.
- 88% of local business searches on a mobile device result in a call or visit within 24 hours.
- “Near me” or "close by" searches grew by more than 900% over two years.
- 92% of searchers pick a business on the first page of local search results.
- By 2021, mobile devices will influence more than $1.4 trillion in local sales.
You can’t afford to lose prospective customers who are looking to purchase what you’re selling where you are. Bring them in.
The best news about winning the local SEO game: It’s pretty darn easy. With these two simple steps, your business will rank high on the right search results.
- Get a Google My Business Account. If you implement only one strategy from this article, make it this one. It is quick, easy, and free. This tool lets you create a basic business listing (location, hours, description). You essentially plant your flag on the Google search results. Do this now.
- Conduct a little keyword research. There are a host of free tools to help you cover your keyword bases. I like KeywordsFX because it doesn't require an account—simply plug in a keyword and it suggests other keywords. Creating content with obvious keywords helps people find your business when they’re searching online.
Capture Covid traffic
Winning at SEO requires, ideally, both a short game and a long game. We’ll talk about your long-term strategy later, but first, one of the biggest factors in short-term SEO right now relates to Covid-19. I can’t think of any industry that has been untouched by the global health crisis, and your website should reflect relevant concerns of your industry. Regardless of what you sell, it has affected your business. Freshen up your Web content to address those changes.
How you address the health crisis depends on your business, of course. But potential customers are searching, and you need to capture that traffic. Every business with a physical location should highlight information about cleaning and sanitizing procedures and other safety measures. Restaurants can advertise carryout menus. Stores can tout their curbside-pickup and delivery options. Those are the obvious SEO strategies, but don’t stop there. If you’re an online retailer, you may want to capitalize on the proliferation of DIY projects people are embarking on at home. Or perhaps you can emphasize how safe it is to shop from home.
You may need to get a bit creative, but freshening up your website with current, health-crisis-related information can help ensure that your business features in search results for hot topics. Even if it hasn't been a major factor in how you do business, or even if your business is temporarily shut down, winning the short-term SEO game can lead to long-term success.
Sure, capitalizing on shifting trends in keywords and search traffic can grab some new visitors to your website. And if you’ve got a great website, some of those new visitors may return for your spectacular content. But for the most part, SEO is a long game. How long? It turns out, we know: Ahrefs conducted a study this year of top-ranking websites for a variety of random search terms. The average top-ranking page is more than two years old, and only 22% of top-ranking pages were created in the last year.
What does that mean for your business and your SEO? It means that you can’t simply spend an hour or two each year on SEO and expect to attain (and keep) a top-ranking result for your relevant keywords. SEO needs to be woven into your business in a way that makes it part of what you regularly do.
Whether you manage your website and SEO in-house or hire an expert, you should pay attention to how people find your business online. Every business benefits from visibility. Small companies and large, purveyors of products and of services, hyper-local and multinational—all businesses benefit from sound SEO that helps people locate them, find answers, and ultimately make a purchase.
Your long-term SEO strategy should be multifaceted, combining keyword research, evergreen content, timely content, powerful link-building, and listings on relevant, industry-related sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor