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local seoAs the owner of a small business with a brick & mortar location, you’ve probably already heard of local SEO. If not, you can read all about it and its benefits for businesses just like yours in one of our previous articles. If you know that local SEO can do wonders for your business, the next step is to start doing it as soon as possible, right? Read on and find out where to begin in order to reap the most benefits.

First of all, you should view local SEO as a part of general SEO, only easier to implement and with more rapid gains. In fact, it’s easy enough for you to do it on your own, especially if you are a bit tech-savvy. If now, don’t worry, we know some pretty awesome guys who can help you. But if you plan to dive in it yourself, start with the basics: online reviews, local citations and listings and on-site optimization.

Online Reviews

Getting your clients to review your business has more than one benefit. First off, did you know that more than 50% of consumers say that positive online reviews make them more inclined to use a local business? Yes, that’s a pretty impressive number! When it comes to SEO benefits, online reviews increase the click through rates (CTRs) to your business’ site and, most importantly, they are listed on page results. After the latest Google update, they are also crucial for determining the ranking of a website.

Now let’s get to the juicy part: how do you get people to leave reviews on Google Places or other (don’t dismiss TripAdvisor, either!)? Try the easiest, most honest way: ask them! Do it with a poster that they see on their way out; with a small business card that they receive with their bill or by simply telling a delighted customer how much it would mean to you if he/she wrote his stellar opinion online. Want to speed up the process: tell them they will get a discount for their next visit if they show you their review when entering.

Local Citations & Listings

In a nutshell, local citations and listings refer to your website being mentioned on local directories or websites like Yelp and Yellow Pages. Why is this important? Well, first of all it brings a lot of traffic back to your website. Second of all, it is crucial for your local ranking. Search engines rely a lot on data provided by such websites when they give the answer to a simple query like “pizza Toronto”, so you should take advantage of it.

You can get your website listed and cited by diving in it manually or by hiring an agency to do it for you. If you are not familiar with SEO at all, we recommend the latter, since there are literally thousands of online directories and it will be not only a lot of work to do, but also hard to choose the best for your business. Whatever approach you decide to take, make sure that you list all your essential info correctly: your business name or DBA, a local phone number matching the city where you are located, your physical street address – all of these should be spelled impeccably and as formal as possible, so that both potential customers and search engines can recognize them easily.

On-site Optimization

We saved the best for last: on-site optimization is the most important component of your local SEO endeavor. The first thing you need to do is make sure that your NAP (Name, Adsress, Phone Number) is listed correctly, fully and without any spelling errors. Ideally, a caption from Google Maps should accompany your physical address. Also, having this information listed on all your pages will boost your ranking a lot. Avoid posting this as an image and go for the HTML code instead, as only the latter can be crawled by Google.

You also need to insert as many local keywords (don’t forget the long-tail ones!) in your text: think “pizza Toronto”, “pizza delivery Toronto” instead of “pizza” or “pizza delivery”. Once you’ve got your list of keywords narrowed down, make sure to include them in all the right places: URLs, meta descriptions, page titles, H1 and H2 tags and, of course, scatter them all over your site’s content.

Last, but not least, having a mobile-friendly website is crucial for local SEO. Most of your potential buyers will search for businesses like yours on the go an you don’t want them finding a non-responsive, hard to load website.

Have you already implemented some of these ideas for your business? Do you have any other local SEO tricks up your sleeve? Whatever your strategy, we’d love to know more about it, so drop us a line in the comments section below.

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