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Small business owners with an online store and a brick-and-mortar component face a unique challenge.  The majority of your digital marketing efforts are focused on driving traffic to your online store, but you also need to drive foot traffic to your physical location.  How do you integrate local SEO into an already jam-packed online-focused digital marketing strategy?

How Local SEO Works

Let’s begin with the basic question: how does local SEO differ from standard ‘national SEO’?  For the most part, all the elements you optimize in order to improve your visibility and ranking, such as links, social factors, and indexing, are the same.

However, local takes it one step further by using your citation (essentially your store’s name, address and phone number) to identify your store’s physical location and give it priority in a localized search.  For example, if someone from New York City searches “candy store” and your store is cited as being located in Brooklyn, NY, it will be more likely to show up in the results than a candy store located in Madison, WI.

Reviews also play a major role in local SEO.  When someone places a review on a webpage where your store has a citation, such as Yelp, Google Places, or Yahoo Local, the search engines take this into account.  It is not just quantity of reviews, but also quality of reviews, that determines success so positive reviews do matter!

Local SEO – A Must-Do Strategy!

Want to see how powerful positive reviews can be?  New York City has thousands of restaurants and if you type in “NYC restaurants” into Google, guess which restaurants are featured?  The top-rated, top-reviewed Michelin-star restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernadin, and Gramercy Tavern.  With thousands of near-perfect positive reviews, these local establishments are flying to the top of Google’s SERPs.

For small businesses, local SEO is a top priority!  With the Internet becoming the go-to source for all local information (it’s the new phone book), it is necessary that your information be found.  Hiring local SEO services can be the biggest bang for your buck and guarantee you rank in SERPs for important long-tail keywords, such as “New York City candy store” in the earlier example.

Where To Start Optimizing For Local Search

Before you even begin considering a long-term plan, there are some immediate actions you can take in order to facilitate local SEO.  These are essential in making your physical store visible and reviewable.

  1. Claim your Google Places listing – since Google is the most powerful of the search engine behemoths, it’s imperative that you claim your citation on its primary hub for physical stores.  The most important thing is to be as straightforward and honest as possible when creating your store profile; that means no keywords, targeted messaging or anything else – just put the facts!
  2. Claim over 50+ other crucial listings – there are dozens of other important sites to claim your listing.  You can do it on your own or use a service like Yext which automatically claims and updates all your citations across the web.  Yext syncs with major platforms, from Yahoo and Yelp to Foursquare and Citysearch.  To see how your listings currently look across all the major platforms, take LeapGo’s diagnostic test:  See how your company is listed on the web >>
  3. Update Title tags – Since title tags are one of the most important SEO features, putting your store’s name and address (at the very least, city and state initials) in the title can dramatically raise your chances of being picked up in local search.
  4. Update Footer with entire NAP – Your NAP, or store name, address and phone should be listed on every page on your website.  Where better to include it than the footer?  Just make sure the formatting is consistent across all your citations (for example, use Rd. or Road, but not both).

These are four of the main ways to start optimizing your store for local search, but there are many other ways.

How To Fit Local SEO Into The Larger, Long-Term Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve claimed your listings and implemented the basic citations, it’s time to look at a sustainable long-term approach to maintaining and growing your local SEO.  The last thing you want to do is leave something this crucial at the wayside.  The strategies listed below can easily be integrated into your digital marketing strategy, because they enhance SEO and lead generation on the larger scale too (not just locally).

  1. Promote positive reviews – now that you know the added importance of receiving positive reviews, it’s important to create an environment for encouraging them.  You can reward in-store customers who post reviews with discounts, list your preferred review sites in your store window or on marketing materials, and show how much you care by responding to and thanking some, if not all, of your reviewers.
  2. Incorporate regional keywords – when writing blogs, social media posts, and web pages, it’s important to think about the keywords that will affect your local SEO results.  For the candy store in Brooklyn, creating content that includes regional keywords like “Brooklyn candy store” and “NYC candy” and “candy store near Manhattan” will help search engines and customers recognize your local footprint.
  3. Guest blog – while guest blogging itself doesn’t help local SEO, the bio that’s often posted below your guest blog often contains the NAP (name, address and phone) for your store.  By promoting a guest blogging plan and ensuring that your NAP is included in each bio, you continue to build your network.

Once again, the three strategies mentioned are just a few of the many local SEO strategies that your digital marketing team can proactively pursue.

In addition, if you are looking to get started on your local SEO and would like some agency help, LeapGo is here for you.  Our SEO experts know exactly what it takes to build your online and physical store presence.

Have you successfully integrated local SEO into your digital marketing strategy?  What other tips do you have for localized small businesses?  We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

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About the Author: Jason Corgiat

I started building websites in 1999. Through the years I've worked with hundreds of businesses in various verticals and have built, implemented and managed digital strategies for companies of all sizes. My education is not formal and neither are my methods. Chances are, I can add value to your organization from day 1 but I'll let you be the judge. I'm a proud father of 4, luckiest husband in the world, and enjoy the occasional gym session. How was that for a bio?

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