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Struggling to get local traffic online? It’s not because you’ve run out of customers.

60% of small businesses still don’t have a website. The digital game is still wide open for local businesses. Getting more customers through your doors means you need to dive deeper into the local market than your competitors. To do that, you need strong local SEO — your customers need to find you.

Here’s our beginner’s guide to how local SEO strategies can grow your business.

Google My Business

Google My Business helps to validate local businesses by giving them a presence on Google’s search and maps features.

Verifying your business as a part of the local community improves your visibility and your credibility. And it’s as easy as claiming your Google My Business page.

If Google confirms the legitimacy of your business, it can also appear in the sidebar on a Google search. That’s a valuable space, the kind that draws the eye during any search for a local business.

Be sure to populate all available fields of your Google My Business page, capturing your full company information. Include your logo to help draw the eye and lend some extra professionalism.

Improve Your Website

Even a local business can live or die by its website. That’s why local SEO optimization involves getting your website up to scratch.

You’ll need to incorporate all the usual SEO improvements on your site, from strong metadata to speed and responsiveness. Search engines use the quality of your website to decide your place in the rankings. You can’t afford to shoot yourself in the foot with weak website SEO practices.

For the best local SEO, you can take a deeper dive. Make a list of your local SEO keywords and incorporate them in your site. They should feature in content, URLs, and metadata.

Local Directories

Business directories may seem vaguely old-fashioned, but they’re still relevant in the world of modern local SEO.

Make you populate entries in your local business directories will your full business information — don’t leave any gaps. Once you’ve collected your information together, it’s easy to distribute to the various directories out there.

Directories give you immediate visibility for local customers. But they also increase your SEO by boosting your company’s signal. That makes it clearer to search engines that you’re the real deal.

Approved by the People

Testimonials and reviews are a fantastic way to boost your local search SEO. Search engines use them to determine the credibility of a service.

The best part about reviews is that they’re free and easy to collect. Customers aren’t always quick to leave testimonials. It may feel like begging, but don’t be afraid to ask — happy customers are often happy to leave reviews.

These reviews will also display on your Google My Business page. Local browsers can see these reviews at a glance when they show up on Google search. That gives you a massive edge over your local competitors.

If you do have negative reviews, tackle them with sensitivity. Don’t pull an Amy’s Baking Company and go to war. But take the time to respond to constructive complaints with an acknowledgment.

Local Content for Local People

Most businesses with knowledge of SEO understand that creating relevant content can help them climb the rankings.

But this goes double for businesses looking for the local catchment. Creating local content can help capture visitors from your business area. Even when this content isn’t of direct relevance to your business, it’ll promote awareness of what you do.

Reporting on or building on local news stories is a great way to achieve that. You can take a local interest story and adapt it to relate to your business. If the content is valuable, you’ll increase the time spent on page, improving your SEO rankings.

Building Backlinks

You don’t have to go it alone when building local content. Getting backlinks from other sites will improve the value of your content and boost your legitimacy with search engines.

The theory behind backlinks is simple. You ask another business to link to your content, usually in exchange for links to theirs. You can pool your resources to boost both of your SEO.

If you’re a local business, you’re probably in fierce competition with others in your area. It’s not likely you’ll want to link to your competitors. Instead, try to work with businesses a step removed from what you do.

For instance, a catering company could get backlinks from businesses focused on event management or venues for hire.

Business on the Move

You’re standing in the street, locked out of your home. You have a sudden need for locksmith services. What do you do? Take out your cell phone and start Googling.

This example shows there’s an obvious reason local businesses need strong mobile compatibility. Searches often come from people on the move looking for the closest local business.

If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’ve lost that business.

Your site on mobile needs to be readable and responsive. If it takes more than a few seconds to load, there’s a good chance your visitor will give up and go elsewhere.

Claim Your Social Media

Yup, there’s no escaping the social media beast.

If you claim your social media spaces, you can point them to your business pages. That’s better than leaving a blank space where they should be or letting someone else scoop them up.

Having your social media pages link to your business will boost your page’s place in the rankings by reaffirming its credibility. If you create and share content on social media, you can also create your own “backlinks” by linking back to your site.

This is also a great chance to get local followers. If potential customers are following you on social media, there’s a strong chance they’ll find their way back to your site.

Local SEO Strategies Can Grow Your Business

These local SEO strategies can help you grow your business to new heights. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve exhausted the local market when SEO could help you break deeper into it.

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