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Best Local SEO Tips and Resources for 2017

Local search has become a de facto standard for businesses that service consumers in specific locales. Your online presences is just as important (if not more important) than your offline presence.

If you are new to the scene of Local SEO and search optimization for your local or small business, here are five Google local SEO tips to help you navigate through the steps needed to ensure that your business has the presence it needs to earn the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) results you deserve.

1. Attractive and Click-Worthy Title and Meta Descriptions

This is often an overlooked opportunity by many local SEO campaigns. These HTML elements are customizable features which are used to represent your website in search results. Typically, titles range from 50 – 60 characters and descriptions can range up to 200 characters.

In years past these titles and descriptions were used to incorporate keywords and help with rankings. Current SEO best practices tell us to use these titles and descriptions as an opportunity to improve user experience and attract clicks. Your meta titles and descriptions need to be a clear depiction of your page content, be persuasive, and of course specifically unique. Including your city in the description is recommended. Targeted keywords should be as close to the beginning of the paragraph as possible but not at the expense of user readability.

Use this opportunity to set yourself apart – do you offer 24/7 service? Free shipping? 25% off for first time customers?

2. Keep a Consistent and Prominent Online Presence

Whether your business is brand new or has been around for decades and moved locations several times, it is extremely important to make sure that your business name, address and phone number is consistent and visible across the Internet, no matter where someone may find you.

This consistency instills consumer trust and builds your authority. The consistency also plays a large role in your local SEO performance. The Search Engines want to understand your company and have confidence that you are a legitimate company.

Here is a starter list for online business directories where you can establish your presence:

  • Citysearch
  • Merchant Circle
  • YellowPages
  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Houzz
  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • BBB
  • Local Trade Affiliations

3. Claim Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing for Full Control

Over the years Google My Business and Bing Places for Business have built their database of business listings. Even if you have never claimed your business listing the Search Engines may still be showing a listing for you!

It is critical for you to claim this listing so that you have full control over proper categorization of your business, description, address, and business hours.

There is a simple verification process for your GMB listing. Google mails you a postcard containing a PIN number you need for verification purposes. This confirms to Google that you are whom you say you are and indeed own the business you are attempting to claim.

4. Manage, Respond To, and Grow Your Reviews Online

Nowadays, both personal word-of-mouth referrals along with online reviews can influence whether or not we stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant, hire a plumber, or even order a shirt from an online retailer.

The importance of controlling, managing, and growing customer reviews is finally catching the attention of businesses. A BrightLocal survey indicates that:

  • Online reviews are trusted as much as personal recommendations by 84% of those surveyed.
  • If asked, 70% of consumers will leave a review.
  • Positive reviews encourage 54% of consumers to visit a website.
  • Local businesses are trusted more when they have positive online reviews.
  • Less than 10 reviews are read before a consumer forms an opinion.
  • Reviews older than 3 months are not deemed relevant by consumers.
  • Over half of consumers agree that star ratings are important.

Seeking quality reviews on an ongoing basis is good business practice and keeps your brand in the forefront of consumers’ minds, helps you stand out from competitors, and also helps to minimize the one-off bad review you may get.

Don’t have the time or find it awkward to ask your customers for reviews? Consider our online Reputation Management Services that offer a fully automated software system that actually works behind the scenes to grow your reviews.

5. Structured Data Markup for Local

This markup language provides more information about your business to Google once it has been implemented in your website code. Most businesses use only the basic markup. This provides opportunities for business owners to outdistance their competitors by utilizing uncommonly used markup.

Google has a Structured Data Testing Tool you can use to determine if your markup implementation meets the required standards.

Want to learn more about how to win at Local SEO? Here are some additional articles by other SEOs in the industry as well as articles by our own team:

You can also call 1st on the List at 1-888-262-6687 if you have specific questions. We’d love to help you optimize your business for Local Search!

Additional Local SEO Marketing Tips and Articles:

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16 Insanely Smart Small Business Blog Ideas

What if we told you we can help making small business blogging easier while improving your local search visibility?

There is! We’ve compiled this list of ideas of painless and effortless ways to keep your blog up to date while showing Google (and your visitors) your presence in your community and credibility.

1. Share community news.

Write about the upcoming annual event in your city that everyone looks forward to. Write about the upcoming tradeshow you’ll be attending. Show that you are involved in your community and support local events.

2. Tell customer success stories.

Did a customer just call you raving about a great experience they had with you? Were you able to solve a problem for one of your customers? Take the time to write a short summary of what you did and share the success with everyone your website. Be sure to ask the customer for permission to turn their story into a blog post.

3. Stockpile FAQ posts.

You likely get the same questions over and over again. Take each of these questions and turn each into their own post. Next time you have someone  emailing or writing to ask the question you can direct them to your blog post! These are great posts to write in advance and have ready to post when you get into your busy season and may not have as much time to blog.

4. Write about recent projects.

For service based businesses you can share about what you’re working on. Perhaps it’s replacing a sub panel in an Abbotsford home or pouring a new concrete driveway in Mission BC or even eye exams for children going back to school. Mentioning the service, products and city helps with your local optimization.

5. Promote your sponsorships or charities.

Write about local charities, events, amateur sports teams, fundraisers and any other involvement you have in your community. The point of these blog posts isn’t to put yourself on a high horse but to encourage your customers to also support the causes you believe in.

6. Write a ‘Top 5’ list.

Lists are easy to skim and digest … just look at the popularity of BuzzFeed. Put together a list of your Top 5 products related to a specific need, top 5 restaurants in your area, top 5 reasons to have regular dental checkups, etc. The list goes on about lists you could write.

7. Updates on changes to regulation.

Be the authoritative source to tell your visitors about changes to building codes in your area, updates to mortgage laws and other regulations that will affect your industry.

8. Create a local resource directory.

Put together a list of trusted businesses your customers may be interested in. Are you a plumber? Why not suggest trusted electricians, framers, drywallers and contractors you’ve worked with over the years?

9. Review other local businesses.

Give a shout out to businesses that you interact with on a regular basis that you think are worthy to recommend to your customers. You never know, that business may do the same for you one day.

10. Create a best resources collection

Pick a topic that is very relevant to your industry (it could even be a topic you always get asked about) and compile a “best resources” collection where you can guide your visitors to the best websites to do all their research. Your blog post will show your visitors who to trust on a certain topic and help in the education process.

11. Share a current event.

Find a unique spin of what you’re seeing and reading in the News and write a blog post. Has the value of the Canadian Dollar gone down? How is this affecting your industry? Have scientists found a new cure? What does this mean for your patients?

12. Compare and contrast products.

Take two similar items or products and write a comparison of the two. How are they similar? How are they different? Is one a better solution? Are there times you should use one product over the other?

13. Talk about failure.

Has something recently made you cover your face and shake your head? Whether it is something you did, something you found in a recent home you did work in or even a horror story that a current customer told you about their previous provider, take the time to dish out the juicy gossip. People like to hear bad news. Just remember to always close the post with an optimistic outlook and offer a solution.

14. Share industry insider secrets.

Be the one to tell customers the truth in your industry. Are the commonly believed misconceptions in your industry? You can be the one to share the truth with your customers.

15. Post a how-to guide.

People are always searching “how to …” in Google. Write step by step guides on how to do simple things.

16. Read related blogs in different cities.

If all else fails, find a company in your same industry but across the country (and no overlap of target markets) and see what they are blogging about. You will likely find new topics, ideas and insight that you can take back to your blog. Remember, never copy or steal blog posts. Just use the blogs for inspiration and bring fresh insight and a new perspective on their topics back to your own blog.

Plus One Insanely Foolish Blog Idea!

If there is one cardinal sin when it comes to blogging it is ignoring your blog for months on end! Nothing is worse than a post from last Christmas or your visitors seeing your blog was last updated 7 months ago. This shows that you aren’t relevant and may even hint that you aren’t actively doing business!

For more information about our blogging services and how we can help set up a blog for your website to bring in new traffic and increase the visbility of your small business in your local market, please email us or call our team at 1-888-262-6687.

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78% of Local Searches Result in This

Never underestimate the power of local search.

The recent 2014 Local Search Study by Neustar Localeze and 15miles suggests that between 61 and 78% of local searches result in a purchase, depending on what type of device the person was searching from.

Between 65 and 73% of these purchases are “in store” meaning the person has selected your company from their search options and physically came to your location to do business with you.

Why you should care about these numbers … 

People are searching for local businesses like yours.

These searching people are qualified and ready to make a purchase. In fact, nearly 4 in 5 people using their phone to find a local business end up making a purchase.

If you haven’t considered local search visibility and optimizing your website so you are at the top of search results you are missing out on extremely affordable advertising to qualified buyers!

Additional Local SEO Takeaways from the Study

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  • If you are a local business (serving customers in a specific geographic region) local search visibility is crucial.
  • If you are a local business your mobile search visibility is just as critical.
  • The primary piece of information sought when searching on a mobile phone is the address or location. Your mobile site must make this extremely easy to find.
  • People searching on tablets tend to be comparing prices and seeking information about your products and services. Your website must be engaging and easy to use on a tablet device where people use their fingers to navigate your pages on a smaller size screen.
  • Only half of those searching on a mobile phone are satisfied with their experience – there is always room for improving your mobile website.
  • Other important pieces of information local searchers seek to find are hours of operation, special offers and ratings and reviews.

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Learn more about our Local SEO Services designed specifically for local businesses needing some extra visibility or gives us a call at 1-888-262-6687 to request your complimentary Local SEO Site Evaluation.