What Is Local SEO?

People are searching for nearby products and services RIGHT NOW. They’re grabbing their smartphones, entering a specific product or service into the search bar, and marveling at the list of choices presented by their search engine of choice (Google/Bing/Yahoo/etc.).

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They’re choosing the business offering the best option(s) for their search, and making their way to the physical location to make a purchase.

Does your business show up when people search for your products and services? Is it immediately visible? Will searchers choose your website over several others sporting the same products and services?

“But I have a website. Isn’t that enough?” It’s certainly a good start, but the competition is fierce, and the internet is stuffed with websites just like yours. If you want local customers to find you online, and then choose your website over the closely listed competition, you’re going to need the significant signal boost provided by Local SEO services.

So, what is Local SEO (search engine optimization), and how is it different from regular SEO? Well, in truth, it’s not really that different. Local SEO is merely a subset of SEO, but it’s specifically geared towards local businesses that want to show up in local search results. It’s an important aspect that should be handled a little differently.

When we’re talking about ranking a site locally, we’re not talking about the regular search engine page results – we’re talking about your listing on Google Maps.

When someone searches for a local service (e.g., a restaurant or store in the area), Google generally places what is called the “Local Pack” at the top of the page. When you click through one of the results in that local pack, you’re looking at Google Maps. These same results are an indication of how you would rank if people were using the actual Google Maps app to look for your service in their immediate vicinity.

Ranking in the Local Pack and on Google Maps is an essential part of any local business’s online strategy, and we specialize in helping clients achieve a better ranking.

Why Should You Hire a Local SEO Company (Specifically, Amity Digital)?

You’re a small business on a tight budget, and you’re thinking of tackling the SEO to save money.

This is certainly an honorable endeavor, but you should ask yourself these important questions before diving in and DIY-ing a digital practice that takes years to learn (and perhaps never fully master):

  • Do I have time to run my business AND learn, practice, and apply SEO myself?
  • Do I have the local search optimization skills and experience to effectively promote my local business online?
Search Engine Optimization Hero

Running a business? It’s certainly exciting, but it’s also super-scary, incredibly demanding, and time-consuming.

SEO? Equally demanding and time consuming. And if you apply it incorrectly, it can cost you a lot of money, hurt your business ranking, and/or harm your online reputation.

By hiring the SEO-savvy folks at Amity Digital, you’re getting:

  • Local SEO experts with years of experience in the realm of optimizing businesses for local search.
  • Experienced personnel who spend their lives performing local search engine optimization.
  • The combined SEO knowledge of an entire company acting as your personal local SEO strategist.
  • A highly proficient SEO team whose services and expertise cost less than hiring a full-time, in-house digital marketer.

Need help (and NOT the hassle)? Let Amity Digital be your dedicated (and local) digital marketer.

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What Are the Benefits of Local SEO for Businesses?

Your competition? They’re taking advantage of Local SEO. Why? Because they realize people grab their smartphones, search for goods and services near them, and then head over to nearby locations to make a purchase (or, several purchases).

I’ll reiterate the following statistics – and add a few more — to help make my point:

  • 90% of purchases take place in physical stores. This means people still make purchases in stores, and they purchase more inside a store than online.
  • 80% of disposable income in the United States is spent within 20 miles from home.
  • 97% of consumers search online for a local business.
  • 72% of consumers who perform a local search visit a store within five miles of their location.
  • 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps.

So, a strong online presence for local searches gets customers’ attention and improves their chances of visiting a physical location (specifically, your store).

Now, let’s dig into the benefits of Local SEO:

It increases the visibility of your website: If you’re practicing SEO for local businesses, your website is appearing in front of those searching online for your services. It’s also ranking higher in search results, which really boosts said visibility.

You’re showing up in “The Local Pack” (more on that later), which is directly underneath a Google Maps display showing the exact location of your business.

It increases organic traffic to your website: If you’re visible when people search for your services, and if your local listing features the kind of information viewers find immediately helpful, the chances of them clicking your listing increase exponentially.

It improves your reputation through customer reviews. Your local listing features pertinent information about your company (phone number, address, hours of operation, etc.). It features completed projects or works in progress, and more importantly, displays customer reviews and your accumulated customer rating.

Customer reviews are incredibly important (so important, their benefits demand a bullet point breakdown):

  • They help promote your services, trustworthiness, and competency to potential customers. When someone reads a review, they learn how customers are treated. And the more reviews they read – and the more positive the reviews – the more likely they’ll visit your website.
  • A customer review is as effective as a personal recommendation. It’s a self-involved third party without bias, so the review reflects a genuine customer experience.
  • Customer reviews improve your ranking in search engines like Google. These reviews count as more signals validating your authenticity and authority. And what does Google want to do? It wants to present searchers the best options for their search – options that Google considers authentic, knowledgeable, and strongly verified by other sources.
  • Want more reasons why customer reviews are incredibly beneficial to local businesses? Head over to our Reputation Management page for more startling and business-strengthening statistics.

Rank for multiple locations. Have more than one local location? Local SEO can help you attract online traffic for specific locations.

Ready to get started on your personalized Local SEO strategy? Contact us today.

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What Is the Local Pack?

The Local Pack consists of the first three suggested results on a Google Search Results Page for local businesses — you can see an example of that in the image. These were the results that appeared when we looked for a Web Design Company in Berks County (and yep, we’re the first result).

As you can see, it starts with a map that shows location pins for most of the relevant businesses in the area (relevant to that search), but then it proceeds to highlight three of them.

The majority of local search traffic for any particular search word or phrase goes to those three listings. If your business doesn’t appear in the Local Pack, the consumer doing the searching would need to hit the “More Places” button to browse more options. That certainly happens, but not very often. And if the three businesses included in the Local Pack are quality businesses that meet the needs of those doing the searching, potential customers will be less inspired to hit that button.

If you run a business that primarily serves a local customer base, your main priority in terms of your digital marketing strategy should be to rank in the Local Pack.

Keep in mind that results are personalized to every individual that searches, so you may not show up in the same position for everyone in your service area that performs a search; however, you can show up for the majority of those people looking for your business.

How Do We Optimize Your Website for Local SEO?

Or…What’s Our Local SEO Process?

Much like regular SEO, there is a lot that goes into Local SEO but it’s not nearly as overwhelming. We break down our Local SEO services into two buckets:

On-page optimization includes the things we can do directly on your site to help it rank better.

Off-page optimization includes the things we do on other websites to help your website rank better. Both are equally important.

Google looks at over 200 different signals to figure out how to rank your website, so this is by no means a complete list, but it does cover the most important parts of our Local SEO process.

On-Page Optimization

  • Meta Tag Optimization – Meta tags are lines of invisible text that provide information about a webpage. Situated within the HTML of the document (and not visible on-page), this information can be read by web crawlers and search engines. And search engines use this “metadata” to better understand the content and purpose of a website. This information helps search engines define, and therefore, rank a website, and it appears as snippets of descriptive information in search results. We make sure your metadata takes advantage of the correct wording and placement in order to better describe your website to searchers and search engines.
  • Content Creation – SEO is dependent on a flawless user experience (UX). And when a user clicks through to a website, they expect to see the content (text, images, videos, etc.) they were promised – content that helps answer a question or fulfill a need.

If Google lists a page in search results and notices visitors remaining on that page, Google assumes the page is doing exactly what it’s supposed to — properly informing visitors. And if website content is doing the job it was created to do, Google will be compelled to list the webpage more often, and perhaps higher, in search results.

We help you conceive of, and/or create content that provides visitors exactly what they’re searching for (and then some). It will answer their questions or fulfill their request, thus granting them a stellar user experience.

  • Keyword Research – This goes hand in hand with a solid content strategy. Not only do you want to offer helpful information fulfilling the needs of searchers, you want to take advantage of the very words and phrases they’re using to discover your services. With keyword research, we determine the words and phrases people use every day to find and discover websites like yours. As soon as we determine those words – and the search volume of those words — we make sure to place them – conversationally – into the content we’re optimizing. Search engines look for – and home in on — particular keywords and phrases when determining which sites to present in search results. Does your website contain the industry-relevant, regularly searched terms Google proactively looks for?
  • Page Speed – Going back to user experience, search engines want websites that load quickly. They don’t want to recommend websites that take too long to appear or present content, thus inspiring a user to click elsewhere. A slow loading speed equates to a poor user experience, and Google doesn’t want to present options that can’t even swing when presented a straight, underhanded pitch (and that’s probably the only sports reference you’ll get from me. Like, ever).We’ll improve your page speed and mitigate any potential user – and search engine — frustration.
  • Canonical Tags – These are snippets of HTML code that define the main version of a page amidst pages with duplicate – or nearly duplicate – content. So, if you have the same – or very similar – content existing across different URLs, Canonical Tags tell web crawlers which page is the main page – the page that should be indexed. And if you haven’t figured it out, Google isn’t a fan of duplicate content. Have a lot of different URLs with similar content? We’ll use Canonical Tags so Google indexes and ranks the correct webpage. We’ll also do this so the correct version of a page ranks for relevant inquiries, and to make sure Google doesn’t spend time crawling duplicate content (when it could be spending that time on crawling more important content).
  • Code Validation: Is the HTML code – the programmatic language responsible for the creation and online representation of your website – up to snuff? Is it sound and error-free, or is it rife with issues? If the coding is incomplete, incorrect, or filled with errors, search engines will have difficulty crawling it, indexing it, and then listing it in search results. With any errors, search engines and other assistive technologies will have a hard time handling, and therefore, presenting your content. We’ll use Google-approved tools and technology to crawl your website, determine any errors, and make any and all pertinent repairs.
  • Schema Markup – When your website appears in search results, it contains a title and a description directly underneath. Schema Markup allows you to enhance this description so it conveys more valuable information to searchers. We’ll add Schema Markup code to your website so search engines can present more informative – and more helpful — results to online searchers.

(Our GBP listing and how it presents itself to a business owner).

Off-Page Optimization

Google Business Profile Optimization (formerly “Google My Business”) – This is a big one. A Google Business Profile listing is a free bit of Google software ideal for local businesses. This rectangular knowledge panel features pertinent business information (business name, phone number, address, and hours of operation), a website link, a link to directions through Google Maps, the ability to call or ask a question, customer reviews and the accumulated customer rating, direct posts from the company, and several other features enabling searchers to enact business online.

From the GBP panel, business owners can announce or modify services and availability, and respond directly to customer reviews (and you already know how important customer reviews are). They can also post their latest projects and announce (and link to) sales and specials.

We strongly (like, STRONGLY) suggest our customers claim their GBP panel. Why? Besides the benefits above, this panel is a Google product, and therefore, something Google looks at before ranking a local business. A complete and informative GBP panel with customer reviews helps Google validate a business’s authenticity. And if Google finds more signals validating a website’s authenticity? That’s right – it will be more prone to rank it in search results.

We also strongly (like, STRONGLY) push its importance because of the obvious: It shows customers you’re an active, legitimate business used successfully by other people. The more information you present, the more trust you build. And the more trust you build, the more likely someone will click through your website. Heck, a solid, regularly updated, and review-friendly GBP listing can even grab traffic from websites placed slightly higher on the list.

We’ll help you claim your Google Business Profile Listing, and show you how to update it with helpful, pertinent information, and completed or in-progress projects.

Need help claiming and completing your GBP? We can help.

Help Me Set Up My Google Business Profile
  • Citation Building — As we’ve mentioned many (MANY) times, search engines (like Google) are always (ALWAYS!) looking for bits of information to validate the quality of a website. Citations occur when another website or web presence (business directories, phone directories, news sites, review sites, etc.) lists your business name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP), or other pertinent business information.
  • The more quality websites (or web presences) listing your information, the more likely Google will trust this information, and therefore, feel more confident when it comes time to present your business in search results.
  • Citation Consistency – So, you have a lot of websites and online directories featuring your citations. This is all well and good, but is the information accurate across said websites/directories? Is your phone number/address/website URL universally correct, or are there 15+ websites providing old or inaccurate information? If various sources on the web contain different or conflicting information regarding your business, Google will lose confidence in your online presence. And what does Google do when it doesn’t trust the information related to your website (or online presence)? That’s right – it’s less inclined to rank your business. We’ll help you acquire citations on authoritative sites, and make sure all pertinent information existing online is universally correct.
  • Backlinks – Backlinks occur when another website or web presence links back to your website. Why are backlinks important? Because they’re another series of signals/identifiers that prove your authority, effectiveness, and trustworthiness to Google (or other search engines that never seem to get a name-drop). A backlink comes from blogs, website, directories, or various online sources. Like a citation, it’s another digital reference validating the strength of your online presence. However, Google also rates the quality of backlinks – or specifically, the quality of website linking to yours. Again, much like citations, more backlinks improve Google’s perception of your website. But if the websites are nearly irrelevant, shoddy, or pretty much abandoned, Google will lose confidence in the validity of those backlinks. And if backlinks appear unnatural or forced – backlinks existing for the sake of backlinks – Google may, in fact, penalize your ranking for trying to game the algorithm. We’ll help acquire backlinks through legitimate sources relevant to your industry.
  • Social Media Mentions – Whenever someone name-drops a business, brand, or person on Social Media, that’s a Social Media mention. Social Media mentions help companies improve their branding, better communicate with customers, or allow them to immediately mitigate a customer issue or crisis. Social Media is a boost for Local SEO. It’s another potential web presence referencing your business – a presence that has the ability to rank in search engines. We’ll help you manage your Social Media accounts. We’ll make sure they’re optimized with the correct business information, and posting the sort of content your target audience appreciates. And we’ll make sure to respond to any Social Media mentions in order to strengthen the brand and customer perception. We’ll also enact strategies to garner mentions from other Social Media persons and pages.

Head over to our Social Media Management page to learn more about our people-pleasing social media strategies.

  • Review Solicitation: Customer reviews? They’re important. How important? Super-important. They improve trust with customers AND search engines. So, how do you get them? Well, you get US, an then we help you get them. Our customer review solicitation software allows you to reach out and solicit reviews from customers – reviews to post (and brag about) on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or other popular online review forums.
  • Reputation Management: Your online business reputation? Super-important. And if things get hairy online, customer confidence can quickly spiral, sputter, and cease. And the source of said spiraling, sputtering, and ceasing? That mistake – or series of mistakes – can exist online for….well, perhaps forever.
    So, if there’s a crisis you need to respond to, or a poor customer review that demands an answer or explanation, our Reputation Management software will allow you to respond immediately. Head over to our Reputation Management page and learn more about our management software and strategies.

The Truth About Local SEO

All SEO services, including Local SEO, take time. The algorithm that is the heart of Google Search is extremely powerful, but it’s looking at an incredible amount of data every day while trying to tie it all together, so it takes time for it to process it all. There is no getting around it. Changes you make today can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to show up in Google search results.

How quickly the changes on your site will be noticed and updated by Google depends mostly on your authority. The more important Google already thinks your site is, the quicker it notices changes and updates your rankings accordingly. If you aren’t currently ranking well, it likely means that Google does not view your website as a high authority site so it’s going to take a little while for any optimization to have an effect.

We say all of this up front because we do not want anyone to have the idea that things can change overnight. In fact, we ask any client that is going to work with us on their local search ranking to commit to us for three months. We have a tried and true methodology to optimizing a site, but it takes time, and if we aren’t given that time, any initial optimization would be ineffective.

If you’re interested in having us help you improve your rankings, contact us today. The first step is for us to do a full (and Free!) website and SEO evaluation. With this evaluation, we will give you our honest opinion of your website; we will look for issues that may be holding your website back; and we will give you a quote for services that will fix these issues. The evaluation is free, and you are under no obligation. Just contact us today and let us know you’re interested in a free and incredibly thorough website evaluation.

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