According to a BrightLocal survey, 99 percent of consumers have used the internet to search for information about a local business over the last year, and 78 percent of consumers do this more than once a week — up 9% over the previous year. So if you run a brick-and-mortar business or rely on customers within a certain radius to support your brand, there’s never been a better time to ensure you’re ranking high for “near me” searches.
If you’re looking to take advantage of these trends this year, here are five easy ways to increase your local traffic.
1. Optimize Your Website for Local SEO
When aiming to increase your visibility for local search, general SEO practices are not enough. You’ll also need to optimize your site’s content to rank in searches with local intent. Location-centric keywords are effective starting points, but that just begins to scratch the surface of what you can do. Here are a few actionable strategies from The Paperless Agent to optimize your website for local SEO:
- Incorporate local keywords into your content: Plug local keywords such as “[your business] services in [city]” into the site headings, meta descriptions, title tags, and body copy.
- Include your contact information in key locations: List your business name, address, and phone number on the contact page, as well as in the header and/or footer. This should be up-to-date and match the information on local listing platforms such as Yelp or Google.
- Optimize for mobile-based searches: As roughly half of all organic internet traffic comes from mobile devices, Google’s algorithm now factors in how well websites are formatted for mobile searches. Optimize your site’s visual layout, loading speed, navigation, and other user experience elements for mobile devices.
2. Procure Positive Reviews from Customers
As the BrightLocal survey referenced above points out, 98 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. Not to mention, research from Trustpilot found that 64 percent of purchasing decisions are influenced by customer reviews directly. In fact, customer reviews are so integral to a brand’s reputation that Google uses them to help evaluate where your website and Google My Business Page should rank.
According to Google, local rankings are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. The number of Google reviews and review scores have an influence on determining prominence, which is essentially a measure of how well-known a business is.
Fortunately, 67 percent of consumers will write a review for a positive brand experience, BrightLocal reports. So don’t hesitate to ask your satisfied customers to share their positive feedback online.
3. Increase Your Local Backlinks
A website’s domain authority (DA) is a score from one to 100 that indicates its credibility and thus how successfully it ranks in search engine results. The higher the domain authority your site has, the better you’re likely to perform in search engines.
If you’re looking to give your DA a boost, securing backlinks — links to your website — plays an essential role. According to a study from Ahrefs, only five percent of sites without backlinks receive organic traffic. And if you’re looking to increase your search rankings for local results, procuring backlinks from local organizations should be an important part of your backlinking strategy.
- Form relationships with local organizations: Establish a strong presence in your community by joining your local chamber of commerce and other prominent business networking groups in the area. As you nurture these relationships, they will likely feature your website on their business listings pages.
- Engage with local businesses on social media: Connect with other local business owners on social media for cross-promotional opportunities.
- Create content that other local sites want to link to: Produce compelling content about your local area that informs, entertains, and feels relevant to locals to increase social shares and backlinks to your website.
4. Optimize Your Local Social Media Campaigns
In the post-pandemic marketplace, the amount of time spent on social media across all platforms is now higher than ever at 95 minutes per day. And it’s clear that digital marketers have taken note — social media accounts for 33% of all digital advertising spending in 2022, and annual social media ad spend has increased 17% over last year, Hootsuite reports.
So how do you make your local social media campaigns stand out in this ultra-competitive landscape? I spoke with Aaron Dunham, the CEO and Principal Growth Strategist at the integrated marketing firm Concentric Management, for some best practices. Here are the tactics he recommends focusing on this year:
- Refine your location radius: According to Aaron, the most important piece when it comes to paid local advertising is accurately figuring out the distance customers are willing to travel to your business location.
- Strengthen your offer: Unlike Google advertising, which is great for reaching lower-funnel, high-intent customers, social media targeting is based on behavior, interests, and light demographic information. With social users’ lower intent, it’s important to create an irresistible offer that will get your audience’s attention. Aaron recommends offering an introductory service that includes a giveaway as a way to encourage people to start patronizing your business right away. For instance, an HVAC business can offer a free filter as part of an initial maintenance service.
- Think beyond collecting just email: Set up your landing page to require more relevant information than the standard form. “While email is always great to collect, why not collect a phone number too so you can reach out and nurture more effectively?” Aaron says.
5. Optimize Your Google My Business Page
As Google itself points out, local consumers are 70 percent more likely to visit a business and 50 percent more likely to consider purchasing from a business with a complete Google My Business (GMB) profile. Not only that, a business’s GMB page can also have a significant impact on local search rankings.
First things first, make sure you’ve claimed your business page through Google.com/business and make sure the basic information — business name, physical address, hours of operation, contact information, and product offerings — is accurate and consistent with your website. Don’t forget to update your GMP regularly as needed, for example, if your business hours change seasonally.
Imagery is a great way to make your profile stand out to users. Add current photos and videos of your facilities, team, or merchandise. Your customer reviews will be visible on this profile too, which makes it all the more critical to respond to their feedback in a timely, helpful manner. Finally, take the time to select the most relevant services for your business to increase the impact of paid advertising campaigns.
Take Your Local Traffic to the Next Level in 2022
Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar business or a digital brand hoping to attract more customers in your local area, there’s never been a greater opportunity to generate more local business. With a clear strategy that implements the best practices above, local customers will flock to your website in 2022 and well beyond.