These local SEO tips can help you gain a serious advantage over your competitors.
Many B2B brands focus their SEO efforts solely on the national level. Different types of B2B companies have different needs, and for some local search is not that important. That said, companies with franchises or multiple branches and service areas should absolutely be paying attention to local search.
These business can span a range of industries:
- Repair shops
- Equipment rental
- Packaging and shipping
If your company has multiple locations or service areas and fits into one of the categories above, there’s a good chance that you are missing out on quality leads by ignoring local search.
1. Mobile search is local search.
Let’s say you need a banner for an public event tomorrow. You ordered online, but the order was late arriving. You open the package to find out something is wrong with the banner. Frantically, you search for a print shop nearby who can deliver on an unbelievably quick turnaround. Within minutes, you’re on the phone with a print shop who can have a replacement banner ready by the event. You’ve got driving directions pulled up on your phone and ready to go. Crisis averted. The store quickly becomes your go-to for any future business.
According to Google’s Mobile Playbook, one out of every five mobile searches is made with local intent. Out of those local searches:
- 94% Of users search for location information
- 51% Visited a store
- 48% Called a store
- 29% Made an in-store purchase soon after searching
Even further, 80% of in-store visits triggered by mobile search happened within 5 hours. 85% of phone calls were made in the same time period.
It’s not enough to simply exist nearby and expect to show up in the top search results anytime a potential customer searches for your product nearby. In an effort to offer a more mobile-friendly user experience, Google rolled out a local search result format that only features the top three results below the map, effectively turning the “snack pack” into premium real estate. Whether on a smartphone or desktop, it’s now the first thing a user sees in a local search, even before the top list result. Being in the top ten isn’t good enough anymore.
2. Make sure your business listings are accurate and up to date.
Your directory listings should be accurate and up to date, whether it’s Google Business, Yelp, or YellowPages.com. You will be penalized for inaccurate or unclaimed listings. Avoid duplicate content as much as possible — if you have a generic page template for all of your franchises or branches that only swaps out the store name, address, and phone number, Google views this as duplicate content and filters out all but a handful of your location pages in its search results, even if you have multiple locations in the same city where the search is being conducted.
If I’m a general contractor looking for a backhoe available for rent in Houston, it’s important that an equipment rental company have each branch show up in local results listings. If all but one result has been filtered out, I may call that branch only to find out that they don’t have the piece of equipment I need, unaware that another branch in town may have it available nearby. Instead, I quickly work my way down the list and go with a competitor instead.
3. Customer reviews matter more than you think.
Customer reviews are important. Not only do they provide social proof to potential customers, they also factor into Google’s search algorithm, giving you extra SEO juice in local rankings. The more quality ratings you have, the more traffic you will see from local search results.
Of course, getting lots of quality customer reviews is easier said than done. If your business has never been reviewed on Google Business, it’s not easy for a customer to even find the link to add that first review. A tool to consider here is GetFiveStars.
4. Don’t underestimate the value of social media for local SEO.
Google has been notoriously tight-lipped about how much, if at all, search rankings are affected by social signals. Even if your likes, retweets, and shares aren’t directly factored into Google’s algorithms, having an active social media presence benefits your search rankings. In addition to referral traffic from your social media pages, social shares can create valuable backlinks, which brings us to #5...
5. Link-building isn’t dead.
When it comes to link-building, it’s about quality, not quantity. Automated, unnatural links are going to hurt your search rankings. Google is good at detecting whether inbound links are organic or spam.
Attracting links through high-quality content is a popular strategy for building natural links to your website. Promoting your content via social media is an easy way to increase its visibility and increase the likelihood of a site with high domain authority linking to it (See #4). You might also consider guest posting on other sites as a way to organically build backlinks — but be careful here, as Google has clamped down natural tactics like guest blogging and posting infographics in ways that it considers shady.
How do you know if your guest posts and infographics are creating negative SEO? Use your better judgment. As usual, avoid duplicate content (cross-publishing blog posts to Medium or LinkedIn is generally fine), and don’t use the same spammy anchor text over and over again. It’s about the implementation, not the method.
Keep in mind, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Admittedly, the last two tips are more along the lines of general SEO best practices. Will you need individual social media profiles for each of your locations? Will original content be location-specific? These tactics will vary from business to business, but it’s a good idea to include as much original content as possible on location-specific pages. What neighborhoods do you cater to? What services or products are unique to your particular branch? A little bit of personalization can go a long way.
Individually, none of these techniques are a silver bullet. As part of an overall SEO strategy, they can have major cumulative effects over time. Be smart, and be patient — you’re not going to jump to the top of search rankings overnight, but a well-implemented local SEO strategy can give you a much-needed leg up the competition.