Of course, these days, it’s possible to source a product or service simply by ordering it online. You could go down this route if, for example, you want to upgrade to a new model of smartphone or start studying a distance-learning course from home.

However, even if your own business has online operations, it could also have a large in-person component. This can often be the case with small companies targeting customers or clients from the local area; retail stores, florists and restaurants can all fall into this category.

If you run such a company, SEO (search engine optimisation) can aid you in attracting many people from your target market. Here are various ways, then, to improve on your local SEO strategy.

 

Get your company listed on online directories

Arguably, it would be best for you to start by claiming and filling out your company’s Google Business Profile. The details you can add to this profile include your company’s:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Website URL

 

The profile itself can pop up on not only Google SERPs (search engine results pages), but also Google Maps. You should also strive to give your business a proper listing on each of the following sites:

 

  • TripAdvisor
  • Yelp
  • Facebook

 

Customers would be able to post reviews of your business to these sites — functionality that can work to your advantage as long as your offerings are consistently high in quality.

 

Encourage customers to review your business online

Often, an online directory where your business is listed will enable customers to publish online reviews of their experiences with it. These critics will typically be asked to rate the company on a scale of one to five, too — with the ‘average’ rating prominently displayed on the listing.

It is clear, then, why you can’t afford to slack on your company’s quality control in the “online age”. Still, you shouldn’t necessarily expect the listing to attract a flurry of positive reviews if you don’t proactively invite customers to post them. Here are some steps you can take to this end:

 

  • Regularly link to the review pages: The links in question can appear on your corporate website, social media profiles, and email signatures.
  • Politely ask for reviews: There would be many opportunities for you to do this, such as in person as well as in “order confirmation” emails and follow-up surveys.
  • Respond to reviews: Always thank customers for leaving reviews. If you see any negative ones, apologise and offer to make amends, e.g. by providing money-off coupons.

 

Closely monitor listings sites so that you can promptly respond to new reviews as they come in. It wouldn’t look good for you to only reply to a bad review three weeks after it is published, for instance.

 

Optimise your website to capture traffic from local searchers

Don’t underestimate the importance of “local” keywords, i.e. those mentioning places from which you hope to draw custom.

Let’s consider the example of a tech repair business. If you run one, you might allow people nationwide to post their damaged devices to you so that you can fix them before sending them back. Alternatively, local people could visit your premises to hand you the device and collect it later.

When targeting the latter group, you should resist settling just for the optimisation of non-local keywords like “iPhone repair” or “Samsung battery replacement”, as Google searches using these terms are likely to bring up many other, longer-established companies before your own.

Now, what if your business is based in the North East England cathedral city of Durham? In that case, you could weave local keywords like “iPhone repair Durham” and “Samsung battery replacement County Durham” (yes, a reference to the wider county) into your website’s copy.

 

Amass backlinks from local websites

What is a backlink? It is a link that is posted on another website, but that is pointed to your own. When that “another website” happens to be popular in the local area, Google’s web crawlers will see this as a sign that your company’s website is of strong relevance to local searchers.

Do you know of any particular websites — such as news sites or forums — that not only have a local focus but are also likely to be popular with many members of your target audience?

If you do, a locally based digital marketing company could help you to get guest articles — complete with your company website’s URL — onto those sites.

For example, you could partner with an SEO agency in Essex if your business is based in Colchester, one of the most populous cities in this East of England county.