If you own or operate a local business, you need to be thinking about how you can make your company more visible and attractive to potential customers in your area. If you don’t, you’ll be missing out on new business.
Megan Ramirez, Scorpion’s Vice President of Product who has a background of 10 years working in search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing, answers some common questions about local SEO and how businesses can use it to their advantage.
Q: What is local SEO?
A: At its very core, local SEO is about helping local businesses get found when people in their area are looking for services online. Most often, and more specifically, it refers to ranking within the map pack on Google (or “local pack”), which is the map section highlighting three businesses on the results page. It can commonly be expanded beyond that, though, to encompass more of a traditional SEO approach, including ranking for localized keywords (such as “plumber near me”) both in the maps and in the organic results directly below it.
The core piece of local SEO is the Google My Business profile itself, along with other vital profiles on key websites online. However, local SEO has expanded quite a bit over the years. In fact, Google has continually made changes that align their organic and local ranking algorithms—meaning the tactics that help with regular organic rankings (such as having a mobile-friendly website, writing high-value content, and properly optimizing your website for both users and search engines) can also boost local search rankings.
Q: Why is local SEO important for businesses?
A: A massive amount of searches done online have local intent. People are turning to search engines to find local businesses and services—including with voice search. If you aren’t doing local SEO, you’re missing out on massive opportunities to get in front of potential customers.
Q: What is Scorpion’s approach to local SEO?
A: At Scorpion, our approach is really focusing on what matters the most and what is going to have the largest impact for our clients. Google My Business is a key element of ranking well locally, so we consider it a top priority to make sure that all information is accurate, that all features are being leveraged, and that we’re working hand-in-hand with businesses to help them truly engage and reach customers on the platform.
In addition, we prioritize major data aggregators to ensure that the information they have for a company is fully accurate. These are the main sources of information online and will feed that information downstream to smaller directories. By correcting and maintaining that information at the source, we help ensure that there’s not a constant stream of inaccurate data sprouting up around the web.
Q: What are the top local SEO strategies that businesses should follow?
A: Accuracy, consistency, and engagement.
The first step is ensuring websites have accurate data that properly reflects your business. It means ensuring those sites are showing your correct business name, the address where you greet clients, and up-to-date business hours (especially around holidays or times when clients may be unsure about your availability). It also means details such as picking categories that describe your services, linking to the correct website, and more.
The second step is being consistent—making sure the information is as similar as possible across the board. This helps prevent a potential customer from going to Facebook and seeing one address and then going to Google My Business and seeing another. Taking steps to make sure that the information about you online is both accurate and consistent not only helps search engines better understand your business and prevents clients from getting confused, but it ultimately results in more trust from both search engines and users.
The final step is engagement. This refers to interacting with clients through the various platforms, as well as interacting with the platform itself. This can include replying to reviews, answering questions that people leave, and even taking advantage of all available platform features, such as Google Posts on Google My Business. It means being active and present on listings—not just creating a profile and then never logging in again.
Q: What guarantees failure when it comes to local SEO?
A: Inconsistency is the number one killer of local SEO. This is not just using “Suite” versus “St.” in addresses because Google is now smart enough to know the difference between the two. I’m talking about having old addresses on listings, having duplicate listings (such as a second Google My Business listing for your business), etc. Having a bunch of crossed wires when it comes to your business information not only complicates a search engines’ understanding of your company, but it also causes mistrust with users.
Q: What are the latest local SEO trends and insights that businesses should be aware of?
A: I would say it’s more important than ever to focus on localizing yourself in a genuine way. Google cares about popularity, and it cares about authenticity. It wants to showcase the businesses that people really love in their area. You show Google that there is a high level of interest in your business when you attract online reviews and engage with clients authentically, get mentions online and followers on social media, and earn backlinks from local websites. This can include everything from being cited in the local newspaper to being listed on the local Little League’s website as a sponsor. This is a great way to show Google that you’re local, you’re real, and you’re an active part of the community.
Q: What are the biggest struggles businesses have when it comes to Local SEO?
A: It can be overwhelming to know where to start or what to focus on. The web has become so large that you can easily fall down a rabbit hole trying to chase every minor website that mentions your business. With Scorpion, you have experts who know exactly what to focus on for maximum impact, as well as what steps to take to maintain (and grow) a business’ online authority.
Q: What’s the biggest misunderstanding business owners have concerning local SEO?
A: There are a lot of things that can cause confusion about local SEO—it can be a complicated topic! I would say some of the most common questions we hear are on the concept of which addresses are “allowed” on Google My Business. There can be a lot of confusion about whether it’s okay to utilize a virtual office, if a shared office can be effective, if you can use a made-up suite number to make yourself unique, etc. If you have questions like this, the absolute best thing you can do is talk to a trusted local SEO expert. There is, unfortunately, a lot of bad advice on the web. Old, spammy tactics can get passed off as legitimate, and Google guidelines can also be difficult to try to navigate on your own. Not only that, but there are certain missteps that can have long-term, if not permanent, repercussions for your presence online. Having an expert on your side can help protect you and guide you every step of the way.
Q: Is Local SEO a one-and-done process, or does it require ongoing effort?
A: Local SEO is absolutely not a one-time thing! For most businesses, there is the need for a big upfront effort to get everything cleaned up on the major places online and then an ongoing effort to make sure that it stays accurate. In addition, local SEO benefits form the same work that makes traditional SEO as a whole effective. Working to build reviews, taking advantage of platform features, attracting new backlinks, and more should always be at the forefront of your mind if you want to build, maintain, and grow your local presence.
To learn more about how you can improve your online presence and give you business a competitive advantage, contact Scorpion today!