There’s no doubt that small businesses across the country struggled to survive the pandemic. According to Yelp data, almost 100,000 U.S. businesses that were forced to temporarily close in 2020 ended up shutting their doors for good. That equates to nearly 60% of American organizations that were unable to reopen due to this once-in-a-lifetime health crisis.
But now, the businesses that have come out the other side of COVID-19 are able to look beyond the present and into the future. And that means thinking beyond mere survival.
Whether you’re a restaurant owner, you run a brick-and-mortar retail shop, or you provide in-demand services to others in your community, these local SEO tips will help you market your business more effectively and allow you to thrive in 2021.
Make BFFs With GMB
Google My Business (GMB) is a free platform that allows small business owners to share a wealth of information with their customers. You can list your hours of operation, location, contact information, photos, product and service listings, recent updates, and more.
So why should you use GMB if all of that information is already available on your website? Because GMB provides you with even more opportunities to appear prominently in search results. When you claim, optimize, and regularly update your GMB listing, you’ll often be granted more “prime real estate” in search engine results pages (SERPs). Your business might even show up in the map pack, which can encourage an influx of web traffic, phone calls, and sales.
GMB costs nothing and is easy to use, making it an essential part of your local marketing strategy. In conjunction with other online listing directories, it can heighten your brand visibility and help you reach customers looking for solutions in your area.
Create Local Landing Pages
Although simple website design can be a good way to go, that doesn’t always mean your site should have as few pages as possible. For many local businesses, it makes sense to create separate landing pages for each of your individual locations or each of the areas you serve.
This can provide you with more opportunities to optimize for your different target audiences. If your business has three separate locations within the same state or you can provide your services to customers in a handful of nearby towns or cities, creating separate landing pages for those areas could help you appear more readily in search results.
Instead of trying to optimize your content for several different areas on one single page, you can create more specific content that will appeal to different segments of your audience. And since Google will index all those pages individually, that can allow your site to rank on a variety of search terms.
Get More Customer Reviews
In our digitally-driven world, online reviews are just as valuable as personal recommendations. If you don’t have enough reviews, prospective customers will have a harder time trusting your brand.
That’s why you’ll want to figure out how to generate online reviews for your business. In many cases, simply asking your customers to share their feedback will be enough to start the process. Remind them in person or via email that this is an easy (and totally free) way to support your small business. You can also share on social media or add links to these review platforms in your email blasts and on your website.
Once the reviews start rolling in, your work is just beginning. You’ll also need to manage the reviews you receive. Whether they’re positive or negative, make sure to respond to every one. Thank them for their feedback, make sure they feel heard, and resist the urge to get defensive. Seize the opportunity to show off your customer skills and the values of your organization. Even if you do receive some criticism, most people will care more about how you respond than what one customer initially said.
Optimize For Voice and Mobile
We’ve already talked about the importance of creating local landing pages (and using more specific search terms on those pages). But it’s also crucial that your website be optimized for mobile users.
Mobile traffic now accounts for around half of all web traffic – which means you can’t afford to ignore smartphone users. Customers who search for answers on their mobile devices are generally looking for quick solutions that are close by. What’s more, they’re often more ready to make a purchase than those who are perusing websites on desktops or laptops.
As such, your website’s design must be mobile-friendly. Your site should be responsive (meaning it provides a consistent experience across all devices), secure, and easy to navigate. Take care to remove any annoying pop-ups and any lags in page loading time.
You should also consider optimizing for voice search technology. Since mobile users are more likely to conduct web searches using voice search functionality, you’ll have a better chance of appearing in those voice-powered searches if you account for the way in which we interact with this technology. Make sure your content is written in a conversational way and add an FAQ page to address some of the most common queries that someone might speak into their smartphone.
By making sure that your site appeals to mobile users, you’ll make both prospective customers and search engines happy. Google indexes the mobile version of websites first, so this can potentially improve your ranking while providing a better user experience for just about everyone.
After the difficult year that small business owners have had, you may be looking for ways to grow your organization. By implementing these local SEO strategies, you can reach your goals and the customers in your community.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.