National — or even global — SEO was once the revolutionary way to gain visibility on the internet. Now, it has become incredibly expensive and brutally competitive. As a result, small businesses are turning to local SEO to increase their exposure to potential customers online.
So, what factors into an awesome local SEO strategy?
Truth is, there are many components that come into play. A great place to start is by signing up with Google My Business to create your free business listing on Google. Fill out your profile with as much information as you can to create a robust and enticing listing, including relevant keywords in your business description where appropriate. Customer reviews also play a big role in local search results, as does a well-optimized website with fresh and informative content.
Essentially, every company with a local target market can gain from local SEO; however, there are some business types for which local search can truly work wonders. Let’s take a look at six of the big ones.
1. Medical services
Businesses that provide medical services, such as doctor’s offices, dental practices and urgent care clinics, are perfect for local SEO.
Other than building a phenomenal website, there are many things these specialists can do to boost their rankings. First, they can publish high-value, informative content on their platforms. Google loves fresh, relevant material. Due to the highly specialized nature of these trades, providing insight through things like blog posts or how-to manuals is a great way to add value to the customer’s life while improving search rankings.
Here’s what happens when you search for dental practices in New York City:
Let’s look at the website for the second result, New York Dental Office.
In addition to the relevant keywords, take a look at the navigation bar. You’ll see it’s packed with useful content valuable to the casual visitor looking for a good provider. One of the most compelling pages is the “Smile Gallery,” which showcases before-and-after pictures of what their specialists do. They also have stellar blog and FAQ sections. These content-focused elements undoubtedly factor into their high search rankings in the local area.
In addition to providing top-notch content to the online community, professionals can also improve their SEO efforts by verifying and leveraging their name, address and contact information on local business directories, including general directories (like Yelp) and directories specific to the health vertical (like ZocDoc).
2. Law offices
Generally speaking, when people are in need of legal counsel, they are looking for an expert nearby. Therefore, appearing in the local searches is crucial for law firms.
There are a number of things a law practice can do to boost their local rankings. Creating a Google My Business page should be the first order of business. Next, their website needs to be properly constructed around relevant keywords. For instance, let’s say someone is looking for a divorce lawyer in the Los Angeles area.
Charles M. Green APLC’s website came up in the top three options in the search. In addition to a well-designed, intuitive interface, you’ll see the home page is optimized for relevant keywords in the area.
Another key factor for in the local searches is online reviews. Due to the unfortunate stigma surrounding lawyers, third-party validation is very important for potential clients. Therefore, law firms need to make a serious effort to generate client reviews on popular platforms like Google and Yelp. This can be a difference-maker that boosts local search visibility while building brand reputation.
3. Bars and restaurants
This is a big one. The hospitality business sees the most turnover of any industry. For instance, over 1 million restaurant locations opened in the United States alone within the last year. The main goal for any restaurant is to become a staple in the community. In order to achieve this status, it needs lots of returning customers.
Enter local SEO. Bars and restaurants typically operate on a local level and serve a geographically targeted market. When you type in “restaurant” into your mobile search, it is almost always followed by a suggested “near me.”
Customer reviews play a vital role in a bar or restaurant’s local SEO. As you probably noticed in the screen shot, the reviews are displayed quite prominently in the listings. In a recent BrightLocal survey, 60 percent of respondents said they had read online reviews for restaurants, the highest of any business category.
While a good content strategy is a major fuel for effective SEO in other industries, reviews take center stage in this line of work. They can make or break the local search rankings for a bar or restaurant.
When a pipe in your home bursts and you need immediate help, where is the first place you look?
In these cases, it’s not so much who helps you, but when someone can get to you and resolve your issues. Therefore, local SEO is a prime resource for plumbers or anyone who helps customers with quick problem-solving.
Plumbers are in a great position to increase their visibility through local SEO. First of all, their businesses live and die by local markets. Second, there is basically an unlimited supply of educational content about solutions to everyday problems that can be published on their websites to boost rankings.
Bill Howe is a Google-famous San Diego area plumber. With the help of valuable content such as this, his business shows up on the first page for a bunch of relevant local keywords.
Reviews can also help with local rankings. As plumbing services are in high demand, customers are looking for a trusted skill set that will produce reliable results. Unfortunately, it can be somewhat of a challenge to get clientele to generate online reviews in this industry. Therefore, going the extra mile to encourage feedback can do a lot to put plumbers ahead of competitors in local rankings.
Specialists in these fields can see quick results if they put the time and determination into a local SEO strategy.
5. Pet services
Pet services are highly specialized and almost exclusively in demand at a local level. Typically sought-out keywords in this area are for things like grooming, pet sitting, walking, training, supplies and veterinarians.
Additionally, the potential for valuable content is practically limitless, and reviews are incredibly important. Say you want to find a grooming service for Bruno:
Here is the first website that shows up in the local pack:
You’ll see they have the most reviews in the area and provide content on trending matters.
In general, owners want the very best for their pets. Services must do everything they can to produce Grade A content while encouraging reviews in order to succeed in the local search rankings.
6. Real estate
Local SEO and real estate services go hand-in-hand. However, due to the emergence of platforms like Zillow and Trulia, the smaller local real estate agents need a hyper-local strategy to gain the proper search exposure.
The bigger platforms do broad keyword searches extremely well. For instance, if an agent tries to rank for terms like “homes for sale,” they are unfortunately going to be out of luck.
The key to success for real estate agents lies in creating pages targeting specific local markets, which can appear for long-tail keyword searches around home buying. In these pages, the goal is to get as granular as possible. This means doing things like breaking it down to the names of the smallest neighborhoods in the area.
The real value, of course, lies in the content. This is where skilled agents can really dive in and go above and beyond to provide value for the user.
This realtor located in southern California provides extremely detailed and informative listings for neighborhoods in the area. If you read the content, you’ll see he went in depth with things like history of the area, landmarks, community events and the local school system. The copy also utilizes relevant keywords such as “luxury real estate” and “exclusive communities,” which can help this page rank for long-tail search queries.
Localized content like this is perfect for showcasing a level of expertise and defining a niche. This is simply an area where the bigger platforms cannot compete and the smaller agents can thrive.
I’ve been in digital marketing for a long time. There are a lot of other industries besides the ones mentioned here that stand to benefit from local SEO. In today’s digital landscape, going local can be the cheaper and more effective option.
Just remember, SEO is a marathon. It might take weeks (or even months) to see the results you want. You can always be proactive in your efforts by producing great content and providing service that will result in a positive review.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.