Local search marketingUnderstanding how local SEO works is crucial for small businesses that rely on local customers. Not only do you need to know the best practices, but also avoid making mistakes.

Missing keywords

Online businesses typically get their contact page right, but forget to include keywords for local search on other pages. The About Us page and the Homepage should be geared towards local search, but so should your product pages. However, when doing this, avoid doorway pages as they will be penalised.

Low quality content

Search engines consider the quality of content is low if there is not a lot of content on a page. They class it as “thin.” Readers on the other hand are more demanding and want content that is informative and offers value. So give them what they need.

Page title tags

Don’t forget to include local search terms in the metadata of your content pages. Content Management Systems have a dedicated space in which you can enter title tags that crawlers then use to help them identify what the content on any one page is about.

Niche directories

You would actually be surprised how many referrals still come through online directories such as Yelp.com, so don’t ignore them. They are invaluable for customers ready to find you, and typically the customer is ready to buy.

Be socially active

Running an online business means you have to be active on social media networks. Simply connecting with users and acquiring a following does not inspire people to buy your products – you have to engage them in your content and get them excited about your products.

Don’t use social media as a sales platform

Although paid advertising has made social media networks a virtual billboard, users do not want to be plied with content promoting products and services. There is no harm in writing content that relates to your products and services, but do not use content to push a pitch.

Likewise, use social networks to identify what customers want and to answer their questions, or offer advice. Social media is an online window to your physical store, so treat your connects as though they have just walked into your physical store. They want help and advice, not a sales pitch.

Look for social reviews

If there is an industry magazine or online forum that can help promote your business take full advantage. Companies in the hospitality industry for example have sites like Foursqaure and Trip Advisor, invaluable platforms to acquire feedback from customers.

If there is a local magazine that has a business section and you have a newsworthy announcement to make, approach them with the news and ask if they would be interested in an interview. Local exposure attracts local customers.

There is much more you can do to raise your online profile in your local area than simply updating your contact page and sticking a digital pin in Google maps. Optimise your online business for local exposure and more customers will find you.