We all want value for money, but that’s especially important when you’re a local business on a smaller budget. Dan Fries emphasizes the importance of optimizing your client’s web presence through core local SEO best practices. Read on as he outlines the five most critical and cost-effective marketing moves.

With marketing budgets tightening, businesses are hard-pressed to stretch funds. Local SEO is an often misunderstood and underused component of digital marketing. It offers a high rate of return relative to the effort expended when it works right.

According to Google, half of all individuals who conduct a search for a local business will visit that business within 24 hours. 78% of local mobile searches result in an in-store purchase. What’s more, about 56% of local searches are “on-the-go,” via smartphones.

How can your clients tap into numbers like that? With targeted, intelligent local search engine optimization that’s rooted in current best practices.

As an SEO professional, you realize the importance of planning and deploying an effective local marketing campaign. Your goal is to help clients understand the impact that a cohesive, positive online business presence can have on their bottom line. You also need to stay in the loop regarding the latest best practices for local SEO, so that you can keep your clients ahead of the curve. Search engine metrics and evaluation tools can help.

Local SEO is an essential part of digital marketing for brick and mortar businesses that depend on local patronage. Doing it right not only spreads awareness of what a company has to offer, it also improves their rankings in SERPs. With Google algorithms constantly in flux, developing new metrics that keep a website in good position is an eternal struggle.

Local SEO Best Practices for 2019

Google’s algorithms evaluate approximately 200+ features to determine where a page ranks in their search listings. The company updates their algorithms up to 600 times a year.

Many are minor tweaks, but some are major changes. Adhering to current best practices for local SEO gives you a better chance of being in full compliance and elevating your clients’ ranking in search results, even when Google makes a major shift in how they assess websites.

In 2019, SEO professionals should be aware of:

  • On-page SEO, or elements that make web pages more search engine friendly
  • Off-page SEO, which is your inbound links and citations that appear elsewhere on the internet
  • Local search, which means having your business name, address, and contact info everywhere your business is mentioned on the web
  • Boosting positive social media engagement
  • Boosting favorable reviews
  • Making all elements mobile-friendly

The steps you and your client take today will help bring their website in line with current best practices and Google’s most important evaluating criteria.

Five High ROI Investments You Can Take Today to Boost Local SEO

Whether your clients are only now becoming aware of the impact of local SEO, or they just don’t know where to begin, there are simple steps they can take today to implement this essential plank in their marketing platforms. Many of the tools are available through free Google business services.

However, in the fast-paced world of digital marketing, there’s little time for trial and error. Learning how to use local optimization tools (developed by professionals whose only business is improving web presence and reach) will ensure that you do it right the first time.

1. Optimize Their Google My Business Profile

Yes, you’ve heard it before – “Start with a GMB listing!”

This is Local SEO 101, so it bears repeating. Most browsers, especially on mobile devices, use location-based criteria when sending results to consumers who perform a business search.

Setting up a Google My Business profile is one of the first, and easiest, things you can do for your client to make sure their business ranks in local search. From these listings, customers can learn about their services, get a map of their location, find out hours of operation, and get contact information.

Products like BrightLocal’s Google My Business Audit and Local Search Audit, help you to evaluate current local digital presence and make recommendations for improvements based on solid, measurable metrics, and fact-based reporting.

It’s one thing to set up your GMB listing, but another entirely to make sure it’s done right, in a way that helps, rather than hinders your client’s local rankings.

2. Practice Proactive Reputation Management

Reputation is everything. Just as operating and marketing budgets are tighter, so is the amount of money consumers have to spend. They want to know that the companies they do business with are trustworthy, that they care about them and their patronage, and that their products or services will deliver as promised.

That’s where online reputation management plays a part. Your client can offer the best widget on the market, but one negative review or online smear campaign can sink them in the public’s esteem. Online reputation management tools can put you in the driver’s seat by allowing you to control how prospective customers view your client’s business.

With insightful analysis and the right approach, online reputation management can help:

  • Generate more positive reviews and neutralize any negative mentions
  • Monitor online reviews in real time, including notifications every time someone posts a new comment
  • Manage bad reviews and deal with them head-on

This allows your client to engage more directly with the customer base. Such capabilities and responsive actions go a long way toward establishing trust and loyalty.

3. Demonstrate Authority Through Strategic Link Building

How do businesses move ahead of the pack in search listings? By establishing authority in their given field. Adding a blog to their website that includes articles and helpful information is one way, another is link building.

Search engines, both provided by platforms like Google and within websites, crawl the internet searching for relevant keywords, phrases, and other information. For local SEO purposes, they’ll look for mentions of the business, street names, and metadata related to a business, industry, or location.

They also search for links.

That includes social media shares, internal links to specific webpages, and links on other websites that redirect readers to your client’s website. Building links organically helps establish an authoritative web presence and public awareness of a business.

4. Invest in Security

The number of cyberattacks is increasing each year, with some form of hack happening every 39 seconds. Of these, 43% (nearly half) target small businesses.

Trust is a huge factor when consumers decide who should get their business. They need to know that when they enter their personal and financial information on a form or shop on a website, their data is safe from hackers, trackers, and identity thieves. One way that your clients can keep this information secure is by choosing a secure server on which to host their local business.

What makes a web host “secure”? First and foremost, your client’s host should regularly update their CMS (eg, WordPress). They should also provide a free SSL. Second, the best web hosting companies should offer some form of CDN (content delivery network). Secure CDN services like Cloudflare provide an extra layer of security by protecting Internet properties from malicious activity like DDoS attacks, malicious bots, and other nefarious intrusions.

Local business owners often don’t think a CDN is necessary. After all, their content won’t be served to millions across the globe, so they don’t stand to gain much in terms of page speed. But as we’ve said, a CDN seriously beefs up your web security, and can save thousands in the form of avoided damages due to would-be hacks or data breaches.

5. Build Online Business Citations

People tend to head online and look for business reviews when choosing a new service provider.

For example, if local residents are looking for a new dentist in their area, they’ll look at Yelp! and other consumer review platforms to learn about the experience of other patients before making an appointment. Online citations also come from mentions on peer-to-peer and industry-related blogs.

Services like BrightLocal’s Citation Builder help build an online presence organically. It also removes redundant or inaccurate information and promotes profiles on GMB and Bing local listings for business.

Closing Thoughts

For anyone with a brick and mortar business, there’s not a single good reason not to optimize web presence with local SEO. In fact, there are more reasons than ever to use it to increase local reach online.

It’s easier and less expensive than most other types of marketing, and the ROI gain makes it one of the best investments of time and money to be found.