SEO is a multi-faceted system that has specific rules and procedures for any marketer or business person (or, really, anyone with a website) who wants to improve visibility of their site online. For local businesses, the process is particularly important. Any website can be optimized to attract traffic, but local SEO allows you to attract the right traffic – local people looking specifically for the goods and services you offer.

While some of the more common methods – like keywords – may seem a bit obvious, there are plenty of ways to optimize your site and site content to attract local searchers. Let’s have a look at a few right now. How many of these are you already implementing and which ones have you not thought of before now?

#1 – Titles and Meta Descriptions

It is vital for good SEO that you take advantage of customized page meta titles and descriptions. Web authoring platforms like WordPress allow you full control over these features, but they also assign default values if you choose not to customize them.

Your page title is the text that appears at the top of the window. The meta description is what shows up on the search page to tell the reader what that page is about. Keyword-rich titles and descriptions that identify your business and its location are easy and powerful ways to boost local SEO.

#2 – Online Directories & Citations

Roughly 80 percent of consumers use popular search platforms when looking for local businesses. This places you at an advantage over most of your competition if you tap into this valuable resource. Most of your competitors will never claim even one local online listing. Their missed opportunity can translate into far superior rankings for you.

Your business must be listed correctly on large-scale business directories (Yelp, Citysearch, Tripadvisor, etc.), but you also need mentions on local directories as well. Local newspapers and your city’s Chamber of Commerce usually have online business directories where you can add your details. Be certain that your business name, address, and phone number are always up to date in online listings.

#3 – Claim Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing

It is vital to claim your GMB page if you want to improve your rankings in a local search. It is a free service that will give your brand significant exposure. You can claim your Google My Business page by simply navigating to google.com/business and beginning the verification and listing process.

Well-optimized GMB listings have well-written descriptions, appropriate categories, hours of operation, accepted payment methods, etc. Be sure to also upload any branded visuals like your logo or photos of your location. A minimum of three photos is recommended. More is better.

#4 – Stay in Touch Via Email

If you haven’t already started building and using an email list, now is the time to start. Email is one of the best ways there is to build trust in your brand and drive more traffic to your website. Every time you post a new blog, run a special or promotion, or have news to share about your business, you should be emailing your entire list about it.

You can automate the process by working with a dedicated email marketing agency. Professionals in this area can help you further optimize your efforts by analyzing the types of messaging, timing, and more that get the most opens from your subscribers.

#5 – Online Reviews

As a final note, always respond to online reviews with professionalism. Even negative reviews can work in your favor if you maintain a high level of professionalism when responding. Yes, it is a good idea to respond, but defending your position is not always the best solution. Reviews make their way into local searches, too, and how you handle them can make all the difference between whether they enhance or taint your online image.

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