I can still remember the feeling I used to get when a new photography inquiry form would come in, and I would read “I found you online”. At the time I knew some things I was doing for SEO would result in new leads, but when it finally did, it felt magical. That was how I fell in love with SEO. The idea that perfect strangers could find me online and book me was, and is, exhilarating. Also, it is free, after all! I had to put in the work, but I started reaping what I was sowing.
A lot has changed in the last 8 years, and this month I am focusing completely on Local SEO tips.
So here are 5 ways to get your local business found online.
Two years ago, the online world starting buzzing with a rumor that blogging was dead. A lot has been introduced to the online digital arena like vlogging, social media and microblogging. However blogging itself is not dead, my friend, as Google is still here. I know many small businesses feel that blogging is not for them, or that they have no time for blogging. But honestly, those same entrepreneurs also say they don’t have time for social media, but if you look at the amount of funny cat, dog or baby videos they watch online a month, I am sure that time would amount to a blog post or two.
Blogging is not easy, I get it. It can feel daunting at times, but it can also bring many benefits as your posts can rank better in Google results which in turn brings website traffic. Blogging is also your home base, creating an extension of the voice of your brand. This is where you can showcase your journey and your work, and potential clients can experience who you are as a brand. Business owners fail at blogging when they blog with a sales mentality. Your blog is not to just sell all the time. It needs to be resourceful, and the best blogs online are super helpful to the readers. So, don’t just blog your work. Think about what your ideal client needs help with and blog tips for them.
Some blogging tips:
- Don’t ignore Image SEO – Fill out the Alt Text of every image.
- Batch process your blogging tasks.
- Plan a content library of ideas so you always have a topic to blog about.
- Get your clients to write for you. Ask them follow-up questions about their experience and tips for future clients (i.e. tips on planning a wedding, planning a senior photo shoot, or becoming a new mom).
- Feature Local Places/Venues/Events or People.
#2. Online Directories are not an option
If you are a local business (regardless of whether you have a brick and mortar store), you need to take advantage of online directories and listings. Google looks for mentions of your business to validate you. They search for your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) across the interwebs wherever they find you. Your first step is to make sure you are set up with Google My Business. If you work from home, you choose the option that you service your clients where they are. This allows for you to pick a mile radius instead of showing your home address. Once you are set up and confirmed with Google, it is essential you consistently obtain reviews for your business.
Tip. Google has now launched Google Posts which ends up showing in the knowledge panel in Google results. These posts expire within a week and I share more tips in my Local SEO E-Book.
Next, you want to check the top online directories for your industry. For this, I like to use Moz Local. I use their Citation by Category guide to check where I should be listed for my industry. You can use their Free search tool to see where you already have a listing. I find their results are not 100% accurate but still strong enough to get started. You can check where you have duplicate listings, incomplete listings and find new places to list your business. You can also use a service like White Spark that can clean up your citations for you.
#3 Set up your website for Google Rankings – On Page SEO
Creative businesses have one big area they need to improve asap: website structure. I have seen countless fempreneurs simply lump up all their services on one page, which is terrible for SEO. Instead of targeting a specific keyword for that page, too many keyword ideas are stuffed in there, which reduces your ability to target effectively. You can create a general page listing your services (for example photography), but each kind of photography also needs its own page.
This way Google isn’t confused about the focus of your page, and as a bonus, you can be found by more keywords. Secondly, you need to make sure each page on your website is optimized for search.
Here are some On Page SEO tips.
- Each page should have one unique keyword idea.
- Interlink among your pages (in other words, link to other pages within your website).
- Have at least 500 words of text on each page, even photo gallery pages.
- Use H2 headings with LSI keywords (read my post on updating past blog posts for SEO Love.
- Get backlinks to specific money pages instead of just linking to your overall domain name.
- Use images to break up text.
- Use image SEO – fill out the alt text for every photo on a page. Check out my Image SEO email course.
- Make sure your website/page is mobile friendly.
- Use calls to action to entice visitors to visit other pages on your website
- Fill out the Page Title (When using Yoast on WordPress, don’t let Yoast choose it for you).
- Fill out the Page Description for each page and add related keywords.
- Have clean and organized permalinks, and don’t create long and confusing URLs as pages.
- Post long content. Articles with more words tend to rank higher. Content needs to be natural and needs to make sense.
- Use outbound links.
- Boost site speed and make sure the page isn’t loading too slowly.
- Make sure your page is easy to share.
#4 Link up locally
I recently did a Facebook live in my private group where I shared the power of linking up locally. This is the one thing I wish I did differently 8 years ago. I was very good at harnessing online relationships but I should have taken it to the next level with backlinking. All local SEO links matter.
Linking up with local businesses will not only allow you to build in-person community but it will also allow you to make Google notice you. When links from the same geo-location start validating each other it becomes powerful. Don’t ignore the small blogger or a blog that may not have a strong Domain Authority because after all, everyone has to start from somewhere. Of course, do the due diligence and check the spam scores of anyone you decide to link to.
- Sponsor a local MeetUp Group ( get a link)
- Sponsor school events ( links from EDU websites are the best)
- Create an event and have others link to you
- Do a guest post swap. You can team up with a buddy and exchange guest posts and links
- Send PR Pitches to local news stations and media outlets
We are always trying to prove to Google that our website is about what we say it is about. This is why Google loves social mentions and backlinks. When others validate that your website and content is trustworthy, you move up. If you are needing some Local SEO love then partnering up with a local business is a great choice. Google will recognize proximity and like that you have linked up to each other. So go make some local business buddies and see how you can guest post for each other and link up. You will be exposed to a new audience and rank up some brownie points with Google.
#5. Pinterest SEO
Pinterest has left me a little sad in the past. First, they removed the maps feature, which was great for local businesses, and then they re-introduced hashtags after stating that they frowned upon hashtags. But, they make up for it by how much SEO juice power they have. Recently, a client found one of my students on Google because of a pin. Insert Happy Brazilian Dance!
The pin showed up as an image card, which is pretty cool. The new client drove from an hour away to get the hair service she wanted. The client stated that business was the first one that came up, she loved her work, and my student saw the power of a pin — it translates to business in the real world. I love that pins and boards rank in Google results. So optimize your pins, and oh, use hashtags because Pinterest loves them now. Some Pinterest tips:
- Add a description and a call to action.
- Pin all of your blog posts—even if it’s just one image.
- Make a Pinterest-worthy graphic.
- Add descriptions to all of your current boards.
- Repin your blog post pins to more than one board.
- Participate in Tailwind Tribes if you can (a great source for gaining traffic on Pinterest). Grab my Tailwind affiliate link and save.
Bonus Tip: Be sure to use geo-location hashtags on social media, especially on Instagram posts and Stories.
Local SEO fascinates me. There are many moving parts and options to get found online locally. Which of these tactics have you tried or will you try in 2018? Grab my 2018 Local SEO Guide!