Owning a local business brings a whole new spin to the work you put into your SEO (search engine optimization). You may have some great keywords on your website, but if you are marketing mostly to your local community, you might find that you’re not getting the results you really want. A click originating from four states away is exciting, but it won’t help you if you only sell within a specific area around your business’s physical location.
That’s where local SEO comes in. Local SEO puts you on the map for people in your area who may be searching for your products or services. So how do you use local SEO, and more importantly, where can you start?
What is Local SEO?
This can include ensuring that certain information is available on your website and placing your business information on more localized online searching tools such as YellowPages, Google, etc.
Some parts of local SEO work better with brick-and-mortar business locations that have an actual street address. However, this doesn’t mean that your business has to have a street address for local SEO to work. Simply using location information in your normal SEO work should be enough to improve your local SEO.
How Does Local SEO Work?
If you’ve ever searched for a particular product or service in your area, you yourself have probably performed a local search. For instance, “used tires for sale near me” or “grocery stores in Knoxville” are great examples of commonly phrased local searches.
Even in the absence of an obvious local search, most search engines are built to place precedence with local organic search results over national ones. For example, if you do a Google search for “web design services”, you’ll see local businesses offering that service in the Google Maps box above the organic search results.
This can also work for areas around your physical location as well. Businesses in Knoxville can attract business from Oak Ridge by writing content about Oak Ridge and naming the city enough times to draw attention from search engine crawlers.
How Can I Improve My Local SEO?
The best way to start is to put the physical location of your business on your website. You’ll also want to place your business’s information on its own Google Business page. This will ensure that, at the very least, you’re more likely to be found with a search within your local area.
In addition to those measures, you can place your business’s physical address and information on other websites such as YellowPages, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The more areas that your business is listed, the more that crawlers will associate you with the local area.
On your website and in any posts you make, noting location information such as the city name can also help build up your credibility in the local area. This is the same tactic you’ll want to do in order to drive business from surrounding locations as well.
Regardless of your type of business, local SEO is an important part to having your products or services discovered by local audiences. Not only will it build you up locally, but it can also have an impact on your regular SEO by driving traffic responding to new keywords that you may not have already utilized.
Reviews versus Recommendation
Did you know that word of mouth is still considered the most influential form of advertising? The only difference is that in 2018, word of mouth is typed out and posted on a review page instead of spoken to friends and family. While Google and Yelp serve as review pages, Facebook is one of the most public platforms to review a business.
While one of the most popular rating systems has always been the typical 5-star review scale, Facebook is once again shaking things up. Instead of a rating, they simply ask:
Do you recommend this business?
Besides offering a more direct question that invites a response, it also plays on psychology. Reviews are great, but just the word sounds almost high-minded and aloof. A recommendation, though? Those come from friends, family, and people we can trust.
So let’s take a look at what this change means, and how much it can affect your business.
Stars vs. Recommendations
Although this is not typically discussed, there is a vast difference in how stars can affect your overall business rating when compared to a more, “Yes or No” system such as recommendations.
Using the star rating system, a Facebook page’s rating was determined by the average of all ratings given by customers. The problem with that lies in how averages are determined. For example, having a 1-star rating, a 5-star rating, and three 3-star ratings would average out to an overall 3-star rating on your Facebook business page. That overall rating is most likely not a fair grade for your business, especially because anyone who rates you at 3 stars would probably still recommend you to friends and family.
Recommendations will separate out differently, giving a much more rounded view of how much you actually are recommended. Those customers above will instead separate into 4 yes answers and 1 no answer, offering a clearer response to how well your business is received in the community.
Public Endorsements Become Page Recommendation
Speaking of the community, it’s becoming common to see requests for recommendations in public and private groups for different cities, states, hobbies, etc. With Facebook’s new system, if you are recommended by someone and your page is linked in their comment, that recommendation will actually show on your business page!
Why is this such a big deal? Here’s another scenario:
Tim goes to visit your craft store to see if he can find some glue. He finds the glue with your help and advice, and while he’s checking, he notices that you all have a huge fabric department. He goes home a happy customer - not happy enough to leave a review, but pleased with his visit.
Later that evening, Tim is on Facebook and he sees someone in a local craft group asking about fabric stores. He comments on the post, saying that your store had a huge selection of fabric and that it seemed like the owners knew their stuff. That recommendation now shows up on your Facebook business page!
Basically, even when they don’t mean to, a customer can endorse you!
Easier to Use
The new recommendations system doesn’t just collect reviews and endorsements, it draws on Facebook’s database to benefit both the business and the reviewer.
Facebook offers a collection of tags gathered from similar places and previous recommendations to assist reviewers in their own recommendation. Restaurants may be known for being Child-Friendly, or a bakery may be known for their Gluten Free Cookies.
Just like bullet points are easier to read than paragraphs, this gives an overall feel to your recommendations that helps hammer in the best things about your business.
In addition to tags, the new system also enables reviewers to attach photographs to their recommendations when entered on their mobile phones. This is an all-new feature that wasn’t available with Facebook reviews and makes a bigger impact to help your business shine.
Start Getting Facebook Recommendations Today
So how do you get recommendations? If you’re already collecting reviews on Facebook, you don’t have to do anything. If you’re not, all you have to do is turn reviews on for your business.
To turn on Facebook reviews, go to Settings at the top of your page and click "Edit Page". Then, scroll down and click on "Add a Tab". You'll see an entry for Reviews, so click "Add Tab".
Once you exit the pop-up, click on settings next to your Reviews tab and switch "Show Reviews" to on mode. Save your changes, and there you go! You can even move your Reviews between different areas of your page, depending on where you want it to be seen.