Are you a small business in the North Bay? Do you want to see your website appear in Google search results when someone looks up your business?
Or, better yet, do you want to show up with specific local keywords like "best pinot noir tasting room in Russian River Valley" or "lunch in Santa Rosa”?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then local search engine optimization (SEO) is something you should be working on. If you aren’t already…
There is a difference between local SEO and national SEO also. If you are a brick-and-mortar store, you may be more concerned with driving people to your physical location, while other businesses may be looking to reach a larger national or global audience. Both of these goals require specific strategies and tactics.
Even though search engines have improved over the years, there is still no replacement for having a solid local search strategy, including a Google Business presence. It's a useful way to connect directly with target customers who are searching for local places to visit.
Reach more customers with local SEO
Investing in local SEO is important because it allows you to reach potential customers at exactly the moment they are searching for what you have to offer. It's an efficient and cost-effective way to reach your desired market and grow your business.
In fact, according to a study by Zogby Analytics, nearly half of consumers (45%) are likely to visit a company's physical location after finding a solid online presence on a local search page.
The same study also found that most consumers (61%) say that one-quarter of their internet searches are from a mobile device. This means that potential customers use their phones to look for information relevant to their location.
And those customers tend to head out within the hour of Googling.
There are a few things you can do to improve your local search marketing:
1. Make sure that your website is optimized for local keywords.
By optimizing your website, customer review websites, and social media accounts for local keywords that make sense for your business, you can show up in search results when someone is searching on a geographic level.
Finding the right keywords is essential here. If you aren't open for breakfast, you wouldn't want to optimize your platforms for the keywords "breakfast in Santa Rosa."Instead use keywords that potential customers would include when searching for what you offer, such as "flowers" or "jewelry."
2. Create a verified listing on customer review directories like Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Google Business.
These platforms are usually at the top of local business Google searches. You can ignore them because you hate how much they call to harass you about sales (I get it! Bah), or you can verify your location and make sure you have the exact keywords you are using for your website in the description of your business.
Include your address and phone number so people can visit you in person. Add photos of your business with clear captions that explain what your company does. Make sure you have complete and accurate information on these pages.
Add a picture of your storefront; include the street address or directions; update when hours change so they are relevant.
3. Take advantage of the SEO boost from regularly posting to Google My Business (now called Google Business).
Keeping up to date with your Google Business profile (recently changed from Google My Business) is a vital tactic that many North Bay businesses arent using.
When potential customers search for you online, a business’s Google profile can usually be found on the right-hand side of the search results. And if that information is up-to-date and attractive (aka gorgeous pictures of some of your best-selling products) people will take notice.
”All businesses, especially those with a physical location, should regularly post to Google My Business about what they're doing and offering, share images of products, periodic updates and events, keep hours up to date, etc.
“While it's another platform to update, it's a free tool that businesses can see results quickly. Plus, Google sends you emails about how many people have viewed and clicked on your posts so that you can see the ROI on your efforts,” says Martha Cromar, co-founder of Suited Hospitality (suitedhospitality.com). “I have clients who have seen significant spikes in web traffic from posting regularly to Google My Business.”
Include a link in your post-purchase emails. This is beneficial because it can improve your ranking in local search results and also give potential customers a better idea of what your business is like.
Furthermore, snippets from real customer reviews are now appearing on some Google Maps. By taking this easy step, you are able to increase the chances that people will find and choose your business.
5. Look at what comes up when you Google the keywords for which you want to be ranked.
For North Bay businesses in hospitality, sometimes one of the first links that appear will be an article.
Write to the author to see if they could update the article with your business. Writers can't always make edits, but if the article is older than a few years, they might be able to update it. If your business doesn’t come up, start including your keywords on your Google Business page, your website, etc., and think about creating a blog for your business website.
Next, include these phrases naturally throughout your content. Don't stuff them in! Finally, use other on-page SEO techniques like title tags, meta descriptions, and alt tags on images to improve your chances of ranking high in local searches.
Not only will creating SEO-optimized blog posts help more people find your site, but it will also show them that you're an expert in your field…which may encourage them to do business with you.
And just remember: consistency doesn't mean that you have to blog every day or even every week. Find a schedule that works for you, or outsource the job and create a routine that way.
Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at