Living in a small town like New Castle means there are some things that you get used to very fast. Things like knowing specific businesses are owned by a neighbor. Your landscaper is likely a cousin’s friend. Even your attorney might be the guy that you beat in fantasy football last year and you’re now buddies.
Look, it doesn’t happen ALL the time, but it does happen.
“Local has a lot of power.”
When you are marketing your business, local marketing has a super power.
Local SEO can take general search traffic from Google, and magnify it 2, 3 or even 10 times.
Word of mouth, networking… that all still works. But imagine having a method of 24/7/365 rapport building and sales. Imagine being able to focus your marketing to local people, people in your community, without spending a ton of extra money on advertising.
Local SEO and your website let you do just that.
What is Local SEO? How does it differ from standard SEO? And how does a New Castle business, or other local businesses, use Local SEO today to get maximum benefit tomorrow?
Differences between SEO and Local SEO
First, let’s define what SEO is (and isn’t).
SEO means search engine optimization. When someone says “SEO”, they are likely talking about traffic from Google. SEO is a general term for traffic from Google, Bing and other search engines. This information can be global and can be evergreen.
Local SEO, on the contrary, means regionally relevant. Local SEO means “near me”.
And, when you think about that, this is where the power of Local SEO really grows and is clear.
Let me explain…
SEO means I have to compete against EVERY brand near me in New Castle, in Lawrence County, as well as EVERYONE in Pennsylvania, the United States and even people overseas. Your competition for keywords and links on Google SERPS is huge; into the millions and millions and millions.
Local SEO centralizes the searchable radius to ‘local’. So, if you run a search for “marketing business near me”, you will see businesses in just your area.
Look, you can try it in real time…
Run a global search term like “what is a digital marketing business?”
Then, run a search for a more local trigger. “What is a digital marketing business near me?”
On the first search, you will see articles about digital marketing. You will see guides about starting a business in the online marketing industry. You might even see people defining digital marketing, talking about the various aspects of digital marketing and more.
In the second search, you will likely see a lot of local business listings. This business list plus a map is the Local 3-pack. This used to be the Local 10-pack. These are local businesses to you, meaning “near me”, or here.
What are Local SEO strategies for business?
To understand Local SEO, you should understand what Google is trying to do here.
Technically, Google is an advertising platform. They serve ads using marketing groups. One of which is the geolocation of the end-user. If Google serves ads for a service business to somewhere across the world on another continent, when you are living in New Castle or Neshannock or Ellwood City, it ends in wasted money, right? That ad just isn’t relevant, and a business will slowly pull their advertising dollars out of that platform.
Literally, you might or might not click. And, the advertiser loses <$1.00 if they are lucky, but could be $25.00, $50.00 or even $100.00 a more on a bad click.
Instead, Google knows your location. They can serve your ads locally, when specified.
Local SEO is geolocation and area targeting without the expense of digital paid ads.
Local SEO means close, near me, “here”. Traditional SEO means specific to the topic and global.
There are quite a few methods your business can use when gaining new customers and clients locally with respect to local SEO. The ones that we are going to cover here are specifically:
- Local citations
- Regional signals
- Business reviews
Let’s get started with local citations!
Mini Checklist For Building Local Citations
In this section, we are going to look at what you can do, starting today, to collect more local citations. This is NOT industry-specific. In fact, any local business can use this mini-guide to go from barely any local citations, to grabbing a ton.
Please remember, build these links slowly, over time. Your link trajectory is a ranking factor that will raise and lower you over time. If things are steady, great! If you wake up tomorrow and there are 1000 new links, there might be issues.
Record all information about the business into a spreadsheet
Record all of your business information in a spreadsheet. This should include your business name, your name, phone number, address, website URL, social media links, a long brand description, a short brand description, etc. There is no hard and true list of information about your brand. The key here is tracking it all so that it is ALL THE SAME across every local citation source and your website.
Collect media (images, logos, etc)
Many of these local citation sources allow you to upload brand images. You will need logos of various sizes, you might need a profile header, employee images and other media works.
Collect a list of general local citations (Google Business, Yelp, Yahoo! Local, etc)
There are many local citation sources online. The main one to start with is Google My Business. You simply go to Google and search for your business. Then on the map, claim the business. You’ll get a postcard in the mail with a code to verify your address. Simple.
Collect a list of industry citations
Every industry has their own sets of local citation sources. Lawyers have hundreds, into thousands of these sources. Home repair and blue collar industries have hundreds into thousands. Bakers, travel agents and realtors all have different industry-specific local citations.
Find them, collect them.
Collect a list of regional citations
Regional and area citations exist for local SEO. For the most part, these are either newspapers (or other news sources) and your local Chamber of Commerce.
Start with the highest authority citation sources and built 5 – 10 per week
Start going to these local citations websites and signing up for an account. Then, use your spreadsheet to fill in as much information as possible.
Remember, you need to enter the exact same information, as well as not over-submit. Too many submissions means too many links and it could look like temporary spam to Google.
The information should link back to the business website (and be the EXACT same)
So, some discussion recently came into the public light about Google Search. The rumor (and it was proven) was concerning Google using NAP information on a business’s website to verify and authorize information on local citations sources.
What does this mean?
It means that local citations are used to give value and authority to a business’s website. And, likewise, a business website has business information that gets used to authorize and validate a business’s information on other platforms.
How to make the most of your business’s regional signals
What is a regional signal?
Let’s do this in real-time with an example…
Open a browser and run a search for “digital marketing near me”. Now, open another tab and run a search for “digital marketing in New Castle PA”. Finally, run a search for “digital marketing in Los Angeles”.
Unless you are currently sitting or living in New Castle, all of these results should be different to some degree.
What are the signals we are talking about?
Regional signals are specific, county/region, state and country
So, I’m in New Castle. I should be talking about services and helping people find solutions. Then, I can extend this ‘circle’ to a larger and larger service area. This places me in a specific location, but helping customers in regionally linked and close areas. Here is a small list of regional indicators starting very specific, and slowly branching out:
- New Castle
- Lawrence County
- Western Pennsylvania
- Eastern United States
- United States
1, 2 and 3 are the keys here. But, to place myself I can use 4, 5 and 6 to keep my brand anchored.
List close regions and cities to the main city
For me, I might talk about solutions in not just New Castle, but also the following areas. I talk about helping customers or finding solutions in these places, because they help to show I actually am a business in New Castle.
- Ellwood City
- Hermitage / Sharon
Talking about solutions in my service area validates the region I work in and run my business in.
Plus it can open up other opportunities for more SEO content.
List large, known places within the region
In New Castle, there are staples that mean “New Castle PA”, right?
Here are just a few simple ones that I use in many ways across many, many different platforms:
- Fireworks Capital Of The World
- Hot Dog Capital Of The World
- Warner Brothers Theater
- Cascade Park
- Ewing Park
- Pearson Park
- Coney Island
- Mary’s Restaurant
- East Washington Street
- “The Diamond”
- “The Cathedral”
There are more of course, but you get the idea, right? There are companies, sites to see, monikers and more that mean the area that you are in.
Now, listing these and talking about these is not promoting them. Instead, I weave these into articles and discussions about the products or services offered. These are part of New Castle, so, technically, it makes sense that I talk about them!
Don’t neglect images as well
Regional signals also exist with images. I’m also not just talking about the geolocation metadata images store of your location where you took the pic. I mean parts of the pic itself.
Google is pretty good at reading and understanding an image. Sometimes you can slap an image into Google Image Search and it will tell you EXACTLY what that image is (we do it with flowers, weeds and cars all the time). This works with parts of a region as well.
To extend this, name your images in a better, more SEO-friendly way. Don’t just use “IMG003895.png”; rename it to “local-marketing-convo-new-castle-pa-001.png”.
The simple guide to business reviews – asking, getting, maintaining
One of the best ways to grow your organic local SEO value over time is with reviews. These not only allow possible customers to get an idea if you are a good fit for them, but also gives Google and other platforms a positive or negative view of your brand.
Now, don’t get this twisted…
We need REAL reviews, not just total reviews.
What do I mean?
Well, people buy reviews for their business sometimes. You can buy 10, 20 or 100s of reviews for your business using various services.
Google tracks and looks for IP addresses. How are you leaving reviews for some business in Western Pennsylvania while you are living in the Philippines?
Plus, Google also likes using reviewers that leave a lot of local reviews to a particular area.
The “DO”s and “DON’T”s of business reviews
First thing is first…
Never, ever ask for a 5-star review!
This is literally against all of the review platforms.
What can you do?
Well, just simply asking for a review is acceptable. Even talking about the positives of your experience with the customer, and then asking for the review is acceptable.
Next thing to discuss, (and this is happening a lot): Never incentivize for 5-star reviews.
Asking for a 5-star review while giving something as an incentive is strictly forbidden on most review platforms. So, just don’t do it.
Finally, you should try to either promote or have a constant link to your review platforms. For me, I have a permalink to my Google Reviews popup at https://blews.media/google-review/. I ask for reviews, but never 5-star. For my clients, we ask for reviews, but in the posts we show images of 5-star reviews to give that subconscious thought of 5-star.
And, once again, we never openly incentivize for reviews.
What did we discover about local SEO, your local business and how digital marketing works for you?
A lot, I hope!
We discovered that the best thing for local business is to use Local SEO. You now have the tools to start building local citations without spending millions on a professional service. You also understand the power of regional signals in your website and the content that you make.
Local SEO can be extremely powerful for local businesses. It is a focused, simple and clear set of strategies that any business in any industry can use to really gain new customers.
If you now see the real power of Local SEO, and are looking for some professional help with your local business growth, give me a call at (724)510-7201 to start a free consultation.