Tips for Winning the Local SEO Game in 2021
Imagine: your local Myrtle Beach business and its optimized website rises to the top of the Google rankings. It engages users; it converts them to customers. Your phone rings off the hook, and your business grows, freeing you and your team up to do what you do best.
But the reality for most local businesses along the Grand Strand is much different. Their websites draw little traffic, and no matter what they do, that doesn’t seem to change. The page languishes near the bottom of the search results, overlooked by potential customers.
It might feel impossible to hack Google’s elusive algorithms. If you feel like nothing you try is working to attract potential customers to your site, chances are you’re not making the most of SEO. As a result, search engines aren’t picking up your content and offering it to users—no matter how your company might excel in its field.
It’s true that maximizing SEO is a complex undertaking. Google is constantly trying to create a better experience for its users. It’s evolving daily with that goal in mind.
So how does a local business win the SEO game?
To start off, ask yourself if you’re doing the following to ensure your site ranks and shows up where your customers will see it:
Is Your Local SEO Game Strong?
Are you appearing in location-based searches so the people in your area—those most likely to become customers—can find your site? While it varies from business to business, most of your customers will be local. For some fields, like those businesses performing physical services—think lawn care, roofing, hair salons, dog grooming, even medicine and legal services—locals are likely your ONLY customer base. To snag them, optimize your site to appear high in Google “near me” searches.
Start with these steps.
Your Google My Business account. Do you have one linked with your business? Is the information accurate? Does it include relevant material like your hours of operation, services, accepted payments?
Are you featuring reviews from satisfied customers? It’s no surprise that people trust reviews from their friends and neighbors. But reviews also bolster your Google My Business presence. Are you encouraging reviews by either asking for them in person or sending a post-service email or text to customers, asking them to share their experience with your company? A quick warning here—you might want to use a survey tool prior to approaching customers to ensure you’re not soliciting bad reviews. And finally, are you—or someone on your staff—taking time to respond to reviewers in a courteous and professional manner?
All of these steps will improve your Google rankings and foster trust from the local market.
But there’s still much more you can do.
It might seem obvious, but the content on your site is a big part of your SEO strategy. Google analyzes features like word count and yes, keywords still matter. Keyword relevance has changed, though, as Google continues to perfect its user experience. Simply packing your pages full of keywords will not keep it ranking for long; you need content that can be found by search engines AND is user-friendly. After all, keeping users on the site longer improves rank. It’s also how they convert to customers.
At the end of the day, you need to create content that is relevant, visible to search engines, easy and natural for potential customers to read and understand, and keeps site visitors engaged. If your site is failing to draw visitors, it’s worth analyzing your page content and possibly rewriting it specifically for SEO optimization.
Keep in mind that content means more than written text. More on that later.
This is another feature relevant to both Google and your customers. If the search engine cannot crawl easily through your content, moving from one internal link to the next (if it encounters broken links, for example), your rank will suffer. What’s more, customers become frustrated when they cannot find the information they need, and with so many options available at their fingertips, they just won’t tolerate a bad experience for long. An optimized site structure with a logical hierarchy of categories and subcategories makes it easier for bots to crawl through your content… and for potential customers to trust in your professionalism.
Related to both content and site construction is readability. Don’t underestimate the impact your fonts and color choices can have on the user experience. You must also consider that writing for an online audience is an art and science unto itself, much different from the style of writing you learned in English class. Sentence structure, voice, paragraph length, and word choice all impact visitor engagement.
Video and Voice
Remember, content isn’t just written text. In fact, long sections of text can bore users. Including video content on your site offers several advantages. The most obvious is that it’s engaging—done right, video content is memorable and enjoyable for visitors. Next, you can convey information very quickly. Further, it’s useful in boosting backlinks and click-throughs. Lastly, video is a way to show some personality and really make your neighbors in the Myrtle Beach area feel they know and can trust you.
Keep in mind that your customers aren’t typing everything down either. It’s estimated that 30 to 50 percent of queries come form voice search. Since that number is only going to increase, you need a site designed to respond quickly and accurately to voice searches.
Like the trend toward voice searches, mobile use is on the rise. As many as 85 percent of users are searching for your business from a mobile device, so ensuring your site is optimized for them means you won’t lose their business.
Your link portfolio is a major factor in your ranking. As bots crawl the web, they move from one link to the next, so the more places linking to your site, the better. These can include review sites, articles, directories, and other businesses in the Myrtle Beach area. The quality of the sites linking to you also matters. Links to and from reliable, relevant sites show Google your business is an authority in its field. Are you making the effort to cultivate high quality links, backlinks, and citations?
Putting It All Together
The most successful local business sites combine SEO knowledge with a slick, engaging user experience. Exploiting SEO strategies helps users find your page; an organized, smooth-running, fast, and visually appealing site keeps them there long enough to become engaged and become customers.
While this article is far from exhaustive and represents only the tip of the iceberg in terms of working with Google algorithms to guide users to your site, taking the steps outlined above will still increase your local web presence and improve the experience visitors have when they explore your content. If they like what they see, they’re far more likely to pick up the phone.