Get In With the Locals – How to Establish a Strong Local SEO
by Sarah Al-Daghreer, on August 28, 2019
If you’re the owner or operator of a locally owned dental office, you’re certainly aware of the importance of reaching your target market through various methods of online marketing and advertising. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to rotate the open sign and unlock the door anymore – your prospective clients need a certain level of awareness about where you are, what it is that you do, and how your product or service can benefit or enrich their lives.
So, how do you ensure your great products and services aren’t being missed or overlooked by the locals you’re trying to appeal to? How do you ensure they aren’t turning to big brands or competition out of sheer convenience, or simply not being able to locate or understand the perks and benefits of your business? How do you make sure your online marketing efforts are effective? A strong local search engine presence that works on keyword research and organic search is key.
Have Local Reviews
One of the best thing you can do for your local online presence is to have a significant amount of local reviews that are easily accessible for your prospects through a simple google search. There’s nothing like organic compliments that commend, speak highly of, and shed light on the specific services you provide.
Locals love to see the people they know sharing their opinions and experiences on a certain brand or business, and the reason for this is simple; people would much rather see friends, family, or colleagues giving their honest insights, than a business recommending their own efforts, or paid promoters recommending it through sponsored ads.
Local reviews are honest, and if your services were enough to inspire someone to go online to post a good review opposed to a bad one, that is an extremely good sign! Local reviews are hugely beneficial for search engine optimization, or SEO.
Have Online Ratings
In addition to text reviews, online ratings are huge for effectively increasing your local search engine optimization.
What do you typically type into your search engine when you’re wanting to try a new business or practice? Most presumably enter the phrase “best dental office in Edmonton”, or “best dental office near me” if you’re hoping to stay within the area.
Google will then deliver you a list of the top ranked dental offices in the city, or the top rated dental offices in proximity to you, typically ranked out of 1 to 5 stars.
If your business is generating high ratings, the search engine will automatically optimize you and bring you straight to the top of the list. This is a great way to increase traffic for your business, simply through a targeted search. Here are some stats that show the effective nature of a strong, local SEO!
- 92% of consumers now read online reviews
- 80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 40% of consumers form an opinion from reading just one to three reviews
- 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphones visited a store within a day – 34% of consumers that searched on a computer/tablet did the same.
- 86% of consumers rely on the internet to find a local business
Nearly half of all Google searches are local. Think about it; when was the last time you went to a job interview without first confirming the address with a Google search? When was the last time you tried a new restaurant without searching their menu to make sure it aligned with what you were craving, the last time you went to a party, event, or function you’ve never attended to ensure you were going to the right place?
It’s no surprise that this number is so high – by not having a strong online presence, it’s easy for your dental office to slip between the cracks, leaving the competition an opportunity to attract business that could’ve been yours, simply due to having already implemented a strong local SEO presence.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Google has a mobile first index, meaning that the mobile version of your site will be considered the primary version of your site when it's crawled by the search engine.
This is great, because about 89% of people search for a local business on their smartphone at least once a week.
Google made this switch from desktop optimization to mobile in early 2017, and for good reason; as of last year, over 55% of all traffic was coming from mobile devices, with the expectation of continued growth in the coming years - this number was based off of 77 billion website visits.
How can you optimize your website for mobile?
Make Sure Your Content is Readable
You know how there are some websites you visit that make it almost impossible to use on your phone? You have to zoom in to read the content, subsequently cutting off large portions of the text, making it difficult to navigate to exactly what you were looking for.
Google will knock off points if your text is difficult to read - based on negative user experiences related to this that I'm sure you've also had, this makes sense. Don't make the mistake of frustrating your user to the point of abandoning your site for another, maybe even your competition's - have large, legible text that conveys the right information to the visitor.
Make It Quick
In addition to it being readable, you want to make sure the website loads fast enough for your prospect to be able to read it.
If your website is slow to load, there's a good chance your potential clients will leave the page for something more user friendly - this could lead them to the page of a competitor that has already optimized their website for mobile.
Have a Responsive Design
A responsive design properly communicates all the content you'd find on desktop, without leaving anything out as it pertains to the mobile experience - changes are made to optimize the format mobile takes on when it's time to display your content.
Essentially, everything is displayed and arranged based on the size of the screen you're using, making for easy navigation, readability, and a user friendly experience. This is important if you want people to stay on your site, and love it!
Write Long Form Content
Search engines love long form content, and so do readers. Long form content is around 1400 words on average, but content with an even higher word count performs much better - some blogs can exceed 3-4,000 words, and rank incredibly well in the search engine.
If you're looking into creating long form content, you'll want to first ask yourself if what you're writing requires that many words. The point of writing content is to meet the needs of the reader, not just to rank well in the search engine with something that is unhelpful to your audience - if your content hits the mark in less than 1,000 words, then leave it be. Your audience will trust it more if you aren't trying to stretch it out for the sake of stretching it out.
If you're going to be providing your audience with long form content, make sure you're following through on the promise in your headline. If you want your readers to commit to reading the entirety of your post, you'll want to make sure your headline didn't mislead them in any way.
You'll want to include an attention grabbing introduction to encourage your visitors to read further - if they're going to buckle in for the next 10-12 minutes to read your blog, they'll need reassurance right from the start that it will be worth their time.
Be Active on Social Media
Being active on multiple social media channels will also contribute to increasing your visibility online, and help your digital marketing efforts.
By utilizing various popular platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook, you will have the ability to reach a wide audience, and deliver the content you want them to be aware of directly to their smart phones, tablets, and computers.
This has the potential to open many doors for you and the needs of your business – through different social media channels, you have the ability to specifically target whatever demographic would benefit from the use of your products or services, or would have the potential to be interested in them.
If you’re seeking the attention of a younger audience, you may want to be particularly active on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, two more media-based channels that have struck a certain level of popularity with a younger audience.
Many Instagram users follow brands, giving you the opportunity to create unique images and videos that will get their attention, and increase your chances of being followed. This can typically lead to easy conversions.
If you’re targeting an older demographic, Facebook may be the way to go; Facebook has a diverse user base with ages ranging from young teenagers to the elderly. This makes the social networking tool a great platform for getting your message and business information out, and giving it the ability to be shared with different demographics you may have not considered yet, along with those you want to see it.
When it comes to using social media, don’t just have the accounts and let them sit dormant for days and weeks at a time. Your pages will be showing up in search engine results, and the last thing you want is for them to be full of inactivity, or have posts that are few and far between. The key is to post consistently, and to have quality content to post on a frequent basis!
Some ways to do this are to request users comment on your posts and hold contests that users can participate in, giving them the opportunity to share, like, and respond to your content.
You can also post photo and video content from day to day events in the office – staff meetings and lunches, happy patients with their big, repaired smiles, children receiving their prizes for getting through their x-rays and procedures. This promotes an image of positivity and warmth in your dental office that all potential clients can easily view in real time!
These are just a few ways to have your business noticed through search engine optimization, and how to get it to show up in ranking factors with the use of targeted keywords used by your prospects. Get creative, and find out what works for you and your business needs!