If you’re a small Canadian business targeting local customers, there are a few tools that could help you increase search visibility. Local search optimization (SEO) is one of them.
Since the 2014 Google Pigeon update, local SEO has become a crucial search ranking factor. The search giant favors companies that are agile and able to give people what they want. And what most people want is finding a solution to their problems fast and as close to their location as possible.
Having a good local presence can boost your online marketing efforts and drive more traffic to your website. Unfortunately, most small Canadian businesses aren’t optimizing their sites for local searches, missing an extraordinary opportunity for growth.
If you want to drive more potential customers to your business, you need to make them aware that you’re around. Here’s how to boost SEO traffic from Canada.
- Buy a Local Domain
A local extension (.ca) or provincial extension (.qc.ca) will help the search engines recognize your business as being Canadian.
- Optimize on-page SEO Components
- Use Geo-Targeted Keywords
Make a list of keywords (both single words and long tail ones) that you think your customers will use to find the products or services you offer. Add your location to these keywords to indicate where your business is located. For example, you can use “vintage book shop Toronto” to make it easier for people interested in your products or services to find you performing a web search.
Make sure to add them naturally to relevant pages on your website, such as the company information, product page, blog posts, and so on. Keep the density below 3% to avoid getting penalized by Google.
- Optimize Your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
The search engine results page (SERP) give customers a glimpse at who you are and what you are doing. Use your main keywords, including your location and zip code, to get your page rank up high. Make your page titles and descriptions descriptive, but try keeping the title under 70 characters.
Place the contact information at the bottom of every page. Remember to keep it consistent since a simple Rd instead of Road will make it difficult for search engines to verify and legitimize your online identity.
- Add Your Location to Your Image Alt Tags
Most business owners focus on optimizing their content, forgetting that Google ranks images as well. Include location keywords in your image’s title, description, and tags. For example, instead of saving pictures as “photo_1.jpg”, name them “Wedding_Catering_Toronto_Ontario.jpeg.”
- Make Sure Your Website Is Fast and Mobile-Friendly
The Google Mobile-Friendly update has made it clear that the search engine giant favors responsive websites. With mobile searches surpassing desktop ones for the first time, websites that can’t provide seamless mobile experiences have no chance to make it to the top of search results.
According to Google, 70% of the Canadians who searched for a product on their phones immediately visited the relevant websites or stores.
If you want to remain relevant in this mobile-driven world, you need to be able to meet the immediate needs of your consumers. Make sure to give people what they want, exactly when they want it. Create web design for mobile that is user-friendly. Add mobile-friendly content that answers common questions and provides information that is easily available.
- Submit Your Site to Local Business Directories
Submit your site to local and provincial directories, such as Canada One Business Directory, canada411.ca, Yellow Pages, Yelp, etc., as well as Google My Business, Bing Local, Yahoo Local or FourSquare. Make sure to provide complete and consistent information about your business, since these citations are major local search ranking factors.
- Optimize Your Social Media
Your website isn’t the only place that needs to be optimized. Your Twitter and Facebook accounts can benefit from it too. Include keywords, your location and business hours in the “About” section. Using your business name in your posts will help search engines associate your company name with those keywords.
- Collaborate with Bloggers, Organizations and Local Events
Search for relevant local blogs and provide them with guest blogs making sure to include your website link in the author bio. Support local charities. Their events tend to be shared a lot and organizers will mention the sponsors. Having your website link on their page will give search engines something else to follow, bringing you local exposure.
Competition among small businesses is tough. Local SEO is one of the best tools you have that can help differentiate yourself from the competition. It won’t boost your ranking overnight, but in the long run, it will pay off.