manage your reputation onlineWhen you run a small brick-and-mortar business, strong local SEO may be your most important resource for turning browsers into customers.

In many cases, potential customers may decide to do business with you based on your reputation. Specifically, they want to know what your previous customers have said about you. Therefore, effective local SEO also requires you to manage your reputation online.

Local SEO is a set of strategies for optimizing your brand’s web presence so that customers can easily find your business through Google or another search engine.

Related: 3 Tips for an Endless Stream of Local SEO Content

Imagine that you own a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky. A group of friends is out shopping and want to find a place to eat lunch. They get on their smart phones and search for “lunch restaurants in Lexington.” You want your restaurant to pop up as high on the list as possible on the search engine results page SERP for that keyword phrase.

In this way, local search—and especially mobile—has streamlined the customer acquisition process. When users search for a local product or service, it typically means they’re ready to buy soon. It’s an incredible opportunity for local business owners.

Strong local SEO essentially means understanding your customers’ needs, and then tailoring your digital presence to meet those needs from top to bottom. Your website should bring transparency to the buying process, meet your customers in their time of need and provide a clear picture of your reputation and value—especially through positive reviews and testimonials.

And, most importantly, you should make it as easy as possible for your new customer to take the next step: making a purchase.

Developing your local SEO plan

Below are some basic steps to ensure your approach to local online marketing is actively engaging your potential customers and helping you manage your reputation online:

  • Take stock of where you are: Do you know what people are saying about you? What does your average review on Yelp or Google My Business look like? Do you know what potential customers see when they search for a business like yours?
  • Monitor your reputation across multiple channels: Set review sites to notify you when new ratings or reviews get posted. This will give you a better idea of what people are saying about your business online.  
  • Use social media: Your presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media networks affects your search rankings and helps you manage your online reputation. Facebook has begun to focus on connecting locals with businesses that can meet their needs, and it’s common for these pages to be quite active when a business is thriving.
  • Respond to mentions of your business: Thoughtfully respond to any criticism and own your mistakes when you make them. When reviews are positive, thank customers for their feedback and let them know you appreciate their kind words.
  • Optimize your web presence: When it comes to your web and blog content, incorporate keywords your customers are likely to use when searching for your products and services. Optimize your site for mobile and make sure it remains fresh.
  • Publish quality content: One of the best ways you can manage your reputation online is through consistent, informative content. Maintain a blog and publish articles to it regularly. This will help boost your search rankings and show potential customers that you’re a leader in your industry.

Through local SEO, you can manage your company’s digital reputation and ensure more customers find your business when searching for the products and services you offer. If you need help with any aspect of your content strategy, work with a team of professional copywriters.