Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are seeking information on local businesses? When you consider this, local search engine optimization (SEO) is no longer optional. And given that the majoriy of New Hampshire businesses predominantly serve their local populations, it has become imperative. Use these five tips to implement a local SEO strategy that will drive customers to your business:

1. Use Google My Business and Online Directories to Your Advantage.
Google My Business is a free, online tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence with Google. Manage your directory listing, including hours and multiple locations (if applicable); read and respond to customer reviews; and show off your business—post content relevant to your brand that will appear when customers visit your page. To get started, sign up, verify your business and begin optimizing. It’s that simple.

When it comes to online directories, consistency is vital. Ensure your listings are complete and consistent across the web. If you list your address and phone number in one place, make sure both are listed everywhere else. Avoid obvious mistakes such as typos. But beyond this, verify use of abbreviations, area codes in phone numbers and suite numbers in addresses. What you do to one listing, do to them all. Because if a search engine isn’t able to determine which information is accurate, it may not list your business at all.

2. Boost Your Domain Authority Through Link Building.
Every inbound link to your website presents an advantage to your local SEO. Link building is the process of acquiring inbound links to your own website from other quality sites. These links indicate your relevance and legitimacy to a search engine and therefore can help increase your domain authority score. So where do you start?

Partner with local influencers who write blogs. Either write a guest blog of your own focused around your industry, or have them write one for you. Co-host an event and market it on your own website and the other hosts’. Use your own network to your advantage: Do you belong to a local board, or work with vendors? Get links back to your website from them. Write an article in a local news publication. Any credible backlinks you can get back to your website will help boost your domain authority.

3. Don’t Skip the Basics.
Every single page you add to your website, whether it’s a news article, a blog post, a community update or something else, is indexed, making it the perfect opportunity to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs). So how do you gain that coveted “position one”?

Optimize each new piece of content you create with a custom URL, title tag, page header and meta description. Research terms that people use to seek local business information. And don’t forget to optimize your content itself—include things like location-based keywords and customer testimonials to gain traction.

4. Become a Thought Leader.
Use your expertise to position your brand as the local authority in your industry. Promote local news, employee updates and events. If you’re hosting an event, send out a press release and post it to your website. If you hired a new employee, promote that on your news page as well as social media. If you’re a hotel and your local government just implemented new safety standards, write a blog.

Posting content about your activities can also offer opportunities to position yourself as a local authority. If you’re a brewery, have a calendar of events where you will be pouring your beer. Add a map to your website with locations where your beer is sold in stores. This type of content helps you show up as a community leader in organic searches when people are looking for local events and happenings.

5. Optimize for Mobile.
It should come as no surprise that 84% of all “near me” searches come from mobile devices. So how do you make sure your brand tops the list? Optimize for the mobile user experience. Make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for.

When optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions, keep in mind that on mobile, you’re working with less screen space. Keep it concise while making sure you convey the most important information about your company and its locality.

Then, add tags known as a Schema markup to your HTML to improve how your page is presented by a search engine. The Schema markup allows you to add elements such as a star rating or a list of upcoming events in your area. Adding these rich snippets allows a search engine to better understand your content, and therefore offers the potential for it to rank higher, which often results in a higher click-through rate. And for customers searching on mobile with very limited viewing space, it makes your result stand out against the clutter.

The fact is, consumers are heading straight to the Internet to find information on local businesses. Given that 75% of Internet users do not make it past the first page of search results, it is imperative to optimize your local business to get (and remain) there.