Local SEO: Why it’s important and how to do it betterSimple to follow instructions for boosting your local search presence
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What is local SEO?
As with traditional search engine optimisation, local SEO is the process of optimising your presence online, to make your business as visible as possible for searches with local intent.
Why is local SEO important?
Local search is fast becoming one of the most important aspects of online marketing, especially for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), who have the opportunity to compete with bigger brands on a level playing field. Stats vary, but between a third and half of all searches on Google are said to be ‘local’. Combine this with an increasing proportion of generic searches (e.g. ‘pizza’) receiving local results and it’s clear to see the huge opportunity local SEO offers SMEs.
How do I get started with local SEO?
If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to claim your Google My Business page. Simply follow this link and Google’s instructions will help you either set up a new listing or claim an existing one. You may need to verify your location, but thankfully this process has become much simpler and efficient. You will have to wait for a postcard to arrive at your business address, which usually take around four days to be delivered. In the meantime, start setting up your profile.
How can I improve my local rankings?
The algorithm behind how Google displays its local results is complex and there’s a plethora of tactics you can employ to help improve your local visibility.
Moz’s local search ranking factors do a great job of aggregating the opinions of experts, to help you better understand how Google accesses and ranks its local results. You can see an overview of these results below and read this report for greater detail.
Complete your Google My Business page
Set your businesses category, making sure you choose only the most relevant of Google’s pre-defined categories. Ensure you’ve set your website address, opening hours and local phone number.
Once you’ve set-up your category and NAP, update your description, add as many photos as you can, including profile and cover photo. You can now also include external, internal and team photos to make your listing page stand out even further.
What are local business citations?
Citations refer to your company’s appearance in key local directories. It’s vitally important to check your business is listed accurately in relevant local directories, as this is a crucial factor in maintaining and enhancing your local search visibility. Firstly, check that you are listed and if so, check the accuracy of ‘name’, ‘address’ and ‘phone number’ (NAP) fields. This can be time consuming and not that much fun to do, but it’s so important. There are even paid tools that can do it for you, which is especially useful if you have a number of business locations.
How do I get local business citations?
Moz again has a great summary of the local search eco system (see below) to submit to/check accuracy of listings in. Submit to Thomson, for example, and your business will be syndicated across a number of smaller online directories.
As a bonus point, a citation in a local directory has a two-fold benefit. Aside from the algorithmic benefit, you will enjoy the ‘barnacle effect’; the process of gaining greater ownership of search result pages by piggybacking on the strength of a high-ranking local directories, such as Yell.com.
Add your address to every page
Make sure both users and search engines can easily find your location on your own website. Add your name, address and phone number (NAP) in the footer of your website, marking up using schema.org/LocalBusiness, and the level of trust in your business, from both users and search engines, will receive a boost.
How to get more Google local reviews
Getting more reviews will help your search ranking, as well as make your business look better to potential customers. For Google to give you a star rating along with your listing, you’ll need to earn at least five reviews. This should be fairly straight forward, but to have more reviews than you competitors might take a little more effort.
Aside from simply offering a great product or service, some ways to increase your bank of reviews are as follows:
- Ask – hand out or send out postcards linking to your Google My Business page
- Incentives – give customers a reason to rate you, such as entry into a prize draw
- Email – email your happy customers, this should get a better response rate than a flyer or postcard
Get mentions and links in local content
A longer term tactic (which we won’t cover in detail here) is to attain local coverage for your business. Being mentioned in locally specific content is proven to have a big impact on your local visibility.
Finally, regularly check your listing page
When it comes to local listings, Google likes to keep you on your toes, regularly changing the goal posts and requirements for your My Business page. So login regularly to make sure your listing is still live.
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