Introduction to local SEO
If you are running a business and have not heard of SEO then your online marketing approach could certainly be boosted with a revised look at strategy. SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization, which refers to the extent to which a website manages to satisfy the demands of search engines like Google or Bing and therefore their likelihood of featuring high up in the search rankings. Local SEO meanwhile, focuses on optimizing a website’s likelihood of featuring highly in localsearch results.
Imagine, if you will, you run a very cosy coffee shop with a knack of serving the perfect almond croissants, hand baked by a French pâtissier! You might want to feature very highly in the following search terms are entered by hungry and caffeine-seeking customers:
- best coffee shop near me
- best almond croissants in the local area
- best coffee shop in [name of your town]
- most comfortable coffee shop near me
The first part of all of the above search terms is directly appropriate to your business and the second part is what makes it locally appropriate and is known as a ‘geo qualifier’. Therefore local SEO is all about ensuring that your business will feature high up in the rankings for search terms like the above examples. The results of the above searches are known as SIL (Service In Location). Local SEO involves the adoption of a highly strategic process that helps promote search engine prominence of local bricks and mortar businesses. Some of the strategies for improving local SEO are the provision of relevant, locally focussed content, on-page optimizations and the forging of successful link-building with a local bias, creating symbiotic relationships with other local businesses that all serve to bringing more footfall into your local area and targeted content that ensures that the right customers are finding your shop or premises.
The Google 3-pack
We all know about 6-packs, well the SEO version is the Google 3-pack. We all want to get there, but it involves a lot of hard work! The Google 3-pack refers to the top 3 businesses in a particular industry that appear in local search results along with the map. Local SEO is the best way of helping you get one of these highly coveted spots.
The evidence behind local SEO
It can seem quite daunting getting going with local SEO, but you will almost certainly benefit from the efforts and those who can optimize their site for SEO and local SEO are far more likely to outcompete fellow local businesses in their field. Google figures show that 80% of users search online when they are looking for local businesses and 50% of those searchers end up visiting a particular bricks and mortar premises within one day of carrying out the search. These figures are enhanced even more when it comes to mobile users! Forbes found that 95% of smartphone users have used their device to perform local searches, of which 61% called the premises directly and 59% visited a bricks and mortar premises that came from their search. The aim of a local SEO focus is to make that bricks and mortar premises yours.
How can you improve your local SEO
Top 10 quick tips for boosting your local SEO
- Ensure that your NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) feature prominently on each page
- Add your own town and county to the titles and h1 tags on your pages; for instance:
<title>CD Record and Hi-fi Shop – Witney, Oxon</title>
In addition each page’s title should be unique and incorporate targeted keywords.
- Your meta descriptions should be intriguing and concise and act as a promotion of yur site along with your geographical information.
- You should ensure that you have published a landing page for all of your physical locations and the location should be in the URL.
- Each of your unique products or services should have its own page. Using the example in point number 2, you would have a page for CD, a page for records and a page for HI-fi.
- You should embed a Google map with your own ‘Google My Business’ location marked.
- More important than ever is to add reviews of your products, services and business, plus relevant product reviews as well as testimonials.
- Forge a consistent strategy to supply great quality content on your blog with a local focus.
- Use semantic markup to highlight your location (schema.org/LocalBusiness) and reviews (schema.org/Review)
- Ensure that your site is fully optimized for mobile users.
In addition to these tips, which are very quick to implement, you should look to two longer term strategies to get your local SEO on point.
Earn reviews and links
You should encourage and even incentivize the publication of positive reviews on your site and respond to as many of these reviews as you can. Validating your customer’s comments and dealing with any negative remarks publically can boost your perception in the local community. In terms of earning industry-specific links, social media is great as is linking in other local businesses in your blog content.
Finally, it is important to build citations. Use a great tool like Moz Local to find your current citations and ensure they are correct (especially NAP wise). Build new citations with relevant businesses. Searching your competitors’ listings and using Google can be invaluable.