Not all businesses need to worry about local SEO, but if most of your sales come from a local audience, it’s something you have to consider. Google uses a lot of different algorithms to determine whether a site’s content is relevant, and this applies to local searches too. So when you’re searching for a local restaurant, for instance, Google has to work out which ones apply, and then present you with the results. All in a fraction of a second.
Essentially, if your business operates on a regional rather than a national or international level, you need to optimise your local SEO. This can result in more website traffic, as well as higher conversion rates. You’ll also be able to compete against much larger brands, for a fraction of the cost, at least on a local level. So how do you go about improving your local SEO?
When you type a word or phrase into Google, you’re given near instant results, which are the most relevant to your search query. What you may not realise is that Google doesn’t check the entirety of the internet in this time. In order to present you with the best results, as quickly as possible, Google actually uses a stored copy of all the sites they’ve discovered, which is called the Google Index.
So how does this Index work? First, every website is crawled, and then stored in the Index. ‘Spiders’ will then constantly check for revised versions of sites, as well as any new ones that get added, and update the Index. So when you enter a search query into Google, the most up-to-date version of the Index will be searched, and you’ll be shown the most relevant results. This will be based on things like the popularity of the website (usually determined by site visits and backlinks), the authority of the site, and whether the content uses the specific keywords entered into the search bar.
All of this means that to improve your Google rankings, you need to focus on Search Engine Optimisation strategies, like keyword research and link building. And when it comes to local search, you need to employ a range of other techniques to climb the rankings.
Local SEO works slightly differently to normal Search Engine Optimisation – local search has a proximity factor. This means that even if you don’t enter the phrase ‘near me’ or include the name of a city, the search will be local. Google is very good at knowing when a search query is local – Googling ‘pizza delivery’ would bring up local results, while ‘sofa delivery’ will probably show you national options.
Local search used to just apply to Google searches made on a desktop, but have since expanded to include mobile searches. So there’s a good chance that your business needs to create a local SEO strategy, and ensure you connect with your target audience.
If you focus on local SEO as well as more traditional SEO strategies, your business has the potential to appear within both types of search results. We’ve explored Search Engine Optimisation techniques previously, but what about local SEO?
If you’re interested in ranking for local search terms, we’ve listed the top five things you can start doing immediately! You’re sure to see an increase in local traffic in no time.
The first thing any business looking to boost their local SEO rankings should do is create a Google My Business account. Once you’ve created an account, all the information you’ve added to your dashboard will be uploaded to your Google Business Profile. This appears in local search results, Google Maps, and the Google Search Knowledge Panel.
When you create your account, make sure you verify ownership of your business, include things like your logo and opening hours, and try and encourage your customers to leave reviews online.
Getting regular reviews (as long as they’re not negative!) is always a good thing. But it’s particularly important for local search, as it’s usually all a customer has to go on. With a bigger brand, people will often be able to ask their friends and family whether they’d recommend the product, but smaller companies don’t have this type of exposure.
According to Qualtrics, 93% of consumers will read at least one online review before purchasing a product. So when you make a sale, try and encourage the customer to leave a review. And don’t forget to respond to any reviews that you do get, positive or negative!
People need to know where you’re based, as well as the products and services you offer. So if you’re a Bournemouth based digital marketing agency, make sure you include that information on your website! Try and mention local landmarks in your copy too – so with our example, that could be the beach, the shimmering sea, or perhaps the Bournemouth Eye.
It’s also a good idea to create some content around local events or news stories. And if you have different pages on your site for every location you work in, you may even be able to rank for each specific location.
There are a number of business directories online, which tend to be local, regional, or national. Try to get your company on as many relevant directories as possible, as this will not only help with local searches, it will also help your overall SEO efforts. Backlinks from these directories will help your site gain more authority, and should therefore rank higher.
Does your ‘About Us’ page include your address, or have you embedded the Google Maps listing on the page? You also need to ensure that you include things like your opening hours, the name, address, and phone number of your business, and hopefully some glowing testimonials from customers.
Overall, it’s essential that you include as many references to your location as possible on your website, so that people searching for local businesses will be able to find you on Google.