A Simple Guide To Local SEO

Local SEO is the process of improving search engine visibility for local businesses. Want to rank your local business in Google, Apple Maps, and other local search engines? Then follow these local SEO best practices to do just that!

Local search is an integral part of any SEO strategy and is the first step to targeting customers in a specific county, city, or neighbourhood. Whether you’re a local business owner or eCommerce marketer, one of the most actionable ways to think of integrating local SEO is as a form of customer service. It helps to direct nearby online searchers to find, like, connect with, and choose your local business.

Proximity, prominence, and relevance are the three pillars of local search. The related term “local search marketing” includes all online and offline efforts to promote business locations so that they become recognisable to the communities they serve. Local SEO employs a wide array of technical, strategic and creative efforts to convince search engines that a business should be prominent in its results as a relevant answer to online searchers in close proximity to each business location.

Organic SEO is how you improve webpage rankings, and how your website ranks in those organic search results can positively influence your Local Pack rankings, as well. Local search is powerful for small businesses and if your business isn’t optimised for local search, you could be missing out on potential customers who are ready to shop in your area.

Organic and local listings are another great opportunity for your local business to appear in front of motivated searchers when Google determines that the query has local intent. So although local and organic SEO are interconnected in a number of ways, each requires a unique strategy with different optimisation tactics.

76% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a business within 24 hours, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase. – Think with Google

 

Why Is Local Search Important?

When you visit a new town or city and you’re looking to do a spot of shopping, what do you do? Take out your phone, open Google, and search “clothing stores near me”. The top results usually aren’t the biggest designer stores in the world nor are they the best rated by the locals. They’re often locally-owned restaurants in your city that are close to where you are right now. That’s the power of local SEO.

Not only does localising your SEO and marketing efforts help with your visibility, but it also keeps you in Google’s good books. The guidelines for representing your business on Google is a must-have document for every local business marketer. At the start of your online journey, the most critical guidelines for you to understand are the ones describing eligibility for inclusion in Google My Business. Every location must meet this requirement:

“In order to qualify for a Business Profile on Google, a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.”

Put simply, if a location of a business doesn’t serve customers face-to-face during its open hours, it’s not eligible for a GMB listing and will not be able to conduct a full local search marketing campaign. In an attempt to best meet the needs of its searchers, Google started providing more results for geographically-related searches based on (you guessed it) Proximity, Relevance and Prominence.

That means if your business is close to where someone is conducting their search, offers services or products they may be searching for, and has optimised local business listings, then you’re more likely to be found by potential customers online regardless of how “big” your business is.

Local SEO Tips

With 90% of consumers searching for local businesses online, local SEO is an essential marketing tool for businesses looking to attract potential customers. By focusing on specific local-SEO to-dos, you can close the gap between you and bigger brands that routinely optimise for broader keywords and rely on brand recognition. Whether you have a physical location or an online business that serves a specific location, you need a strategy for targeting localised searches and users in your area. This is how you rank higher in Google search, outshine your competitors, and attract even more customers.

#1 Create a Google My Business Account

One of the first steps to take if you want to rank in local searches is to set up a Google My Business (GMB) listing and is one of the most effective ways to rank higher on Google Maps as well as gain visibility in Google Search local results.

Google My Business is essentially the modern-day equivalent of being listed in the yellow pages. While setting up a GMB listing is not all that hard to do. However, you do need to ensure that you fill out your profile in full. Google supplies you with a visual that indicates how complete your profile is. Make sure you get this metric to 100% by filling in all the fields.

 

#2 Optimise Your Site With Local Keywords

Keyword research is essential to any SEO and Content plan. Once you have a list of local keywords you want to rank for, the next step is to optimise your site with them. Site optimisation is the cornerstone of any SEO strategy and ensuring that your keywords are relevant to local customers just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Google’s own Keyword Planner lets you filter keyword searches based on location so you get an idea of the popular search terms for a given region. This lets you create a list of locally relevant keywords to target. Once you have them, they should make appearances in your site’s meta content, copy, and URLs.

First off, you want to make sure that your homepage and any service pages contain the local keywords you want to rank for in the:

  • Headings
  • Title tags
  • Meta description
  • Body
  • Footer

When incorporating keywords, make sure that you use them naturally and do not keyword stuff. In content optimisation, quality over quantity rules.

 

Local SEO and local keyword optimisation

 

#3 Optimise Your Site for Mobile

Making your website mobile-friendly is essential for good general SEO as well as Local. However, it’s specifically important for local SEO. According to a 2018 Stone Temple study that looked at 2017’s mobile vs. desktop trends found that mobile visits to websites grew from 57% in 2016 to 63% in 2017, and the overall visits to websites from desktop shrunk from 43% in 2016 to just 37% in 2017.

If your site does not display well on mobile, or there are navigation issues, this won’t look good to potential customers. They will likely move off your site and go with a competitor whose online presence looks more professional. This confirms that you have to optimise your website for mobile to be a player in local SEO.

Local SEO Experts

SEO changes quite rapidly. You never know when Google will introduce new features on its SERPs for local searches, but you can count on these changes coming. Our SEO specialists at Brave Agency bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, having lived through all of the many environmental changes that the SEO industry has seen. We will work with you to optimise your site, improve your keyword ranking and boost your overall local SEO performance. Contact us today for more information.

Written byJamie Flett

Google Partner
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