For any businesses that wants their website to be found easily by customers that are ready to buy, in their local area, Local SEO strategies are essential in 2019.
Marketing in a geographically defined local area to customers can be a very effective strategy in comparision to other marketing strategies. Over half of all consumers conducting a local search on their computer or smartphone visit a store within a day of their search and 18% of local searches lead to sales.
Without question, local search is growing. Mobile searches alone for “where to buy” have increased by over 85% since 2015, and this will only increase as the number of mobile phone users grows.
Despite the undeniable possibilities that optimising for local search offers, many businesses have still not quite come to terms with what they should be doing to tap into and harness this valuable traffic source.The fact is, over 50% of local retailers haven’t claimed their Google My Business Listing, and only 30% of small businesses have mobile-friendly websites. Click To Tweet
The takeaway here is that if you want to get ahead of your competitors and make the most of local web searches, the time is now. By making local SEO a key part of your overall marketing strategy you can attract valuable local customers, get more sales and have a greater local presence.
In this article, I am going to cover the main steps you need to take to ensure that your website is optimised for local SEO so you can dominate the local search listings and drive more traffic to your site.
What is Local SEO?
The first step for any business is to understand what we’re really talking about when we talk about “local SEO”.
SEO is short for search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. (https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/S/SEO.html)
Local SEO targets searches that have local intent in purchasing. This means that the searcher is looking for something located physically close to them in the local geographic location.
For example, someone typing in “Tweed Heads landscaper” will be looking for a landscaping and maintenance company in the Tweed Heads area. If you’re based in the Tweed Head area, offer this service, and optimise your website well for this keyword and location, you might expect to get some traffic to your website from those searching for this term.
Not all local intent searches will always include a specific place name. This is because Google is very clever at figuring out local intent and so it knows somebody searching on mobile for “wedding cake baker” is most likely looking for a wedding cake baker within a small radius of their current location and so will return listings for wedding cake baker’s in the local area.
So how do you optimise for these local intent searches and take advantage of the traffic they send to your business?
That’s where local SEO comes in. There are many different ways you can optimise your website to optimise and leverage the benefits of local traffic. These are listed below.
Positioning for Local SEO Success and Keyword Research
Before starting with any specific local SEO techniques, it’s critical that you cover all the basics you’ll need to achieve good SEO results.
Local searches, by their very nature target actual business locations. This means that you need to have an address for your physical location and the ability to have face-to-face contact with your customers.
Notably then, if you are a business that sells products or services online only then local SEO will in all likelihood not be a great success for you.In determining if local seo is right for your business, you need to consider the area you serve, the level of demand and know who your competition is. Click To Tweet
Some businesses will want to attract traffic from searches located anywhere in their city and the surrounding area, while others will focus on an even smaller area such as a particular suburb or region.
If you know that you would get a better level of demand for the products or services you’re offering in a wider area than your immediate vicinity, you may want to target a wider audience. This may include the entire city, rather than just the suburb you’re located in. This might mean targeting terms such as “wedding cake baker Gold Coast”, rather than “wedding cake baker Tweed Heads”.
Recently, Google started favouring local proximity, so depending on your target market and the keyword search volumes, it may not be worth the effort of marketing to searchers in your wider area. This may be particularly relevant if you’re competing with other businesses that may offer the same products or services at a closer distance. Every business situation is unique!
Once you have a clear idea of your target market, you should do some keyword research to figure out exactly what your local customers are searching for.
There are many different ways to approach keyword research. These approaches go far beyond the scope of this article. Essentially though, you want to come up with a list of search terms with local intent for which you would like your business to come up on the first page in a search by a potential customer.
For example if you’re a physiotherapist in Brisbane you might target terms like:
physiotherapists in Brisbane
physiotherapy services in Brisbane
physiotherapist in (suburb)
pilates classes in (suburb)
and so on…
Once you’ve come up with a master list of keywords, you can analyse each term to see how much traffic it gets (how many people search for that term each month) and what the competition is like. From a thorough analysis, you can then decide which keywords to target first.
Is Your N.A.P Consistent?
Some of the most vital aspects of achieving success with local SEO are very basic and simple. Things like making sure that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all your web properties is a must!
NAP citations are used in what are known as local directories. Google and other search engines use these citations as a ranking factor in determining your business’s authority in your local area.
Make sure that your NAP information should be displayed clearly on the homepage of your website, and ideally in the footer of all pages on your website.
When your NAP details match those in local directories, the search engines will intuitively know that both your site and the directory listing are referring to the same business and will reward your business in terms of showing up in local search results.
If there are inconsistencies, the search engines including Google have no way of knowing that the two listings refer to your business.
It’s therefore vital to make sure all your NAP information is kept up to date and consistent across your business presence on the web.
There are various SEO tools you can use, such as Ahrefs, to search for your business and make sure all your NAP citations are correct. Whilst they may have free trials, none are generally comprehensive enough without a paid subscription.
Making Your Landing Pages and Blog Posts Local SEO Friendly
A landing page is a page on your site that’s been built specifically for a targeted group of your online web visitors.
If you’re targeting multiple locations, such as a number of different cities, you can achieve better rankings in the search engines by creating a series of geo-targeted landing pages that are each optimised for certain location-based terms. For example terms, we may use are “Local SEO Brisbane”, “Local SEO Gold Coast”, “Local SEO Sydney” and so on.
However, you must take care to ensure that every page of content is completely unique and not just a copy of the same text with a different city inserted in the blanks.
In one of Google’s algorithm updates called Hummingbird, sites were penalised for duplicated content. Google algorithm updates continue to reward good unique quality content that serves the market and penalises low-quality content that exists for keyword relevance only.
When you’re creating your landing pages take the time to think about how best you can serve your customers and the type of information they’re searching for.
Your business blog should also be keyword-optimised. This should include optimised categories, tags and meta descriptions. Be sure to publish high-quality content on a regular basis is a great way to improve both your general and local SEO and make sure it is optimised on page. If you want to repurpose your content for SEO, read this article How to Dominate Your SEO by Repurposing Your Blog Content.
What is On-Page Optimisation and Meta Tags?
You need to make sure that your business website is correctly structured and optimised so that the search engine bots can read it well and do what is known as “indexing.” This must be done before considering links and citations for local SEO.
This means making sure that you are using relevant headings and include keywords. Ensure your URLs are simple, well-structured and include keywords and include your suburb, city, and state in the meta title and description tags.
Not only is all of the above helpful for you local SEO, tags provide a preview of your site for the user in the search listings. This means they’re more likely to click through if you’ve written a compelling description and it’s clear that your business has what they are searching for in the local area.
How Helpful Are Local Directory Listings and Citations?
Adding your site to business directories used to be an effective way of getting more links to your site for SEO purposes. The power of these links has been de-valued now in regards to general SEO, but they’re still an important ranking factor for local search.
Most SEO experts agree that having good quality and accurate citations (listings in local directories) is vital for local SEO. Google checks these listings to verify that the NAP data it has for your business is correct, and the more high-quality citations you have, the more authority your business appears to have in your industry and geographical area.
Entering your business into online directories can be tedious, but it’s worth making the effort to make sure you have a high-quality listing. Make sure you have a well-written description, a full list of products and services and include extra information such as opening hours, accepted payments, and photos wherever possible.
Being listed in more directories is not only great for SEO, it also helps more customers to find you, as some people may search these directories for businesses directly instead of via a search engine.
Optimising Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is a listing for your business that shows up in search results when people search for your business name or click through from a list of suggested businesses after conducting a local search. Your listing should also come up in Google Maps.
Your Google My Business listing includes useful information about your business such as your address, telephone number, opening hours, photos, special offers and reviews.
If you want to attract local searches, you must have a Google My Business profile and you should make sure this information is always kept up to date.
According to Moz, Google My Business signals are the most important local search ranking factor, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to optimise your listing and keep building it.
Having a Google My Business Listing also encourages customers to leave reviews, which further increases confidence in your brand and is helpful for SEO. If you would like our free SEO Guide click on the image below.
Google My Business Categories Listing Matched to Your Business Service Pages
When you create your Google My Business listing you can choose up to five categories to list your business in and you should choose as many as possible to optimise for SEO and bring more targeted traffic to your site.
Categories help users to find more accurate results for what they’re looking for, so you should choose the categories that most closely align with the services that your business offers.
For example, if you have a burger restaurant, you should make sure your business is listed in both the “fast food restaurant” and “hamburger restaurant” categories.
If you’re not sure which categories to choose, you can look at the listings of your competitors to see which categories they have included their business in and read https://support.google.com/business/answer/7249669?hl=en
Getting Reviews to Enhance Your Rankings
Positive customer reviews can have a huge impact on your business and are a big ranking signal for local SEO. Reviews also help to turn search traffic and views of your business listing into click-throughs to your site and conversions into sales.
93% of online shoppers say that their buying decisions are influenced by reviews and 84% say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. We have seen an increase of up to 17% in Google rankings due to online reviews.
For these reasons alone, you should be focused on acquiring as many positive reviews as possible.
Start by setting yourself clear targets for the number of reviews you’re aiming for each month and the star rating you want to achieve.
There are a lot of different sites where customers can leave reviews (Google business listings, Yelp, Bing and industry specific ones such as TripAdvisor etc.), you’ll probably want to concentrate your efforts on just a couple of places so that the effect isn’t too diluted.
The best way to get great reviews is to provide great service and products, and make it a part of your business process.
Simply ask customers to leave a review and facilitate the process for them. Many customers wouldn’t even think about writing a review on their own, but they’ll be happy to do so if asked.
What is Local Business Structured Data Markup?
Structured data markup is set up to provide information about your business in the code of your website. This helps Google and other search engines display your listings directly in the search listings page.
It’s particularly important for local businesses to use this markup so that important details such as opening hours (standard and seasonal), and department names are displayed on your listing, as well as special functions such as making an order or a reservation online.
Structured data can also be used by Google to display a “Knowledge Graph” – the information that shows up in the right-hand side of the search results for some branded searches.
You can learn more about local business structured data markup at the Google developer guide at https://support.google.com/webmasters/
Have a Great Social Media Presence
Be sure to use your activity on social networks to improve the strength and reach of your local SEO and business presence.
Social channels are an effective way to connect with and stay in touch with your local customers, promote your business and special offers, share new products, and acquire reviews and recommendations.
Your social media accounts should be optimised with content that includes location-specific keywords. You can geotag images and promote local events, providing further signals to search engines that you have a presence in your targeted local area.
Use Both Online and Offline Marketing Strategies
While your online marketing strategy is important, you shouldn’t totally ignore your offline marketing strategies.
Local networking, referral marketing and relationship building are just as important for growing your business locally. These can also help boost your online strategy by attracting organic links to your site from other local businesses.
In reality, communicating with your customers helps you to learn more about them. Through this you can serve them better and target them more effectively online.
Encourage your customers to follow you on social media, sign up to your mailing list, leave reviews, and recommend your business.
This helps to build customer loyalty and grow your customer base, alongside your on and offline presence.
Local SEO is not easy, it takes work! There are a lot of factors that go into an effective local SEO strategy and it can be tricky juggling all the pieces.
If you feel a bit lost or simply don’t have the time or resources to invest in SEO, you should consider hiring a local SEO expert who can plan and carry out an effective strategy that will result in your business website bringing in more traffic from local searches.
To find out more or discuss local SEO packages, get in touch today.
Can you see how Local SEO could benefit your business? Does the thought of implementing it yourself make you feel overwhelmed? If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, we’d love to hear from you and be sure to grab a copy of our Free Guide to expert SEO Strategies by clicking on the image below.