Knowing how to do local SEO right isn’t optional if you have a shop or service a region. Done properly, it will provide you with a stream of leads and interested visitors.
If your business has a physical location, Local SEO will attract more customers from relevant searches like Google Maps. For local businesses, this is a vital piece of the digital marketing pie.
What Is Local SEO?
If you have a local business, like a shop, or have people visiting your office frequently, optimizing your website is about making sure people can find you in real life.
Even now, when you’re not actively getting visitors in your building, you’re still targeting an audience located in the same geographical area as you are. So you need to optimize for that area! This is what we call “local SEO.”
If your business doesn’t have a brick and mortar location, it’s okay to skip Local SEO, but your business may still benefit from it.
For example, if a plumber wanted to provide his services to the local metropolitan area, they could tell search engines what region they provide services to, and they will appear in more local searches.
What Matters Most For Local SEO
People in your area are searching for things you sell every day. Imagine the impact of ranking #1 for terms like “Best Burgers Near Me” or “Top Hair Salon” would do for a business.
You will gain instant foot traffic for people who are eagerly looking to purchase those products.
This is why ranking #1 is so important on Local SEO. If your listing is lower, customers won’t even see you, costing you valuable business.
How To Do Local SEO
Let’s start by breaking down each component of Local SEO into a couple of actionable steps.
Google My Business Is Paramount
Google My Business is your business’s profile on Google.
It feeds information to a variety of places, including the local pack and Google Maps search results, but the most familiar appearance will likely be when it’s in the top right (or top on mobile) of a branded search for your business, as below.
This is what’s known as the Knowledge Panel.
Your Google My Business profile can include information like your business address, store hours, services and menus, and a lot more. It is your job to keep this information up to date so when customers search for your business on Google or Google Maps they’ll find the most relevant information.
One of the most important aspects on Google My Business is Google Reviews. If you don’t take time to manage your reviews and respond to problem areas, these user-generated reviews can be very harmful to small businesses.
A big part of Local SEO is keeping your Google My Business profile is up-to-date with accurate information. The more active and accurate, the higher chance your business will have of appearing in local search results.
Although it’s incredibly powerful, Google My Business is just one example of what’s known as a ‘citation.’
What are citations?
A citation is any place your business’ NAPW (Name, Address, Phone number, Website URL) information appears together online, typically in an online directory or business listings website.
These are particularly important to get in place for local SEO. There are two types of citation: unstructured and structured.
- Structured citations: These citations typically appear in business listings and come from form fields being filled in when the listing is claimed.
- Unstructured citations: These citations are more likely to be the result of the press and social media. Where your NAPW information is visible and connected on a web page (perhaps throughout a local news piece about the business), but not in a structured format.
- Getting citations: Getting citations for your local business isn’t just important. It’s widely known as ‘table stakes’ in local search optimization, as in ‘if you don’t get citations, you can’t play the game.’ While it’s key to make this a foundational aspect of your local SEO strategy, by building citations in the most relevant websites, research shows that if they’re not regularly updated and cleaned up, there can be serious consequences.
Did you know that 68% of consumers say they would stop using a local business if they found incorrect information in local directories?
Top Local Search Ranking Factors
So now you know what local SEO’s all about, you’ll probably be wondering how to actually achieve success in it! First, we’d recommend familiarizing yourself with the three core elements of local search ranking:
- Proximity: How close is your business to the searcher?
- Relevance: How relevant to the search query are your products and services?
- Prominence: What do other consumers say about your products and services?
Factors Beyond Your Control
The first is the proximity of your business to the location where your prospective customer is performing her search. All other things being equal, Google will choose to display a business closer to the searcher than one farther away from her.
The second factor is having an address in the city in which your customer is searching. If your customer is searching in Seattle, your Tacoma or Bellevue-based coffee shop won’t appear, simply because it’s not relevant for that search.
Short of opening additional locations to target areas where high concentrations of your customers are searching, there’s not much you can do to optimize for these ranking factors, but you should be aware of their importance.
5 Local SEO Tips You Need To Do Today
Because of the evolving nature of search engines like Google, Local SEO can be a lot of work. It’s always changing and can take a lot of time. Here are five Local SEO tips for you to start improving your results today:
1. Website ‘Localization’
‘Localizing’ your website means including your city, county, or region name naturally throughout your site. For businesses with several locations, this could involve creating separate pages or Content Hubs for individual locations. Other tactics include getting involved with local community events and featuring articles and information about them on the site.
2. Citation Building
Ensure your site features on citation sites and online business directories. Not only will this help customers find your business, but featuring your company’s name, address, phone number, and website URL (NAPW) on citation sites and adding extra information to business directories will help improve your search rankings.
3. Claim Your Google My Business Listing
Claiming your Google My Business and Bing Places for Business profiles is a top prioity. Maintain and keep your information up-to-date so that you appear on local Google search results, Google Maps, and Bing searches.
4. Managing Reviews & Ratings
Genuine, honest reviews are critical both for showcasing the quality of your service and for sending signals to search engines that your site and service are trusted and useful. The number of reviews you receive, the overall quality of the reviews, and the authority of the review sites themselves are all important factors for local search rankings.
5. Get Relevant Backlinks
Naturally obtained backlinks from well-regarded websites help search engines recognize your site as a trusted source of information and boost the ‘prominence’ aspect of the local search algorithm. Links from local newspapers, bloggers, and business associations, as well as citations, can all help improve your search visibility.
Are you still not sure how to do Local SEO?
Local SEO can yield one of the biggest returns on your investment. This is why we recommend you start investing in Local SEO right after you finish creating a website that speaks to your customers.
Creating a complete and detailed digital marketing plan might seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be that way. Using our guide below, you can have a complete digital marketing plan that you can be confident in all in under an hour.
Website Redesign 101 Series
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