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The Complete Guide to Local SEO

Updated: Feb 5, 2021



The Complete Guide to Local SEO

Local SEO really is important.

In fact, 46% of all searches on Google are looking for local information.

This means, if you have a local business and your local SEO is not up to scratch, you’re missing an opportunity every time someone searches for your products or services online.


And there are hundreds of people searching.




About 89% of people search for a local business on their smartphone at least once a week, with 58% searching daily.


And from that search, 72% will visit a store within five miles.


These searchers are unlikely to find you if your local SEO is poor.






But what exactly is local SEO?


Local SEO is much the same as organic SEO, but with an added geographical component.

You are aiming to rank high in the search engine result pages (SERPs) for local searches.

There is not a lot of point in a Derby restaurant ranking high Leed’s local search results. They want people searching for restaurants in Derby to find them, people who are actually likely to visit them because they are in the correct area.

So it’s important to improve your local SEO if you want to appear in more organic local traffic.

According to Moz’s 2017 local search ranking factors, proximity to the searcher is the top local pack-ranking factor.


But what’s the “pack?”


The Google “3-pack” is the top-three results for your local search.


That’s where you want your business to sit.


So how do you get it there?


Let’s get started with 5 Must do tips!


1. Optimise your website

If your website isn’t properly optimised, it will be hard for you to climb the SERPs.


For local SEO, in addition to standard SEO best practices, you need to do the following:

Make sure that you have a dedicated contact page These days, people want more detailed information about your business. On your contact page, make sure you clearly show your “NAP:”

  • Name

  • Address

  • Phone


I would also recommend that you display your email address too as a clickable link, something like that shown above.

Make phone numbers clickable on mobile devices


Some 30% of mobile searches are location-related.


So it is important that your website works properly on mobile devices.



Also, 76% of local searches will normally result in a phone call. Make sure that your phone number is clickable.


If someone finds your website on their mobile device and wants to call you, they might be annoyed to find they have to switch between apps to type in or copy and paste the number manually.


Here Guys and Dolls has made sure that the phone number shown on the website is clickable when it is viewed on mobile devices. The prompt pops up as shown in the image.

Making your phone number clickable should be easy to do, but it might be different depending on the type of website that you have.







Add a map for your location

Local SEO is to there to make it easier for people to find you. So it makes sense to add a map, especially when 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps. Google maps have a widget that can be added to pretty much all websites. I often put this on the contact page, but you can have it in the website footer too.


Add testimonials

Local SEO Guide says, “Google considers testimonials a ‘trust signal.’”

And that’s why Local SEO Guide has a whole page dedicated to these types of reviews.


You should make it a priority to collect and display testimonials from your customers on your website for an added local SEO boost. A bonus here is that women are much more likely to leave you a review. Just make sure that you have a process in place to ask for them. You can add video reviews to your website and social media, you can share links to your reviews across all of your media platforms.


Add Schema

Schema.org was invented to create a common language between major search engines like Google or Bing. This is a bit more technical, but Schema.org is very helpful.


Schema makes it easier for search engines to understand what your website is about.

By choosing the correct Schema mark up for local businesses and adding it to your website, you’re telling Google you’re a local business and not some big brand.


In turn, this can help to boost your local rankings.


This tool from Hall Analysis will help you to create your Schema mark up.


Just fill in your information, then copy the code on the right-hand side of the page.

Next, paste the code in the <head> section of your HTML document or website builder.


After you’ve added your Schema mark up, you’ll want to test it with Google’s structured-data testing tool.


This tool should pull out your information, and show it on the right-hand side.

Once you’ve optimised your website for local SEO, you should be in a better position to improve your rankings and increase local organic traffic.



2. Claim your online profiles

Your website isn’t the only place you need to be online.

You need to make sure your business is properly listed on the main review platforms, like Google My Business, TripAdvisor, and Facebook. I have a FREE Ebook all about Google My Business pages if you want to grab that now!

Also check for any popular local-review sites.


Why?

Because when it comes to local searches, Google’s 3-pack is often followed by these review sites.




Google My Business


Filling out your profile on Google My Business is a good place to start.

This profile allows you to manage your presence on Google’s search engine.

Make sure you fill out your profile completely and collecting reviews, you’ll improve your ranking.


Google Maps will also show searchers a detailed profile of your business.


This is of upmost importance. Especially when you remember that 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps.


If you have a Google Business page but really do not know how to use it, shimmy over to my online shop and grab yourself a copy of my Google my Business posting EBook its only £11.00 and will really help to get things sorted out.

Any local listings You’ll often get the occasional local review site among the big ones, like TripAdvisor and Yell. You can find the sites that are relevant to your business and location by searching keywords like:

  • [target location] reviews

  • [industry/niche] [target location] reviews

Claim all social profiles You’ll also want to set up profiles on the social media channels relevant to your target demographic. When setting up your profiles, it’s very important to make sure your information is identical on each platform. Remember, consistency is paramount.

Setting up these profiles, makes your business more visible to customers. You’ll also provide search engines with more information about your business, which will help to boost your ranking.


3. Create local content


Blogging is essential to SEO.


Just in case you haven’t already, create a blog on your website. Make sure that your blog is connected to your website like this: “www.website.com/blog” instead of “blog.website.com” or “websiteblog.com.”


This way, any links you get to your blog, will also link to your business’s main site. Links are a top factor considered in search engine ranking.


So, as your blog’s search engine rankings increase, so do the rankings of your website.

When writing the posts, make sure to include local town and city names if you can.


Benefit from the popularity of an upcoming community event, election, fair, etc.

Or, sponsor local events, teams, and write about them.

Try to cover local events from the perspective of a local business owner. You can also interview local experts within or outside your company.


But don’t just write about your business. You need to write about things that help and benefit people in some way or other. Aim to become the go to expert in your industry area. Blogging is quite a large topic to look at, there will be other blogs covering this in more details.


Build links

While you build your an audience for your blog, you also want to collect inbound links.


A good way to start is to join conversations in other local business blogs. It is probably best to avoid direct competitors, but are there any complementary or related business blogs in your community?

Participate by leaving thoughtful comments or mentioning (and linking) their posts on your blog.

Building relationships with other businesses is a great way to establish your website and attract links back to your blog.

Another thing you can do is conduct a backlink audit of your top competitors. You can use various tools to do this, something like Ubersuggest.


You should review every backlink with an eye toward two things:

  • Quality (measured by domain score)

  • Your ability to secure a link

Contact the same sites and tell them why they should link to your site, too. It’s hit or miss, but even if you only pick up a few backlinks it’s a step in the right direction.

Know who you’re targeting


Make sure that you are creating content that hits the mark, that your target clients or customers want to read.

Create customer profiles or avatars, and learn all about them and their demographics. Write your content for them, not the general public. You cannot write to please everyone.


Local content, mistakes to avoid

Try to create new content, and not take from other websites — even from your suppliers/manufacturers — unless you’re using it as an attributed source or quote in your own original content.

Don't go for the multi-website approach for your business. Experts generally agree that better to build a single, great website for your business, its services, and branches, rather than splitting resources between several websites.


4. Get reviews


Before the internet, it was easier for bad businesses to spin their branding and dupe customers.


The internet has now put more power into consumers’ hands, they have so much more say. Now, everyone can instantly see whether you’re as good as you say you are.

Research shows that 81% of people read reviews and check ratings, and more comment on blogs or contribute to online forums.


Also a huge, 97% say customer reviews factor into their buying decisions. Pretty much everyone then.

What’s the state of your online reviews?

If you have anything other than a four- or five-star rating on the major review sites, you might be in trouble.

Poor ratings are not great for customers to see. And very few ratings may affect how much trust and confidence there is in your brand. You need to strike a good balance, it would be un-natural and perhaps dubious to have 100% 5star reviews.


Increasing your score by just one star could boost your revenues by almost 10%.


Reviews also stand out to potential customers as they are often featured in local search results.


Collecting reviews is a continuous process and one you’ll be engaged in for the life of your business.


Every business will receive negative reviews at some point along the way. But when you do, be sure to respond professionally and personally. The best way to prevent negative reviews is to provide an incredible product or service. By delighting your customers, you’ll limit bad reviews and encourage good ones.


So now that you’ve gotten your business properly listed on the main review platforms, it’s time to fill them with positive customer reviews and photos.


According to Moz, Google reviews are believed to have the greatest impact on Google local rankings.

You can create a shareable Google review link to promote to your audience here.


Things to avoid when asking for reviews

Before you start asking for reviews on any platform, make sure you know its guidelines and terms of service.

For instance, don't offer incentives in exchange for reviews Google does not allow this.


You want to channel your customer’s positivity to influence new customers.

What goes around comes around, right?

So don’t do anything pushy, like set up a review station to ask for reviews.

Make sure to have customers leave reviews using their own devices and under their own accounts.

You want people to want to leave genuine reviews, which once again comes down to the quality of your business.

Don't rush out now and ask everyone to leave you a review either. A sudden jump in reviews may look suspicious and could result in filter on some sites.


Once more, acquiring reviews should be a steady, ongoing process for your business.


5. Build citations

Citations? What are they?

They’re mentions of your business name, address, phone number, or website (NAP+W) anywhere on the web, even if there is no link to your website.


They are important to your local SEO efforts because its signals make up 13% of local pack-ranking factors.


Make sure you only build citations for real physical locations, as P.O. boxes and virtual offices are not acceptable. You can build a unique set of citations for every physical location you have. But make sure the name, address, phone number, and website URL are correct and identical on each citation you build.


Mismatched NAP citations account for 41% of the total ranking issues, they will really have an adverse effect on how you get found in online. So once again, consistency is key.


However, search engines are very clever and will understand most abbreviations.

It’s important to check whether your abbreviation will be picked up and read correctly by search engines.


Here are some ways to build citations.


Local search engines

Search engines like Google or Bing crawl the web for citations to validate or update the information in their own indexes.

You can help the search engines do this by listing your businesses on sites like Yelp, Hotfrog, and Foursquare. It is a really good idea to spend some time making sure that your business is listed in as many quality local business directories as possible.


Local blogs

Local blogs are a fantastic place to get your business listed to boost your local SEO.

These blogs are well-indexed by search engines and are highly associated with a particular town or city. Acquiring links from these blogs is great, search engines will increasingly view your business as trusted and relevant in the local search engines. The local relevance will work wonders for your business. Local blogs will be different for each location, but you can find ones relevant to you and your business by searching terms like:

  • [target location] [niche/industry] blog

Often, the top local blogs will have the name of the city or region in their title or domain.


Locally focused directories

Like local blogs, local directories are strongly associated with a geographic region and they’re well indexed by search engines. Try to find ones that are edited by a real person, they are less susceptible to spam. Therefore are trusted more by the search engines.

You can search for specific local directories by using search terms like:

  • [Target city] directory

  • [State] directory

Industry-focused directories or blogs

You can also gain citations from industry focused blogs and directories, there are loads out there for all industries like Beauty etc.

These websites are focused on the topics and keywords related to your products and services.

Although these sites don’t always have a local focus, they may be counted as citation sources by local search engines.


Do you have a membership directory for your trade organisation or a blog that’s popular among readers in your niche? These will both are be crawled by the local search engines for citations. Places like Check a trade, Treatwell etc.


Conclusion

Fighting to climb the SERPs can be tough for any small business, with limited resources.


But local SEO is important to your business success — 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day.


People rely more and more on search engines and reviews to find what they need, therefore you will need to boost your local rankings to be found easily.


So get optimising your website, producing great local content, acquiring citations, and earning reviews. You will then find that you start to climb up the local SERPs.

Improving your local SEO, will give you an increase your organic traffic, leading to more enquiries, and growth in your business.

Don’t limit yourself to technical local SEO practices like citations and web optimisation, though. Connecting and building relationships with other local business, participate in community events, and join local organisations.

Local SEO isn’t a stand-alone task. You also need to use SEO and social media marketing to boost your rankings. They work hand in hand together.

Online efforts are always a reflection of offline realities. If your business is bad, your reviews will be, too.


Focus on building the best business you can.


Ultimately, the best marketing strategy is to create an outstanding business that improves the lives of your customers in some way. The SEO world continues to change as it becomes more important to the success of businesses.

Get started now, so your business isn’t left behind.



Grab your FREE SEO checklist to help you get started with sorting out your website.


For help planning your SEO strategy, or getting your citations up to date please email claire@getfound-online.co.uk

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