Do you want to appear in the top search results in Google when people search in your area for your service? If you want people to find your business, you need to learn and apply local SEO. Local SEO includes online marketing strategies to attract local users. This includes claiming your Google my Business account and showing up in featured snippets in local search results.
Local SEO should be an integral part of your overall digital marketing strategy and when you get it right, you’ll attract many more high-quality users to your site and physical store.
So What is Local SEO?
Local Search Engine Optimization or Local SEO is all about optimizing your business for search engines so that people near you can find your products and services when searching key local phrases in the search results.
Local SEO is more focused on ranking your business higher in your local area. If you have a local shop, store or office then local SEO is also important for customers to be able to find you in person through online maps or directories.
As Google takes up a majority of the market share of search engines worldwide, we will mostly be focusing on how to optimize your local SEO for Google specifically. But there are other places to focus on such as Bing Places and Apple Maps.
Here we reveal 3 benefits to improving your local SEO. Before we get into that we take a look at important local SEO ranking factors as well as places or activities to improve your local ranking. Let’s dig in!
*Pro Tip* When you’re looking into local SEO the number one thing you’ll see often is the words ‘online business citation’. An online business citation is basically anywhere your business is featured or mentioned online. This can be your company name, physical address + zip code or phone number. This is also referred to as your NAP (name, address, phone number). Examples of online citations are directory listings as well as social media pages.
Google’s Ranking Factors
When searching on Google you will find 3 types of search results. You will see paid ads (usually at the top of the search results), Google maps listings and organic results. Google has specially optimised their search engine for local searches through the use of their ‘snack pack’. This ‘snack pack’ is the three Google maps listings that are shown above the organic results.
So how do you feature in Google’s snack pack?
Well, Google has three different factors that, when right, can see you featuring at the top of that snack pack for your local keywords.
Here Google looks at whether or not you are a relevant result for the user to click on. Googledeems that the more information you add to your Google listing, the better Google can understand what your business is about and match it for relevant searches.
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This is a pretty straight forward ranking factor. Google will rank your business higher if you are closer to location term in the search result. If there is no location specified Google will use the location of the user or the location information they know about the user.
Distance is an important ranking factor but so is prominence. Prominence is how popular or well-known your business is eg. famous buildings, museums, hotels will rank higher. Google also looks at what other people say about your business ie. Reviews, and those that link to your business ie. Directories, to better rank your business.
You can’t pay to rank your business higher in local rankings as Google uses an algorithm to make the ranking system as fair as possible.
How To Improve Your Local Ranking
When getting started with improving your local ranking you need to look at these activities and places to make your business known locally.
- Google My Business
Creating or claiming a Google Business Place listing is probably the most important and first thing to do to start ranking locally. It is super easy to do and only takes a few minutes of your time. You can sign up here.
A few things to note:
- Make sure you only fill in your exact business name. Don’t put industry keywords in the name just to rank better, it won’t work and goes again Google’s guidelines.
- Categories must be as relevant as possible to your business. If you’re not sure what your category is then look at your competitors.
- Keep your information consistent across your listings
Google My Business also allows businesses to add posts to their listing on Google search and maps. There are many types of posts that can be uploaded, from new business announcements to highlighting popular products.
Google Business Posts can be a great way to advertise what your business is all about as well as get people onto your website. Here is a great guide to posting great content on Google My Business posts by Thrive Hive.
*Pro Tip* Claiming your Google My Business listing should be at the top of your list to improve your local SEO, however there are other maps such as, Bing Places and Apple Maps that are important to set up too.
- NAP Local Citations
Your NAP (Name, address, phone number) information needs to be consistent across the web. This means your social media pages and local directories should contain the same, correct information. What’s important here is to make sure all your NAP information is consistent across all citations.
NAP citation for Lupa, from their Facebook Page
*Pro Tip* To ensure that your NAP citations are all correct you would need to perform a citation audit and edit any incorrect citations. Moz has a great tool to view all your citations. Otherwise you can manually find all your citations by searching on Google for your“Business name” + “partial address” -”correct phone number”.
After running a citation audit you would need to start creating new local citations, through submitting your information to local directories ortop citation sources in your country or industry specific citations ie. Yelp (for restaurants etc.)
Google reviews for Momo Kuro, from their Google My Business reviews page
Getting reviews and more importantly responding to reviews is super beneficial to your local SEO listing. Reviews show users what other customers thought of your product or service and give a more human aspect to your business. Reviews show that consumers trust the business and Google likes to rank trust.
- Link To Local Sites
Backlinking to local sites is also super beneficial for your local SEO. Websites and users love to link back to interesting, unique and useful content. Therefore, you need to start doing the following to grow your local backlinks and exposure:
- Create a useful local resource like infographic or comprehensive list
- Guest blog for local sites
- Add City Pages to Your Website
If you serve a few different local areas/cities then it is a good idea to create local landing pages or city pages. These are pages on your website that are optimized for a specific location-based term or keyword ie. “vegan bakery [location]” and “vegan restaurant [location]”. On these local landing pages you can add in your opening hours, local NAP as well as related keywords in the SEO copy.
*Pro Tip* You can also rank for relevant nearby locations as long as they aren’t too far from your business. Alsooptimise your homepage for your main location (if it makes sense to) by adding your NAP to your footer and a Google map showing your location.
If you’re wanting more info check out Bipper Media’s more in depth blog on city pages.
What are the Benefits of Local SEO?
1. Helps online visibility
This means that traffic to your site will increase.
Local SEO also improves the quality and relevancy of traffic eg. a user searching for ‘lawyer’ vs. a user searching for ‘lawyer near me’. Which user is more likely to convert? The one that can find a lawyer closest to them with a high prominence, of course!
With more visibility you are able to compete with other local businesses that are already competing and gaining business in your competitive space.
2. Greater foot traffic for your physical store
Your business will see more customers intent on buying in your physical store after seeing your online listing.
More foot traffic means more sales.
3. More ratings & reviews
Local SEO citations such as Google My Business allows for a great place for people to review your business products or services.
Gaining new customers and retaining them through great ratings & reviews.
Checklist To Improving Your Local SEO Right Now!
Local SEO Tips
- Claim your Google My Business Place Listing
- Set up any other relevant maps ie. Bing Places or Apple Maps
- Create city pages for your website
- Post updates& pictures to Google Place Posts
- Add NAP information to your business social media accounts
- Sign up for local business directories (general & specific to your services)
- Build links to local sites (guest blogging, infographics)
- Respond to reviews
Paula Clyde is involved in managing the SEO and Google Ads accounts at The Weblab. This means doing anything from writing new blog posts and ads to understanding the data that comes through to be able to tweak and optimize their performance. Connect with her on LinkedIn.