What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the art of increasing the visibility of your local business online. Think of it as a digital store front to your business.
The process is commonly referred to as a slightly easier alternative to standard SEO. There tends to be less competition when drilling down to specific areas and that usually leads to a faster production of results.
This isn’t always the case however, especially when you live in larger populated areas.
If you have ever searched for a business or service online, I’m sure at some point you will have used one of the following terms:
+Services near me
+Services in [City Name]
With search queries like these you are targeting business that are specific to those service areas, so naturally, optimizing your business for locations that you serve will increase visibility for those searches.
You can optimize for Local SEO through various methods such as claiming your Google My Business listing, or adding your business to local directories.
I know this may seem like simple stuff to some of you, but believe it or not, over half of business are yet to claim their GMB. This is a tremendous oversight for anyone looking to increase their search impact.
1. Google My Business
Firstly, 46% of ALL Google searches are local, this is a huge number, and considering the power it gives you over your competitors, it’s something that should be high up on your to-do list.
Creating a Google My Business account gives your business the opportunity to show up for various search queries in the local vacinity.
It provides Google with more information regarding your business and thus increases your trust with them.
You’ll want to start off by creating your GMB account and filling it our with as much information as possible.
You will need to enter your basic details, such as your business name and address, but try to go a step further and enter your services, including descriptions and prices for each. Fill your profile out to the absolute maximum for a higher chance of ranking in those local queries.
Depending on your industry a lot of business listings on Google tend to show a “visit website” or a “call now” button; amongst others. CTA’s like these work wonders with mobile searchers.
In fact, 50% of local mobile searches look for some sort of business information such as an email address or phone number before making a decision, so make sure your GMB is completed with as much detail as possible.
In addition to a phone number, website and other varying information, you can optimize your GMB in a way to serve as almost a little website.
It will have everything a customer can possibly need displayed in one place, including photos, contact info, and services that you offer.
So as I’m sure you can see, not only does GMB work wonders for SEO, but can also drastically increase your conversion rate.
Remember to keep all this information up to date, especially phone numbers and email address so you don’t loose out on a potential customer from a silly mistake.
You may have also noticed that when you perform a local search, Google shows a snippet at the top of the page with 3 local companies, showing reviews and other information.
This is known as the “local pack”. It works in similar ways to a normal results page but appears at position 0 and you can only be ranked within it, providing you have a GMB setup.
On top of a huge percentage of the market share performing local searches, they also have the highest conversion rate in all channels.
So why do they have such a high conversion rate?
Well, a lot of day to day searches are for miscellaneous information such as recipes, blog posts, instructions and so on.
But when someone conducts a local search, it usually means they are further down the funnel and in most cases ready to convert. This is especially true for certain industries that have emergency callouts, such as a plumber or electrician.
So make sure you claim your business on as many search engines as you can comprehend.
2. Keyword Research
As with an successful SEO strategy keyword research is the foundation of your work.
I’m not going to go into too much detail regarding the importance of keyword research here as it’s not a quick thing to cover. But providing you know what your doing, you can read on.
The first thing you will want to do is head over to your favourite keyword tool and type in your services followed by a location you are trying to rank for.
As we mentioned above this could be something along the lines of “near me” or “services in [city name]”.
You can also use Google themselves for some ideas. You can start by typing your keyword and then look over the the autocomplete phrases underneath, this will give you an understanding of some popular terms.
Once you have identified your desired keywords and phrases you will want to check over their metrics.
If your business is situated in a small area make sure to upscale your keywords for a bigger city or county near by to increase your chances.
You will also want to check out the keywords used by your Local SEO competitors in the industry and see how there are targeting your areas.
This will give you a clear insight to where they rank on individual phrases and what you need to do to outperform them.
3. Meta Tags
Meta tags are a super important aspect to search engine optimization, and that’s the case for Local SEO too.
Starting with your title tag, it can take a lot of time and research to craft the perfect one, and a mistake could result in your content not getting the SERP performance it deserves.
Below you will notice that this SEO agency has included their targeted region in their meta title. This helps to rank you for related queries made in and for that service area.
When your designing your Title Tag, every character counts, and you want to make sure you are maximising your potential. Google recommends a maximum of 60 characters before it will start to be clipped, meaning not all of your title will show on the results page.
You should focus on using as many of those 60 characters as you can.
You will want to manage your efforts to also include keywords and phrases in your title, all this carefully placed will enhance your Local SEO.
Although Title tags aren’t the only meta tag you use, it is the most important in this case, closely followed by your meta description.
Your meta description is where you want write a brief excerpt, again including your key phrases following the same rules as above.
Due to this appearing right beneath your title you will want to make sure this is just as appealing. Briefly describe what your page’s content is about and hook your visitors in with something that has that human touch to it.
4. Business Citations
Creating business citations are a simple way to increase the power of your sites local front.
They are usually online directories such as Yell or Hotfrog; where you can fill in relevant business information including your address and the areas your serve.
The more information you can include on your local citations the better. You will want everything from the services you offer to your website address and even include some photos if you can, to completely maximize your potential.
There are thousands of directories out there ranging from all with various metrics. The more popularity and authority the site has, the harder it will be to get your business listed, but the more power it will yield.
Most directories that carry a lot of weight will often require a one-off fee to list your business. Depending on ROI it can often be worth the expense.
When your building a list of citations, you should really focus on the bigger fish, that’s not to say you should ignore everything else, just put most of your time into the sites that you know will have the biggest impact on your Local SEO.
Sites that have the biggest impact in my experience, tend to be those that are solely built for business in those areas, for example, “Yorkshire business directory”.
An easy way to find such citations would be to conduct as search like so:
“[City Name] Directories”
You can also use tools to analyse your competitors and see where their backlinks are coming from.
Super important tip – make sure your NAP (Name, address, phone number) are consistent across all citations and match your GMB listing & website.
You can use tools such as BrightLocal to get a good grasp on your current position. It will provide a detailed breakdown of where you rank in specific areas for your selected keywords.
It will also show you if any of your citation listings have NAP issues. This is something that you should keep an eye on.
This is something we use ourselves to track our local performance.
5. Schema Markup
Schema markup is simply a block of code that is added to your site, it is a way to provide search engines with a little extra information about your business, such as the services your offer or the reviews you have.
Typically Schema markup confuses a lot of site owners as it can be a little technical, in fact, around 70% of business are yet to implement this tactic.
So why bother?
Using markup gives Google that little bit extra, and as we know, that works in our favour.
We can show Google more info about our business and get this shown within the SERPS, in addition to improving our reputation and authority, it also gives us the opportunity to let Google know what areas we serve.
On top of your business standing out from it’s competitors it has immense influence on rankings.
Not only does correct markup have great effect on our rankings, it also provides potential customers with what they need to make their buying decision.
For example, a business can have reviews showcased directly in the SERPs like we saw in the earlier screengrab.
As Schema Markup can get a little technical it might put you off, but don’t worry, there are plenty of tools out there to help. My personal favourite being Technical SEO.
It provides you with an easy to use visual editor for most types of schema, all you need to do is fill in the relevant information and it will pop the HTML code out the other side.
Or, if you prefer to create your schema directly in WordPress, you can use plugins such as RankMath or Yoast, do however note, that these require the paid service.
Unfortunately for the more advanced techniques, you will need to learn how to write code yourself.
Each bit of code can then be placed inside its relevant webpage ready to be published, the process differs slightly depending on the platform you are using, but the principal remains the same.
This is one of the most powerful processes you can use, not just within Local SEO, but in digital marketing as a whole, so it’s definitely worth reading up on.
It’s also important to remember than you can have more than markup per page.
Your online reviews are of incredible importance. These are usually the selling point from a searchers perspective, with over 80% of people trusting online reviews.
However, it is getting increasingly easier to buy fake reviews. (which is strictly against Googles guidelines may I point out). So while it may seem like a good idea now, it will destroy your chance of ranking in the long run.
This is a problem for those of us that trust reviews.
From a Local SEO perspective, you should always reply to your reviews. No matter what type of feedback you get, make sure people can see that you care and are active within your community.
It’s also a great opportunity to add a few of your keywords in to the reviews. If you can manage to get a client to leave you an honest review with your locational based keywords in, your already winning.
But in the case that you can’t, it’s a great idea to reply to those reviews with the keywords your targeting, make sure to keep it natural though, it needs to look like an actual reply to your clients feedback
Aside from SEO, it’s a good chance ask them what went wrong? Or right?
With the fact Google is now plagued with fake reviews a lot of searchers turn to social media as they are often more true to their nature.
So naturally, getting great reviews on your Facebook page is a great step to improving your brands trust.
But why do they matter from a Local SEO prospective?
Well, with your Google citation, along with the abundance of information you now have on there, it also displays your reviews.
If your business has a lot of negative reviews on it’s snippet then this is definitely going to turn a customer away, but having an overwhelmingly positive review base only increases your strength for it’s Local SEO appearances.
All in all, reviews work wonders from both an algorithmic prospective and a business one.
Summing up, you can see that there’s a lot more to Local SEO than meets the eye. It’s something most of us overlook in our marketing journey but once you understand how it works, you can really see the powerful potential it has.
Incorporating the steps we have discussed is a sure way to increase your local visibility and grow your brands authority in the process.