If you’re a local business looking to rank in local searches, the odds are with you! Not only is being a local business a great niche to begin search engine marketing with, but after reading this beginner guide to local SEO, it’s likely you’ll have a foot up on your competition.
Local searches are increasing in popularity. It’s said that up to 50% of mobile searches have local intent. And up to 50% of local searches result in an in-store visit within 24 hours, according to Google. If you’re a local business, that is a huge payoff for your local SEO efforts!
While the general rules for SEO still apply, local SEO has a few extra requirements that can help you rank. In this beginner guide to local SEO, we’ll give you some tips to get you on your way to rank in local search results! Read on for the steps you can do to optimise your website for local search.
Be Sure to Optimise your Google My Business Account
If you have a business that runs from a physical location, Google My Business is a must! It’s so important that its the first step to optimising your website in our Guide to Local SEO. GMB is a free tool provided by Google to give businesses a platform to show up in local search.
Whether you’ve got an account and claimed your business or not, its likely you still have a GMB listing. This makes it even more important to claim your business to ensure your details are displayed correctly.
A lot of Google searches (especially local searches) are now returning ‘rich results’ where maps, local packs and featured snippets are showing above organic search results. To be featured in a local map pack or local finder comes down to optimising your Google My Business account. While your website is still an important factor, it’s actually your GMB account that gets displayed in these rich results.
Some quick tips on optimising your Google My Business account:
- Make sure your details (name, address, phone etc) are correct and maintained (anyone can edit your listing).
- Fill out as much information as you can about your business such as the category, opening hours and add in professional, real images of your business.
- Keep on top of reviews. Make sure you get quality reviews (over the quantity) and forward customers your GMB short name URL to make writing a review a simple process for them. Reply to all reviews, both good and bad.
- Utilise as many features of GMB as you can, including updating your listing regularly using the posts feature. Add in recent promotions or sales, share news from your business or provide a link to a valuable blog post.
Add Local Schema Markups to Stay Ahead of your Competition
One way to improve your local SEO is to include local structured data markups on your website. Structured data (also referred to as Schema) is like the language that search engines speak. By implementing it on your site, you can directly tell search engines what the content on your site actually means – aka what type of business you run, what your location is and your services. This helps give your website rich search results and can also improve your rankings.
It can be a little daunting to dig into, but remember that most websites currently aren’t using any schema markups. Which means that if you can implement schema into your local SEO strategy, you’ll be ahead of your competition!
Improve your Local SEO by Creating Valuable Local Content
If you’re not aware of the ways that blogging can benefit your business, you’ll want to learn – quick! The next level of creating valuable content (blog posts) on your website is framing it to a local audience.
The results of this are twofold. Not only will this create interest and drive a local audience to your website, but Google will pick up on local cues mentioned such as landmarks, other local businesses or events.
So – how do you do this?!
Here’s a few simple tips for writing local content:
- Create blog posts about the latest news and events happening at your location
- Write about local events that you’re involved with (eg, if you’re a health clinic that sponsors a local football team, write about the team and their games)
- Feature local businesses or things that are beneficial to your industry (eg a physiotherapy clinic blogging about the top five walking trails in the area, or the best features of a new gym that’s opening).
Build Backlinks from other Local Businesses & Websites
One of the top ranking factors for all websites is the quality of backlinks they have. For local business websites, this means getting backlinks from other local websites, preferably ones that are relevant to your industry.
A great way to start getting backlinks is to create quality content that is worth sharing and linking to. A physiotherapist could write about the features of the top gyms in their area, and request a backlink from those websites to their article.
Local businesses can sponsor events or host local events, which is another way to request backlinks from various parties.
Maintain Citations & Brand Mentions
One major signal Google is looking for is how prominent your business is in the online world. While many people think that local directories and business listings aren’t really relevant, they’re actually super important to keep up to date.
Search engines are looking for consistency in your business’ details across multiple sites. This means keeping your details correct and updated on local directories and listings too! Pay special attention to your business’ listed phone number, address and even the name. Small variations in your business name (eg ‘Gourmet Kitchen’ vs ‘The Gourmet Kitchen at Newcastle’) can harm your search engine optimisation.
While it’s beneficial that these citations and listings include a link to your website, even ones without a link are counted. Look up local directories in your area or sites such as Yellow Pages and Yelp to make sure your business citations are correct.
Create Location Pages on your Site for Multiple Location Businesses
When users search for a local business or service near them, your business’ distance to the search plays a big role in whether you’ll show up in the results. So what do you do if your business has multiple locations?
The best way to tackle this is to have a dedicated page on your website for each location you operate out of. Your targeted keywords for these location pages should be your business name + location (eg ‘Gourmet Kitchen Newcastle’ and ‘Gourmet Kitchen Maitland’).
As with all target keywords, make sure you optimise your location pages as best you can for the location keyword. This includes including the keyword in the on-page text, in image alt attributes, headings and title tags.
If this found this Guide to Local SEO helpful, let us know in the comments! Similarly, if you have any questions we’re happy to answer them.