97% of all consumers search for local organizations online and you should be the first result! We share some SEO practices to help you rank locally.
What’s In This Episode?
- What is SEO? (0:40)
- What is local SEO? (2:55)
- Google My Business (3:50)
- Add Local Schema (7:55)
- Create Valuable Local Content (10:00)
- Backlink to other Local Businesses (12:27)
- Separate Local Pages (14:12)
- Actionable Tips (15:45)
Josh: We all want our website to appear at the top of every relevant Google search right? 97% of all consumers search for local organizations online and you should be the first result. The issue is how do you achieve that? That’s where local SEO comes in and that’s what we’re talking about today. Welcome to Creative Juices the show where we help you feel personally confident about your online presence. I’m your host Josh and today I’m joined by Emily
Em: Hey Josh! How you going?
Josh: Doing great Em. So here’s a buzzword that everyone uses but no one knows about… SEO. Em, what is SEO?
Em Well SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s basically the process of making tweaks and optimizing your website to get it to show up in search results such as in Google or Yahoo or whatever search engine you like.
Josh: Okay, so it’s about ranking right?
Emily: Yeah, exactly.
Josh: So SEO determines how Google ranks your site in a search. So when I search up something, let’s say best doughnuts in the Bay area, then the first one that comes up that generally has good SEO?
Emily: Yeah that would be the top ranking one.
Josh: Okay so SEO, is it a long term thing, is it a short term thing?
Em: Yeah SEO is ongoing. So some people might think it’s a set and forget or I optimize my website once and then it’s done but it’s actually a long term thing, so it’s something that you can add on and improve on over time to your website. And it’s something that your website will gain authority over time so that includes like the traffic that gets directed to it, the links that go to it. All of that gets improved over time so SEO is a really long-term kind of concept.
Josh: Yeah, okay so this, what we’re talking about today is organic SEO. So there is also paid SEO, which comes in the form of Google ads and that kind of thing, which is more of a short-term band-aid kind of option to bring traffic to your site. But the organic SEO, it’s a long term thing. So we all want to rank first and the world of SEO is gigantic, but there are certain aspects of SEO that are more beneficial than others. Right?
Josh: I mean if we can implement all of it and understand all of it, awesome go ahead. But the thing is that most businesses are local businesses and so 46% of all Google searches are local and according to Google 50% of local searches result in an in-store visit within 24 hours. That’s massive! So what we’re talking about today is local SEO for local businesses. It’s the most beneficial thing for the majority of, most businesses right?
Em: Yeah that’s right.
Josh: So where do we start with local SEO, Em?
Emily: Well let’s just look at it like this. So SEO, absolutely any website can do. They can make tweaks to their website and get it ranking in Google. But local SEO really refers to websites that want to show up to a specific geographic location in search. So there’s over and above regular SEO, there’s extra tweaks that you can do to your website to get it showing up in more local searches as well.
Josh: Yep so, like so for example my donut shop from the Bay Area. I want people to search up Donuts in the Bay Area and I want my Bay Area donut shop to show up first.
Josh: So it’s that geographical region. Ok, so what’s one thing that can get us started?
Em: So maybe we should look at your Google My Business account, yeah? Why not? So your Google My Business account is like a free tool that Google’s provided for businesses to actually help them rank in search results which is awesome. And you may have noticed, if you’re doing a local search in Google that there might be a map that shows up at the top of the search or a list of local businesses and that there, right at the top of search results is where your Google My Business profile shows. And so it’s really important to optimize your profile because that’s what’s showing right at the top of search results for local searches in Map Pack and things like that. So your websites one thing, but your Google My Business account is another and that’s really important to optimize.
Josh: So it shows up in the Map Pack, which is like if I Google again my donut shop, Josh’s Donuts, or if I say Donuts near me, then the Map Pack will show up my business on a map on Google Maps right?
Josh: And then there also shows up, on the side usually, it comes up with my business name, it comes up with reviews, website directions all of that kind of thing.
Em: Yeah. So on desktop, your listing will come up on the side if someone searches directly for Josh’s Donuts. That’s where it will show. But if someone’s just searching say for example on mobile, donuts near me, then that map view will come up right at the top there.
Josh: And I want to show up top!
Josh: So how do I ensure that my Google My Business account, in the Map Pack shows up first?
Em: Yeah well there’s a few things you can do for your account. If you haven’t claimed your account already, you’ll need to do that and then you just really want to make sure that all your details are correct and that you maintain your account and fill out as much information as possible. So that could include your opening hours, photos of your business, or your product…
Josh: And make sure they’re real photos.
Josh: Not stock images
Em: Yes! We talked about stock images before. You want real photos of your business. And another really good thing to do is make sure you’re getting reviews on your Google My Business account. That’s something that shows really prominent. You might see the star rating under your business name so if you’ve got a list of maybe three or four businesses in the Map Pack and two of them have five stars and one of them has maybe three or four stars, straight away you’re probably going to compare those few listings and go “I’m not going to the one with three or four stars”.
Josh: No. It’s like seeing a restaurant full of people and the next-door restaurant with no one in it. I’m going to go to the restaurant that’s full of people because I know it’s good!
Em: Yeah, exactly! So people are making split-second decisions when it comes to Google local searches so it’s really important that your profile is up-to-date and you’re getting good reviews.
Josh: Yeah and a great way to get reviews is really just to utilize your current customer or client list that you already have. So Google My Business has a URL that you can send to customers to make it easier for reviews. If you just shoot out an email to your entire customer database, or all the customers you know will give you a good review and ask them just to give you a review. And another tip is to always reply to every single review whether it’s bad whether it’s good every single review.
Em: Yeah exactly! The stats show that even if you get a bad review when a business replies to that bad review it actually works in your favour and even if you just acknowledge it and say we’re working on those things or whatever it’s puts future customers minds at ease too. So that’s really important.
Josh: Definitely! So Google My Business is massive! What’s something else we can work on for local SEO?
Em: Well something we’ve been looking at recently at Newcastle Creative Co is adding local schema into your website.
Josh: Schema? What the heck is Schema?
Em: What a word!
Josh: What is schema?
Em: It’s kind of like the matrix. It’s like you know what it is but you don’t that’s kind of confusing. Do I want to know about this or do I want to ignore it? So schema is, structured data, you may have heard that term. Basically, it’s like the language that search engines speak. So when a search engine looks at your website Google’s not actually reading your page they’re basically just looking for key factors to determine what your web page is about. Now the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, they’ve come together and created a language that’s relevant to them all, that they can all understand, that you can input into your website so that Google can read your website better and draw more information from it basically.
Josh: So information like what type of business are you, what location are you at, what services you have, that kind of thing?
Em: Yeah things like that. And there’s a lot of stats on schema so I think about only about 1/3 of websites are using it at the moment. So if you add schema onto your website you are in the top third of websites currently that are using it and websites that use it generally rank for positions higher than websites that don’t use schema.
Josh: Wow! So only a third of all websites are actually speaking the language that search engines can understand?
Em: Crazy, right?
Josh: So most businesses aren’t using it and we actually are in the process of building up a whole SEO course where we go in-depth and all of that. So stay tuned for our SEO course in the future. But the next thing is one of the massive things for local SEO is to create valuable local content right?
Em: Yeah exactly!
Josh: And so you you’ve got experience in this particularly as you you’re in the blogging world. Tell us a little bit more about creating valuable local contacts.
Em: Yeah, well local content is really important not just for your website but it means you can share it to a whole bunch of different platforms really, wherever your customers hang out. Whether it’s social media, Pinterest, you can utilize it for your newsletter, so a whole bunch of things. So it’s really, I guess a great way to reach out to your customers and also gain new customers or do a bit of marketing. And basically it just refers to writing content that relates to your ideal customers which if you’re a local business are people in your local area. So that might involve, what’s an example, say if you’re a health clinic or a physiotherapist maybe you want to write content about the top five gyms in your local area. So it’s really looking at things that your ideal customers or potential customers might find useful and interesting and putting it out there and seeing if you can create little connections with potential customers.
Josh: Yeah, so it’s like instead of writing here’s some great ways to stay fit during the summer, me as a physiotherapist would write a blog saying here’s the best trails to run around Woop Woop to keep fit in summer.
Em: Yeah exactly! So in that first example, that could appeal to anyone anywhere in the world which is great. You still might want to write that and that’s fantastic but think about things that you can write that are specifically going to be relevant for people in your location.
Josh: Yeah, and then that leads onto the next kind of thing with local SEO and that’s featuring local businesses and also local events that you’re involved in. And say if you are a clinic and let’s say you sponsor a sports team, write a blog about it. Write some content about that, because the other thing that that does is, if it’s valuable enough and if it’s good enough content, you get shared by other companies, other local businesses right?
Em: Yes, exactly!
Josh: Why is that good?
Em: Well it can extend your reach massively and another thing is backlinks. So backlinks are super important for SEO. Some people rank them as like one of the top three ranking factors that Google looks at, how many backlinks your website has, so if you’re writing about your local sports team or other local businesses it’s also a great way to get backlinks. You can connect with those people and say hey we mentioned your gym in our post would you mind posting it on your site too and sending us a backlink. That’s a great opportunity right there.
Josh: So backlinks are, when I’m writing a blog, I make sure that I link another person’s business that I’m referencing and then that other person will then link back to my business as well.
Em: Yeah exactly!
Josh: Yeah, so it’s like this interconnected kind of little web that you’re building with links and Google looks at that and goes well that’s great!
Em: Yeah, it shows that your website has a presence that’s bigger than just your website itself. It shows that you have an authority and a presence in the online world outside of your website. Other people find you important enough to link to and Google looks at that and says, well that website must be really important, so then your rankings go up
Josh: Yeah, that’s a good thing. That’s what we’re aiming for.
And so just make sure that if you are getting backlinks or being referenced from other businesses, local businesses in particular, make sure that your name, your brand name is correct, your phone number is correct, all of your details are correct otherwise Google won’t be able to kind of reference that that’s the same company.
Josh: Or they’ll be like who is this? Josh’s grownups? Oh wait! It’s donuts!
So when it comes to local SEO, let’s say I’ve got multiple locations like a business with multiple locations, in different places. What’s a quick tip to help build local SEO in that situation?
Em: In that case, I think, on your website you want to have a specific page for each location. So, on each location’s page, make sure you list things that are specific to that location. So maybe have specific reviews or specific staff members, you might put photos from that location. Everything from that location goes on the one page so it gives the best chance for Google to rank that page for that location. So if you’ve got a store in Newcastle and in Maitland you’d have a Newcastle location page and a Maitland location page and then depending on where a searcher is searching from, if they’re in the Newcastle area, the Newcastle page should pop up and vice versa. If you’re in the Maitland area, then the Maitland page will pop up.
Josh: Yeah, and that’s also best practice when it comes to paid SEO and also paid social strategies as well. Create like a landing page. It’s good user experience because when someone lands on your page they want to make sure, they want to land on their local clinic or local location, correct?
Em: Yes. Exactly!
Josh: And so that’s some really actionable, really quick tips when it comes to local SEO. If we were to just look at everything we’ve spoken about what are some quick actionable tips?
Em: So log into your Google My Business account. Make sure it’s up to date. Send out some links to your customers to get reviews. Blog consistently and blog about your local area and things that are happening.
Josh: How often is consistently? How often would you recommend?
Em: I would say once a week is a great starting point. If that’s too much maybe go once a fortnight but once a week shows that your website’s been consistently updated in Google’s eyes.
Josh: Yeah cool, and then there’s when it comes to website and local SEO there are quite a few SEO plugins that you can install and that you can pay for. One of the ones that we recommend is SEO press. You’ll find a link in the show notes below.
And that’s it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening and just to mention at the very end of this is just stay tuned for the release of our SEO course. We’ll keep you up-to-date when that’s about to be released, where we deep dive, we go deep into what all of SEO is, even more than just local SEO.
And then on the on next episode, we’re going to be talking a little bit more about user experience because one of the biggest things when it comes to SEO and when it comes to ranking higher in Google and most importantly when it comes to converting our users to clients or sales, user experience is massive for that. So we are going to chat a little bit more about user experience in next week’s episode.
Thanks for listening.