Local SEO Guide
A Guide to Local SEO
To say that local SEO is “important” is a massive understatement. According to web analytics firm Hubspot, 46% of all searches performed on Google are local searches. They also found that 89% of people will search for a local business on their smartphone at least once a week.
If a business does not have a local SEO strategy, it can miss out on a significant amount of web traffic and lose customers to its competitors. To help you understand local SEO and take advantage of it, this article will:
- Explain what local SEO is
- Help you understand why local SEO is so important
- Identify some of the techniques that are used in local SEO
This information will give you a solid grasp of the most important local SEO concepts and help you improve how well your website performs in local searches.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the optimisation of a web property to improve its performance in localised searches. It is similar to organic SEO, but with a geographical component attached to it. Local SEO is particularly important for businesses that deliver products or services in a specific area.
Let’s say you have a Chinese restaurant located in Essex. There’s not much point trying to rank for “Chinese restaurant” because the people performing that search could be anywhere in the world. You really want people in Essex to find your website, so they can visit the establishment and enjoy a meal. You business needs to rank for phrases that are used by people in the local area, like “Chinese restaurant in Essex”.
Local SEO is essential if you want your business to reach users of mobile devices because of the way those devices handle searches. If a mobile user is walking around Essex and decide they feel like Chinese food, they might search for: “Chinese restaurants near me”, “Chinese nearby”, or “Chinese food local”.
The mobile device will then pass the location details of the searcher to the search engine to help it formulate the results. If your website has not been optimised to rank well for searches like “Chinese restaurant Essex”, it may appear far down the search engine results pages (SERPs) or not appear at all.
Local SEO will also affect how your website appears in the maps that search engines like Google when displaying local searches. If your website is not optimised, it will not appear in a prominent position, leading to lost sales.
Local SEO will optimise many on-page and off-page components to improve a website’s local search ranking, including:
- Link signals – Incoming links from other websites with relevant keywords, authority of linking websites etc.
- Business signals – This includes factors like your proximity to the searcher, location keywords in business name, category names etc.
- On-page signals – Presence of business Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP), location keywords in titles, the domain authority of your website.
- Citation signals – Online references to your business’s name, address and phone number.
- Review signals – The quality, quantity, and frequency of the reviews that your business has received.
- Behavioural signals – How people use your website and interact with your business, including mobile click to call, check-in, bounce rate, and click-through rate.
- Social signals –How well received your website and business is on social media.
Why is local SEO so important?
Here are a few reasons why local SEO is critical for businesses that have physical locations:
People who use local search actually visit stores and buy things
According to a report published by Google, 50% of people who performed a local search on their phone went to the physical store the next day. The figure was slightly lower for laptop and desktop computer users, with 34% of people visiting a physical store the next day. An impressive 18% of local mobile searches resulted in a salewithin 1 day of the search being performed.
These statistic indicate that people using local search are interested in making a purchase in the near future. This makes them a qualified prospect as they have shown strong interest in the products or services that your business provides. The value of these leads makes investing in local SEO much more important than other forms of advertising with lower conversion rates.
Proximity is now a significant ranking factor
The majority of Internet searches are now performed using mobile devices. Because of this trend, search engines have made various adjustments to the way their results are formulated and displayed.
One major change is that proximity is now a major ranking factor in web searches. This means that it is important for your business to clearly indicate where it is located and which areas it services — which are both integral parts of Local SEO.
People will perform a local search to find your location
According to a Search Engine Land survey, 71% of people will search for the location of a business online before visiting it for the first time. If a business is not optimised for local search, it may be difficult for these people to find it and a competitor may obtain their business.
Consumers consult reviews before purchasing
A survey performed by BrightLocal found that 88% of consumers will consult online reviews before they purchase local services. If your business has poor reviews, some consumers will choose to avoid it. Local SEO helps because it incorporates some online reputation management techniques. It will help you attract more reviews and improve the quality of the ratings that you receive from customers. It’s important to note that search engines also use online reviews as a ranking factor that determines your position in SERPs.
If your business does not rank well on local search it is ignored
BrightLocal also discovered that 98% of searchers choose a business that is on page one of the search results. If your website has not been sufficiently optimised to reach page one, your business could be missing out on thousands of valuable leads.
Local SEO helps you rank in the “pack”
When Google displays local search results, they usually include a map. This map will show red dots for all of the businesses, organisations, and locations that match the search. The top three results in the SERPS flora local searches will have larger symbols on the map. They will also their own listing boxes directly beneath the map, which really makes them stand out:
These business in the “pack” have their ratings, opening hours, business type (if applicable), and an image from their location all displayed. The prominence that is granted by appearing in this area is important, and the only way your business can get there is by improving its Local SEO.
Who benefits from local SEO?
The types of businesses that will mainly benefit from Local SEO are those which:
- Have a limited service area
- Have a physical location where customers must visit
This includes lawyers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, builders, doctors, medical practices, restaurants, clothing stores, books stores and so on.
If your store does not have a physical presence, it will obtain less benefit from local SEO. This includes certain types of eCommerce stores and private online sellers.
Local SEO techniques
On-page website optimisation
Your website will need to be optimised for local SEO. This involves several steps including:
Adding NAP to your contact page
The name, address, and phone numbers (NAP) of all of physical locations should be added to the website’s contact page. This helps search engines understand where you are located. You can also add NAP details to the footer of your website, which is useful for website visitors.
Make phone numbers clickable
Several Local SEO techniques are focussed on improving the optimisation of websites for mobile devices. One of the steps that should taken is making the phone numbers on your website clickable for mobile users. This allows them to tap the screen to make the call instead of manually copying the number into the phone section of their mobile device.
Adding Schema markup
Schemawas developed to give search engines more context about the contents of a webpage. Essentially, it tells the search engine what bits of content really mean. Schema markup tells It can be used to let the search engine know that:
- A number is actually a phone number
- Certain currency symbols refer to the currencies you accept
- Two listed times refer to your opening and closing times
- A text string refers to the awards you have received
Search engines will use this additional information to correctly populate their local search results. They help Google successfully answer user user queries like “What is the closing time of Tong’s Chinese?”. Here are the Schema properties that are applicable to Local Businesses.
Add a map to your website
This is another optimisation that is mostly for mobile users. Having a Google map on your website with your location highlighted makes it easy for mobile users to find you.
Add testimonials to your website
Search engines like Google consider testimonials to be “trust signals”. Display your testimonials in a prominent position on your website to receive an SEO boost.
Create great content (that is relevant to your local area)
Content marketing is an extremely effective technique for improving local SEO. It involves generating high-quality content that provides some kind of value to consumer (informative, interesting, inspiring or funny). The content you create can be distributed and promoted in many ways including via newsletters, blogs, social media, and third party websites.
When it comes to local SEO, you can create content that is targeted at local events and place it on a blog. This content could include local news, business updates, press releases, informative articles (on many topics), and community events. You could even sponsor an event or sporting team and write about it on the blog.
Search engines are very receptive to regularly updated sites that publish original content of high value. If the content contains references to your local area, it will provide a significant boost to your local SEO.
Grab your online profiles
It’s important to have presence across any prominent review sites. That’s because many popular review sites will be listed on the front page of the SERPs, just below the top 3 local search results. Register your business with Yelp, Harden’s, Facebook, Tripadvisor, Google My Business, and any other prominent sites in your local area.
Creating profiles on social media websites can also be useful for improving local SEO. Some of the best websites to use include Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Ensure that your NAP is correct on all of the profiles that you create and add some photos to showcase your business.
Improve your reviews
Search engines rely heavily on review websites to determine how good a business is. If a search engine sees that review platforms like Yelp.co.uk and Google My Business are packed with 5-star reviews, it assumes that your business is well-liked (which is a ranking factor).
We also know that reviews are important for many consumers. About 63% of consumers will check a businesses reviews on Google before visiting itand 84% of users trust online reviews as much as their friends. If you have no presence on review sites or very poor ratings, consumers will avoid your business.
Many approaches can be taken to improve reviews including:
- Asking for reviews from happy customers
- Making it easy for customers to review your business after visiting or making a purchase by providing links to review sites
- Creating a sharable link for customers to write Google reviews
- Participating on review sites, replying to bad reviews and attempting to rectify the issues they had
Gain more citations
Citations are references to your businesses name, address, phone number and website address (NAP+W). The more third parties mentioning your NAP+W, the more search engines will believe you are a prominent local business that deserves a high listing in their SERPs.
When obtaining citations, do your best to ensure they are identical, so search engines recognise that it is the same address. If abbreviations are used in a citation, make sure they are acceptable.
You can obtain citations from a number of sources including:
- Industry blogs and directories
- Local community websites
- Local business directories
- Local business websites
Optimise for phrases used in local search
Consumers use different kinds of phrases when searching locally. Their searches will often:
- Use location based terms like “close by” or “near me” to find businesses in the local area
- Use short phrases because typing on a mobile device is time consuming
- Use questions
That means you can expect searches like “What time does Acme open?”,“Best Acme near me”, “Acme phone number”, “How far is the nearest Acme?”, “Where is the best coffee in Essex?”. You can optimise your website for these kinds of phrases. One useful approach is to create a frequently asked questions page, which contains answers to these common questions. Google loves this kind of content as it gives them answers to common user questions regarding your business.
Thanks for reading my Local SEO Guide. For more information on Local SEO, contact us today or drop a moment below.