We try not to make things more complicated than they need to be. However when we start throwing out the terms SEO, Local SEO, On-page SEO, Off-page SEO we get that the mind drowns in a tsunami of jargon, and the good stuff runs the risk of getting lost in translation.
So why is Local SEO important?
Local SEO enables you to promote your business’ visibility for location-based searches, i.e. city, state, postcode, and ‘near me’ searches.
The effects of Local SEO are magnified if your business also has a physical location. According to a study done by Forbes, 95% of smartphone users have used their device to perform local searches, out of which 61% called the business, and 59% visited in person.
Competition in local SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) is becoming increasingly challenging, but there’s plenty of things that you can do to improve your positioning amongst your competitors, and give yourself the best chance of ranking locally.
Here’s 3 juicy tips to improve your Local SEO…
In at #1 - Claim and Optimise Your Google My Business Profile
If you need Local SEO help the best place to begin is to claim your Google My Business profile. This business listing shows up in local searches, Google maps, and organic rankings in general.
To claim your listing you need to have a physical location and street address (not a P.O. Box). Google will then send a verification code by post to your address; the advantage of a verified business listing is greater SERPs dominance for brand searches, which can increase click through.
Taking the time to fully optimise your profile by carefully selecting the business category, providing a precisely worded business description, adding contact information, business hours, images, videos and types of payments accepted will help to boost performance in local search. Google now allows up to 750 characters in your business description, however only 250 characters show up before getting cut off in the Knowledge Panel: this is a great place to use keywords specific to your business, and define your unique selling points that set you apart from the competition.
Google’s added so many brilliant features for you to take advantage of. As an example, you can activate the messaging feature, so that customers can text you direct from your business profile in search results.
Another super cool feature launched last year are Google Posts that you can publish in your Google My Business profile. You can use the posts to communicate with your audience, letting them know about events, new products, updates to business information, etc, and these posts will appear in SERPs alongside your Google My Business listing. Google posts expire after 7 days, but it’s a great way to broadcast your latest news and put it before both old and new customers.
In at #2 - Get New, High-Quality Links
If you’ve ever had one of our free SEO health checks you will have seen a lot of data that tells you about backlinks to your website, and linking domains. Backlinks are the links from another website, back to your website. Google analyses your backlinks to determine whether your website contains relevant, useful information.
Linking domains refers to the number of websites that link to your site, and this is where we begin to examine the authority of those websites. Backlinks are weighted based on that linking websites authority. Higher influence websites typically rank higher in search results. Not all backlinks are valued the same; the value of a backlink depends on the authority of the referencing website.
The quantity and quality of links directed to your website have a significant effect on local SERPs. To improve your Local SEO focus on building backlinks to your site from other websites owned by businesses and directories within your local community. This acts as an indicator to Google that you hold key relationships with other businesses, providing signals of trust and authority. Think about reciprocating links if the related services, or content may be useful to your customers.
Here’s a few ideas on how to get local backlinks to improve your Local SEO:
- Look for local sponsorship opportunities;
- Get involved in local community events, and get listings on their websites;
- Become a contributor to local digital newsgroups, or the online version of your local press;
- Consider relevant local classifieds ads online;
- Think about local business awards, such as the Chamber of Commerce;
- Build relationships with local influencers;
- As we said above, leverage local business relationships.
In at #3 – Prioritise Your Online Reputation by Focusing on Customer Reviews.
Never judge someone by the opinion of others…
Great advice, but when it comes to the digital world, it doesn’t quite work like that.
According to a 2017 consumer survey:
- 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more.
- 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business.
Being proactive about your reputation management is a valuable use of time. Online customer reviews are known to impact Local SEO, SERP rankings, consumer trust, AND click-through rates.
Google My Business reviews are a great way to fire up your Local SEO marketing. You need at least 5 reviews for Google to start showing your reviews against your business profile.
Apart from making Google happy and driving your SEO, customer reviews are powerful in that they give prospects a real indication of what it’s really like to use your goods or services.
Google loves customer reviews as it's unique content, usually of high-frequency, giving its search spiders something fresh to crawl. Couple this with the fact that your customers usually write reviews using words and phrases mirrored in the searches of your prospects, results in an increased chance of ranking well for keywords relevant to your business.
Google encourages you to invite your customers to leave online reviews through Google My Business. These reviews will appear next to your listing in Google Maps and your business’ Knowledge Panel in search results. The easiest way to encourage your customers to leave you a review is to provide them with a direct link to your Google My Business listing. According to a 2017 consumer survey, 70% users are willing to leave reviews and ratings if asked to.
Before you start check out Google’s guidelines for Google My Business reviews.
We hope that you find our juicy Local SEO tips useful.
If you need help with your SEO strategy we offer a full range of SEO services, and SEO packages to suit your business needs.