In this day and age, word of mouth and traditional advertising methods are not enough anymore to promote your local business. 97% of consumers go online to search for information about local companies. Google searches that include keywords like “near me” have grown 150% in the last few years. If you have a small business with a physical location or one that offers services in a certain geographical area, then you should focus parts of your marketing efforts on local SEO. Ignoring it can affect the number of potential customers that would have found your business. In this article, we’re going to tell you why you can’t dismiss local SEO and how to rank higher in local search results.
What Is Local SEO and Why Does It Matter?
Simply put, local SEO is a marketing strategy that makes it possible for your business website to rank higher in local search results on Google. But, why should you care about local SEO?
Consider this: 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. Moreover, 88% of consumers do a mobile search to look for local businesses before visiting a store. And, it makes perfect sense if you are thinking about it. What do you do when you are in need of a new hairdresser or are looking for a bakery in your town that sells sugar-free cakes? Most likely, you do a Google search on your phone to find the products or services that interest you. Search with local intent is on the rise and you need to be where your audience is if you want them to learn about your business. And, as all the data is showing, your potential customers are online, looking for local businesses on their mobile devices. But, how do you get to them?
How Does Google Rank for Local SEO?
We will not go into a detailed description of how the search engines work as you can find several articles on the topic on our blog. What you need to know is that Google uses several factors, such as the quality of your content, the loading time of your site, your outbound and inbound links, and so on to determine where to place your link. The more factors you are taking into account when optimising your website, the higher the chances you will rank high in the search engine results. But, when it comes to local SEO, things are a little different. For starters, local searches show a bit differently.
If you look for “hairdresser near me” you will get a Map Pack at the top of the search results page with the top three local businesses for that particular search and their location on Google Maps. Moreover, Google considers more factors when deciding how to rank businesses in local search results. Just like with a regular search, Google will analyse its index to find an answer that best fits your question. But, unlike regular Google searches, the search engine giant will also consider a few unique local ranking factors, such as the location of the user performing the search, NAPs (name, address, and phone number,) the online reviews, the presence on business directories like Google MyBusiness, and so on.
All these factors, help Google establish three important things about your business:
- Its proximity: Is your business close enough to the user to be considered relevant? That’s where the NAPs come into play.
- Its relevance: Does the business offer the kind of product or service the user needs? That’s where meta descriptions and a good anchor text can make a difference.
- Its prominence: How well-known your business is. This is where Google reviews or guest blog posts can help you rank higher.
What to Focus on When Optimising for Local SEO
It’s hard to tell for sure which factors matter more than others as Google isn’t very transparent about it. But, in our experience, we’ve helped businesses rank locally by focusing on these aspects.
When it comes to reviews, you do need to ensure a constant influx of them from your customers, but try to remember that quality is more important than quantity. Encourage your customers to talk about your experience, rate your services, and review your products, but by no means write fake reviews for the sake of “boosting your numbers.” Of course, what your customers have to say will also influence your local ranking. If most clients are unhappy with your products or services, then this may affect your prominence, and, consequently, your local ranking. That said, don’t try to delete or ignore negative comments. Address them and try to be helpful and showcase your customer service. That could help you turn an unhappy client into a loyal customer.
Optimise Your Landing Page
It should go without saying that your landing page should load quickly and help prospects find the information they are looking for quickly. But, if you want to rank locally, then your landing pages should also include your address and phone number, a well-optimised title with meta descriptions that include location keywords, and localised content.
Focus on Citations
Your NAP citations are a key element of your local SEO efforts. Without them, Google can’t really tell where your business is and if its location is in proximity to the consumers or relevant to their query. Make sure that your NAPs are correct and updated. If you’ve moved your business to another location or if you’ve opened a second store in a new location, make sure to make all the relevant changes to your NAPs citations.
Don’t Forget About Traditional Raking Factors
Optimising your website for local SEO will require you to focus on a few different elements, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore all other search engine optimisation best practices. When writing a new blog post, for example, make sure to use relevant keywords, optimise your meta and title descriptions, add relevant images and optimise them too, add inbound and outbound links to boost your content’s authority, and so on.
Optimise Your Google MyBusiness Profile
If you want to boost your rank in local search results, then it’s paramount to claim your Google MyBusiness listing and optimise it. Make sure that every piece of information you add to your GMB profile is consistent with what you put on your website as well as other business directories. When Google sees that your NAPs are consistent across all devices, then that’s how it knows that your business is legit. Different NAPs are usually a red flag for the search engine giant. As mentioned above, if you change your address, make sure to update it on every directory.
Another important thing to keep in mind when claiming your GMB profile is that you need to fill in as many data points as possible, such as name and phone number as well as categories, sub-categories, and others.
Create Unique Content for Every Location
If you are selling the same products and services but in different locations, then it can be tempting to rehash the same content over and over again. However, Google frowns upon thin or duplicate content and could hit you with a penalty. Try to create unique localised content for every location. Pay attention to the particularities of the area and try to create content that is helpful for that specific area. You can also mention other local businesses in your articles or reach out to them and offer to write a blog post. For example, if you are a bed&breakfast in The Hunter Valley, in Sydney, you can write an article about all the nice things tourists can do in the area and mention some of the local businesses, like museums, coffee shops, and so on.
This strategy will not only help you boost your local ranking but also help with your link building efforts. That, in turn, can further propel your search engine ranking.
Keep an Open Eye for Citation Opportunities
You’ve created a profile on all business directories, like GMB, Angie’s List, Yelp, and so on, but can you do more than this? You can also look for local business directories and try to create your profile there too. And, here’s why this can really help boost your local ranking. First of all, you are actually targeting people in that local area and providing a solution to a specific problem they are having. And, as you know, Google pays attention to proximity and relevance when deciding where to list your website in local search results.
You can use Ahref’s Link Intersect to look for local citation (and also link building) opportunities.
Local SEO Isn’t Just Optional Anymore
Ranking locally is becoming paramount if you want to reach your audience and grow your business. In today’s digital age, people aren’t only listening to local radio stations to learn about the businesses that could help them or ask their friends when they need to find a product or service for a specific problem. As the data shows, they pull out their smartphones, go to Google, and ask there about the best companies in their area that can provide the type of service they need. And, if you aren’t where your audience is looking, then it would be very hard to build brand awareness and recognition, educate them about your products and services, and compel them to choose your company instead of your competitors.
Of course, as with everything digital marketing, things don’t come easy and they don’t happen overnight. You need to develop a good local SEO strategy, implement it, and, most importantly, be consistent. If you claim your Google MyBusiness profile and are thorough about your NAPs at first, but then neglect to update your information, Google will take that as a red flag and drop your ranking. It takes a lot of work and effort to be consistent when it comes to SEO and it can be especially hard when you have so many other things on your plate too.
That’s where we can come in.
At Australian Internet Advertising, we’ve helped countless local businesses boost their rank in local search results, reach a wider audience, and grow. Our SEO experts have the expertise, tools, knowledge, and, most importantly, passion to create, implement, and monitor a successful local SEO strategy. We keep up to date with every change in the industry and are always eager to update our knowledge so that we can put it to good use and help our clients.
If you want to learn more about what we can do for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.