Search engine optimisation (SEO) makes an appealing promise to any small business: optimise your website and you can put your products or services in front of a worldwide audience. And, who can say no to that?
But, while there’s no problem with thinking globally, your local customers could help you grow your business faster than a global audience.
Let us put it this way:
Nearly half of all Google searches are local searches. Moreover, 88% of the people who perform a local search, call or visit a local business within a day. 72% of the people who performed a local search, visited a business within five miles.
What these numbers tell us is that when people have a problem, they most often look at the businesses in their vicinity for a solution. Especially in this day and age, when more and more people are using their mobile devices to search for information and shop, it’s a good idea to make it easy for your potential customers to find your local business online.
With that in mind, let’s talk more about local SEO: what it is, how it works, and what you need to do if you want to rank high in the local search results.
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What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO refers to the process of optimising your online presence to boost your local search ranking and appear in the queries that have local intent.
Let us give you an example.
If you are looking for a “vegan raspberry cake recipe” online, you will get information from websites from all over the world. If the page is sufficiently optimised and has a good enough authority, then the search engines might display it for that search query. But, if your query includes a location, such as “vegan bakeries near me” or vegan bakeries in Sydney,) then Google will list the businesses based on proximity, prevalence, and relevance. In other words, it will show you the businesses that are close to your location, have the products and services you are interested in and are optimised for the local search engines.
How Are the Local Search Engine Results Different Than Organic Searches?
What happens when you type “bakery near me” on Google?
You will notice that you will get two different categories of search results: the local pack and the organic results.
At the top of the search engine results are the local packs. Here you will find a block of three business listings that appear whenever someone performs a local search query. Then, below these listings, you will find the regular, organic results.
One study found that 33% of clicks go to the local pack while 40% of them go to the organic results.
Among the things that make the results in the local pack stand apart is the fact that these listings provide more information than the regular search results. You can see a business’ address, hours of operation, and reviews. There is even a small telephone icon at the right of the listing to make it easier for prospective customers to make a phone call.
All of the information displayed in the local pack comes from the company’s Google My Business profile.
How to Optimise Your Google My Business Listing
Your Google My Business profile is one of the most powerful tools you have for ranking high in the local search engines. Not only that this listing feeds information to the local packs and Google Maps search results, making it attractive enough to get clicks from potential customers, but it also boosts your local exposure. Of course, to benefit from all GMB has to offer, you first need to set it up and optimise it.
Here’s how to do it.
Claim Your GMB Profile
Before anything, you should first make sure that you don’t already have a Google My Business listing. If your business has been around for a while now, then it’s possible that you already have a GMB listing and you only need to claim it.
If you are a new business, then you can go here to set up your Google My Business listing and get started.
Complete Your GMB Account Thoroughly
A complete profile will not only boost your local search ranking, but it also improves user experience as it will make it easier for potential customers to find the information they want. Offer all the details that you think may be useful to your target audience, including name, address, phone, website, hours, products and services, questions and answers, reviews, Google posts, and so on. Make sure all the information you provide is correct, accurate, and updated.
Choose a Category
When you choose a category, Google will provide a variety of tools that will help you make your listing more appealing. For example, if you are a restaurant, then you can include a menu or reservation button in your listing.
According to one Google report, users are 42% more likely to request driving information and 35% to click through the website if the GMB profile also includes photos. But, that’s not the only reason why you should care about this aspect. Anyone can add photos to a GMB listing. By adding your own, you ensure that your profile will look great.
Ask Your Customers for Reviews
Reports show that 90% of internet users read at least one review before deciding to visit a business. Online reviews are just as trustworthy to them as personal recommendations.
Online reviews provide social proof and tell your potential customers that others have tried your products and have liked them (or not.)
Make sure to always ask your customers for reviews. Answer to these reviews too, even the negative ones as they are an opportunity to showcase your stellar customer service.
Building Local Citations and Links
A local citation is any mention of your business’ NAP (name, address, and phone number.) They can appear anywhere from business directories to social media, basically anywhere someone might look for information about a local business.
The reason local citations are important is that they add legitimacy to a business. If the same information appears across various websites and platforms, then Google will know that your business is operational and provides the kind of products and services you advertise. And, because it sees your business as trustworthy, it is more likely to rank it high in the local search results.
There are two types of citations:
- Structured: it lists your NAP on different websites, listings, and platforms.
- Unstructured: it only mentions your business, such as in a blog post or forum post.
One of the simplest ways of getting local citations is by submitting your NAP to data aggregators, such as Yelp, Facebook, Apple Maps, Bing Places, Foursquare, and so on.
Getting local links from local bloggers, influencers, newspapers, and business associations is also an important step in optimising your business for local search. You will, of course, need a good local link building strategy to get local websites to link back to your business. That generally means creating localized content that adds value and connects you to your local customers. For example, if you run a small bed and breakfast, then you can create content about the best restaurants in your area, local events, attractions, and so on.
Local SEO Is Well-Worth the Effort
Optimising your small business for local SEO means more than just creating and claiming your Google My Business listing. If your site is not optimised for mobile search, for example, then that can affect your local rankings as most local searches happen on a mobile device. The quality of the backlinks you are getting from local websites also has a say in your local ranking.
At Australian Internet Advertising, we know how to use and leverage all these factors to help your small business rank high for local searches, build your brand, earn trust, and ultimately get more customers through your door.
Because we understand that most small businesses work with a tight budget, our SEO packages are designed to give you the best results for the lowest possible cost. Check our prices and packages here and then get in touch and let devise a plan together.