What is local SEO?
Many people use Google and other search engines to find local businesses that sell a particular product or service relevant to a specific location.
Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that helps your business to gain more visibility in local searches on sites such as Google.
Search engines use artificial intelligence to crawl, index, and rank the best results.
To generate local organic traffic for your website you need to optimize the site using techniques such as location-specific keywords, reviews, backlinks and relevant content.
This will boost your ranking when nearby users look for your product or services helping them find your store or purchase directly online.
Which Small Businesses Need local SEO?
If you have a small business with an online presence, search engine optimization can lead to greater visibility, which helps people to find your store driving foot traffic to your physical location and increasing sales.
According to a Think with Google search, 76% of people who search for local services on their smartphone visit the store within 24 hours. Furthermore, 28% become a customer and make a purchase.
Using local SEO helps you to stay relevant. If your business is not optimized for local search you could be missing out on local customers ready to buy the product or service you provide.
The Benefits of local SEO:
There are many benefits to implementing a local SEO strategy:
Optimizing for Local SEO Will Increase Online Visibility
The main target of SEO is to improve your business ranking in search results. A higher ranking often leads to more visibility. This, in turn, brings in more visitors to your online business profile, who can be converted to customers. Appearing in local pack or google maps is a great way to gain visibility and increase traffic to your business.
More Relevant Traffic
With SEO there is a very good chance that the user is already searching for your particular product or service. If your online presence is set up using the correct techniques you should appear higher in rankings putting your business in front of relevant customers who are “ready to buy”.
Local SEO Leads to Sales
80% of local searches that are performed on mobile devices convert into sales. When local SEO is used correctly it puts your business right in front of users that are already interested in the product or service you provide. This increase in relevant traffic to your site will result in more customers and therefore, a higher conversion rate.
Reduce Advertising Costs
A massive benefit of local SEO is the cost. Local SEO can be a much cheaper way to get your business seen than traditional forms of advertising.
3 Ranking Factors for local SEO:
When a search term is considered local, Google will display three businesses alongside a picture, their rating (reviews) and the location of their store.
This is known as the 3-Local-Pack and is often the first link users will click. Local SEO is the process that helps to increase the chance of your business achieving a position in the top 3.
Upon selecting “more places” a longer list of businesses will appear, this is known as the local finder. It is also beneficial for your business to appear on this list as users often like to look at all the top options provided so they can make an informed decision on which store to visit.
From 2017 to 2019, Google reported a 900% increase in searches that used the phrase “near me today/tonight.” To meet the needs of its searchers, Google started providing results for location-related searches based on 3 factors:
- Proximity – When searching for something online Google knows the most suitable result for the customer is often the closest. Even when a user searches and does not put ‘near me’, Google will still take into consideration the location of the user at the time of the search by calculating the distance using location information provided by GPS installed in smartphones.
- Relevance – Google considers how relevant a business is as it relates to the search term a user has searched. There are a few important elements that Google uses for this process: The Company name, the category its’ classified in and any keywords that are in its description.
- Popularity – This is to do with the reputation of a business in its location. Google analyzes how popular a business is. This is largely determined by two factors:
1. The number and quality of reviews a business has.
2. The number, quality and relevance of the backlinks their website has.
6 Tips on how to improve your Local SEO and rank on local search:
Optimize Google my Business for local SEO
As a small business hoping to benefit from Local SEO, one of the most important things you can do is create a Google my Business account. This is a free tool that helps you to manage your business across Google including search and maps, by providing users with helpful information such as business category, address, company name, opening hours, phone, website etc.
In a 2018 study, Moz found that your Google My Business Profile is the #1 ranking factor for gaining a spot on the 3-local-pack.
To optimize your listing and improve your relevance to Google:
- Build and respond to reviews
- Upload photos of your business premises
- List your business opening hours and days
- Use the Question and Answer function to help potential customers
- Keep your profile up to date and accurate.
According to Google, businesses that verify their Google My Business information are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers.
Build Your NAP Citations
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number. NAP citations are online mentions of any of these three things.
Listing these citations will ultimately help you gain more online visibility, putting your business in front of users who are already searching for the product or service you provide.
Try to have consistency with your citations across all platforms. The more consistent they are the more Google will view your business as reputable.
Encourage Customer Reviews
A customer is searching online for a specific product and finds two businesses in their local area that offer that service. One has a rating of 3/5 and the other has 4.5/5. Which service provider is the customer going to choose, all else being equal? That’s right! The latter! This highlights how important it is to have good reviews and ratings on Google.
It is also important to engage with these reviews and respond to both positive and negative ones in a timely and professional manner. This helps your company to build a reputation online and stand out from other competition. It also allows potential customers to observe how you deal with unhappy customers. This is a perfect opportunity to express your brands’ personality online and impress potential customers.
Don’t be afraid to ask happy customers to take a moment to leave a review online about their experience. Too many companies don’t have a review strategy in place. The simplest review strategy is simply asking.
It might be an idea to offer some type of incentive here to encourage customer participation.
Be Google Mobile Friendly
In September 2020, Google implemented mobile-first indexing. This means that Google uses the experience of mobile users to rank your website on all devices.
To make a good SEO site it needs to be mobile-friendly. If your site is not compatible with a mobile or is glitchy and takes too long to load you will struggle to rank.
88% of consumers visited or called a physical store within 24 hours of performing a local search on a mobile device. Therefore, when a site is mobile friendly it increases your business’s visibility which results in more customers visiting your physical store.
Local SEO Link building
Coming in just behind Google my Business, links are the second biggest factor that can impact your business ranking and can be the difference between gaining a spot in the 3-Local-pack or not.
Getting links shows search engines that you run a prominent business in your area. Local links are more helpful because they are highly relevant (eg: a link from a Vancouver blogger is more beneficial than a link from a food blog if you run a meal delivery service like our friends Fresh In Your Fridge).
There are several ways to generate these links:
1. Create linkable assets:
Linkable assets are content that other websites find useful. In doing so you will receive links back to your site from other businesses.
2. Write Guest Post for Local Blogs
These links will help to boost your relevance and popularity signals which are key ranking factors for Local SEO. It is also a great way to increase traffic directed to your website, which results in more customers and sales.
Types of Content Marketing for Local SEO
Content marketing is used to attract the attention of potential customers and show them what service or product your business can offer them.
It’s all about making a connection with the customer by providing them with useful content that can enhance their lives.
For local SEO you want to focus on specific types of content that will appeal to and target your local audience.
1. Use Keyword Research – Understand your customers and what they are going to search for to find your product or service.
Once you have established a list of keywords carry out a Local SEO audit to optimize your online content.
- Include your target keyword in the title tag of your website.
- Include your target keyword in the URL of your web page
- Write a detailed, informative meta description.
- Write useful, keyword-rich body content.
- Add images with optimized image alt text.
- Use internal links to help Google discover and index new content.
2. Write About Relevant Topics
This could mean writing about a large local event that is relevant to your business or answering common questions related to your business or industry.
Mentioning other local businesses in your content is a great technique. In doing so you can sometimes receive links back to your site from other local businesses helping to increase your reach to a local, relevant audience.