Customers can’t turn to you if they don’t know that you’re there. Which means that local search is a vital part of any online marketing strategy.
Searchers want local results
When we want to find a local business, we search for it. According to Google, four in five consumers use search engines to find for products, services or experiences that are near to them.
People are expecting their search results to be relevant to their location. If your business thrives on local custom, the question is simple: How do you get found by someone who doesn’t know, or has forgotten, that you’re just around the corner, when they’re looking for something on their mobile?
Local Search Matters
Just like any other SEO campaign, local SEO is based on search results. Where it differs is by being specifically directed at reaching local customers when they actually need your services.
Google knows its users’ location and wants to deliver real-time, personalised results that are relevant for them, where they are. To help Google do this, and help your customers find you, there are simple steps you can take.
1. Optimise your website with the basics
Small business websites can easily be optimised for local search by simply making sure they contain accurate, up-to-date information.
Basic details like name, address and phone number need to be consistent across your site. You can also add these details to your footer code; this way, Google will find your information on all of your website’s pages.
Making sure your website renders well on a mobile device is especially important in local search. People search for information on the go, and use search engines as a guide to find what they need in their location. With over 50% of all search now taking place on a mobile device, making sure your site renders well in mobile is a priority
2. Optimise for Google
Creating a Google My Business page is a simple way to make sure you are easily discoverable. The latest Google updates have removed sidebar ads (the space on the right hand side). Searching for a business in any location, and you will be presented with the business details in this sidebar space. This information comes from businesses that have already registered with Google My Business.
By claiming and completing your business listing for each location, and pinning your location on Google maps, searchers and Google will find you faster and see information about you presented to them quickly.
3. Think about Local Keywords
Keywords are your best friend. Small businesses can differentiate themselves from big companies by making wise use of their keywords.
Focus on using specific keywords that include your location, your town and city and your industry. If you are a building contractor in Stockport, and your name happens to be John Jones, don’t use “John Jones – Builders”. Use “John Jones – Stockport Builders” instead, and help search engines track you down.
Make sure these specific keywords are placed throughout your site’s content and try to include the name of your business, your location and the keyword being targeted in your page titles.
Another tip is to place your location in your homepage’s title, description and meta data. You can even add it to images or logo alt attributions. Embedding a Google map with your location will help even more.
4. Ask for Local Reviews
The more reviews you get (and the better they are) the more valuable Google will believe you are.
Reviews are a critical online signal. They signify both the quality of your business and its popularity. A good start is to ask satisfied customers for a good review on Facebook, Google Places, Yelp or any other social platform.
Collecting as many positive reviews as possible helps, but don’t obsess over the occasional poor one. If you have enough positives, Google will reward you.
5. Write Local Content
Why do people search online? Usually, in search of answers to questions. Which means they are looking for quality content that helps them solve a problem or pain, not keyword stuffed blogs or filler content.
To get ahead with local search, incorporate some locally focussed content into your website that helps answer your customer’s questions. If it really is locally focussed, it will rank well for local SEO. Topics relevant to your location might include local events, activities, news and promotions.
Blogs about a particular area alongside your useful, answer-focussed content will both boost your Google ranking and establish you as an authority at the same time.
Use all the tools at your disposal
No matter what techniques you use to improve your local SEO, it’s important to remember that traditional SEO still works as well. So, make sure you use the broad range of SEO tools at your disposal.
By creating a mobile-friendly website, focussed on answering the questions your customers are searching for, you can win at search and local search and drastically improve your online marketing efforts.