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Local SEO matters big time for small businesses

Local SEO has become increasingly important over the last few years, and is now quite rightly regarded as one of the most effective search engine marketing strategies around. You only need to look at applications like ‘Near Me’ to understand the importance of local search. Since its introduction in 2011, search interest in the application has increased by over 3,400 percent – and doubled during the course of the last 12 months alone. What’s more, according to Google statistics local searches result in 50 per cent of mobile users visiting stores the same day to purchase products. So there can be no doubting that local SEO matters if you want to run a successful business.

But how do you market your business effectively on local searches? Well, you need to get the basics right first of all. It’s actually quite a simple process. What you should be aiming to do is:

  • Create a Google My Business listing
  • Have a mobile-friendly website
  • Optimise your pages for local keywords
  • Create local blog content
  • Make sure your name, address, and phone number are consistent across platforms
  • Drive high-quality backlinks to your website
  • Get on social media and interact with customers

What mistakes should you try to avoid?

Not paying enough attention to what your competitors are doing

Just because you’re competing on a local level, doesn’t mean you won’t face competition. Other businesses will also be trying to corner a slice of the local market too with targeted keywords. Although you should always aim to target keywords that are relevant to your niche business, it won’t do any harm to have a look at how other local businesses are using their keywords. By looking at your competitors you’ll not only be able to see what’s working for them, but you’ll also be able to identify and target less competitive keywords.

Choosing the wrong business category

To get the widest possible recognition on local search, you’ll need to categorise your business on your My Business Page. If you do this correctly, this will make it easier for Google to uncover the relevant information about your brand. It’s this information that’s needed to help you appear relevant in the search results.

If you neglect to list your business, or list it in the wrong category, this can have serious consequences on your ranking and ability to be ranked on local search results. If your business produces many different products, Google recommends that you use as few categories as possible: so try to focus on the categories where you want to rank well most.

Ignoring or neglecting reviews

You might think peer reviews are a waste of time, and that your time is better spent perfecting products rather than responding to criticisms, but reviews matter whether they’re good or bad. Statistics show that 88 per cent of customers seek out other people’s opinions and views on third- party platforms before making a purchase. So make the effort and don’t ignore comments. Otherwise your business could suffer the consequences.

Duplicating content

Businesses which focus on local SEO are more likely to have duplicate content. – Fact. Duplicated content creates problems for Google and can lead to penalties, particularly after recent algorithm changes- Fact. So what can you do to remedy this situation? Well, Google advises the following to minimise your chances of getting penalised:

  • Either merge your different location pages into one and include all the information there, or create unique copy for each location page
  • Avoid repeating boilerplates or publishing stubs across your pages
  • Instead of copying content to your web page (such as a review), offer a brief summary then link back to the original page
  • In cases where duplicate content is completely necessary, use a noindex meta tag on one of the pages

Gathering too many poor quality backlinks

Although backlinks are important in improving local SEO ranking, amassing too many poor quality backlinks will only lead to trouble. Google is constantly trying to weed out pages that have backlinks from low quality domains. Many local directories, and the web pages associated with them, are probably considered low-quality by Google. So it’s important to spend time and effort building up a number of high-quality, trusted backlinks from organisations like professional trade associations and the local Chamber of Commerce. These backlinks are definitely harder to come by, but it will be worth the effort in the longer term.

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