What is Local SEO and why should you utilise it?
This quick and easy guide will cover:
- What is Local SEO?
- Benefits of a Local SEO Strategy
- Google Business Profile
- Local Map Packs
- NAP Citations
- On-page Content Optimisation
- How we can help you!
In the paperless age of today, finding new strategies to help your business shine online has become increasingly hard but if you use and promote your location correctly, you can open yourself up to a plethora of potential leads within your direct location.
This blog will talk you through what local SEO actually is, and how you could use it to your business’s advantage.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a search engine optimisation method that involves improving the presence of your business online, in terms of visibility and ranking on search engines.
Local optimisation is achieved through the implementation of multiple methods which we will discuss throughout this blog. However, in broad terms, it is the mass display of your location across the web, so that Googlebots can crawl and understand your whereabouts, and therefore rank you for it.
Your ranking for local search is evaluated through three core terms - proximity, prominence and relevance. But what do these mean?
Proximity: How close your business location is to that of the searcher. Optimising your website and online presence to the most specific location that you can helps Google identify this, and therefore show you to the most avid leads.
Take us, for example. Our services are aimed at Surrey and all its surrounding areas, however, we are most optimised for the locality of ‘Godalming’ – which is where we are based. This helps potential clients find us easier.
Prominence: How well-known and authoritative your business is in your local area. This considers your number and quality of online reviews (we’ll come to this a little later 😉) and presence on local directories and listings. Most importantly, it factors in the experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) of Google criteria, and therefore plays a major role in how you rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Relevance: Of course, your business must be relevant to exactly what the searcher is looking for – search intent. For example, if somebody were to search for ‘café in Godalming’, we as a digital marketing agency are very unlikely to come up. However, somebody looking for a ‘creative agency in Godalming’ is likely to see our business in the top 3 results, as our local SEO has been maintained in such a way to achieve this.
The most vital part of relevance is ensuring you showcase all your products and services, wherever possible. This should remain consistent across the whole of the web within your business description, wherever it appears. This includes any business profiles and listings you may have created. A lack of consistency here could be preventing thousands of searchers, and potential leads, from finding your business every day.
Therefore, you need to create an optimisation strategy that ensures that all of your business offerings are well displayed, tied to a specific location, and reviewed highly. This is of course easier said than done, and you may think that your location is not one of your top priorities, but we are going to break down for you why a Local SEO strategy could be one of the best things you can do for your business.
The Benefits of a Local SEO Strategy
We have been over the factors that affect how your business ranks for your location, but what are the benefits of sitting in that #1 spot for localised search queries, and what can it bring to your business?
Firstly, the rewards of higher ranking itself. Research shows that The #1 result in Google’s organic search results has an average CTR of 27.6%. Therefore, you are taking 27.6% of relevant traffic away from your competitors, and to your business instead.
Local SEO is also extremely cost-effective – in fact, you can make a lot of progress with free implementations. To begin with, there are many relevant local directories you can sign up to with high volume search traffic, optimising website content with localised search terms, and most importantly – a strong Google Business Profile.
All of the above can increase your website traffic, as well as increase the presence of your name, address and phone number (NAP) citations across the web. The combination of these provides the opportunity to obtain a whole host of new high-quality website traffic and active leads, ready to convert with your business.
How to improve Local SEO – an in-depth method breakdown:
So, let’s talk you through the different ways you could use local SEO to level up your business.
1. Google Business Profile (GBP)
One of the most integral parts of any local SEO strategy and also a top local search ranking factor in 2023. A GBP can really make all the difference if optimised properly but first of all, you need to know, what is a Google Business Profile (GBP).
A GBP is a digital storefront, aimed to provide users with a broad, yet simple overview of your business. Any business can have one, providing you have a registered operating address – you don’t have to have a physical store for users to look around. It comes complete with a dynamic map of your registered business location, a street view image of the outside, your service category, opening hours, reviews, and a link to your website. There are several additional customisations you can make such as expanding your photo gallery and linking to social media. The more complete you can make your profile, the more helpful and impressive you will appear to users.
Here is our Google Business profile. You will see we have optimised it with an array of images of our work, a responsive Google Map to identify our precise location, and a Google Street view of our malthouse (our offices) in Godalming.
On top of this, our ‘business category’ is localised, with the key term Godalming, our opening hours are clearly on display and our reviews are available for potential clients to look through to better understand our provisions.
This is what potential leads would see of your business when inputting a relevant search query. It is your opportunity to provide an enticing overview of your business, that customers want to click through to your website to find out more. Having a strong presence here is vital for converting searchers into leads. However, one of the other benefits of having a Google Business Profile is the potential to appear in local map packs.
2. Local Map Packs
Local map packs (snack packs) appear on Google when a user searches for a specific type of business, in a specific location. It allows avid searchers to compare local businesses in the area and choose one to follow through directly to their website. Therefore, this provides another opportunity to outshine your competitors.
Ensuring you sit at the top of this localised list will provide as much click-through benefit to you, as sitting #1 in the SERPs for other search queries. As a matter of fact, for certain ‘business + location’ queries, such as ‘Digital marketing agency in Godalming’ this map pack will appear above usual search results. But how can you influence your position on this?
Map packs have a separate algorithm from usual search results. So, whilst having good backlinks and on-page optimisation will help you here, the most vital factor is the consistency and high-volume presence of your NAP citations across the web, as well as the strength of your Google Business Profile.
3. Local Directories and NAP Citations
Think of local directories as mini search engines where businesses can create and publish a profile. There are many different types and variations depending on your industry, however, some generalised local and reputable directories are Cylex, Yell.com, Bing places, Yelp and Central Index. Some local directories get in excess of 50 million monthly visitors, opening you up to a whole new world of quality web traffic. Another benefit of these directories is the opportunity to obtain authoritative backlinks, alongside other packages that many of them offer to raise your rank and presence on their domain.
Captured here is our Yell Business Profile, as an example for you to see. As displayed below, the domain gives you control over a variety of different functions such as business description editing and photo upload, to allow you to customise your online presence.
The most important aspect about registering for local directories is maintaining your consistent information – NAP presence must be cohesive across the web for your business to be recognised and identified as a trustworthy source of information by Google.
4. Gaining Reviews
Reviews are the ‘word-of-mouth’ of the internet. For local SEO, both the quality and quantity of your reviews play a vital role in not only how Google trusts you, but also how potential leads trust you compared to your competitors.
By no means should you be expected to have perfect 5-star reviews across the whole board, however, having strong and positive reviews across a range of sources is ideal. Part of having a strong reputation is responding to all reviews, negative and positive. Did you know it is beneficial to respond promptly to negative reviews? It can help you mend your relationship with the customer, especially if you can find a solution to the issue. This way, potential customers who are interested in your business can see that you value your customers and their opinions, which can improve your reputation in turn.
Google can also detect spam reviews, so it is vital that your reviews come from real customers, who have had a real experience at your business.
As a reputable digital marketing agency, clients often come to us struggling with building their online reputation. We construct a bespoke strategy that is right for their company to bring in new reviews or get their past or current clients to review them. Building your review portfolio across the various platforms can take time due to the authenticity of reviews, but they are worth their weight in gold. We can only imagine with the multitude of Google updates, including the ‘November reviews update’ that online brand reputation is going to become increasingly crucial for ranking on the SERPs, due to its influence over the ‘trustworthiness’ element of the E-E-A-T criteria.
Like all local SEO methods, reviews will require constant and ongoing maintenance. You must report and remove any spam and ingenuine reviews that could tarnish your business reputation on the web. If you are unsure or feel you need advice, please ask the Google community or get in touch with our team.
5. Optimise On-Page Content
The way that Googlebots identify the relevance of your website to what searchers are demanding is through your on-page content. Having a lack of localised keywords across your website could demote your domain in ranking order for ‘business near me’ searches.
If you take our website as an example:
We integrate keywords such as ‘Surrey’ and ‘Godalming’ across our website, so that when our website is crawled, we can be indexed under these categories. Simple!
It is important that not only are we focusing on our local SEO efforts off page, through the likes of GBP, reviews, and NAP citations, we need to work just as hard on-page. There is a vast array of features that are used to assess your website content on-page, and the balance of them has major impacts on your local SEO. For example, you could have your off-page features up to date but if your website takes a long time to load and results in a high bounce rate, Google won’t rank you highly due to the poor user experience on your website.
Optimising your on-page content will not only help you rank for geo-modified and localised search terms, but it will also help your rank position for usual organic search results – it’s a win-win, and a part of your SEO strategy that should not be left aside.
Some key areas of on-page optimisation to focus on are:
- Tailor all pages for search intent.
- Include NAP information on your website.
- Create compelling meta titles and descriptions.
- Optimise images with alt text.
- Internally link to and from pages where relevant.
- Integrating schema data mark up on your pages.
We know this may seem a little overwhelming, but you don’t have to be on your own.
How can we help you get on the map?
Overall, local SEO is a strategy that has a plethora of factors affecting its success. It can take lots of hard work and time to build but can be highly rewarding when done correctly. Luckily for you, our search engine optimisation team has all the expertise and know-how to research, plan, implement and maintain local SEO campaigns.
Get in touch today if you are interested in obtaining our help to drive your business growth in 2024.
By Lara Howie on By Lara Howie on 22 January 2024