If you own a business then you’ve probably heard someone say you need to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to make sure people find your website on Google. It is, however, less common to be made aware of the rewards you can reap by implementing local SEO services in your strategy .
Essentially, local SEO is a strategy to optimize a business, product, or service to make it more visible to potential customers nearby. Visibility is possible because Google tracks the user’s IP address and shows the three most relevant businesses to that search query with a pinpoint to each on Google Maps – this is commonly referred to as the ‘Map Pack.’
If you type your business category into a search engine and display a map pack, you need to invest in local SEO. Local SEO primarily benefits brick and mortar businesses and service area businesses and helps attract local customers.
According to HubSpot.com, 46% of all search engines, queries have local intent, and 88% of searches result in a phone call or a physical visit. The craziest fact? ‘Near me’ and ‘open now’ searches have increased by 900% in the last two years. The fundamentals of local SEO practices are pretty simple; the more the business satisfies the three ranking requirements, the higher the company will rank in the map pack.
Here are the ranking signals:
- Relevancy: This is how relevant your business is to the search query, which can be achieved through keyword research and optimizing your website with your products and services.
- Proximity: This is how close you are to the searcher. Although this is determined by their IP address, you can use your website and Google My Business to showcase what areas you serve.
- Prominence: This is how well known your business is on the internet, achieved through reviews and citations on online directories.
Let’s look at ways to improve your local SEO efforts to get a ranking in the local pack.
1. Optimize your Google My Business
Google My Business is a free tool that helps you take charge of how your business looks on Google’s search results and Google Maps. It is a great way to showcase your company before users even click on your website. Google My Business is perfect for anyone with a physical location shop or serves a location area, e.g., Hampshire.
Before setting up a business on Google My Business, it is important to type your business name into Google Maps to see if Google has automatically generated a listing using the information it has strung together from the internet. You can claim these and then manage them, or you can create one from scratch.
Once you have a verified listing, it is essential to ensure that you input all your information correctly and in the same format as your website or social media. You also need to list the services and products you provide and make a business description that includes any keywords you want your business to be found. These are called your ‘NAP’ details – your name, address, and phone number.
It is essential to insert these so they naturally fit into the description. It is also important to include high-quality photos of your business, staff, and the work that you do – the high-quality images will attract customers and show you are a professional and high-quality business.
Having an optimized Google My Business will boost your rankings organically and in the local pack. Higher rankings will attract local customers and send organic ranking signals to your business, increasing your visibility.
2. Optimize for Voice Search
The power of voice search has significantly increased in the last few years and shows no signs of stopping any time soon, meaning it is essential to optimize your business for voice search. You can do this by optimizing your site with long-tail keywords as well as common keywords.
It’s vital to get into the user’s mind – what type of information do they want? Why? Where? How? According to searchenginewatch.com, businesses optimized for voice search will appear in the top three rankings 75% of the time, suitable for users searching for information locally who are driving or wanting to find out information quickly.
3. Create Local Content
Getting involved in local news and activities is a great way to get your name into the community and helps Google associate your business with the location. Here are some ideas of the content you could create:
- Write blogs about local events or get involved with writing local content for newspapers or forums.
- Make videos on local events and activities to share on social media and your website.
- If you serve multiple locations, set up pages for each and link location-specific content there.
By creating multiple pages dedicated to the locations you serve, when Google crawls these pages, the Google spiders send ranking signals and make you rank higher for these location keywords.
It is important to conduct keyword research before writing content for your business to find out what kind of searches your customers are using. It could be beneficial to have a look at the types of keywords your competitors are using too.
4. Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Did you know that 84% of near me searches are done on mobile? And 50% of those searches ended in an in-store visit. It is crucial to make sure your Google my Business has the correct information linked to the listing as there are buttons to call or request directions to the business directly.
Here are three ways to start optimizing your website for mobile:
- Make sure your website loads quickly – it should take no longer than 3 seconds.
- Use bigger fonts, so it is clear to read on smaller screens.
- Make sure you use a platform with a responsive design like WordPress.
Google rewards mobile-friendly websites and will send ranking signals to rank the website higher both locally and organically.
5. Sign Up for Online Directories
Signing up to online directories is a great way to get your name out there and build your local rankings. You can sign up for generic directories like Yelp, or you can sign up for niche ones for your industry. It is crucial to ensure that all your business details are set in the same format as your website, and Google My Business helps Google identify it as you.
The more citations you have, the more Google can anchor you to your address, and therefore this will boost your local rankings as these ranking signals improve your Google Trustscore. There are citation builder tools like Bright Local, which can help you manage these listings. Many people still use directories to look for trusted businesses, so this could also be beneficial to attracting new customers.
Local SEO is a great way to attract potential customers in your local community and gain your business’s visibility.
By optimizing your Google My Business, keyword research to voice search, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, creating local content, and signing up for online directories – you can be confident that in no time, you’ll be shining in that number 1 position.