46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information.
As such, local Search Engine Optimisation, or local SEO is becoming an increasingly important component of many SEO campaigns. Local SEO focuses on optimising a website so that it can be found in local search results.
The premise behind local SEO is essentially the same as regular SEO. As such, optimising a page for local search involves many of the same elements as a regular SEO campaign, just with a local focus. That means that content, on-page optimisation, and link building are all still important aspects of a local SEO campaign.
Why is Local SEO Gaining Importance?
The key to the success of search engines like Google and Bing is that they provide the most relevant results for a user’s query. A recent study from Hubspot found that 46% of all Google searches are local. This means that searchers are looking for a local solution to their query almost half of the time.
Search engines know this and are responding to it. As such, local answers are more likely to be chosen and displayed in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Local SEO cannot and should not be ignored. Now, as more searches are local, it’s vital to optimise your website for local search.
92% of searchers will choose a business on the first page of local search results. The easiest way to ensure your business shows up in this position? Set up a Google My Business Account.
Google My Business for Local SEO
Google My Business is free, and it’s quick and easy to set up. It is also one of the most effective elements of a local SEO strategy. As such, if you currently don’t have a Google My Business listing, you should consider setting one up as soon as possible.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is simply an online directory created by Google. It lists businesses across the Google Network so that searchers can find them on the search engine and Google Maps. Having a Google My Business account helps your customers find your company immediately, on any device, and all of this advertising is absolutely free.
The following are some of the other benefits of creating a Google My Business listing for your business.
- Get Found On Google: The Google My Business listings appear in a prominent position in the search results. With a listing, you can elevate your business’ ranking to the top of the first page for local searchers. If your business operates out of multiple locations, you can make use of Google’s ‘Multiple Service Areas’ functionality. This means that your customer can find your closest location to them when they are searching, which is particularly effective for mobile searches.
- Showcase Your Brand Personality: Google My Business gives companies the opportunity to communicate their brand personality and values with Google’s audience. This can be done by customising the business profile. Adding the business’ value proposition, business information, photos, videos and even virtual tours can create a brand identity that sets your company apart from its competitors.
- Boost Your Brand With Social Proof: Google My Business gives customers the chance to review a business’ products or services by giving a star rating and leaving a comment. With a number of positive reviews behind your business, you can build trust and credibility with the audience.
By claiming your Google My Business listing today, you ensure your business stays ahead of the 56% of businesses who still don’t have one.
Other Vital Elements of a Local SEO Strategy
Creating a Google My Business account may be an excellent starting point your local SEO strategy, however, there are a number of other things that your business should do online ensure your website is fully optimised for local search.
As we talked about earlier, local SEO isn’t vastly different from regular SEO. Local SEO still makes use of keywords, content, links, on-page SEO, and reviews, however, the difference when you are optimising for local search, is that these strategies have more of a local focus. This helps to ensure that your business is found when people are carrying out these searches in the local area around your business.
If you can get the following elements right, you will have a better chance of outranking your local competitors in the search engine results pages.
Local SEO Keyword Research
Local SEO keyword research is similar to traditional keyword research. However, one major difference to be aware of is that local searches are most often performed on a mobile device, such as a smartphone, Amazon Echo, or Google Home. These devices have voice search capabilities, and many of the searches that are carried out on them are by voice. As such, ensuring your website is optimised for voice search is a great way to boost your local SEO.
There has been much talk about how voice search is shaping the future of SEO, and by 2020 it is predicted that 50% of all searches will be voice searches. As such, SEO will become more focused on trying to optimise websites for conversational voice search terms like ‘find an Italian restaurant near me’. In order to optimise for voice search, it’s important to be aware that queries are more question-focused. This means that when you are carrying out keyword research, look for question-based terms.
Normal keyword research tools can be used for this, such as Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush’s topic research tool, Keyword.io, and AnswerThePublic. These tools will give an indication of the questions searchers are looking for, as well as their search volume, and some of them will detail competition levels for the keyword. Given the recent increase in this type of search, many questions that are relevant to your business will have a reasonably high search volume.
Create Content for Local SEO
An effective local SEO strategy requires locally focused content. All good marketers know that any content that is published should demonstrate a depth of knowledge, and for SEO purposes, should cover the most appropriate breadth of topics based on the keywords that are targeted. One thing to bear in mind with local SEO content is that while traditional SEO best practice is to write long-form content, this isn’t necessarily the best way to generate results for local search.
In order to be effective for local SEO, it is important to write content that addresses the user’s intent behind the query. This is more important than a high word count for the query. The most effective way to do this is to carry out keyword research to find out exactly what local customers are searching for. You can then create content around these terms that addresses and answers these queries. Headlines and meta-data should also contain the relevant local keywords and phrases so that both the searcher and the search engine recognise your business as a local provider.
Another tip to help boost your local SEO results is to create a specific webpage for each town, county, or region that your business operates in. By focusing one page on each local area of your business, you can significantly increase your chances of appearing in local search results. Each page should talk about the unique characteristics of the location and how your business operates in that area. Adding case studies and testimonials from other local businesses that you have worked with can also help to add credibility.
Build Backlinks for Local SEO
Backlinks are an important ranking factor for SEO. However, creating an effective backlink strategy can be difficult. It is vital to follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines when building a backlink strategy, as ‘bad’ backlinks can have the opposite effect for your site and result in a penalty from Google. Any backlinks to your site that do not adhere to Google’s guidelines will be detected and can adversely affect your site’s rankings.
Once you know how to avoid bad quality links, you can start to create a link building strategy for local SEO. This is slightly different than for organic SEO, and there are various link categories that make up a quality local SEO strategy, including:
- Citation / NAP Sites
- Local Directory Websites
- Industry-Related Local Sites
Generate Reviews for Local SEO
Online reviews are one of the top 3 most important ranking factors in local search, according to the 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors report by Moz. Having review stars in Google’s search engine results pages can improve your click-through rate by up to 35%. As customers trust and value online reviews, customers treat these reviews in the same way that they would treat a word of mouth recommendation from a friend or family member.
The most effective reviews for your business should be recent and in-depth enough to provide specific details about the business’ products or services. It can be useful to ask satisfied customers to leave detailed reviews on a range of different platforms. For local SEO, generating reviews on the Google My Business listing is key. In addition, depending on the industry you operate in, and the sites your customers are most active on, you may also want to consider trying to get reviews on City search, Tripadvisor, Foursquare, Facebook, Yahoo Local or Yelp.
The digital marketing experts at Digital Squad have considerable experience in developing local SEO campaigns that generate leads and conversions. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help your business.
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