If you’re a small-to-medium business with no strategy for Local SEO, you could be missing out on a wide range of traffic to your website. Whether you work nationally or locally, focusing on local searches will generate more relevant leads in your area.
According to Search Engine Roundtable, 46% of all searches in Google have local intent. For example, searching for “SEO services in (location)” or “car mechanic near me” are considered as a local search.
Optimising your website for local SEO will help visitors to find your company address, opening hours, your contact details, links to your website and reviews. Using location targeted keywords will help to drive traffic to your main service pages, blog posts or homepage.
To start, Local SEO services should include:
- A fully functioning website
- Set-up or update your Google My Business account
- Optimise for Google 3-pack and Bing Webmaster tools
- Locational based keywords
- Citations and backlinks from local publications
A full technical audit
Before you start anything, you need to check that your website is technically sound by running an SEO audit and ensuring that, when you do work on the local SEO, you will benefit from it.
Your website should be optimised and responsive to different screen sizes. Google has recently switched to mobile-first indexing, which means that the mobile version of your website will be used for indexing and this will impact where your web pages appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
This includes having an HTTPS encryption. Upgrading your site from HTTP to HTTPS shows Google that there’s a secure communication over a computer network, which helps improve your Google ranking.
Local SEO ranking factors
To be found locally, you need to consider local ranking factors so that when people search for your business, all the information is there.
Google My Business is a simple set-up process that allows you to add or update your company information. Once set-up, the information your customer needs is displayed on the right-hand side of the search results like below:
Google my business
To update your business information, you need to create or claim your business by setting up a free Google My Business account this is where you can add all the important details such as a link to your website, the business address, the contact details such as email and phone number and opening/operating times.
Most recently, you can update your details with a Covid-19 statement to communicate if you are on temporarily reduced hours or if you are working as normal. If your business has been affected by COVID-19, Google has created a support guide on how to update your information.
Once you’ve set-up your Google my business account, you can then add categories. Make sure you choose the most accurate categories for your business and best results; you should choose as few categories as possible to keep it targeted.
You can even add photos of your business; this will help searches to see what your offices, staff or products look like so people can get a feel for your business.
Don’t forget about other search engines. Although Google is still number one go-to Search Engine, the likes of Bing and Yahoo are still popular sites and you will also need to add your business to their business accounts to fully benefit from more local traffic.
The Google Local 3-pack and why it’s important for local SEO
The Google local 3-pack comes with its own algorithm and its own set of rules. To rank locally, you will appear in a snippet like below:
This snippet displays underneath the ads when searching for “Marketing Agency Hampshire” and underneath is the standard organic search results. Your Name, phone and address are important ranking factors for appearing in these types of searches.
Even if your business works nationally, working on local SEO and showing in Google 3-Pack will help make your business feel real, and appeal to other businesses who are local to you, especially if it’s backed up with good reviews.
In order to rank better on Google map, you will need to focus on citations and encourage new reviews.
Citations and backlinks from local based websites
Adding your website to relevant directories can help verify your business information to Google, by seeing that your business information is displayed elsewhere. You will need to make sure you use exactly the same business name, address and phone number throughout each directory you add yourself too.
It helps if the directory you use is a reliable source such as Yell, 192 Directory, Hotfrog and many others.
It’ll also really help your SERP results if you get backlinks from local, reliable sources to your website from places such as local newspapers or universities as this help to increase your authority as a business in your local area.
Google reviews to improve Local SEO rankings
Getting positive reviews and feedback from your customers will help your business appear higher in the local search results.
Negative reviews can impact your rating so ensure you keep on top of your reviews and reply to all the reviews regardless of negative or positive feedback. Responding to reviews shows you care about your customers and are grateful for this custom.
It’s best to request your reviews organically and not incentivise customers to leave a review in bulk, or – even worse- utilise your staff to leave reviews as Google could review this as a cheat to get reviews or as spam.
All of these elements should be part of your local SEO services. The good news is once you have worked on your local SEO, you won’t have to update it for a while unless you close an office or move address.
Once your website is ready for indexing and is set-up on Google My Business and the Google-3 Pack, you can start to look at optimising it for local searches.
If you want your local business to be found within a 25-mile radius of your head office, you should target your county as well as your city, doing this opens your business to be viewed by more visitors in a wider radius.
To effectively work on your keywords, you will need to use a tool like Google Keyword Planner to help see what key terms people are using when searching for services similar to yours.
For example, it could be “lawyer services London” or it could be “Lawyer Companies London”. Researching different terms will help show this, and you will soon discover the keywords with the highest search volume at a low competition rate, meaning it will be easy to rank. You will need to use locational keywords for specific landing pages, services pages and any local events.
Once these pages are ready, increase their authority by getting backlinks from local publications to help these pages rank well in SERPs.