If you’re a local business owner or entrepreneur, you’ll need to start tapping into the power of local SEO. When coupled with a comprehensive total SEO strategy, you can capture the local market and establish yourself as the place to be in your community. Read the article on local SEO below and learn how you can start optimising your pages today.
In this article:
- What is local SEO?
- Why is local SEO important?
- What are the benefits of local SEO for my business?
- How do I optimise my website for local SEO?
What is local SEO?
Local search engine optimisation (aka local SEO) ensures that your local business, especially if it has a brick-and-mortar location, is visible on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo – including map views. When you combine overall SEO strategies with local SEO techniques, you can drive traffic to your website and even to your actual store from customers in nearby areas.
Why is local SEO important?
There’s no doubt that local SEO is important for any business, big or small, that serves local customers. Here are some hard statistics to prove it:
- 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in 2020
- 89% of people search for a local business on their smartphone at least once a week
- 50% of people who did a local mobile search went to a physical store within one day
- 18% of local searches on mobile led to a sale within one day
These numbers reflect just how often people engage in local search. Simply put, if your business isn’t optimised for local SEO yet, you’re making it hard for your customers to find you.
What are the benefits of local SEO for my business?
Here are the key benefits of ensuring your business pops up on nearby search listings when people search for a local business:
Builds Your Business’s Reputation
Local SEO helps you establish your online presence. If your business appears under a Google My Business (GMB) listing, it’ll give the impression of credibility and professionalism to your customers.
DEFINITION: GMB is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses to manage their online presence and interact with their customers across Google via Search and Maps.
Generates More Reviews
Optimising your business for local search doesn’t just make it easy for nearby customers to find you; local SEO also makes it easier for them to give feedback about your service. When your service is exceptional (which it should always be!), you can expect a ton more positive reviews, which can further boost your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). Google loves to rank well-reviewed business higher than anonymous ones.
Increases Website Traffic and Sales
As with ordinary SEO, a thoroughly planned, well-executed, and tailor-fit local SEO strategy enables nearby customers to find you at the exact moment they need you. For example, if you’re running a local pizza joint, your shop should be among the first that customers see on Google when they search for pizza delivery near me. If you’re at the top of the SERP or at least on page one of Google, the chances of people clicking your site will be much higher!
(don't forget, 32% of organic clicks go to the number 1 listing, with the top 3 grabbing a combined 73% of all search traffic! It pays to be on top!)
How do I optimise my website for local SEO?
Optimising your website for local search isn’t as different as to how you’d do it when implementing an overall SEO strategy. However, there are a few key areas about your site you’ll have to pay real close attention to when you’re implementing a local SEO strategy.
Here are tips you can act on right now to start optimising your page for local search:
Work on your Google My Business Listing
The best way to optimise your business for local SEO is to get it listed on GMB. One of the first decisions you’ll make is to set a business category like so:
As of 2020, there are over 4,000+ business categories on GMB to choose from. The right categories to choose are those that are very specific and best describe your business locally. While the platform will allow you to choose up to 10 categories, we advise you to add the least number of categories possible. Stick to at most four primary categories if you can.
For example, let’s say you’re the proud owner of Don’s Pizzeria, a family-run place that sells tasty Italian pizzas and gelato catering to the north side of Brisbane. Your GMB category could be something like pizza takeaway or pizza delivery. Categories like Italian restaurant or even gelato shop might not be the best categories to use as they’re too generic or don’t focus on your business’ key selling point.
Another thing to consider when listing your business on GMB is your location. Take a look at how the GMB listing for these Brisbane-based restaurants appears on Google SERPs:
See how the listing has the restaurants’ name, brick-and-mortar address, and phone number? There’s even information on each branch’s operating hours and whether or not the shop accepts dine-in customers. Take a cue from these listings and make sure yours has complete location details, too.
Collect Tons of (Positive) Reviews
Collecting positive reviews is also a good way to boost your local SEO. Having a lot of them reflects on your GMB listing boosts your visibility on search.
While raking in tons of reviews is good to keep track of, it’s also important for you to collect the right kind—the positive reviews, of course! Take for example this customer comment:
Getting many positive reviews and stars also encourages Google to rank your business higher on SERPs when people search for businesses in your category. Whether positive or negative, these reviews can also be your way to learn things you can continue to improve about your business. It’s a win-win situation!
Of course, the positive reviews you get should be authentic. They should come from real people who actually experienced your top-quality services. You don’t need to convince customers to give you a review if you treat them really well!
That being said, if you've got regular customers who come in all the time, or an email/social list of loyal followers, don't be afraid to ask them to leave you a review. While you definitely don't want to pay for reviews (naughty monkey), offering incentives like 'win a month of free gelato' or '10% off your next order' is a great way of showing appreciation and incentivising your customers to take a few minutes to write something nice for you.
Add Local Keywords When Doing On-Page SEO
Keywords are the backbone of any SEO strategy, including those with a local SEO component in them. As such, doing thorough keyword research for your business is and will always be the first step.
After settling on a list of keywords, it’s time to apply them to your GMB listing and website.
To maximise your GMB listing, make sure your keyword is within your business title. Think of your business title as the Title Tag in one of your webpages. Doing this will make it easier for Google to learn from the get-go what your business is really about.
You’ll also want to consider proximity keywords when crafting your website content.
Proximity keywords are keywords that usually describe your business’ location. One of the most popular proximity keywords used today is near me. Other examples include specific areas where a business is located (e.g., cafe in Brisbane).
We typed the word pizza on Google, and this is what came out:
See how Google immediately suggested things like pizza hut near me and pizza hut brisbane city? This shows you that when people search for pizza, many of them are looking for local results. If you want to optimise your business for local search, it’s best to start adding proximity keywords to your pages ASAP. Or better yet, build a geo-specific landing page for each location you serve (watch this blog, new article on this topic coming in just a minute!).
Build Your Internal and External Link Network
Link building, both internal and external, is also crucial when you’re optimising your business for local search.
Internal linking happens when you add link-outs from your page that lead to other pages on your website. Internal linking has heaps of SEO benefits, including improving page rank, improving usability through anchor text, boosting pageviews, helps with crawling & indexing, and helps keep your visitors on your website just a bit longer—hopefully long enough to convince them to make a purchase!
Meanwhile, external linking happens when third-party websites add hyperlinks to their own content which lead to one of your webpages. Having a huge network of quality and high-ranking websites linking back to your page convinces Google of your page’s credibility and authority.
Take a cue from Neil Patel when he compared external links to votes, saying, “the more of them [links] that you get, the higher you will rank.”
Backlinks are one of the biggest factors in determining your website's SEO strength, so don't neglect them! If you're not sure where to start, we have affordable SEO packages designed to help small-medium business outrank their competitors in a strategic, cost-effective, reliable way. Book a free strategy session by clicking on this link.
Even if you don't use 'the socials' for your personal life, you can’t deny the power of social media when it comes to establishing your local business’s online presence. A lot of today’s social media platforms already allow location-based searches, which is another opportunity to attract local customers to your store.
Here’s an example of a Brisbane-based French restaurant’s business page on Facebook:
If you currently have a Facebook page for your business, make sure you’ve pinned your location in the Page Details section. Doing so helps Facebook show your business as a suggestion for when people type (in this case) french restaurant on the Facebook search bar.
Listing your location on social media also makes your business address more obvious for customers to see. Updating your location even allows customers to post that they checked into your shop as a status update – free publicity for you since all their friends will see this update!
If you have accounts on Twitter or Instagram, ask your customers to tweet about your products. You can even encourage your Instagram followers to post a pic of your latest latte art creations with the hashtag #latteart (or whatever funky/shareable thing people do in your industry).
There’s no doubt that SEO continues to play a key role in establishing your business’s presence in the digital landscape. There’s an even bigger opportunity for you to attract more customers by adding a layer of local SEO into your current strategy. Through local SEO, you'll not only increase your chances of ranking higher on Google SERPs, you’ll be giving your customers a map that’ll lead them straight to your business—literally and figuratively!
Need help optimising your website for local search? Don’t fret—Ape-X SEO and PPC Services are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our local SEO packages and how we can help you stand out in local search.