I haven’t met a local business owner yet who doesn’t want to win over new customers and grow/enhance their business in their local marketplace. However, sometimes tapping into new audiences and gaining fresh eyes on your brand can be tricky. This is where, Local SEO can and should be a vital tool for all local businesses.
Firstly, what exactly is Local SEO?
With the increased use of smart phones came the term ‘local SEO’. Think about it, how often on your phone or even on your desktop do you look for products or services near you? I bet the answer is a lot! Therefore, what Google does is provide search results that are relevant to what the searcher is looking for based on the location.
There are 2 sides to the local SEO coin. The first being the ‘Local Pack’– this refers to the 3 businesses that are listed under the map on the 1st page of Google. Once you click on the More Places link you’re then taken to a list of even more relevant businesses which is known as the ‘Local Finder’.
The other side of the local SEO coin, is ranking organically for search terms that have a location modify in them. I.e. ‘SEO Perth’ or ‘locksmith perth’ for instance. It’s your website saying ‘hey, we’re a local business and we want locals to check us out’. Experts dub this as ‘localised organic rankings’.
But the question is, if Google is matching up searchers and businesses based on their current location – is there any point having a local SEO strategy? Yes, yes there is.
Proximity & Local Search
It’s true, for the past couple of years based on research ‘Physical Address in City of Search’ has been the number one local pack/finder ranking factor. Therefore, based on this one factor, Google is matching up customers with the closest relevant business but not necessarily the best one. This makes for a sub-par user-experience at times.
So yes, it is a thing, but it is still worthwhile investing in a local search strategy. Like any Google algorithm, local search involves several factors – not just one – so this is where awesome businesses can shine. If you have a higher relevancy and prominence you will rank across a wider radius.
As with your normal SEO strategy – your business needs to concentrate on being the best it can be on and offline and with the help of online marketing experts they’ll be rewarded by our favourite search giant – Google.
So how can you gain more local eyes on your brand today via online marketing?
How to Rank in the Local Pack/Finder (i.e. Google Maps)
There are many factors involved in ranking in the Local Pack/Finder - as is the case when it comes to SEO. Out of the gang of Google algorithms out there, it’s Pigeon and Possum that target local search results so it’s always recommended to keep up to date with the latest news on these if local SEO is a priority for your business.
Every year, one of the SEO Industries ‘go to’ resources, Moz.com, will report on the ranking factors for local SEO to help us understand where to prioritise our time when it comes to ranking better locally. The 2017 stats have recently been announced which is why we thought it would be as good a time as any to create a checklist for you.
So how can you start getting on the map with your local customers? Here are the top 5:
1. Google My Business
This currently is the most important ranking factor. Make sure your business is listed on Google Maps and for goodness sake – optimise it! Google even provides a handy Google My Business optimisation guide, so you have no excuses.
2. Link Signals
As with your normal SEO efforts you should be constantly trying to build on your back-link profile. Get your public relations revved up and try attract online media and/or influencer attention that’ll hopefully gain you links back to your website. Plus, don’t forget to create unique and link-worthy content on your website that others will naturally want to link to as a resource.
3. On-Page Signals
Your website is your shop-front to new eyes so not only should you make sure it works well but that it functions like a well-oiled machine. Did you know that when you engage an SEO expert, part of their job is to conduct an SEO audit of your site? This audit will not only review the user-friendliness of the website but look at how your website can enhance your local presence through keywords and business details
4. Citation Signals
Citations are mentions of your business across the web on places like business directories. There are several worthwhile local SEO citations your business should have and your NAPW (business name, address, phone number, website) should be listed 100% consistently across all these mentions.
5. Review Signals
If you haven’t yet hooked onto the importance of online reviews, then you better jump aboard the train ASAP. As a business owner, I am sure you’ve dealt with the good and bad when it comes to reviews whether they are online or offline, however you need to aim to have the world talking good things about your company. The more reviews you can get on your Google My Business listing the better – however if customers are willing to say good things on Facebook, Yelp, True Local or anywhere online – it’s a good thing!
All the above factors will help get your business on the map, if you’re still struggling then please get in touch with a professional agency like our team here at White Chalk Road who’ll be able to help.
How to Gain Better Localised Organic Rankings
As mentioned, this is where your website is showing up in the normal organic results particularly around search terms with local qualifiers on them. So how can you bump your website up the rankings here? Here’s the top 5 factors according to the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors by Moz:
1. Link Signals
As mentioned above, the better-quality links you can get pointing to your website the more chance you should rank above your competitors on the search result pages. You want trusted, reputable websites pointing to your website.
2. On-Page Signals
Again, along the same lines as above – is your website aimed at local users? Can they tell you are a local business? And fore and fore-mostly is your website user friendly?
3. Behavioural Signals
This includes things like click-through-rates. Your SEO manager should be constantly reviewing Google Analytics stats to see how they can improve the website so it a) ranks better b) acquires more clicks. Google assesses what people are typing in to trigger your website to show in the search results alongside things like where they are located, how many people click on your result compared to the others around you etc.
You can help ‘personalise’ how your website appears in the search results – obviously the meta data is a big one but also putting in place amazing schema mark-up and trying to obtain structured snippets can help.
5. Citation Signals
As mentioned above, citation consistency is key. It’s true that the importance of citations has lessened over the last couple of years but it’s still a key element to factor into your strategy. Take the time to clean up your citations and build new quality citations to help move up the ranks.
In conclusion, the biggest takeaways you can gain from this post today need to be:
- Get your business on Google My Business and optimise the listing
- Drive as many positive reviews to the above as possible
- Make sure all mentions of your NAPW are consistent online
By Casey Bryan.