Local SEO can be one of the most important parts of any SEO strategy, especially if you’re a B2C company that has a physical address. Appearing as the first result when prospective customers are googling “best places to eat near me” can make or break your entire business.
This is why I want to talk about Local SEO and how you can use it to your businesses advantage. Let’s dive right in!
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of businesses optimising their online presence for relevant local customers through search engine optimisation.
Local SEO ranking factors
Before I can even start suggesting any tips and tricks for you implement into your Local SEO strategy, it’s important to understand what factors there are.
Many different ranking factors go into how Google decides on what businesses are more relevant than others. In a study; conducted by Brian Shaw from whitespark for Moz.com, that found out exactly what signals affect the rankings they discovered that these are the most important signals for Google.
Local SEO ranking factors:
- Google my business – 19%
- Links – 17%
- Citations – 13%
- On-page SEO – 13%
- Reviews – 13%
- Behavioural – 10%
Now its all well and good me shouting a bunch of numbers at you but what do they mean?
It shows that Google REALLY wants you to have a listing on Google My Business. I mean, I’m not surprised since they want as many people using their services as possible, right?!
I’ll get into the other reasons why listing on GMB is great for local SEO later, but first, let’s carry on with these ranking factors.
Links. Links. Links. After spending any amount of time in the SEO world you’ve probably come to realise that links are a huge deal. And they are!
Google uses links as a way to judge the relevance of the page to the content that’s on it. Because, if there are a lot of links to a certain page on the internet then surely that page must be very relevant and have great content. Why else would anyone link to it?
Citations are any online mention of the brand. They can come in many different forms but the most common is through local business directories. Google looks at these and figures out which businesses are popular and should be ranking higher.
On-page SEO is kind of a given because if your page isn’t very good then Google isn’t going to want to show you off as much as a business who might be smaller but has a great website that has a perfect UI.
I think that reviews are kind of an obvious one but ill talk about them anyway. Google uses reviews to determine which businesses are better than others. This is because Google wants their users to have the best experience possible as if they have a bad experience from a bar or restraint they find on google they will be less willing to use google to find businesses again. So, google takes reviews seriously.
Last but not least is behavioural. This is essentially where google determines what the prospect would be most interested in. For example, if someone eats at sushi restaurants quite often google will show them more restaurants of they search “restaurants near me”
Create a Google My Business Account
Before you go ahead and sign up for Google My Business its important to note a few things:
Firstly, we want to make sure our website is mobile friendly. We don’t want to send them to our website if they’re just going to be turned away by how non-mobile-friendly our site is. If you don’t have a Google search console account click here to check if your website is phone friendly. If you do, click here.
Secondly, we need to check our business is eligible to be put onto GMB. These are the businesses that are eligible for GMB:
- Legitimate physical addresses
- Face-to-face contact with customers
- ATMs, video and food kiosks, express mail drop boxes (learn more)
- Seasonal businesses with year-round signage
- Independently operated co-located brands each with their listing (not combined listings/branding)
- Public-facing departments within businesses, universities, hospitals, and government institutions
- Public-facing multi-practitioners contactable at published hours
- Food trucks with permanent locations
- Some co-working spaces (learn more)
- Rental/for sale property offices
And these are the businesses that ineligible:
- PO boxes, virtual offices, and mailboxes at remote locations
- No face-to-face contact with customers
- Rental/for-sale units
- Services/classes/meetings at properties you don’t own
- or officially represent
- Personal, non-business addresses belonging to employees/family/ friends
- Multiple listings representing brands carried, specialities, services, or support staff
- Phone numbers that refer users to entities other than the actual business
- Website URLs that refer users to social media landing pages
- Separate listings for brands and solo practitioners
Listings and propagation
Some essential listing attributes need addressing first of all. These are name, address, and phone number also known as NAP. It is VITAL to local SEO to make sure that they are correct everywhere that your business is listed.
Other attributes of the listing that important to note are the business category, images and reviews. These are less important than NAP but they should also be filled out correctly wherever possible.
Propagation is where Google (or any other search engine) go out and look for data on businesses and their listings.
Search engines might find inconsistent data between multiple sources of data and will not show your business in fear of distributing old information.
These are known as propagation issues.
Propagation issues: Duplicates
Customers may create your listings for you but might get it wrong.
What causes duplicates?
- Check-ins from mobile apps,
- Creating a new listing without checking for a new one,
- 3rd party tools,
- Change of brand name,
- Move to a new location,
- Acquired by another company,
- Former business in your location still exists in listings.
- Crawl errors.
- The variation found on another directory.
- Poor listing accuracy across the ecosystem.
Propagation issue: Inconsistent data
This is when you might update your phone number as the business grows and there might be certain sites that you might miss. So, Google doesn’t know which is accurate any more.
Propagation issue: Conflation
This is where a website might make two half complete addresses and merge them as a new listing. This can be very inaccurate as it could be taking from incomplete addresses that aren’t the same.
I am going to leave this section empty for now as I will be writing a new blog on keyword research in the next month.
But regardless, it’s very important to conduct your keyword research thoroughly for Local SEO.
For the time being, I will link to these resources that explain keyword research amazingly!
- Backlinko – The definitive guide (2020)
- Ahrefs – How to do keyword research for SEO
- Moz – The keyword research mater guide
- Runaway Digital – How to bring your business to the front page of google for the first time
Local SEO site audit
Now its time to look at the Local SEO site audit. This can be a bit of a lengthy process (especially if you have a larger site) but it’s very important to conduct as soon as possible.
- Basic pages with clear, unique selling propositions and clear CTAs:
- Guarantee/Policy/Disclaimer pages
- Complete contact info on Contact Page or location landing pages
- Pages use local business schema markup (schema.org/LocalBusiness)
- Include accurate hours, maps, and written driving directions
- Unique pages for:
- Every location of a multi-location business
- Every key service and product offered
- Every public-facing practitioner or expert (if applicable)
- Reviews/testimonials page or reviews embedded in location landing pages
- A unique title tag on each page, between 50–60 characters.
- Social media, local business profile, and review profile links
- High-quality, accessible media
- Compressed photos with alt tags
- Videos with transcripts
- Proofs of local community involvement/civic benefit
- Usable navigation and strong internal linking structure Mobile-friendliness and fast load speed
- Secure HTTPS URLs
- Proper HTTP redirects in place
- Proper URL canonicalization
- Consistent header tag structure/usage
- Short, optimized, human-readable URLs
- A unique meta description for each page, around 160 characters
As I have talked about before, reviews are a great way to keep your business active online. Google looks on this very favourably. As you can remember reviews took 13% of the ranking signals for Google.
So keep pushing reviews to your customers if possible. Make it as easy as possible for them to leave a review, things such as QR codes in prominent locations around your business can help massively.
And if you get lots of reviews don’t stop responding! This shows Google that you are active and are a part of the community surrounding your business.
Google support links
Here are some support links that we think would be really useful to you.
- Twitter GMB Support
- Facebook GMB Support
- GMB Chat
- Google My Business Help Community Forum
- Business Redressal Complaint Form
- Report Inappropriate Reviews Form
- Request Listing Ownership Form
- Verification Issues Form
- Incorrect Summary on Business Page Form
- GMB Local Reinstatement Request
Thats it for now! This is just scratching the surface when it comes to local SEO. There are many other topics to cover but i will be updating this blog periodically to expand and improve on the knowledge provided.
If you would like me to discuss something specific that I haven’t mentioned here give me an email at email@example.com.
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Or if you would like to see what services (including local SEO) we offer click here!