What is local SEO?
Local SEO refers to the process of enhancing your local online presence in order to attract more business from relevant local searches. It can be classed as ‘the practice of optimising your brick and mortar business for location-focused keywords and search terms’; such as “web design Barry”.
These searches can be performed across several different search engines, but with 90%+ market share in the UK alone, these searches are typically performed on Google, with the hope of being included in something called the ‘Google Snack Pack’.
The Google Snack Pack, also known and referred to as the ‘local 3 pack’ or ‘map pack’, is the boxed area that appears on the first page of Google search results when a local online search is performed. The Snack Pack box displays the top 3 local business listings most relevant to the search query and contains it’s very own search algorithm and set of rules. But why is it important for local businesses to appear in the snack pack? Let’s find out!
Why is local SEO important?
Optimising your local SEO means increased website traffic (if you have a website), leads and conversions since your efforts are placed into becoming more relevant to your base of local customers. It is a way to help smaller businesses compete more effectively against larger national organisations who have significantly greater amounts of resources at their disposal. By focusing on specific local SEO tactics, smaller firms are able to limit the impact of these bigger businesses that often optimise content for broader keywords and search terms and rely on brand recognition, rather than value offerings, to bring in footfall.
Further strengthening the case for local SEO are the fascinating stats that surround it. 46% of all searches performed on Google have ‘local intent’ (SER), “near me” searches are increasing 150% faster than traditional, local-based searches (Google) and 29% of all Google search engine result pages contain a snack pack in the results (RankRanger).
With all of the advantages and buzz around local SEO, it comes to no surprise as to why so many businesses are battling it out to be included in the local 3 pack. So, what can you do to get in there? Here are the best ways to optimise your business for local SEO.
Improving your local SEO
1. Create & Optimise Your Google My Business Listing
First things first, to get started with local SEO, you’ll need to create a Google My Business listing. For no charge, this establishes your business’ online presence and means you will appear on Google Maps. Not only will your business appear in search results across a variety of devices, but if Google authenticates your listing as a legitimate business, it could also appear in the sidebar space of a Google search.
There are several ways in which you can optimise your GMB listing to ensure Google not only sees your business but chooses it to appear in local search results. These are:
- Keeping everything consistent between your listing, website & other online listings
- Filling in every data point available i.e. Name, Address, Bio and Shortname
- Keeping crucial business data updated such as opening hours and holidays
- Get more reviews and engage with any that you do get
2. Gain Regular Reviews
The last point that we made above is an important one. Getting your customers to leave glowing reviews about your business doesn’t just help to optimise your GMB listing and presence, but it also encourages more local customers to buy from you. The more footfall that your business experiences can lead to further positive reviews which then helps to build more signals to Google that your business is legit and worthy of ranking highly in local searches. Some tips to encourage your customers to leave positive reviews are:
- Respond to existing reviews in a professional way, addressing any negative reviews that you may get and thanking reviewers for sharing their positive experiences
- Asking for a review in-person after a sale has been made
- Send post-purchase communications asking customers to leave reviews
3. Optimise for Voice Search
Voice search has been rapidly growing over recent years, especially in terms of SEO. Therefore, it is crucial to optimise your content into a voice search-friendly manner, focusing on the way people ask questions when they speak rather than when they are typing. When performing voice searches using specific devices such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home or a voice assistant such as Siri, searchers opt for more long-tail keywords compared with regular search. As a result, you’ll have to adjust the SEO of your content to fit the more conversational tone of someone talking. A good tip here is to focus your efforts on traditional question starters such as who, what, when, where, why and how.
4. Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Online mobile searches have also grown in popularity over the last decade with the increase in accessibility to mobile devices. In fact, in 2017, Google released its mobile-first indexing search results that prioritised mobile-optimised content over non-optimised content and even made it their primary index. This confirms the strategy behind optimising websites and content to be mobile-friendly, not just for local SEO, but for SEO as a whole.
Some tips for making your website more mobile-friendly are:
- Ensure your website loads quickly
- Use images and website copy only when needed and avoid filler content
- Use bigger fonts that are easy to read
- Implement an enhanced user interface for a great experience
5. Greater Focus on Local Keywords
One of the most obvious ways to rank for local search results is to focus on local keywords, right? Of course, it is! Google’s own Keyword Planner allows you to filter keyword searches based on location, so you can get a better idea and understanding of the popular search terms for a specific area. This enables you to form a list of relevant local keywords that you can target to give yourself a better chance on ranking. Once you have these keywords, you can begin to implement content, meta tags and URLs to match.
Another great tactic that you can implement to increase local SEO results is to include mentions of location-specific landmarks and hotspots in your site’s content. For example, if your business offers web design in Cardiff city centre, including references such as “web design near Cardiff castle” could also bolster rankings in local search results.
6. Implement Location Pages or Location-Focused ‘About Us’ Pages
If your business operates in more than one location, then location pages are a must. These pages allow you to target very specific location-based keywords around a main keyword e.g. “Cardiff decking” and “Slough decking”. At the minimum, each of these pages will need to provide the following information:
- Opening hours
- Name, address and phone number
- Google Maps location
When adding these pages to your site, it’s important to remember that standards SEO rules still apply and content should be unique.
If your business only operates in one location, then having an ‘About Us’ page that focuses on local, relevant information is imperative. If you run a coffee shop, for example, your About Us page is the perfect place to provide information that you supply the coffee and cakes for local fundraisers each year. This reaffirms your commitment to your local community and provides potential customers near you with confidence in your business, which can lead to increased levels of business and many of the aforementioned benefits such as positive reviews.
7. Take Advantage of Online Directories
Websites such as Yell, Yelp, YellowPages and Foursquare are online business directories that help to get your business name, address and phone number (NAP) on the web, which is one of the most important, if not the most important element of local SEO. NAPs act the same way as backlinks do to a website and let Google know that multiple places on the web are talking about or mentioning your business. The key thing to remember when adding your business to these online directories is to ensure that all information remains consistent.
Online business listing should include the following basic information:
- Accurate business name, address and phone number which is consistent across all directories
- A backlink to your website if you have one
- A thorough description of your business
8. Build High-Quality Backlinks
According to Moz’s 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors study, ‘link signals’ were ranked number one and number two respectively in the most important factors for ranking in local organic rankings and the local pack and snack pack. Link signals are backlinks that point back to your website, so it’s important to get as many of these as possible, however, you do need to focus on their quality more than anything. The more relevant and authoritative the backlink is, the greater the signal is going to be to Google that your business is legitimate and also relevant to the local search being performed.
Some tips that you could follow to create high-quality backlinks to your website are:
- Guest blogging on reputable websites that have a high domain authority
- Produce high-quality content on your website that others want to link to
- Engage with local businesses and influencers to link back to your website
SEO is a fast-moving and ever-changing industry, so you never know when Google will introduce new and innovative features to its search engine results page for local searches, but they are more or less guaranteed. Therefore, it is vital to keep on top of changes that can impact your local SEO. By starting off implementing the above eight points, you will ensure that your business not only takes advantage of lucrative local search opportunities but builds a solid platform that can be taken forward and progressed further when new and exciting local SEO features are announced.
Want to know more about how Designer Website can help your business with its local or national SEO, be sure to visit our search engine optimisation page today to see the professional and quality SEO services that our team of experts can provide. You can also get in touch with us if you require anything else!
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