In today’s world, we are all in the habit of reaching for our devices to find whatever we need. From shops, to restaurants, or local services, we trust in Google to help us navigate through all the options. In fact, research tells us that around 80% of people will rely on search in this way to guide them to what they are looking for.
This means that for local businesses like yours, mastering the way that Google and other search engines see you will boost your online invisibility, and help you to successfully tap into those searches. Investing a little time in this area will hugely increase the visibility of your business for would-be customers. So, what is Local SEO and how do we get started?
What Is Local SEO?
SEO simply stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and in this case, it means providing the search engine in question with all the pointers it needs to identify the value of your business for local users. The search engine needs to identify what your business offers, where it is, and crucially: the authority of your business in warranting a recommendation! There are several ways that Google goes about this, and several tools and strategies can help you move this process along.
Get On Board With Google My Business
It’s actually in Google’s best interest to help you show the world what your business has to offer, as the better equipped the search engine is to provide fantastically informed results, the happier Google’s users will be! Google provides the perfect means to get your info out there with Google My Business. Here, you can create a free business profile, which can include your location, opening hours, contact information, reviews, pictures, and also links to your website and various social media profiles. Registering with Google My Business will allow you to place your business on Google Maps and give clear and accessible information to anyone who might be searching for what you have to offer.
Create Some Quality Citations
In SEO lingo, citations refer to listings of your business, with links to your own business website, located elsewhere on the web. The more reputable the website, the better quality the citation, and Google considers citations an important indicator of the value of your business. You can create strong citations by listing your business in free local directories such as Yelp, Yell and Scoot. Getting your business out there via third party sites will certainly boost your SEO, and might bring you some new customers directly, so make sure each listing fully represents your brand!
Don’t Neglect Your NAP
I’m not suggesting you take a snooze, but rather reminding you to be totally consistent with your Name, Address, and Phone number – shortened to NAP in the world of SEO marketing! It’s important to recognise that Google doesn’t think in quite the same way as we do. If I’m working on citations and I list us as Teapot Creative on one website, but Teapot creative on another, you will no doubt realise it’s the same business, even if you do judge me a little for failing to capitalise. Google, on the other hand, needs absolute consistency to identify different listings as the same thing. This means that, in order to maximise your reach with Google, you need to be totally on point with spellings, capitalisation, punctuation and spacing whenever you list your business on the World Wide Web.
Use Keywords To Optimise Your Website Content
Keywords are, very simply, words that potential customers might enter into a search engine when they are looking for what you have to offer. Google identifies words that are contained within, and connected to, the things that people search for. This means that by ensuring that you are using keywords effectively, you can give your site a big boost on Google’s radar.
Once again, Google want to help you improve your visibility, so offer a nifty tool in their Keyword Planner. With this, you can research and identify which keywords will be most useful to your business. The trick with keywords is to weave them into your website content in such a way that Google can find exactly what it’s looking for, but your site visitors enjoy an easy read that is not evidently stuffed with words in an unnatural way.
Target Specific Locations With Individual Web Pages
If your business serves quite a large area, trying to squeeze every relevant keyword into your webpages is likely to be messy and confusing for Google. You can mitigate this by creating pages that specifically target different locations. For example, a flooring company based in the south-west of England might choose to add similar pages to their website about their home installation service for Bristol, Bath, Gloucester and so on. In this way, when a Google user searches for “flooring home installation Bath”, Google will easily be able to identify that page as useful from its location specific keywords.
Ensure Your Website Is Device Friendly
Some 88% of consumers search for businesses on their smart phones, and in recognition of this Google now penalises websites that aren’t mobile friendly. If your website isn’t optimised for any and all devices, this will certainly be bumping you down the list of search results. If in doubt, use Googles Mobile-Friendly test to see how your website currently performs. Make sure your potential customers can easily find you when they are on the move!
Polish Your Social Media Presence
Your social media profiles also serve as excellent citations in the eyes of Google. Make sure that your profiles have all the key information about your business, (yes, it’s NAP time again), alongside a great description of who you are and what you do. Maintaining an active presence on social media does require some time investment, but when Google sees that browsing individuals are navigating to your website from Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, your SEO will reap the benefit!
Ask Your Customers To Review You Online
Google looks to reviews for a signal of your customer engagement, and so the more genuine reviews you have, the higher your ranking will be. A bit of a buzz about your business online in the form of great reviews is a sure-fire way to overtake your competitors when it comes to Local SEO.
Make The Most Of Schema Markup
Schema markup is basically little bits of code that can be used to help Google identify specific bits of information that will be useful to anyone using their search engine. You can tell when a business is using schema markup when, for example, you scroll through Google search results and see that some of the links provided have extra titbits underneath them, such as a star rating or a price. Using schema markup, you can identify key information such as your address, phone number, reviews, your logo and even information about upcoming events, so that Google can find it and provide that information to the world!
Have A Peek At What Your Competitors Are Up To
This old-school marketing practice still holds a great deal of value, and now comes with a modern twist! Scoping out how your competitors rank with Google in comparison to you and trying to identify what they are doing well can offer a host of useful insights that may help you get ahead. You can embrace new technology by using a service such as SEMrush or Ahrefs to delve into detailed reports of the strategies your competition are employing. This insight can help you to make wise choices when putting together the optimal toolkit for your own Local SEO.