Local SEO is your best bet if you wish to rank for local searches and attract traffic from your area to your business.
But what is local SEO, and is it crucial for your business?
Understand local SEO
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies help your business to rank for geographically specific online searches.
Understanding Local SEO involves getting familiar with tools and notions such as Google Business Profile, NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) citations, locational keywords, and Google maps.
1. What is local SEO?
To properly understand local SEO, consider this scenario.
A “coffee shop near me” search on Google will typically display results relevant to your current location (Often with a map and a list of coffee shops in your immediate surroundings)
Google will consider which coffee shops in your area have Google Business Profile listings, excellent customer reviews, star ratings, social media shares, NAP citations, and other critical ranking signals.
Local SEO is the online marketing strategy that allows businesses to rank higher than their competitors for local search results on Google.
2. Why is local SEO important?
Local SEO may be more important than you think if you’re a business owner.
People are trusting more and more Google to find local information
Providing a reliable answer to a location-specific question is a complex task for search engines.
Unlike “regular” queries Google needs to:
– Understand where the user is
– Map services and products available in his area
What was nearly impossible in the past has become a standard. The average user can now trust Google to indicate to him what he can find near him.
The proof? The explosion of queries combining “What I search + NEAR Me”.
Internet users making local queries are extremely valuable
Which Internet user is the most interesting for a local business owner?
User A: Someone aimlessly browsing Facebook on his sofa
User B: Someone in front of his PC researching on Google generic info on a brand or a product
User C: Someone in his area asking Google from his mobile where he can find a product or a service
User C obviously as confirmed by Google’s data:
- 76% of people who search on their mobiles for something nearby visit a business within a day
- 28% of these searches end up with a purchase
- Additional data suggests that local intent was featured in 46% of all Google searches in 2018.
3. Working on your Local SEO means helping your whole business
A common misconception of business owners who start to look at local SEO or SEO is to think that working on these issues will cost them a tremendous amount of time (or money) only to rank slightly better on Google.
Local SEO is not about making Google happy with expensive or time-consuming hacks.
It’s about improving how your business is presented and talked about online, which will also improve your rank!
Working on your local SEO as a business owner means adopting a structured approach to tackle multiple issues affecting your E-reputation.
How to Improve your local SEO
You must understand the most relevant local SEO ranking factors to optimize and rank your business using local SEO.
Let’s start with the basics. What is Google Business Profile (GBP), and why is it relevant to local SEO?
1. Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business)
Google Business Profile (GBP) previously known as Google My Business is a free tool that allows business owners to manage and optimize their local business profile on Google.
A local business profile typically contains your business name, category, and location.
Here is how to set up and optimize a Google Business Profile
Create a Google My Business Profile
This is critical for your online visibility since this listing is the anchor for a successful local SEO strategy.
– The first step in your local SEO strategy is to claim and optimize a Google Business Profile.
– Enter a new business name or claim your business name if it already exists on Google.
– Include the following critical information in your business profile.
• Business categories (primary and secondary)
• Business address and phone number
• Business website and social media handles (optional)
Improve your Google Business Profile
Optimizing your GPB listing is critical in ensuring that search engines locate your business for relevant business queries.
Here are a few tips:
• Include your business hours and working days
• List Products and services in detail.
• Use high-quality business photos and videos (Consider including high-quality shots of your team, business premises, and products)
• Include any additional business services or attributes. If your business offers additional customer services like home deliveries, airport transfers, and unusual payment methods, display these in your business profile.
• Regularly update your questions and answer section. The GMB profile allows your clients to leave business-related questions which give you an idea of your customer’s needs, wants, and challenges. Ensure that you keep track of this vital section of your GMB listing and provide relevant and conclusive replies to client questions.
• Update your Google Business profile. With time some of the information in your business profile becomes inaccurate, like business hours, product listings, phone numbers, physical location, and business attributes.
• Craft a keyword-rich GMB business description. Ensure your business description contains high-quality and relevant keywords that will allow Google and potential clients to identify with your business.
2. Local Reviews
Do customer reviews impact the ranking of a local business on Google and Google Maps?
Yes, customer reviews are among the most critical metric that Google considers when ranking local businesses for relevant user queries. According to Backlinko, customer review signals account for 15.44% of Google’s total ranking factors when generating local search query results. Positive client reviews are an approval mark of how well a business meets its customer’s needs.
Factors that affect the quality of business reviews include:
• Format – Are the review text-based, star ratings or likes
• Authority – Is the review from a professional reviewer, analyst, or typical shopper
• Recency – How long ago was the review done
• Velocity – Frequency of reviews (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
• Diversity – On how many different online platforms have your business reviews?
Here are the typical reviews your business will have.
Google My Business Reviews
GMB reviews refer to clients’ feedback directly on your Google profile.
A few tips to obtain reviews on your Google My Business profile:
• Create a simple user review URL or QR code on business emails, receipts, flyers, and social media pages
• Politely remind clients to leave reviews
• Promptly respond to user feedback, whether negative or positive
Third-party reviews collected from sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Trustpilot, or Clutch are also important.
Identify which sites are relevant to your industry and push your users to review you on these platforms.
After reaching a significant number of positive reviews you can embed them on your website.
3. Create local content
Content is a key ingredient for any SEO strategy, whether organic or local.
About us / Contact pages
Start with your own website with the About Us and Contact pages:
If you have a single page used for both presenting your company and getting contacted, consider creating two different pages:
• About Us page. Your goal is to introduce your company to someone who may see your band for the first time. Include all information describing your business including products and services but also:
– What is your area of operation with as many details as you can?
– A short history of your business especially parts related to your geographical area. (For example you won a local Award or have been several times mentioned in a local newspaper).
– You can embed at the bottom of this page your Google Map location.
– List your social media
• Contact us page. It’s key to have a page where potential customers can find out how to reach you. Make sure you clearly list your phone number, and physical address on this page (A simple contact form or email is not enough).
New landing pages
A landing page is the first point of contact between potential clients and your business.
If you want to rank higher on some queries with local intent, you may want to create landing pages specific to the geographical area you are servicing.
Example: Your law firm has two branches – headquarters in Hanoi and an office in Ho Chi Minh City.
You can create a specific page dedicated to your office in Ho Chi Minh City.
4. Local citations – NAP Data
Location citations work like backlinks and help build authority around your brand, which is a critical factor in local SEO rankings.
What are NAP Data?
NAP data refers to a business Name, Address, and Phone information.
Google uses your NAP data to match your business to relevant search queries.
The two main types of local citations are:
• Structured citations are business listings on formal business directories like Bing places, Yelp and Foursquare.
• Unstructured citations are mentions of your business on informal sites, including news sites and blogs.
When ranking a business, Google considers local citations that are current, relevant, accurate, consistent, and of high quality.
Fix existing NAP citation
Perform a citation audit to identify areas where your NAP data appears online.
Ensure that your local citation contains accurate, relevant, and consistent NAP information across all platforms.
Get new NAP citations.
As mentioned, NAP Citations work like backlinks and point back to your business.
Ensure that you acquire high-quality NAP citations from authoritative blogs and other business sites or manually add your NAP citations in business directories.
5. Get local backlinks
Backlinks are a critical SEO ranking signal. It remains true for Local SEO.
Consider launching a link-building campaign within your business community to generate high-authority backlinks.
Local media, blogs, and publications
Local media, blogs, and publications offer you an excellent opportunity to build credible local backlinks to your business.
When creating backlinks, consider the following link-building best practices.
• Link to sites with high domain and page authority
• Create links in a wide variety of sites and platforms (publications, blogs, newsletters, podcasts)
• Link to sites with a relevant relationship with your business
• Optimize the anchor text to improve click-through rates
• Link to multiple credible sites to improve online traffic
• Link to publications/blogs where your competitors have links
A common misconception is to think that this process is extremely time-consuming and expensive.
This may be true if you are working in an extremely competitive niche which is not the case for most businesses.
Start by listing your network of partners, friends, and even customers you have a great relationship with. If they have a decent website, contact them, and see if there is any possibility to see your site appearing on their network.
Another source for high-quality business backlinks is local directories. If you can find any directories relevant to your industry, make sure to be present in them.
6. Social media
Social media does not directly contribute to SEO ranking, but the links you share across social platforms will still help you even if they are not considered “real backlinks” by Google.
Additional Local SEO tips
Besides the standard local SEO tips, consider implementing the following local SEO strategies.
Optimize for mobile (a lot!)
Most of the local queries are made by mobile users which means that a non-mobile-friendly website will be massively penalized.
You can check where you stand with: Google Test Mobile Friendly
Basics SEO principles matter
When focusing on local SEO strategies, remember that the general principles of organic SEO still matter.
No physical address? No problem
If you don’t have a physical location, can local SEO and GMB work for you?
Local SEO does not only apply to brick-and-mortar businesses but also home-based and service area businesses.
All you need to rank for local SEO is to have an area of operations.
The trick is to ensure that you set your business address to private for Google to understand that you don’t have a physical business address.
What is The Map Pack?
The Google Map Pack is a prominent section in the Google local search results which lists businesses alongside their geographic location, contact information, hours, and other helpful information. To appear on the Map Pack you need a Google My Business profile.
Do you want the assistance of a professional team to improve your local rankings? Contact us