The Beginners Guide To Local SEO

Senior Content Specialist Matt Wilson shares his knowledge of how local SEO aimed at specific parts of town can benefit your business.

7 minutes of reading time required

Digital marketing agencies create website content and blogs, as well as videos, ads, and other marketing solutions to make their clients’ businesses sound both alluring and professional. However, no matter how good the content is, it ultimately needs to reach the right people, specifically your local audience.

A common expression you have probably heard at some point is “Think globally, act locally”. Although the internet, and therefore your website, is technically accessible to people all over the world, there’s no use in someone in Hong Kong checking you out if you’re based in Melbourne, and even then it may only operate in a specific part of town. If you’re thinking about starting a business, you really need to understand how local SEO works and how you can reap the benefits of it.

The market is competitive. In fact, 76% of people who use Google on their mobile to search for a particular type of business based near them contact that business by the very next day. With our help, you’ll be right in on the action.

How local SEO can help you

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an essential aspect of online marketing that helps people find businesses via search engines such as Google. This is achieved by writing premium website content that includes keyword strings, helping people who are searching to find you.

Keyword optimisation is vital for improving your business ’s ranking. SEO experts shortlist multiple keyword strings that will be used in your website content, meta descriptions, and page titles. SEO is a long-term strategy that should not be underestimated and certainly shouldn’t be ignored.

While general SEO is designed to broadly target anyone looking for the type of products or services you offer, local SEO optimises websites and marketing strategies that increase organic and search traffic to small businesses that operate in a set geographical area. This helps to narrow down your target audience’s online search to a particular part of town that is convenient for them and near where you’re based.

Keyword intent in local searches

If you are using a search engine, you are obviously trying to find information on something specific. For example, if you live in Melbourne and want to go to an Italian restaurant with great food, you might type something like “great Italian restaurant Melbourne”. That may seem obvious, but a lot of work goes into making your website outrank all the other sites who also have great Italian on offer.

Digital marketing agencies produce website content that keeps a user’s keyword intent in mind, or in other words, what a user is likely to type into a search engine. Long tail keywords with locations included in them should also be in titles and meta descriptions to help increase local ranking.

Local SEO isn’t just designed to help your website rank for keywords though. Its purpose is to make your business appear at the top of your potential clients’ search queries.

Where you want to rank

Despite all the talk about wanting Google to show people where your business’s physical location is, you should also be concerned about how your business appears on Google.

Users mainly consider the search results that come up first. For local SEO, you would want to be at the top of the pack. To be specific, you’d want to be on what’s called ‘the local pack’, which are the search results that appear directly under the pack. Although the websites that rank in the local pack don’t often rank on the first SERP for the keyword you typed in, ranking with something that stands out visually, like the map, will get you noticed.

To make this happen, read the steps below to achieve your business goals by following local SEO best practices.

8 important factors for utilising local SEO

If you want your business to rank successfully, be aware that Google looks at the following factors, in order of importance, when determining how good your local SEO rank is.

My Business signals. How relevant your business is to someone’s search query. This factors in what type of business you run and your local proximity to the user.

Link signals. The number and the quality of the backlinks on your website.

On page signals. How keywords are used, and your NAP (your business Name, Address, and Phone number).

Local citation signals. Having your website mentioned in reputable business directories with NAP details.

Review signals. The number and quality of reviews your business is receiving.

Behavioural patterns. What users do once they have found your business via Google. Are you being found through mobiles or desktops? Are users following through on their search?

Personalisation. Details about a user’s personalised search and the location they’re searching from.

Social signals. How much your business is being mentioned on social media.

There are various approaches to improving your local SEO as detailed below.

Google My Business

Your Google My Business page is your business profile on Google, helping you be in control of how your business appears online. This includes details about your business that your potential customers will find useful, such as your location, your hours of operation, customer reviews and pictures and videos. You can manage customer reviews as well.

Another vital part of Google My Business is having a description of what your business does that include keywords, improving your local SEO.

Use Google My Business to share posts about and in turn, convert leads. They disappear a week after being posted, so you need to keep your posts up to date. There are four types of posts, all of which should end with a call to action:

Posts about what’s new with your business.

Upcoming events your business is part of, including the location, date, time, and other information.

Sales, promotions, and other offers.

Products to entice your customers.

Use Bing Places and Yelp

Bing Places is to Bing what Google My Business is to Google. They provide users with your business hours, contact information, and your location on a map. While Google is the dominant search engine with 86.2% of the market share, the fact is that Bing has 5.6% of the market share, while Yahoo! has the other 7.1%. That other 12.6% is a big chunk whose attention you should be trying to get.

Customer Reviews

Your business’s website may fall down the rankings list if there aren’t many reviews. In search engine rankings if there aren’t many reviews from your customers about your business. The lack of reviews indicates to Google that your business isn’t worth people commenting on. Therefore, it’s not worth Google ranking your website. It’s a hard slog when there are millions of businesses competing online and hundreds or even thousands in your local area alone.

How to get more customer reviews on Google

Send emails to your favourite customers to request that they write a review on your business.

Offer incentives for customers to post a review, such a free drink, or entry into a competition.

If your business operates at a physical location, give them a business card that requests a Google review of your business.

Create an automated follow-up email that gets sent to customers who made an e-commerce purchase to request that they write a Google review.

Send your reviewers the URL to your business name. Ensure that you shorten it first by using either Bitly or Google URL Shortener.

Schema Structured Data Mark Up

Structured data is used to tag certain types of content on your website so Google can attain more information to add for search results to increase your business’s visibility and the conversion rate. Such data, including Schema mark up, is critical for local SEO to work, and can also be used to sync your Facebook reviews to your Google My Business account.

Structured data indicates to search engines that your business is targeting a specific geographical area. Although structured data may not necessarily improve your rankings, it will help to make your webpages far more relevant to the local keywords that are being targeted and can help your website rank in local search packs.

Structured data can clearly state on Google:

Your business’s name, location, contact details, and logo.

Business hours.

The products and services you provide; this includes their cost and customer ratings.

Types of payment your business accepts.

Having a mobile-friendly website

Many people nowadays use their mobile phone to Google something, rather than having to turn their laptop on, then wait for it to load up, and then open a browser to use Google. It’s also because everyone’s got a mobile in their hands all the time, so businesses should put themselves in those mobile users’ hands too.

If your mobile website isn’t optimised and doesn’t finish loading in three seconds or less, mobile users will dismiss your site and go elsewhere, leaving your business in the lurch. If you’re unsure if your website’s mobile friendly, use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool to find out.

Develop a local content strategy

Local keywords work like most keywords, but they also include a particular suburb or area within the greater city your business is based in. Content that mentions specific parts of town, rather than just the city in general, will help to narrow down the search suggestions and be as relevant as possible to your potential customers.

Let’s revisit our “Italian restaurant in Melbourne” keyword. Using the word “Melbourne” will generate comprehensive search results. That longtail keyword will mostly create results for the CBD or the inner suburbs of Melbourne.

If you’re looking for an Italian restaurant in a specific part of town, typing the name of the suburb you’re inquiring about will help you find what you’re looking for a lot quicker. That goes without saying. There’s no point in typing “Melbourne” if you’re specifically looking for a restaurant around Springvale or Essendon.

You should also include such locations into the meta descriptions and titles of your webpages to maximise your website’s reach.

Get backlinks and local citations

Getting fruitful backlinks with traditional SEO is done by targeting pages with high authority, a respectable amount of traffic, and a great link profile. If you’re targeting specific parts of town for local SEO, then you need to factor in local relevance as well.

The information on local directories about your business should be as up-to-date as possible. Google will use local directories with strong domain authority, such as Google My Business, Bing Places, Yext, and Yelp, to verify that the data they have on your business is accurate. Google wants to ensure that search results are sending users to businesses that still exist. If your information is correct and up-to-date, then your website will get a boost in rankings.

Since these directories are used for locations all over the world, it would be ideal to get a positive review from a local source too. From local restaurant reviewers, local community organisations, and other local businesses, their influence will be highly beneficial to make your business seem credible, therefore gaining more leads.

Get the most out of local SEO today!

Local SEO is one of the most effective marketing tools in the digital space, and you cannot afford not to utilise it to help your business grow. Call Adaptify today on 1300 423 566 or fill in our online form today to get in touch with our local SEO services who can do all this and more.
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