It is crucial for any business to rank highly on Google in order to attract customers, drive organic traffic to its website and stand above competitors. Most businesses are aware of the traditional ranking techniques like optimizing their website with keywords and building backlinks but the most commonly overlooked technique is implementing a local SEO strategy.
Did you know that 46% of all searches have local intent and 86% of these made an in-store visit on the same day? This is why you need to ensure your business is well optimized for local SEO. This blog is here to help.
Let’s start from the top.
A closer look at local SEO
By definition, local SEO is a search engine optimization technique that helps your business’ visibility for local searches. It’s hugely beneficial to brick-and-mortar businesses like shops or anyone that serves a location area like a mobile plumber in Hampshire.
One of the ways of knowing if your business could benefit from local SEO is if you search Google with a keyword related to your business and it returns a Google Map and three businesses underneath (also known as the ‘map pack’), then you need to invest in a local SEO strategy.
The map pack is extremely important as it gets 50-60% of all the clicks by users when searching on Google.
Let’s look at how you can increase your rankings in the map pack and boost your local visibility with seven top tips
1. Optimize your Google My Business
Google My Business is a free directory tool that helps businesses present on Google Maps and appears local search results. When a user searches for a keyword that has a local intent, for example, a hairdresser or supermarket, Google will display the top three local businesses (the local pack) above the organic search results.
The local pack is where most of the action happens, a majority of users will contact or request directions from the business there so it is important to ensure the use of local SEO techniques to boost your rankings.
Google looks for three things when ranking local businesses:
- Relevancy: How relevant your business is to the query intent. You achieve this through optimizing your Google My Business and implementing keywords and location keywords into your website.
- Proximity: How close you are to the searcher. You can do this by added your address and service area to your Google My Business listing and website so Google associates you to these locations.
- Prominence: How well your business is known. This is increased by collecting reviews, signing up to online directories, and getting backlinks to your site.
When optimizing your Google My Business, it is important to check to see if Google has made its own version for your business. If you find one of these, you can claim the business and verify that you are the owner. If not, you can create one from scratch following these steps.
Once you have your Google My Business verified it is important to ensure you add your business categories and the locations you serve. These are the ranking factors for Google and will help make you relevant for local searches. There are over 200 categories to choose from and you can add up to 20 locations so make sure you use this to your advantage. Be aware that your primary category is the keyword that Google will rank you for so make sure this is the most relevant.
It is also important to make sure your address, phone number, and website URL are correct as Google uses these to anchor your location to Google Maps and this will affect your local pack rankings if there are errors
2. Build citations
Building citations is registering your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on a range of directories. Google uses these as ranking signals to anchor you to your location and verify that you are a genuine business. Building citations on high authority sites will boost Google’s trust in your business and will rank you higher in local searches. Citations also get your name out there and increase your chances of reaching customers that may not have known your business. Directories such as Yelp or Trustpilot are still super popular and lots of people use them to look for recommended businesses before they make a purchase.
3. Optimise your website homepage
When you set up your Google My Business, you add your website. This is essentially a ‘landing page’ for your business from Google Maps or the local pack. The website you use on your profile will directly affect your local search rankings as Google will use it to make associations with your website. This means you need to ensure that you include your local keywords on your titles and text. A best practice is to make location-specific pages for example ‘plumbing services in Portsmouth’. You can also embed Google Maps into your contact page which will send ranking signals directly to Google. You can also mix your categories, services, and locations to help Google boost your relevancy rankings. For example ‘legal advice in Portsmouth: personal injury claims’.
4. Add your NAP details to your Schema.org Markup
Schema.org markup is the language of search engines. The code helps search engines understand what your website and business are about and determine how relevant and authentic you are. There are different types of schema, including organizational, people, products, and offers. The most important one for increasing your local ranking is to implement a local SEO schema. This means you would add your business name, address, phone number, opening hours – anything to do with your business. You can also add your categories, services, and keywords to really ensure you are boosting your chances of ranking higher. The schema markup helps Google create knowledge panels and highlights information on Google searches so it will also help your visibility.
Here is an example of a local SEO schema markup :
5. Request reviews
Did you know 93% of customers say that reviews impact their buying decision? Not only this, but Google also scans them and sends ranking signals which will increase your rankings on the local map. Having reviews from customers who have experienced your products or services shows Google you are a relevant and authentic business, and therefore will rank your business for related terms. Reviews also add extra keyword value to your business as if a user searches a term – ‘pub with wheelchair access’. Google will show businesses with reviews that mention wheelchair access.
It is important to react and reply to reviews – positive or negative, as this will show you have great customer service and tell Google you are an active business.
A mixture of these five techniques should see your local rankings skyrocket. Make sure you have an optimized Google My Business as it will increase your visibility in the local pack while giving potential customers access to your business at the tap of a button. Optimizing your homepage and schema.org markup will give Google a better understanding of your business and location. Citations and reviews improve your Google trust score and help enhance your online reputation. Good luck!