Local SEO: Your Guide To Ranking In Your City
In the modern age, businesses are starting to understand the importance of ranking on Google and other search engines. The primary aim of SEO is to increase a business’ visibility to a specific target audience – this can be incredibly useful for new businesses as well as more established businesses.
Local SEO takes this concept even further by targeting customers in a specific geographical area. Driving traffic to your business’s website, it can help your business to stand out from your local competitors. In order for your business to thrive in the search, you need to ensure that you frequently update your website and that you optimise your Google Business Profile account.
Google Business Profile
Beloved by businesses, Google Business Profile allows business owners to control what is shown in the search results of their name. When your business is verified, it could get a top space on the sidebar. How do I get my business verified? As your customers to leave reviews and answer them, as well as utilising Google Posts throughout your account.
Benefits of Local SEO
If you want your business to acquire a high ranking, you have to ensure that you create an effective local campaign. Combining content marketing, backlinks, user-generated reviews, business listings and geo-targeted optimisation, local SEO has many benefits that can help to make your business successful.
- When searching for a company through Google Maps, local businesses will rank higher when customers are viewing them through the map.
- As the citations and links become more locally targeted, you will gain all of the benefits of organic SEO. This is because the same methods used to rank for organic listings are also used for local listings.
- Local SEO can be used to dominate the market if you use a combination of Google Ads, organic SEO and local SEO.
Local SEO can be a great return on your investment. Unlike the more traditional forms of advertising, such as leaflets, mail and newspapers, there is no limited or wasted exposure. Customers reach you when they want to buy a product or use your service – not the other way around, which is why its popularity has grown throughout the years. Cost-effective and efficient, it is a clever and quick way of developing your brand.
Google’s Business Guidelines change quite often, it is, therefore, crucial that you make sure that the information on the business pages are correct and change as the business changes. Your campaigns may also benefit from social media marketing, which keeps your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts up to date.
How to Achieve Better Rankings (a brief guide)
So how can you make your business rank higher than others in the local area? Well, there are a few clever tricks that you can use.
Understand the importance of internal linking and how you structure them
Links can be incredibly valuable. Linking one web page on your website to another, an internal link can boost a website’s performance by aiding the flow around the site. Having an efficient linking structure can also allow for better website navigation and assists with the information architecture.
Google uses software called Googlebot which crawls through websites via the links within it. This software will show you stats that demonstrate how your website is performing and if you have added new content, the positive impact it has had.
Keep your website up to date
By ensuring that you frequently post on your site (if you have a blog), you will keep people interested. Every blog post you published can be used to target a specific search phrase – i.e by using popular keywords in the title, meta description or the body of the content itself.
Location pages are a great way for customers to find exactly what they want in their area. By including original content and inserting keywords, it is an intelligent method of geo-targeting.
How to Rank Higher on Google Maps
Every business wants to rank highly on Google Maps. But what are the steps you can take to achieve this?
- Firstly, if possible, put the location your business is in, in your business name. This way when customers search by locations it is more likely to come up organically.
- Make sure that you encourage your customers to post reviews about the service you provided or the products you sell and that you answer them frequently.
- Ensure that you utilise locally related and niche citations (more detail can be found about this below).
A Chrome extension called gmbeverywhere can also be a useful addition, providing you with a quick audit of your account to give you an idea of what can be improved to help you rank better.
How Managing Business Listings and Social Pages Helps Local SEO
By managing, claiming and verifying your business listings on services such as Google Business Profile, Bing Local, Yelp, Yahoo Local and yp you can maintain your brand’s consistency. A key aspect of success is to keep your customers up to date with any changes in the business, such as opening hours.
Social media is also a useful weapon in terms of SEO. Most people around the world use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, therefore you should make sure that you are spending time to update them and frequently post. Many people can see businesses that are located nearby through their social media, therefore you should portray a positive image through these platforms – whether that be through posting images, allowing reviews on the site or by answering queries.
Optimising Websites for Local Audiences
Even though (as mentioned above) local SEO uses some of the same elements as traditional SEO, it will also need specifically targeted elements in order for your website to become noticed and favoured by potential customers.
Contact information and business hours: customers, listing, directories and even search engines will look for this key information on local business websites. These should be posted as for customers specifically, they might want to to know the phone number in order to contact the business or the address to visit it.
Hyper Local Keywords: mentioned above in the importance of keeping your website up to date and including the location name in your business name, using keywords and phrases (whether it is in the meta title or description) can drive local leads. But to ensure that more local customers are coming through your doors, use hyper local keywords that will target specific suburbs within the city.
How to Target Local Markets with Content Marketing
Content marketing has many benefits for a business, no matter what industry it is is. A successful campaign can:
- Help to develop a strong relationship with customers
- Increase your businesses visibility
- Make your business become recognised locally and internationally
- Generate more traffic to your website
- Bring in sales
In terms of local campaigns, content marketing requires creativity and high-quality substance – just as any other SEO campaign would. The content must feature topics that are relevant to the area, have plenty of call to action text and include clever marketing that will influence those in the local area to find out more about your business.
The Impact of Featuring Local Topics
By writing about local trends or specific areas that are related to the industry your business operates in can establish your businesses authority and make customers see it as an information resource. Mostly everyone likes to see what is going on around their area and the ‘top’ places to go, whether it be for a meal, a drink or for a particular product.
How Brand Advocates Can Help Your Business
It is a known fact that people care what other people think. By creating brand advocates through persuading customers to repeatedly shop at your business – therefore building a bond with them, some may help to promote your brand through posting about it on social media or spreading their positive thoughts through word of mouth.
How You Can Use Schema Markup to Establish Business Identity
Your business identity is crucial to growth and how your business is viewed by potential customers. By using a tool such as Schema Markup (which makes search results for web searches) your website’s content can be correctly identified. Schema Markup can identify:
- Images and logo schemas
- Local business information (i.e. the businesses address, name, phone number etc.)
- Creates a Schema map
How to Build Quality Citations
Firstly, what is a local citation? A local citation is a mention made by customers or other businesses on third-party websites about the name, address and phone number of a local business. They can appear on apps, social media, websites and through local business directories.
What are Some of the Most Important and Effective Citation Types?
Social of Blog Content: businesses can utilise citations through blog posts or social media posts by persuading local influencers or brand advocates to talk about them or mention the business name. This will get others interested and will make them want to find out more about your business.
Reviews and Business Listings: business listings, whether they are on review websites, on local networks or on business directories are citations that you can utilise. Managing them frequently and promoting customer reviews will also add more citations.
Magazine Publications: a great way of getting exposure about your brand is through guest posts or magazine publications. Establishing your brand and getting the word out is crucial no matter what stage of development your business is in.
Why are Local Citations Important For Your Business?
Local citations are a great way of getting your business noticed in the local area. A major role in search engine optimization, they can reflect your businesses authenticity and persuade others to check it out. They can positively impact your search engine rankings if there are multiple citations that are accurate and placed on platforms that are of high-quality. Accurate and positive citations guarantee that people will discover your local business resulting in traffic to your website and potential sales.
Google also likes well-cited websites because of the following reasons:
- When your business is consistent throughout its content, Google will validate it. Google looks for companies that are authentic and are consistently updated – citations can assist with this.
- Utilising citations can also develop a strong relationship with customers and advocates – developing a community feel that Google appreciates.
- When it comes time for Google to validate your business, Google’s renowned algorithm will look at the citations about your business and determine whether your website is valuable and advertising a real business.
- If your business is all about selling niche products or services, citations can be used to enhance your presence and advertise its uniqueness.
How Local SEO Can Work Alongside Mobile Phones
With technology constantly advancing, more and more people around the world are using their tablets or mobile phones to find a product or service locally. Therefore, if you ensure that you use your local SEO efficiently and keep it up to date you will never miss out on a potential sale.
The Importance of Managing Customer Reviews
As mentioned above, the importance of receiving customer reviews is clear. A great way to expand your business, it will make others want to invest and paint a positive brand image. Local listings and social media accounts must be unique in order for your brand to succeed – you don’t just have to update your operating hours or contact details frequently. If a customer has used your service or has recently bought a product through you, by sending them an email or asking them to give you feedback through your app will allow for you to develop a better user experience. These reviews can then be integrated through your social media pages (what with so many people posting reviews and opinions through platforms such as Facebook, this is a great way to show what other customers think), published on press releases and mentioned throughout your website.
Reply to each review, whether it is good or bad. This shows that you care about what the customer has said and allows you to work on any areas that you have failed in – for example, if there is an issue that has been mentioned about one of the products you sell, you can ensure that it is fixed as soon as possible. Customer service is key to any industry and the relationship that you have with your customers can be the difference between success and failure – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
The importance and impact of local SEO is undeniable. If you want to be able to rank highly in your city via Google, it’s important that you adopt a strategy that will allow you to enhance your businesses image and what you can offer your customers.
By making sure that your business’s website and its listings are optimised correctly, you will not only drive traffic to your website but stay geographically relevant to your intended target audience. You don’t want to lose out to your competitors, so you should use Google Business Profile, Google Maps, citations and customer reviews in order to stand out from the crowd. Having a high rank on Google and other search engines is essential whether you are a startup or a long-established firm, so make sure that you use local SEO for all its worth.
Steve Jaenke has been involved in the digital world for over 2 decades. Seeing the power of SEO early in the market he pivoted his business to focus on assisting SME to understand and leverage the power of Google. He is a recurrent judge for the Australian Web Awards awards.