The main goal of most businesses is to bring customers from the area into their location. Some businesses can do this naturally, just from being in a high traffic location. However, most businesses have to rely on search to help them to get interested customers through the door. How do you do that? Local SEO is one of the best ways to make this happen.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a mix of techniques, which are focused centrally around reaching customers online who are in the area, and who need your products or services. These techniques are essential things you should be doing anyway to help customers and clients find you in places they would naturally be looking for.
What Are Local SEO Techniques I Should be using?
There are a number of local ranking factors that combine to create a great local SEO profile for your business. These factors all contribute to customers being able to find you in places where they are actually looking. Let’s take a look at a few things you should focus on.
Google My Business
A Google My Business listing is free (right now), but is an essential factor for local SEO. It takes all of your business information and lists it in a business directory that belongs to Google. This doesn’t mean you should forget about Bing or other online business directories. We will get to those later. However, Google is the king of the search engines for now, so a majority of the search traffic comes from them.
You’ll want to make sure you accurately fill out all of the information they are asking for. Accuracy and consistency is key. When you enter this information, make sure it is the same as the information you are submitting in every other online business listing. You’ll want to especially focus on NAP, which stands for the name of your business, the address, and the phone number.
Be thorough! Fill in the business hours, and upload images of your location. The more information you can add, the better. Make especially sure you enter the correct business category. This will ensure your business is categorized with the other businesses of your type. For example, if you are a restaurant, you don’ want to be listed as a mechanic.
Optimize Your Website
Your website is your ultimate online selling tool, so it should definitely be optimized for local search. Make sure your address and your Phone number are prominent and consistent with what is found in your Google My Business page, and your other online directory listings. The name of your website should be your business name. The title tags of the website should include your business name where it is appropriate to do so.
The structure of your website and the pages within it are important, too. You’ll want to have a good breakdown of all of your services, and you’ll want to have a page that lists your service areas. Depending on your business, it may also make sense to create a break down of service areas, comprised of the main 3 or 4 suburbs that make up your service area. The structure is key here. Just remember, your website should be structured to make it easy not only for Google to understand who you are, what you do and the areas your business serves, but it should make sense to your website visitors, too.
The right links coming to your website are vital to its success. If you have a bunch of spammy, low-quality links coming to your website, it will hurt your search rankings. Here is a real-world example:
I just recently compared 2 dental offices in the same city. One office was getting an average of 600 calls per month to their dental office. The other office was only getting an average of 100 monthly phone calls to their office. When I compared the two sites, the deciding factor of one site’s success over the other one was the quality of inbound links.
The unsuccessful website had more links coming to their website, but they were all low quality and irrelevant to their business. One link source, in particular, had multiple links pointed to their website and it had a spam score of 22%. The successful dental website has less inbound links, but they are all high-quality backlinks, from places like MapQuest, and online directory citations. The links were much better quality, with higher domain authority.
The moral of the example is that it isn’t how many links you have coming to your website. It is all about the quality of links coming to your website. If you want to know more about the types of website links, check out our post.
Online Directory Listings
These are called citations and they are typical online directories a local business would naturally be listed in. We have a list of over 100 online business directories you can be listed in. However, here is a PRO SEO Tip: Aim for getting your business listing in online directories that are located in your city specifically. These will help your business to be considered more associated with the area. A great example would be your local Chamber of Commerce. You can also look for other business associations in your area that keep online directories. Not only are they good associations to be apart of for networking purposes, but getting listed in their online directories will make your business website seem more relevant to the area in the eyes of Google.
Getting good reviews is a great tool for your business in general. However, what I am going to focus on is Google My Business Review. Those really help with local SEO. Google takes these into account when factoring your ranking in organic results. These can help you to show up in the “snack pack” which is the area that appears at the top of search with an accompanying map. These listings usually get a lot more phone calls than typical organic results. The reason is that your business information is more prominent and accessible, and people can see your latest reviews.
This means that you want to focus on doing good business, and providing excellent products and services to your customers. You can actively request reviews for your services, which shows up in your Google My Business listing. This can be the deciding factor when someone is deciding whether to call you or one of your competitors.
Additional Local SEO Ranking Factors
Along with everything we talked about above, there are other factors that go into local SEO rankings. Local SEO search results can be determined by proximity, too. For example, if your physical business local is in a more rural, and less densely populated area, you’ll likely get fewer phone calls than an area that is more central to the city.
The reason that this is important is that Google wants to make sure that the search results are in the best interest of the person searching for your services. For example, if you are searching for a photographer, Google is going to show you results closest to your location because that is what is most convenient for you. They aren’t as likely to show you a photographer located 15 miles away when there might be one that is 3 miles away.
We come back to On-Page SEO (Briefly)
You want to make sure what shows up in search results is more enticing for searchers to click. Be sure to check out this study of search intent and what actually makes someone click on a link. This all goes back to writing good title tags and meta descriptions for your pages. Write these in a way that makes readers want to click them. This will increase your click-through rate. This is the rate of people who see your page in search results actually clicking your link. This all has to do with creating title tags that are optimized for people, and meta descriptions that make people want to learn more. It has to be relevant to what they are searching for.
Local SEO: Wrapping Up
Several different factors attribute to your local SEO success. That is why it is important to decide whether this is something you want to focus on doing yourself, or if it is something you want to hire an SEO expert to handle. Yes, the things listed above are time-consuming, but they are all things you should be doing for your business anyway. It is important to remember that the things that are good for your business are good for Google as well. Google’s success is fueled by its accuracy and relevancy of its search results.
Do you have questions about Local SEO? Feel free to leave questions or comments in the comments section below.