Everything happens at rocket speed, especially in the age of digital marketing.
Gone are the days when local advertisements and word-of-mouth were the main methods of getting your business out there. Although they still serve their purpose, online search became the heart of marketing due to the meteoric rise of the Internet. This is especially true for local businesses.
In fact, 46% of Google searches are looking for local information. Customers are searching for the best products and services found near their area. This means that if your business isn’t optimised for local search, you could lose your chances of earning new customers.
So, how can you increase your visibility for local customers? The answer is simple: Local SEO. But how does it differ from general SEO? How can it help you grow your brand and be a part of Google’s local search landscape?
Read to learn more about it and how our Local SEO Service can help you to attract more costumers!
Getting started: What is local SEO?
Local SEO (search engine optimisation) is a branch of SEO that focuses on improving search engine visibility for local businesses, especially those that have brick-and-mortar stores.
This can be a lawyer’s office, grocery stores, pet services and other service-area businesses.
From claiming a business listing to bringing in more foot traffic to your physical location, this SEO strategy has helped local brands attract consumers. To perform this type of SEO, here are some of the tactics you need to perform:
- Local link building
- Reputation management
- Website optimisation
- Spam prevention
How Does it Work?
You’ve probably noticed that Google displays two kinds of search results for local searches: the map pack and the organic blue links. Fortunately, you can rank high on both of them.
The map pack (local pack), for instance, is a Google SERP feature that displays the top-performing business listings along with a map. You’d often see it at the very top of the page or next to advertisements.
Let’s say you’re searching for pet services near your area. This is what it’s going to look like:
Meanwhile, the organic search results are the blue links you usually click on if you want to read more about a certain brand. They can be found below the map pack.
Why is Local SEO Important?
Before, it was almost unachievable for local brands to make an impact because internationally popular companies dominated the Internet. That’s why local owners would rather invest in conventional marketing practices because they didn’t stand a chance in the virtual world.
Thanks to Google’s growth, local companies are now allowed to compete in the SERPs and reach out to consumers in their vicinity. Let’s learn more about its benefits below:
Makes You More Competitive
If you think that local SEO won’t do your business any good, then your competitors who use this strategy are ten steps ahead of you. They are getting all the potential consumers who would’ve used your services if your online visibility is active.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re the most innovative business in your niche. If your brand isn’t on the first page of local search results, you’re not truly in control.
Put your niche on the search tab along with your area. For example, if you’re a dentist, look for ‘dentist in Singapore’ and hit enter. Do you see your services on top of the list?
Remember that a huge chunk of consumers clicks on the first link on the map pack. When you invest in local SEO, you can be more competitive and even outrank your competitors in the process.
People Support Local
Just because big corporations tend to be more popular even in small cities doesn’t mean people don’t want to support local businesses.
Since they are getting more interested in their local economy’s growth, customers want to spend their money on small brands. So, when you get yourself out there and label your brand as a local business, you’ll discover that lots of consumers are willing to pay for what you have to offer.
Phone Searches Improve Sales
What do you usually do when you want to visit new coffee shops, hardware stores or bakeries near your place? You may have taken out your phone and gone straight to Google. The results will immediately show the places you can visit, along with their distance.
This is where local SEO is beneficial. Potential customers are likely to know about your business and visit your store right away!
If you’re looking for an affordable way to advertise your business, local SEO is right up your street. Working with a digital marketing agency, for example, will yield good and long-term results in exchange for a low price.
This sounds more ideal than putting ads in the paper, radio stations or television channels. For as long as your platform has good SEO, you can attract more attention and drive up sales without breaking the bank.
What to Do: Local SEO Tips and Strategies
Planning to jump in on the local SEO train? Take a look at these powerful tips and strategies to get you started.
Local SEO Keyword Research
The first step that you need to take is keyword research. You need to understand how users typically search for the products and services you offer. Let’s get straight into it!
Check Search Volumes
Typically, keyword research tools online show search volumes on a national scale. However, if you want search volumes specific to a city or town, using Google Keyword Planner is highly recommended.
Some marketers still tend to go for the national level since what’s popular in a city is likely to be the same as others. This method is much more productive.
For instance, you can use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ keywords explorer. Type in a keyword you’d like to cover, and look at its keyword difficulty (KD) and search volume depending on the place.
Check for Local Intent
Not every business should use local SEO. That’s why before investing in this strategy, you should always check for local intent. It means that customers want your services nearby, so if that’s not the case, you should go in another direction.
First, Google your business niche and see the results. It has local intent when the page displays blue link results and a map pack.
Find Service-Based keywords
When you’re a business owner, you should always consider how consumers will search for your products. You can’t just leave everything to chance.
For example, let’s say you own a bakery. Chances are, people will find your store by typing ‘bakery store’ in the search bar, while others would type in words related to certain services like ‘birthday cakes’.
Here are other keywords relating to your business:
- Wedding cake bakers
- Desserts bakery
- Cupcake shops
- Vegan cake
- Speciality bakeshop
Local SEO Tools
To improve your overall local SEO strategy, various SEO tools can help increase customer engagement, track rankings and develop optimised keywords, among others. Try one of these tools below:
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is one of the best local SEO tools to use if you want to maintain your website’s Google-friendliness. The tool also allows you to check the number of pages Google has indexed from your site, along with your keywords.
Aside from that, it will display the number of clicks and impressions your platform receives over a period of time. And if there are usability issues that your mobile pages are experiencing, you may access the mobile usability section and check for errors.
Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker
Another recommended local SEO tool is Ahref’s rank tracker. It lets users track over 10,000 keywords for organic search by country, state and postal codes.
What makes it ideal for new business owners is that the set-up is user-friendly and easy. You just need to import your chosen keywords, add cities or countries per keyword and input your competitor’s links. The platform will then study the data and send you updates.
You can also take advantage of several SERP features, such as:
- Top ads
- Bottom ads
- Image pack
- Top stories
- People also ask
- Tweet box
- Shopping Results
- Knowledge card
Although Google Trends is not considered a traditional SEO tool, it still provides geographical information of users and searches volume index. You can use it to compare keyword popularity and see what kind of searches will lead users to your site.
Since most businesses have entered the virtual world, customers want a fast response rate.
If you want to make sure you’re not getting left behind, you can try using Yext’s monitoring review feature. Since it integrates with third-party sites, responding to business reviews from every place can be done in one dashboard.
Using their robust tools will also let you make your business listings compatible with voice search optimisation.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
Just like any other SEO method, lots of ranking factors will affect your overall local SEO performance. Let’s look at what these factors are and how they can help you rank higher in the long run.
The acronym NAP stands for the name, address and phone number with the area code of a specific business. These details typically appear on social media profiles and business directories, among other things.
Setting up your NAP will make it easier for consumers and search engines to find you. Just always ensure that your citations are consistent. You may include them on your ‘Contact Us’ page or in the footer or header of your site.
Remember that it should be considered crawlable HTML text on your website. In this way, Google can display it on pages depending on location-based search results.
One of the best practices you need to remember is to get listed with huge data aggregators. For example, if you’re doing business in the US, make sure to get in touch with Foursquare or Localeze. You can also submit to other popular platforms like Facebook, Apple Maps, Yelp and Bing.
Most importantly, you should avoid including the NAP within an image since they cannot be crawled from search engines.
Google My Business
Also called Google Business Profile, Google My Business (GMB) has become the heart of local search. It’s a local listing with details about your business, helping you appear in Google maps and the map pack.
You want to make sure that you’re optimised for this feature. Here are the best practices you need to take:
- Create a Google My Business page.
- Encourage your audience to share their reviews online.
- Use Google Posts in your account.
- Make sure that you respond to reviews and mention the location. Here’s an example:
We appreciate your feedback on [Mention your product or service] in [city or state]. Thanks for sharing your rating with us and the community. We highly value your input and look forward to giving service to you again. Thank you from the [company name] team!
- Specify your business category.
- Add photos of your place, as well as the products and services you offer.
- Set your business hours and holiday hours.
- If you offer delivery services to clients and customers, don’t forget to state them.
Your business will be rewarded with a sidebar in the local search that highlights your company if Google verifies your authenticity. Take a look at this example:
Part of owning a business is receiving reviews left and right from customers in different places. This plays an important role in your business since it can either make or break your local SEO efforts.
Since Google uses reviews on third-party sites like Yelp, it’s likely that there are negative reviews about your service. It’s pretty much inevitable, but these things can hurt you especially when bad feedback is on your GMB profile.
That’s why one of your goals includes getting positive reviews. It shows that consumers put so much trust in your business, which is an important factor in ranking.
However, what you need to avoid is incentivising your customers to leave good feedback. If Google proves that you offer money or ask for reviews in bulk, you might be penalised. You should also ever discourage customers from leaving bad reviews since it’s against Google terms.
Focus on improving your services instead. Don’t cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed!
Think of the search results landscape as an election. Links act like votes for your website from other platforms. This means that you need to focus on your link-building strategy, especially with gaining inbound links.
Having these links tells Google that you’re a real company, boosting your domain authority and local SEO. You can get them through scholarships, guest blogging opportunities or partnerships, to name a few.
For instance, you may sponsor a webinar, start a community event or build relationships with influencers in your niche. You can also reach out to potential business partners and see if they’re willing to feature you in their directory.
Guest blogging is also a great way to earn authoritative links. Talk about the people in your field and discuss relevant topics or trends happening within your niche.
Another link-building strategy you can use is buying a company’s website, but this is rare and situational. You might find a company selling their existing platform, giving you the option to have one site that ranks better.
On-page SEO refers to the changes you make to your website’s content for it to rank higher on search results. This includes optimising URLs, title tags, headers, meta descriptions and content.
Make sure that you also focus on publishing local content. Keep in mind that Google has become smarter, which means that posts prioritising user experience rather than search engines will rank higher.
While writing about general topics will help you attract a huge audience, writing about local happenings can drastically improve your local SEO. If you do it consistently, becoming a local authority in your niche is possible.
Who Needs Local SEO Marketing: Industries that Benefit the Most
National and global SEO once ruled the digital marketing field, helping a plethora of businesses improve their visibility. However, due to the influx of businesses, things have become way too competitive. Without a place to thrive, how can local brands reap the benefits of the virtual world?
Thanks to local SEO, some industries found their place in the search engine results. Here are the business types in which local SEO marketing can work wonders:
- Home service contractors like HVAC contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc.
- Law offices
- Medical services
- Bars and restaurants
- Real estate
- Pet services
Improving your business visibility may seem overwhelming at first, given that you’re competing with big corporations and seasoned entrepreneurs. In this day and age, climbing the ladder of success isn’t as easy as it used to be.
However, the tides are changing. Local SEO is now here to help you build a great reputation in your region, connect with customers and gain more traffic on your website without spending too much on ads. Instead of focusing on a global-scale competition, you can make your local community your focal point.
Everything should be cost-effective, streamlined and productive.
Ready to get local and vocal? Contact our team for valuable insights. We can help you get started on your local SEO strategies, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and take your business visibility to the next level.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO (search engine optimisation) is a strategy that enhances search engine visibility for local businesses. Any business with a brick-and-mortar location like law offices, clinics, restaurants or grocery stores can benefit from this approach.
How can we do local SEO?
When executing local SEO marketing, businesses should find local keywords, create NAP citations and optimize a business’s Google My Business profile. They should also focus on link-building strategies to gain inbound links from scholarships, partnerships or guest blogs.
Why is local SEO important?
Local SEO comes with several benefits, including improved foot traffic, less advertising costs, consistent business growth, more local reviews and exposure in local listings.