Local Search Engine Optimisation is used by businesses to advertise to customers near them. Before delving into specifics, though, it’s important to understand ‘local intent.’
What is local intent? Every day nearly 8.5 billion queries are handled by Google. Nearly half of these searches comprise users looking for products or services in their area.
Imagine a law firm in Cardiff trying to scale. It’s not interested in national reach. Just local customers. Each time a prospect searches for ‘lawyers near me,’ the firm, therefore, wants to rank highly in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).
Mastering SEO is time-consuming and involves mastering many tasks. Get it right and you’ll accelerate past your competitors and boost brand visibility to boot.
The basic components of local SEO
Local SEO is made up of various elements that, when mastered, combine into a highly effective strategy that’ll optimise your online visibility for prospects near you.
These elements include, but are by no means limited to:
- Optimising your website content to capture local searches
- Creating and managing your Google Business Profile
- Adapting your strategy in line with Google updates
- Building brand credibility and reputation
- Creating links with your community
- The prevention of spam
To develop a successful campaign you’ll need to understand:
- The Local Pack
- The Local Finder
- Localised organic results
- Google Maps
Let’s break these elements down individually.
What is the Local Pack?
Let’s assume you’re travelling and looking for a nearby eaterie. You type in – or say out loud – ‘restaurants near me.’ Google responds by displaying the Local Pack, giving you three options to choose from.
Information about each venue, including its name, customer reviews, and contact details will be displayed. Click on a result and the map will display pins for that restaurant and others nearby.
This local SEO technique requires minimal expertise and will literally put your business on the map – so you can go toe-to-toe with competitors.
“Remember it’s your Google Business Profile (GBP) that’s being displayed. So you cannot achieve optimal rankings without the Local Pack”
How to improve rankings in Google’s Local Pack
To create a successful local SEO campaign your profile must conform to strict criteria.
When creating your Local Pack, check you’ve:
- Entered all required data, including your address, telephone number, and category.
- Verified your locations to improve the chance of appearing in local results.
- Listed the correct opening hours so customers know they won’t have a wasted trip.
- Not only enabled reviews but responded to them, improving your credibility.
- Added photos of your premises which will help authenticate your brand.
A note on the Local Finder
Click on the Local Pack and you’ll be taken to the Finder which then expands to show Google Maps and additional listings.
Mastering your organic SEO
Underneath the Local Pack will appear blue website links. Their order will be decided by Google’s local search algorithm which uses multiple factors – including on-page content, citations, and reviews.
Let’s drill down into some of these topics…
#1 How to succeed at on-page SEO
Do you remember those blue website links from earlier? These can be populated with any text you like. So don’t forget to add your location information – and explain what you do. This will help Google understand how best to serve your content to its users.
Optimising your organic listings is a step in the right direction. But to build a successful local SEO campaign you’ll need to do more.
To improve your rankings:
- Add location keywords and phrases to content headings
- Include this information in your URL as well
- Optimise your images using alt tags
#2 How citations help with local SEO
Information about your business could be listed anywhere on the internet. For example, a directory service, blog, or newspaper might list your name, address, and telephone number. In basic terms, that’s all a citation is – a mention of your business name on another website.
Citations need to be accurate; otherwise, your local SEO rankings will suffer. So, regularly search for mentions of your name and ask site owners to correct errors where relevant.
By comparing your information across various sources, Google can prove your business is trustworthy. It’s then more likely to display your listing to your target audience.
A closer look at Google Maps
Google Maps should be part and parcel of your local SEO strategy. Search results are displayed in the same format as the Local Pack and Finder. However, a broader range of listings is shown – because Google Maps covers a wider geographical area.
Arrayed along the top of the map are filters – including price, rating, category, and hours. That’s why completing your Google Business Profile is so important. Customers will use these criteria as filters to narrow down their results.
Does your business need local SEO?
We’ve talked in detail about local SEO strategy. But is such an approach right for your business?
Local SEO is ideal for:
- Local businesses – i.e. law firms, retailers, or estate agents
- Nationwide brands – i.e. supermarkets or delivery companies
- Service Area Businesses – i.e. locksmiths or cleaners
In short, the only companies that can’t benefit are those without a physical location.
The benefits of perfecting your local SEO strategy include:
- Improving your reach
- Converting more customers
- Enhancing your reputation
“Successfully manage your Google My Business Profile, build and curate citations, and optimize your website to reap the rewards of local SEO”
Easier said than done…
Learning and putting into practice the tasks in this guide is hard. That’s because local SEO isn’t just complex but time-consuming too. Keeping up to speed with Google changes, monitoring listings, and checking citations are essential if you want to compete with your rivals.
Do you have the knowledge, resources, and time to manage local SEO in-house – or would you rather hand responsibility to specialists with proven success in this area?
We’ll plan, execute, and manage your local SEO strategy
Book a call with one of our SEO experts today to learn more. We’ll tailor a strategy designed to make your business visible locally and win you more customers.