A guide to local SEO.
Building a website is a fantastic first step to growing your business and driving enquiries. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the digital marketing practice of improving your website to help it appear higher in the search rankings. But local SEO is a completely different algorithm to national or international SEO and has its own parameters and objectives. In this guide, we explain exactly what local SEO is and how it’s different to your wider SEO strategy, as well highlight ways to get your site ranking for local search.
What is local SEO?
Local search focuses on local brands and the services they can provide to the general community. It encompasses all the terms customers will type into a search engine to find services local to their area or an area they are visiting. For example, they might search:
- Takeaway pizza
- Carpenters in Huddersfield
- Car valet near me
Local SEO is important as it gets your brand or business in front of your most-valued customers – those in your community. Google confirmed in 2018 that nearly a third of all mobile searches were related to location – and now, just over two years later, the ‘near me’ element of a search has almost dropped off completely. That’s because Google knows to automatically return results relevant to a user’s location. Brands that adjust digital marketing tactics and techniques regularly to keep up will be the winners.
Google also understands small businesses are limited or selected by location. For example, takeaways will be ordered from houses within a few-miles’ radius of their location. Google also understands that small businesses don’t have the resources for large sites and SEO campaigns, which is why it created a separate algorithm for local search.
Take a look at our top tips to help your business get visibility in local search results:
Google My Business
Google offers a service called Google My Business, which allows small local businesses to add all their information, including opening hours, address and services to their listing. These listings show up when someone searches for the business on a locally related keyword. Best practice is to include as much information as possible on your listing, as this is a key point of information for potential customers to get a quick snapshot of your business and what you offer. These listings also show up on Google Maps when a user clicks on the location of your business, which is amazing for businesses that are limited to customers within their immediate location and tourists.
Links and citations
Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own. A hyperlink encourages users to navigate between pages on the internet dependent on the anchor text linked. Search engines use links to crawl the web so having more links back to your site builds authority, which is a factor of your website ranking in the search results.
However, Google is aware that smaller local businesses do not have the corporate power or networks behind them to be able to embark on large link-building campaigns. Therefore, the search engine gives weight to citations (whereby your business is mentioned by name on other websites but it’s not directly linked to). They show your business is a trusted source of information or a reliable service because it’s endorsed by other websites. Small businesses should embark on a campaign to get their name on as many other relevant websites as possible.
Contact directories can be frowned upon as they have been abused in the past to manipulate Google’s search crawlers. However, listing your business in relevant popular directories is a good way to get high-quality citations – and links back to your site. Relevancy is key, though. More is not better in this instance.
Another tip is to keep your name, address and phone number (NAP) the same throughout all listings and websites. This makes it easier for Google to link all mentions of your business together, creating a fingerprint that further increases your rank. This is precise – right down to the spacing in your phone number and the capital letters you use. Consistency is key.
You can also increase your local rank via location-dedicated pages on your site. For example, ‘bicycle hire in Huddersfield’ is more likely to rank highly for Huddersfield-based bicycle hire searches than a non-location-based page. Content on these pages must be unique and highlight specifics about that location, so try including copy like ‘there are lots of lovely places to see in Huddersfield. Hiring a bike is an ideal way to see the countryside that surrounds this old industrial town.’
Local SEO is something all small businesses should look toward. You can connect with valuable customers in your general community and be first choice for those visiting your area.
One reason why a lot of our more local clients, who are often owner-managers, come to us is they simply don’t have time to work on their digital marketing. They’re too involved in the day-to-day running of the business and can’t spare the time. Sound familiar? If so, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help. Alternatively, head over to our digital marketing jargon buster to learn more about the different elements of digital marketing.