Local searches represent 46% of all search engine traffic. If you run a local business, undertaking high-quality local search engine optimization will increase your chances of attracting more custom.
Local SEO helps to streamline the traffic that is directed to your product or service. After all, it doesn’t matter how well your business ranks globally if it is not set up to attract the people most likely to use it – locals.
So what exactly is search engine optimization?
This specialist approach to digital marketing is made up of a series of techniques allowing you to push your business listing as far as possible up the search engine results – making it more visible and likely to attract traffic.
These techniques include:
- Content marketing (keeping the text on your website and social media streams relevant and up to date)
- Keyword optimisation (using popular and relevant search terms in your content)
- Accessibility (making sure the information you display online is clear, comprehensive and easy to find on all kinds of devices)
- Building backlinks (ensuring that links to your content are displayed in popular, trustworthy and relevant locations across the internet)
It is possible to undertake SEO optimisation that will direct anyone and everyone to your business listings. While this is great for a company that works globally – i.e. by shipping products all over the world – many businesses have a narrower, more local audience base.
This is where local SEO can help considerably. It can serve to “weed out” irrelevant traffic and attract those who are seeking your products and services in your local area.
86% of prospective customers look online for local businesses. Harnessing local SEO tools can serve to grow your customer base considerably, without draining your budget.
In this article, we’ll explain how to improve your local search to improve relevant traffic to your company’s online presence.
Open a Google My Business account
Your company will not appear in Google search engine results or Google Maps if you don’t provide certain information in the correct way.
The best way to take control of your listing is to create a free account with Google My Business. Once you have done this, you’ll need to verify your business and add as much detail as you can to its profile.
Ideally, this information should include:
- Your business name, address and phone number
- A detailed, optimized description of your company and its activities
- Up to date opening and closing times
- Images of the outside of your business premises (so it’s easy to recognise from the street) as well as high-quality pictures and videos of your products
- A link to your website
- Current details of any events you will be holding such as sales or celebrations
- Customer reviews
You can add or change the information shown in your listing at any time. Others can help you keep your profile up to date too, by clicking “suggest an edit”.
Ensuring that as much information as possible is accessible in the local search engine results reduces the number of steps a user needs to take to find out who you are and what you do.
Get listed in online business directories
If you choose to appear in a number of carefully selected local listings and online directories, you’ll be more discoverable and your brand may be considered more trustworthy.
Many local users study business listings to help them choose the right company for their needs – plus, the more links to your company you’re able to spread across credible sources on the internet, the better (as you’ll see later on).
Be sure to take note of every listing platform you use, as you’ll need to ensure the information you provide is kept up to date on each. It’s best to use directories that are popular and relevant to your field of business.
Collect and share customer reviews
One of the best ways to ensure prospective customers will trust your brand is to keep sharing the good reviews you receive.
If customers enjoy your products or services, they may leave positive feedback of their own accord. However, you can also influence this by:
- Politely asking them to review you on Google or other review sites
- Providing them with a resource to provide feedback – i.e. sending a follow-up email or text asking for ratings or comments (remember to follow GDPR guidelines here)
- Be active in your response to reviews, thanking customers for good ones and handling bad ones in a professional manner
Create content featuring local keywords
Keywords are among the top ranking factors of any type of SEO.
There are numerous free online tools you can use to research the top keywords for your products and services locally. The Google Ads Keyword Planner is ideal for this, as you can find popular search terms by location.
Remember, the popularity of different terms will change, so you should perform searches of this kind regularly to keep your content up to date.
The keywords you use should be popular within your field of business specifically. You should include them organically in:
- Blog posts
- Website landing pages, title tags and meta descriptions
- Social media content
- Your Google My Business description
- Your listings
Arrange backlinks to your business information
We’ve already shown how you can link to your company website via local listings. However, in order to build trust and improve your visibility, there are things you can do to increase your reach further.
Making contact with online publications and bloggers is a good start. They should be popular, trusted and relevant to your field for this to have the best effect.
Collaborating with them on projects, providing quotes or expert opinions, having them review your products or services or writing guest posts are all excellent ways of having your information shared. Just be sure that they always link back to your website.
If you create great content on your site or blog, you may find that it is shared by others without you having to request this. However, it’s always best to be proactive for the most impactful results.
By following the steps above, it’s likely that you’ll soon see an improvement in your business’s standing within local search results. This, in turn, should lead to more conversions and more sales.
To summarise, managing a detailed Google My Business account, sharing your company’s information via online directories, displaying positive reviews, keyword optimizing all online content and acquiring great backlinks are all ways to help your business perform better locally.