Even though SEO is one of the most talked about subject matters in the world of online marketing, several businesses forget to take it seriously enough. If you believe that you can get away with standard SEO practices in the absence of implementing and adding a few tweaks or changes for a regional audience then think again, as this could potentially make or break online success.
Some businesses might not need to take local SEO as seriously as others because they have global audiences that make purchases regardless of geographical location. However, enterprises with a physical storefront definitely need local SEO.
While it is fair to say that everyday SEO techniques are enough to improve your organic search engine ranking, adding some local elements has a few additional benefits, including the all-important map pack.
But how do you go about implementing local SEO I hear you say? Never fear, as the most effective, successful and fruitful techniques are here:
Your entire navigable website, as well as any landing pages, should be optimised with local SEO in mind. So, be sure to include the following elements on your site.
- Configure your NAP – If you want people and search engines to find you, configure your name, address and phone number (NAP) as crawlable HTML text on your site. In the past, NAP information or ‘citations’ used to be considered a magic formula for local SEO. This isn’t exactly the case anymore, but it remains a crucial web page inclusion you simply cannot afford to ignore.
- Include location information – Wherever possible, clearly state your business’ location information such as the city, town or county. For example, include it in title and alt tags, H1 headings, URLs, on-page content and meta descriptions.
- Create location pages – Businesses with more than one physical property or premises will need to set up multiple location pages. Remember to include individual opening hours and transport links, but avoid duplicating content across all pages.
- Post relevant content – In order to establish a glowing local reputation, think about creating and publishing content that is relevant to the area. Something like a weekly blog is perfect, but you should also explore the idea of generating infographics and producing videos.
Local profile pages
Both search engines and online directories are fantastic ways to improve your local SEO. Not only do they provide your customers with important business details, these listings will increase your online exposure too.
- Create a Google+ Local page – This will need to be done for each of your locations. However, you must have a mailing address and meet Google’s quality guidelines.
- Optimise business categories – After creating your Google+ Local page, add at least 4-5 categories that relate to your industry and business. These should include both broad categories to attract wide audiences and specific categories for a more niche market.
- Get rid of duplicate listings – Along with looking a bit unprofessional, multiple listings mean that valuable reviews and recommendations are in different places. Therefore, remove duplicate listings using Google Mapmaker.
Inbound links and citations
Inbound links and citations are somewhat out of your control, but there are various ways to earn them from local sources. What’s more, it is incredibly important to stay on top of these virtual recommendations, as broken links or incorrect information won’t look good.
- Conduct a citation evaluation – It is crucial for your business name and address to be consistent across the web, so conduct a citation evaluation and look for spelling or grammatical mistakes. You can use abbreviations, but make sure the same words and formatting is used for all online listings.
- Use citation resources to your advantage – If you want to build your local online presence, then consider using citation resources like Whitespark and BrightLocal. These tools allow you to check current citations and find new opportunities.
- Earn and build up inbound links – As mentioned previously, relevant content can boost your local SEO in terms of search engine exposure. However, it can also help you earn inbound links from valuable sources. Think about establishing content relationships with nearby communities, get involved in local events or touch base with regional groups and organisations.
Reviews and recommendations are fundamental elements of local SEO, as they improve reputations and increase click through rates. On top of that, Google reviews now appear in an isolated popup, meaning opinions and views about your business can be viewed before information like opening hours or contact details.
- Give visitors the opportunity to leave reviews – In addition to reviews on search engines and online directories, recommendations on your own website are equally as important and influential. Create a simple URL and tell customers about it, but remember to makes things easy and don’t overcomplicate the process.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews – If a client or customer had a pleasant experience visiting your business, there is no reason why they can’t leave a favourable review. Consider creating and giving out a review hand-out or postcard at the last moment of customer interaction.
- Be careful about asking for online reviews – Even though you can ask consumers to leave reviews on your Google+ Local page, other directories are a bit different. You can let customers know about your presence on Yelp, but asking for a review is against the rules. Even so, you can still embed a Yelp badge on your site.
Summarising the importance of local SEO
We all know about the power and potential of SEO, but the lack of time and attention spent on localising results is somewhat criminal. But, if you take the right approach, introduce on-page and off-site elements, encourage customer reviews and make sure your online listings, citations and inbound links are up-to-date and accurate, local SEO supremacy can be achieved.