Our Guide to Local SEO
As Google has gotten better and better at providing relevant results to its users, SEO for local businesses has gotten more and more important. The SEO approach that you take for, say, a client that provides an SaaS will to anyone that has access to the internet will inherently differ from a local mom and pop shop that only gets customers from the location of their shop.
Another key difference is the fact that local searchers interact with SERPs differently than they do with non-location specific queries. For example, according to SEO Tribunal:
- 88% of consumers will either call or visit a business within 24 hours of making a local business search on a mobile device.
- 72%of users who perform a local search end up visiting the store within 5 miles of their current location.
- The vast majority (92%) of searchers select businesses that are listed on the first page of local search results.
These statistics are certainly eye-opening. Capitalizing on local SEO can lead to drastic improvements in sales, conversions, and revenue.
So, just how do you go about capitalizing on local SEO? We’ve got you covered with our local SEO guide.
Utilize Your Location In Your Metadata
It is a tried and true SEO to utilize a keyword within a page’s metadata and that also applies to local SEO. The difference here is that in order to send the correct ranking signals (in this case, locality), you must also utilize your location. While there are many other important factors, the quickest and easiest wins for increasing your local rankings is through sending local ranking signals via your site’s page’s metadata.
When you are doing your KW research, you will often find that the keyword itself actually includes your location, particularly if you’re within a well populated area such as a city. This makes the local SEO specific metadata relatively straightforward.
For example, say you’re a bridal shop in Spokane, Washington and you sell wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and prom dresses. As such, you have 3 distinct pages for each of those line ups. In order to properly send the correct local ranking signals, you need to have “Spokane” in each of these page’s metadata. For the Wedding Dresses page, the page title would be something along the lines of “Wedding Dresses in Spokane | [Business Name]”. The “in Spokane” part of the metadata makes it clear to the search engines that you are providing your service to the Spokane area. It’s also typically a good idea to include your location in the URL of your pages, but this should not be overdone as it can potentially be seen as spammy.
This local SEO strategy should be applied particularly to your service pages, homepage, and contact pages.
Ensure Your Contact Information Is Congruent Across All Platforms
Ensure that your local business’ contact information is congruent across all platforms is absolutely vital to local SEO. These platforms include your site’s contact page, contact info in your footer, your Google My Business profile, your Bing Places listing, local directory sites, and more. All of these areas of your site and your offsite profiles send local ranking signals. So if they differ from each other, it will make it difficult for Google to determine the correct contact information of your business.
Google My Business Local Ranking Signals and Optimizations
Your Google My Business profile is a strong ranking factor for local search. This is because, like with all Google products, Google wants to know that the information you are providing them on their products is as accurate as possible and consistently updated. A few items that you want to make sure are in-line are:
- The address is correct
- Your GMB profile’s category association is in line with your industry.
- Your GMB profile is verified.
- You have local keywords inserted into your GMB profile’s business description.
- The on-page name, address, and phone number of your business on your site matches the GMB profile. This includes information such as the hours that you are open.
- It is best practice to make every single character of your address identical across the various platforms. So, you are in a suite in a building, and your Google My Business profile lists it as “Ste.” instead of “Suite” you want to make sure that all instances of your site’s address being listed use “Ste.” instead of “Suite”.
- Upload high-quality photos of your business.
- Use Google Posts to increase the number of opportunities users have to click to your site.
- Ask and answer questions in your GMB’s Q&A section.
Business Reviews for Local Ranking Signals
The number and quality of reviews of your business across all platforms (GMB, Yelp, Bing, etc) is yet another vital factor when it comes to local SEO. Citing the SEO Tribunal data, 73% of consumers trust a business after seeing that it has positive reviews. This is a monumental number and should not be ignored. If your business is not being reviewed well, or not being reviewed enough, it can be a quick disqualifier for a user. You’ll also want to make sure that you are getting recent reviews as well. If your most recent review is from 2 years ago, a user is less likely to place any value in the review.
In order to increase the quality and number of your reviews, it is recommended that your business continually reaches out to satisfied customers and ask for a review. This can also be accomplished by creating a page dedicated to reviews on your site, where users can review right there and also be sent to the various other platforms that allow the users to review your business (such as Yelp, social media, GMB, etc.)
Being Active on Social Media
As social media becomes more and more a part of our daily lives, the importance it plays in local SEO has become apparent. With so many users using their social media’s search features, it is vital that not only you are listed on the various Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram in particular) but that you’re also active on each. Your level of activity can vary depending on the industry that you’re in, but a good way to determine how active you should be is to look at your local competitor’s activity. How often are they posting a day, week, or month? Whatever the competitor average is, you should plan on being more active than that.
Content Strategies for Local SEO
When developing a content strategy for your local SEO efforts, there are a few things that you want to make sure that you’re including in the content to ensure it has a high quality and value to the user. While content strategies for non-local businesses also apply to local SEO, there are also additional items you want to make sure you’re using. A few of these items are:
- The content needs to be about your business and your business’ approach to the service you provide.
- The content needs to be specifically tailored to locality. Mentioning the specific location (i.e. Spokane in the bridal shop example used above) is critical.
- Create blog posts specific to the location. Don’t confine your blog strategies to your industry, don’t be afraid to write about the city or location itself.
- Answer the question of why you’re the best option for this service/product within your location.
- Ensure that the content is conversational in nature. Write it for your users as opposed to search engines.
Backlinking Strategies for Local SEO
The best way to ensure you’ve got a good backlinking strategy for local SEO is to have your business listed where Google expects you to be. This includes the social media profiles that were mentioned above, Yelp, and any other location-specific business directory in your area.
From there, it is a good idea to concentrate on the optimization of the high ranking citations. You can do this by:
- Search your company name on Google.
- Focus on the first few citations that pop up. These are the citations that Google views as most relevant and important for a user to know about your business.
- Ensure that these citations are consistently updated. This can be done by editing your business description, adding photos, etc.
By applying this strategy, your backlinks will be in a good spot, sending strong local ranking signals. However, there are a few other things you might want to consider to really push your local backlinking strategy over the top:
- Look into setting up a Yext account. Yext is a directory listing aggregator. By signing your business up for a Yext profile, your site will be added to over 70 high authority domain listings.
- Determine where your competitors are listing their business and list your business on those sites.
- While getting backlinks from high authority domains is always a strong positive ranking signal, for local SEO, the domain authority has less value. Instead, you’ll want to focus on obtaining links from local sites. A few local link ideas can be found below:
- Local meetups (such as the ones found on meetup.com)
- Local sponsorships
- Local charities
- Local blogs
- Local clubs or organizations
- Local business associations
Now, Go Optimize Your Local Business for Local SEO
We’ve laid out the most vital aspects of local SEO that you and your business should be following to ensure your site is optimized for those important and valuable local searchers. Now the ball is in your court to follow these strategies to outrank your competition.