Local SEO is an area that sometimes lacks clarity and so has a lot of confusion around it.
If you are familiar with SEO, you will be aware that it changes constantly, necessitating the need to keep up with trends, and with more businesses becoming aware of the need to optimise their local search engine ranking, the game has become more competitive than it was just a few years ago.
Most important to note is that if you are not ranking, your competitors are.
So today I’m going to share some actionable steps that will improve your rankings around your business’ geographic keywords.
Claim & Update your Listing on Google My Business
What better way to promote your Local SEO than putting it on Google itself? Amazingly, many businesses still are not utilising this free feature.
Google my Business is a free online directory that allows you to upload important information about your business. If you want to appear on Google Maps results then you need to do this.
To claim your listing and update your info, visit google.com/business. This can only be done by the business owner since a verification process is involved to ensure the business is really in that location.
Information that you will be required to update includes address, business category, phone number, opening hours, relevant photos including a cover photo and a logo. Ensure you leave no space vacant.
Bing also has the same feature called Bing Places for Business. Although it produces a lot less traffic, It won’t hurt to have your business listed here as well, since it’s free.
Get your NAP Consistent
NAP: Name, Address, & Phone Number.
It is important that you put these details on every page of your website so that Google and other search engines can identify your website easily.
Tip: Usually you would put this in the footer of all your pages and use schema.org markup. You can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to generate this for you as well.
Consistency is KEY here. Make sure you are using exactly the same details for your business everywhere on your website, and everywhere else on the internet – this makes it easier for search engines to identify the correct info and will have a knock-on effect on search results.
Build Local Citations
In addition, the details you use on your website should be duplicated across online directories. Online directories are also referred to as “local citations”. Examples of these websites include Yelp, Foursquare, MerchantCircle, CitySearch, etc.
Many of them are high authority websites and often dominate search results, so it makes sense to be on them. You can also find locally based online directories and fill in your business information. The Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) you out on these websites must also be consistent (same as the previous step). Discrepancies like wrong phone numbers, wrong address, or abbreviations can affect your business negatively since it would be hard for Google to determine which information is accurate.
Get Positive Reviews
Reviews from customers who have used your business can go a very long way in improving your Local SEO. As a bonus, chances are that your next potential customer will make a decision based on a positive recommendation from your old customer – I know I do this.
Getting sufficient 5-star reviews on your Google Map listing will build your reputation and draws you more customers.
TIP: What you should aim for, is getting as many happy customers as possible to give you a review. Ensure you send them the precise Google Map URL where you want them to drop the review.
Use Content and On-Site SEO
This is a bit outside the scope of this article, since it is such a broad subject and will require a whole new guide in its own right.
But something to consider is creating content for your blog and landing pages that are targeted to the geographical location where your business is. E.g. if you have a book store, you could write a blog post about book fairs in the area. Content is an important part of any SEO strategy – local or not.
Build Quality Backlinks
Getting backlinks from quality and relevant websites can help you build your website’s authority to boost your search ranking.
This is probably the most difficult part of any SEO strategy, which is why I left it to last. Make sure you complete the other steps to give you a good foundation before you tackle this.
Again, the scope for this is massive – I really like this guide from Backlinko.
The Final Word
The process of ranking for Local SEO requires some effort – plus a lot of consistency. Take time to implement these tactics and get ahead of your competitors.