Improving your local SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the best things you can do to promote your business. According to Hubspot, 97% of consumers search online when looking for a local business. With figures like that, it’s easy to see the potential which Google and other search engines have for generating leads, sales, and revenue for your business.
Your business’ ranking on SERPs (search engine results pages) makes a huge difference to your visibility to potential customers. This is where SEO comes in: to improve your rankings on results.
This site has previously covered the importance of Google My Business in promoting your business online. Optimizing your presence on Google My Business in combination with other effective local SEO techniques can yield incredible results in terms of reaching potential customers, generating sales leads, and growing your business.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO means optimizing your online presence in order to generate leads and presence centred around a specific city, district, or geographical area. In practice, this means ranking as the top result for searches for your product or industry within your city or area on Google, Google Maps, and other platforms.
Local SEO link building is critical for small businesses that provide local services, and/or whose target audience is based in a particular geographical area. This can apply to businesses both with or without a physical shop front.
In general terms, SEO is about convincing search engines that your business is the most relevant to any given keyword searches. When determining the ranking of results, Google and other search engines look for the sites that are most relevant to the search, and also reputable and trustworthy.
SEO techniques involve the strategic use of the correct keywords to show Google that the content is relevant, as well as considering links, citations, and other technical factors to demonstrate that the business is reputable. Local SEO takes the same approach, but with a focus on locational relevance in order to make sure your business ranks on searches related to your geographical area.
Google My Business and Local SEO
Having a strong listing on Google My Business is important because it increases your ranking on the Google Maps, Google Local Pack, and Google Places apps. Additionally, it improves your overall local SEO. For example, maps results usually appear at the top of search results, which means you will get more eyes on your business listing.
As a first step to improve your local SEO, optimize your Google My Business listing by:
- Claiming and verifying your listing on Google My Business
- Checking that all information is accurate, complete, and up to date, and is consistent with your websites and other online listings
- Gathering positive reviews on Google, and creating Google Posts
Google is indisputably the number one choice for consumers looking for a local business. However, there are many business directories that are also frequented by a significant number of users. So, focusing solely on Google could be a huge missed opportunity.
Some important local directories include:
- Bing Local
- Better Business Bureau
- Merchant Circle
- Yellow Pages
Compile a list of all online business directories that your potential customers may use. Don’t forget your local sites, newspapers, and your local Chamber of Commerce, as these may have their own business directories. Check to see if your business is listed and that the information is complete and accurate. If it is not, contact the site to get your business included.
Having correct and complete information across such directories not only impacts the number of people visiting your sites, but it also affects your overall local SEO. If listings, especially of your NAP (name, address and phone number), are inconsistent, it will confuse Google, damaging your ranking.
Create the Perfect Business Listing
Having a correct and complete name, address and phone number on each listing is therefore the first thing you need to do in order to optimise your business listing. This not only improves local SEO, but also makes it as easy as possible for potential customers to find you. Be sure to update all listing as soon as any of these details change. Keeping a central record of all of your business’ listings will help you to do that.
Also make sure that your listing is optimized by including as much additional information as the platform will allow. This should include your products and services and a link to your website, and could also include things like your brand’s tagline, opening hours, parking availability, payment forms accepted, and social media accounts.
Most platforms allow you to upload photos, and it is important that you do so in order to legitimize your business. Upload at least three or four good quality photos that represent your brand and what your business does. If the platform allows videos and you have a strong, professional video available, definitely do this – videos are a fantastic way to market your business. Finally, brand your listings by including your business name and logo: this will make your listing look more professional, as well as build your brand image.
A great listing that has the following elements will set your business apart:
- Complete and up-to-date information, with as many additional useful details as possible
- High quality logo, photos, and videos that represent your brand well
- A well-written description that clearly communicates your products and services
- Persuasive and engaging copy that demonstrates the benefits of your products and services to your customers
How do you decide on which platforms to list your business? As a general rule, it is a good idea to start with the largest and most important platforms – the ones we have listed above, which are roughly in descending order of importance – and then work your way down to the smaller platforms. You should also focus on directories that are specific to your industry or geographical area, especially if there are applicable directories that receive a great deal of traffic or are particularly well regarded in your sector. Niche or location-based directories with few users are something you should only look at if you have extra resources to dedicate to this.
If you have a business with multiple locations, depending on the platform, you may be able to organize all locations under one business listing. For example, Google My Business allows service-based businesses with at least 10 locations to claim a multi-location business listing. Other platforms such as Yelp, for example, allow you to claim additional locations once you have created an account and listed one business.
As covered above, for SEO purposes it is essential that the information about your business (particularly your name, address and phone number) is exactly the same on your website as on all online business listings. If you have multiple business locations this means creating a microsite for each business location under you main website, and ensuring each has an accurate NAP that exactly matches you Google My Business and other directory listings. These microsites can then be managed through a store locator function on your site.
The Power of Keywords
As mentioned, SEO essentially comes down to showing Google that your business is the most relevant result in user searches. It is also important to be relevant to as many searches from as many users as possible, in order to reach the maximum number of potential customers. Using the correct keywords is essential for both of these elements. By doing so you will rank in more searches relevant to your business and your customers, driving more organic traffic to your site, meaning more leads, more sales, and more revenue.
First, you will need to conduct keyword research in order to determine the keywords that your target audience is searching for most often. There are many tools today that will help you with this research: our agency uses subscription SEO tool Ahrefs on a daily, often hourly, basis. There are also some great free tools for keyword research, including Moz, SEMrush or Answer the Public.
When researching keywords it is important to go beyond simply a few primary words. Most businesses are doing this these days, so you need to go further in order to stand out from the competition! By including long tail and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords, you will help your business to rank for every possible keyword associated with your business.
Once you have determined the best keywords for your business you will need to incorporate them into your listings in local directories. Most critically, be sure to include at least your primary key word in the title of your business listings. This may mean expanding your title to include more than just your company’s name. For example, if you are an SEO Consultant named Anna Smith, instead of listing your business as “Anna Smith” you would list it as “Anna Smith – SEO Consultant”.
Include primary keywords and long tail keywords in your listing title, description, and any other copy on your site. You can also rank for keywords that are used in customer reviews, particularly on the Google My Business platform.
Build more keywords in reviews by:
- Encouraging customers to leave reviews (it is likely that they will mention relevant keywords naturally)
- Structure the reviews your customers leave
You can achieve the second point by not only asking your (satisfied) customers to leave reviews, but also by creating a step-by-step guide to leaving a review for your customers. This not only makes it easier for them to leave a review, but you can include some suggestions in how they may wish to do it, including phrases they may use, which could include long tail keywords.
Choosing the correct category for your listing is also important. This has a particular impact on your ranking when it comes to Google My Business, and is important on other platforms as well. In choosing your category it is crucial to be as accurate as possible to make sure that you reach the most relevant audience. It is also advisable to select the most refined categories, rather than general ones. On Google My Business you should avoid repetition within categories – for example Hairdresser and Women’s Hairdresser – as this may damage your ranking. Instead choose the most defined category, in this case Women’s Hairdresser.
Tom Buckland is a digital marketing consultant specialising in technical SEO & Amazon Marketing. He’s the founder of Amazon SEO Consultant in the UK and has helped hundreds of businesses achieve exponential growth through ranking their products on Amazon.