Did you know that 46% of searches on Google are local? And, 1 in 3 of those Google searches are optimised for local businesses? Therefore, implementing a local search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy is key for any small to medium-sized business. Think about it, your local market is likely your prime clientele due to their proximity. If your local SEO strategy is poor or non-existent, you could be missing out on reaching 80% of your potential customers. This is because four out of five consumers use search to find local products and services.
Ok, so picture this: You’re at home, it’s a wet and miserable Sunday afternoon, and you’re craving a big, juicy burger with all the trimmings because you may or may not have had too much to drink the night before… (don’t deny it, we’ve all been there). What’s the first thing you do? You jump on your mobile from the comfort of your couch and search local burger joints in your area.
We see it like this – implementing a smart local SEO strategy can help you be found by the ravenous masses – which in turn, means conversions for you and burgers for them… (hurrah!)
The Local SEO outline
You might be asking, “what the heck is local SEO?” – Well, let’s start with the basics. Search engine optimisation is the process of influencing organic search rankings in search engines like Google through keyword rich content, metadata and other technical factors to increase website visibility and traffic. Local SEO works hand in hand with this process, only it’s geographically specific. It’s here you can think about your customer base and where they’re located. Where do you want to target? How far does your service or product offering go?
Take us for example, we’re more likely to show up on Google for a relevant search such as “digital marketing agency Gosford” over a broad search such as “digital marketing agency” due to our geographical location and the content we produce.
So now we’ve got a grasp on basic SEO, let’s delve into a little history. Over time, these local SEO algorithm processes have changed, resulting in alterations in the way results are returned to users.
In 2015, the Google “map pack” (also known as “snack pack” or “local three pack”) changed from seven business listings to three. This is because Google implemented a heavy focus on quality SEO content, pushing businesses to change their strategy to up their search game.
In 2016, we saw a push for proximity, called the “Possum Update”. This meant Google ranked local businesses based on proximity to the user, which still remains in part today.
So now, what we’re left with are blended algorithms based on website content, proximity and geo-modified recommendations – leaving local businesses in a fight to the death for that number one spot on the Google leaderboard.
If you’re finding yourself lacking in the local SEO department, we recommend reviewing your strategy. We’ve got five game-changers that’ll help you get to the top.
How to implement local SEO
This metric takes “let’s link up” to a whole new level. Implementing inbound and outbound links creates some serious legitimacy to your brand whilst telling Google you’re a force to be reckoned with. This is because Google ranks websites based on the quality of its content – hence why content marketing is so popular today. If you’ve got a site that’s recognised as a viable source of information, then that site is more likely to be prioritised by Google.
We recommend creating content that’s linking both inward and outward to relevant, diverse and high-quality websites through means such as guest posts, video content and blogs.
2. Quality content
Ah, content. Our best friend here at LEP Digital. Content is not only important for your brand voice, but having a blog means you have a platform to implement a local keyword strategy, as well as a hub for those links we spoke about earlier.
As a small business, if you’re hosting an interesting blog on things that matter to your community, for example: “The best juice bars on the Central Coast”, you’re showing Google that you care about your customers and that you produce content that’s of value to them. This means you have a better chance of ranking highly in search results.
3. Optimised on-site SEO
The key to great SEO is… wait for it… keywords. (See what I did there?) As you’re probably working it out, there’s a running theme here. Google ranks high-quality websites by what they offer to users, over sites that are quiet and stagnant. Injecting your blog and website copy with optimised, relevant, and keyword rich content puts you in a prime position for that top spot.
We recommend researching the competition in your area and using geo-based search terms to reach your target audience.
4. Google My Business
This metric is incredibly valuable when it comes to local SEO. It’s a free tool that allows you to manage how your business appears to users on Google Search and Google Maps. It includes basic information such as your business name, location, hours, reviews, your products and services, service area and more.
This tool is essentially a hub for all things “your business” and allows you to share pictures, posts and links. And boy, do we recommend it. Businesses with photos see 35% more clicks to their website than their competitors, and 42% higher requests for driving directions in Google Maps. In short, this is a metric you don’t want to ignore.
5. Raving reviews
We all know it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. And this is no different with reviews. According to Google, “Google review count and score is factored into local search rankings”, and for good reason.
Let’s say you’re looking for a local restaurant near you. Would you choose the listing with no traction, no photos, and no engagement, or the five-star establishment with endless food pics and glittering reviews? It’s a no brainer, really.
61% of customers read online reviews before making their purchase decision, so it’s imperative you keep this section updated and, of course, always in a positive light. It’s as easy as asking your customers to leave digital reviews after they’ve expressed their satisfaction for what you do.
We recommend prompting your customers to do just this by adding easy-to-navigate links into your website, email marketing and social profiles that’ll take them right to that magical review page.
Dominate your local search
At the end of the day, Google wants to give the best experience possible to its users by showcasing authentic and quality businesses in the area. We’ve only just scratched the surface on local SEO so, if you’re ready to get ranking in your local area, then we’d love to hear from you. See you on the map, man!