The statistics supporting the importance of local search optimization are extremely compelling, with 46% of all searches on Google being local, and 72% of people who do a local search then visiting a store within 5 miles.
It is therefore important for many types of business to focus some of their marketing effort on local SEO. In this article we look at the highest value activities which can help your business rank well locally in Google (and Bing):
Claiming the top online listings should be your first action, the most important being Google My Business, and closely followed by Facebook Business Pages, then all other relevant industry-specific profiles, whether that be AirBnB, Checkatrade or Vouchedfor.
One of the top tasks is to ensure you identify your top local keywords (such as ‘plumber in Florida’) and then have individual pages targeting these specific search terms on your website. Tools like Keyword Keg will suggest keywords and give monthly search volumes for each keyword.
Once you have identified your top keywords, the next step is to ensure they are included on your website. It is best practice to have each page on your website target closely related keywords, so if you were a plumber in Florida you could have the following separate pages targeting separate keywords:
The NAP is a key ranking factor locally, and Google likes to see consistency across all your various profiles, directory listings, and citations. You should also include these details placed in strategic locations on your website (footer, contact us page, etc).
There are many good quality online directories; these will give your website a link (with SEO value) plus increased exposure to a new audience. See this list of 25 places to list your business for free where you should register your business (with consistent name, address, and phone number).
People like to read of other’s experiences with a business, so positive online reviews can greatly increase your conversion rates, especially in trusted sites such as Google Maps, Trip Advisor, Checkatrade, and TrustPilot. Google recognizes this so good online reviews can also boost your local search rankings.
The next step is to consider the factors which will further improve your local reach:
Very important when it comes to improving your rankings online. Google places a lot of importance on your loading time, and with good reason. Most people tend to give a website around three seconds to load, and if yours is taking longer, then your bounce rates are going to rise steadily. You can make some basic changes to your website in order to improve your loading times. Consider the following:
All of these items will speed up your website. Aim for a loading time of two seconds to watch your bounce rate analytics transform for the better. For more information read How to Speed up Website without Changing Web Host.
With Google's mobile-first index, if you haven’t optimized your website for smartphone users, you are making a huge SEO mistake. Local searches are primarily done using the smartphone and built-in assistant, and that means you need to focus on mobile. To see how well your website works on different devices, then check with the Google Webmaster tool, this will give you a breakdown of what you need to fix.
The problem with having images on your website is that search engines don’t view them in the same way as humans do. Ensure your images are worth including on your website by:
Aim for images to have minimum impact on your page load times. This may involve compressing and resizing them so that they aren’t affecting on your bounce rate.
According to Moz, link signals are still the number one local organic ranking factor. Outreaching to build links back to your website is a standard strategy for building website authority. However, you can take this one step further by using localized tactics for those links. The impact of linking to small local websites for your link building may have a smaller initial impact, however, these websites will add layers of local location information for Google. This can provide your business with an additional localized impact so don’t discount smaller publishers and partners that are geographically nearby. Incorporated with larger, well-known websites, and you will have an effective strategy that works both ways.
Localized SEO is an important factor that needs to be part of marketing if you have customers looking for a local service. If your business does not appear in searches by local consumers, then you are missing out on sales. Take the time to develop your local SEO, and your digital footprint will be significantly stronger.
At SMA Marketing, we understand the importance of local SEO for companies in today’s competitive market. Our strategic, analytics-backed approach to local SEO incorporates multi-channel link building, content marketing, website optimization, and social media promotion focused around your target audience.
Download our free Local SEO Checklist to review key elements of creating a website that incorporates local SEO best practices.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.