Today we will share with you our definitive local SEO guide. Local SEO is something you must take care of if you wish to drive organic traffic to your business website. It helps you to customise and deliver content according to the needs of the people from your part of the world.
Most brick and mortar businesses are built to serve the customers of a specific area. Consider a dentist’s office. Most of the patients who would come to this place would be the residents of the nearby areas. So it helps to build a website keeping their needs in mind.
It may still serve the audience from other parts of the world. But they are unlikely to visit this office for the doctor’s services. The same applies to real estate businesses, restaurants, pubs, groceries and a range of other retail outlets.
By narrowing down your focus you attract an audience who is more likely to buy your products and services.
Before we proceed further let us briefly discuss the following point.
What SEO is not?
SEO is not a magic wand. It is high time to leave one of the biggest SEO myths behind. Even if you occupy the top position in Google for a given keyword phrase this month, there is no guarantee that you will remain there forever. Other companies may follow the suit, deliver quality content, go for more optimised pages and come up with a better offering. Consequently, you may get replaced sooner than you anticipate.
Search engine optimisation in any form is not a race about outsmarting the search engines namely Google, Bing, Yahoo and others. It is better not to start the process of optimisation in that spirit. You will never be in a position to win this game if you do so.
Local SEO vs SEO
How is local SEO different from SEO? Local SEO specifically addresses the necessities of the local businesses. You will also hear the following three terms a lot – On page SEO, offsite or offpage SEO and local SEO.
Everything you do to make your content more attractive and readable for the search engines and general audience fall under the On Page search engine optimization category. This includes writing lucid and click-worthy headlines (and subheads), detailed meta descriptions, alt tag for your images etc.
The actions you take to bring more viewers to your website, invite worthy backlinks etc are considered off page or off site search engine optimization.
All three are necessary for ranking higher in the search engines and are done simultaneously.
Local SEO guide: Improve your pagerank in 9 easy steps
Do you know that 4 out of 5 people never check beyond the first page of the search engine results? Moreover, the result appearing in the topmost position gets visited once out of every three times?
Search engines can send you a ton of visitors. These visitors, being already in search of relevant content, are more likely to purchase from you. But to reap all these wonderful benefits you need to follow the basics right. The following steps will help you improve your search ranking.
Responsive web design for local businesses
Smartphone users are increasingly outnumbering the search traffic from traditional devices like desktop and laptop. It is extremely important that you invest in responsive web design and let your website seamlessly perform on any device – smartphones or desktop computers. If you are depending on cheap web templates to deliver quality traffic for you, you may as well say goodbye to ranking higher on the search engines.
Publish meaningful content, improve content quality
Create content that readers would adore. Use a combination of blog posts, images, videos and podcasts to get closer to your audience. Answer the most relevant and pressing queries that they have. Stop churning out blog posts that are stuffed with keywords which don’t make any sense either to the search engines or to your audience. Use these local SEO tips to deliver useful and shareworthy content.
The average length of articles that appear on the front page tends to be more than 1800 words long. They are extremely research oriented. Google’s search bots also reward you if your audience spends more time reading an article. Aim for quality content to outsmart your competition. Invest in content marketing to attract a greater number of readers.
Answer relevant questions, focus on snippets
Like many times in the past, we are experiencing a shift in lifestyle. The one which I am about to discuss is very interesting. Every time we have a question in mind we don’t necessarily turn to our parents, siblings, peers or colleagues. We simply turn to Google, Bing, Yahoo or Baidu. These search engines are bombarded with questions all the time.
Can you think of any question that is relevant to your business? There must be queries that readers are dying to ask. Select those and try addressing those in an organised way – through your blog posts, Youtube videos and social channels.
If your content quality proves to be remarkable and it manages to draw enough attention, pretty soon you will see your answers featured in an answer box. For example, think of this question, “how to tie a tie?” See the results:
Not sure where to begin? Head over to Answer the Public. Enter a pertinent phrase. View all the popularly asked questions and comparisons. I searched for “butter chicken” and got these results.
If you are in B2C food or restaurant business, you will love answering these questions:
“How long can butter chicken last in the fridge?”
“How to make butter chicken sauce?”
“How to make butter chicken restaurant style?”
Now it is your turn.
Use local trends to your benefit
As a local business, you have a rare opportunity. You can use the local trends to your benefit. For example, consider yourself a real estate business owner about to begin on a project in a posh locality. You know the area very well. You are aware that in one year’s time there won’t be any plot vacant in the area. Use that information to create a sense of urgency. Highlight the real benefits of obtaining a home in the area.
There could be other trends affecting your customers soon. A change of policy, updates in the local building norms, rise of interest in bank loans, a memorable event like Olympic or Formula 1 racing that is about to take place in a short time … you get the idea. Keep a close watch on the news and you will soon start capitalising on plenty of opportunities.
Rise of “near me” or “nearby searches”
A major outcome of increased smartphone usage is the rise of searches like “vegetarian restaurants near me” or “hair salons nearby”. The good news is 3 out of 4 people who make these enquiries also end up visiting the outlet personally. If your business address is properly set up online, your information will come up automatically with these searches. If you are not sure how to claim your business identity with Google and Bing check the following guides for details.
It is important to note that neither Google nor Bing has every inch of the globe covered on the map. However, you can easily edit or add a location to Google or Bing map. The next step would be to pin your business on it and brace yourself for some more targeted visitors. Didn’t we tell you this local SEO guide is full of easy-to-implement steps?
Build citations for your local business
This is one of the most boring parts of local SEO, but also one of the most rewarding one. In the world of search engine optimization, the importance of quality backlinks cannot be stated enough. Social media and business directories are easy ways of enhancing the visibility of your business and getting crucial backlinks.
A word of caution though. There are hundreds of business directories catering to all sorts of business. List your business only on those reputed sites that have a relevant and sizeable audience. Don’t register your business on those sites that look suspicious or below par. Spammy links pointing towards your domain can undermine the reputation of your business.
You have the choice of registering on free business listing sites as well as the paid ones. Make sure the name of your business, address and phone numbers (popularly known as NAP) match with each other on every single occasion you decide to put them up on the directories. So if your business address or telephone number changes, update each of the listings manually.
The entire process can be repetitive. To avoid the tedium you may easily seek help from companies like Bright Local, Advice Local and Lock My Brand. They are experienced in maintaining business citations and can help in your case too.
Does HTTPS improve search ranking?
Does an SSL certificate boost your site’s rank? Let’s try to answer it the Google way. The search engine giant encourages webmasters to invest in valid SSL certificates. But only having an https site does not guarantee higher page rank.
Then is it wise to invest in an https website? Most definitely, yes! It increases your customer’s confidence in your business. This trust factor is very important in online business, especially for an ecommerce store. Increasingly, you will see the majority of sites ranking on the first page of Google are all secure sites. For example, I typed “buy coffee beans online” in the search box. The first 8 items on the front page have secure sites.
Let’s try another search, “mountain bike parts uk”. Once again, you get 8 out of 10 results from https websites.
On top of this, Chrome warns users every time someone enters password or credit card information in a “Not Secure” environment. This may dissuade potential buyers from using your website and ordering your products and services. Think from a customer’s point of view. Do you think you would buy from a site you have just been warned about?
Some websites use secure payment getaways, but the product pages remain unsecure. This is okay for the time being, but should not be considered a long-term solution.
Get customer reviews and publish them online
Positive reviews cultivate confidence among your potential buyers. Consider the following example, “Thai restaurant in Chelsea.”
All three restaurants that came up in the window just below the map have an average of 3.5-star rating. The first one, Busaba Eathai Chelsea, has received 145 reviews till now. Quite naturally, your prospective customers are going to be influenced by such a rating. Better rating will ensure more audience and in turn a greater number of customers. You don’t need a local SEO guide to understand how crucial it would be for your business.
To be frank, there might be other Thai restaurants in the area which offer better service and tastier food. But unless there’s someone to guide us to the doorstep of that restaurant, it will remain forever hidden from us.
Consequently, they will do less than average business and may never realise their full potential at all. Such is the power of search engine ranking.
For hotels, restaurants and holiday lettings Bing pulls user ratings from such places as Trip Advisor, Zomato and Open Table. Then it shows the results just below the search bar. If you already have healthy ratings in third-party websites, you may take advantage of that. But when you are starting out this may not act in your interest.
For other types of businesses like tattoo parlours, pet shops, insurance agencies and so on Bing does not show any rating at the moment.
Company name with the main category and city name
Customise your home, about and contact pages with company name, main category and city or region. Put them on H1 and H2. So if you are a food packaging material supplier in Delhi, your home page title should read “Company Name | Food Packaging in Mumbai”. Many businesses like customising the headlines as “Company Name | Delhi Property Lawyer” or “Company Name – Connecticut Real Estate Agents”. Either format will serve your purpose fine.
Don’t forget to include these tags in the meta description of your website. If you are serving in multiple cities, customise your business page for each of them. You may create separate city specific subdomains or landing pages.
Implications of the latest change in Google
As I am writing this post, I see a big change in Google. It was essential for me to refer to it in our local SEO guide. The changed search console kind of forces you to be content with the local results. Check the newly designed Google homepage. Even though you access Google.de, Google.fr or Google.co.uk, your current location is firmly displayed in the left-hand corner.
Not only that. It delivers only local results when available. This may have some positive impact on your local business. I also see an increase in region-specific keywords. Because, if you want to see some information related to Kyoto, Japan you are forced to type keyword + Kyoto to get the relevant results. Check out the following example:
Search term “buy guitars online” in google.com
What do you see? A list of results from India, as it is searched from India. Even though, I didn’t use google.co.in to find my information.
But I want to check major online guitar stores in the United States. I want to gift it to my friend living in the United States. So I modify my search term to “buy guitars online Milwaukee”. Now I get relevant results.
It is utterly important to customise the content and meet the needs of the local audience. It is the best possible way to earn organic views. In other words, don’t deliver exact same content for your customers in Delhi as well as your audience in Dubai.
The digital agency you have hired to set up your online business is supposed to take care of the finer details. However, knowing the basics always help. Apart from these tips and tricks to improve your page rank, you may also refer to our comprehensive website checklist to keep a tab on the ongoing development process. If you find yourself in doubt over any of the matters related to your online business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
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