How to win at local SEO

For a lot of businesses, being seen on Google locally is the most important kind of search engine visibility and local SEO should be a priority.  For the most part, if we are looking for an estate agent, solicitor, hair stylist, accountant, restaurant, plumber (or anything else close to home) Google is the first port of call.  With smartphone penetration and 3G and 4G coverage becoming ever more widespread, you don’t even need to be sitting at your computer to do it anymore.  With over 50% of web searches now performed on a mobile device, and 50% of mobile searches looking for information about a business’ location, it is not difficult to imagine a scenario where a potential customer is looking for a local business, on their mobile with the intention of contacting or visiting that business there and then.

To rank well for local searches there are a number of things which you can do which should improve your ranking.   

Don’t ignore directories

Online directories may seem like slightly old hat now – especially when you have your own business website but being listed in online directories is still relevant.  You must ensure that your information is consistent across them all (business name, contact info etc.).  Inclusion in online directories helps with citation and reinforces your local information with Google.

Title tags and meta descriptions matter

Look at page titles, your URL and meta descriptions for the pages you are looking to promote.  Title tags are the boldest and most obvious elements of your search engine listing so you need to think carefully about what you want to say.  Make sure that they are around the right length (50-60 characters for title tags) so they don’t get truncated and that they are relevant to the pages and the page content and include your keywords.  Your page descriptions again should be relevant to the page they are describing and include your keywords.  You need to make these titles and descriptions compelling, unique and relevant to gain any SEO advantage.  For local results using your location in these title tags and description is a good strategy.  Whilst this seems simple enough, writing effective page titles and descriptions is an extremely important part of your strategy and it is worth spending time on this to get it right.

Claim your Google My Business page

Having an active and managed Google My Business page is essential to any local SEO strategy.  Once you have claimed your page (more info on the process here) ensure that you make the listing as complete as possible with photos, opening hours, descriptions and categories.  Inclusion in the Google 3-pack (provided for local searches) is extremely beneficial and a well optimised GMB listing is most likely to get you there.

Get business reviews

Getting customer reviews on your website, particularly to Google is a key factor in ranking well locally.  Facebook is also great for local businesses, as well as having reviews on your own site.  Have a strategy for requesting customer feedback, whether this is by email (including links to your google page, facebook page or other review mechanisms) having hand-outs or leaflets in your business location or simply asking!  Avoid incentivising reviewers, filtering feedback, getting fake reviews from staff or friends and family or in any way paying for reviews.  Handling negatives well and responding to reviews, in whichever platforms you are using is also very important. 

Links are still relevant

Having other websites linking to yours builds site authority and is still a relevant strategy in local SEO.  It is worth reaching out and getting links from other local businesses if you can.  However, these links do need to be of a good quality.  Avoid using strategies like ‘I’ll link to you if you’ll link to me’ to get links on your site, this is more likely to be a negative ranking factor.  Also, do not get involved in buying links.  You need to think of good reasons to get other sites to link to you.  If you can get these organically, by producing interesting local content which other sites want to link to, that is the ideal.  Otherwise, think about how you can achieve them.  Local business directories (we have talked about this above), as long as they are of a good quality, are one way of doing this.  Maybe you could sponsor a local sports club, team or charity and be included on their website (perhaps in exchange for a discount for their members).  Local business associations or trade association websites are also good options.  If you are involved in any events, ensure you get listed on the event website, get editorial content into local news sites. There are a number of ways to achieve links, all of which take some effort and a bit of creativity, but it is worth the effort to get this right.  Keep thinking of opportunities to forge local links as this is an ongoing strategy.

Content… Again!

It is not possible to talk about SEO now without talking about content.  The one thing which underpins your entire strategy for local SEO is content.  Use local knowledge to create site content which is informative for your customers, answers their questions and gives them insight into your business. Keyword research into what people are searching for locally can help here.  A blog on your business website which talks about your company, highlights upcoming local events, showcases projects you may have been involved in locally are all good opportunities for great, unique content which is keyword optimised for local search.  Social media, particularly Facebook, is another avenue for your local content, case studies, photos of recent jobs, new stock information, videos, special offers, and competitions are all effective methods of increasing your followers on Facebook, a large percentage of whom are likely to be locally based.

Pure Systems are able to offer a wide range of services to assist your business with local SEO, whether that is looking at your site structure, creating content, maintaining a blog, creating video or setting up social media profiles, contact us for more information and for a free initial discussion and website assessment.