Imagine this — it’s rugby season, and you’re looking for a sports bar in your area.
So you whip out your phone to Google. And just like that, you find one bar where you can watch the games with your friends.
Your customers are doing the same thing. They’re on their phones finding nearby products or services. And as many as 88% of consumers actually visit a local business within 24 hours of searching for them online.
To increase visibility in location-based searches, you’ll need local SEO. It’s a strategy that helps startups, brick-and-mortar-stores, and smaller businesses stay relevant.
Use this local SEO guide to stand out online and drive more foot traffic to your offline store.
Optimise Your Business Website for Local SEO
Provide your NAP details
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number.
Search engines — like Google — take your NAP data into account and use it to decide what businesses show up on geo-targeted searches.
So make sure you input correct and consistent details on your website. You’ll also want to display it in visible areas, like on the header or footer.
Sure, this sounds like common sense advice. But you’d be surprised on how many misleading data float around the internet these days!
Target local keywords
When targeting keywords, go local.
Local keywords comprise your targeted niche and geo-specific terms, like “pediatric dentist North Melbourne” or “plumbing repair Adelaide”.
Local keywords produce lower search volumes. But keep in mind that you’re looking at traffic that’s more likely to convert.
Search Engine Journal details a great step by step guide to leveraging local keywords.
Localise your link building strategy
Link building is a key strategy to ranking in organic searches. “Localise” by earning quality local backlinks.
Search engines favour authority over the volume of backlinks you have. So, focus on earning backlinks from sites with relevant content and high domain authority.
You can also try the following tips:
- Join local social media communities in your niche/industry. This helps you network with like-minded people or businesses.
- Sponsor community events. Most local businesses find a way to get involved in local events. Not only is it a way to show support, but it’s also an opportunity to get your website featured on their event page.
- Guest post. Reach out to industry bloggers and local news sites. Remember to create quality content to earn a reputation as a trusted contributor.
- Reach out to local influencers/bloggers. Influencers often require money, but you can always negotiate or go for micro-influencers.
- Host local events. Putting up an event page on your site usually results in mentions by local news sites.
Secure a spot in Google’s Snack Pack
All local businesses aim to get to Google’s Snack Pack. It displays the top three businesses in a specific location and niche. You’ll see it right on top of local SERPs (search engine results page).
With its prominence, companies that appear on the Snack Pack invite more conversions.
How do you win the snack pack?
We won’t fluff our words here. Getting a spot in Snack Pack isn’t an easy, overnight thing.
You need to consider these small, yet crucial details:
- Specify your business category. The more specific the category, the better. For example, instead of just “dentistry”, think of the particular service you offer. You can say general dentistry or cosmetic dentistry.
- Insert your niche in your business name. Example, John Doe Pediatric Dentistry, Carlton Periodontics Group.
- Don’t forget your meta tags. Double check your title and description tags and make sure they fall within character range (title tags are 50 to 60 characters, description tags are between 160 to 200 characters). Also, focus on your local keyword and place it on the beginning of each tag.
- Add your local information in all your web pages. Primarily your business name, address and phone number.
- Remove bad backlinks. These are irrelevant inbound links directing to your website.
- Grow your social media engagement. Increase your followers and likes on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Google considers these social signals as additional points to place you on the snack pack.
Setup a Google My Business (GMB) profile
Google My Business signals are the top ranking factor for Google Snack Pack. It’s a free business directory, so you should have no problems with getting listed!
Listing your business in GMB tells Google that your business exists. Once you create a listing, GMB verifies and matches your business to specific local searches.
When setting up your GMB account, remember to specify the following info:
- Add a unique business description that includes your website link.
- Add your local phone number and address similar in your website, social media accounts, and other local directories.
- Add your business hours.
- Choose the right business category.
- Upload high-quality business photos.
- Verify your GMB listing.
Build local citations
Did you know that local citations are the fourth most important factor for local search ranking?
You build local citations through mentions of any NAP or other business information online.
Get quality citations through online business directory listings. This includes your GMB listing as search engines trust them.
Aside from GMB, you can opt to list your business on directories like Yelp, Foursquare, and Yellow Pages.
Recommended: Local SEO Tips for Small Business.
There are several other ways to build citations for your local SEO campaign, including:
Industry- and geo-specific directory listings
For example, you have a dentistry business in Australia. You can list your business in Australian Dentists Directory, Australian Health Directory, Dental Find, and more.
Create or earn supplementary citations
These are citations you earn through publications involving the use of news sites, government databases, maps, etc.
Get online reviews
Online reviews play a key role in influencing a buyer’s decision. And while this is a wide-known truth, what most people don’t know is that reviews actually impact local search ranking.
In fact — the volume, frequency and diversity of online reviews rank third on Moz’s 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors.
How to earn online reviews?
- Create more review portals by listing your business on online directories. This makes it easier for customers to leave feedback.
- Link directory sites on your website. Set up directory buttons to turn visitors to your directory listing.
- Give rewards such as discount coupons, freebies, gift cards, etc. to encourage customers to talk about their buying experience.
- Ask reviews through a follow-up email after a customer’s purchase. Keep it short and engaging. Make sure to link your email signature to review portals where you want them to leave reviews.
- Show off positive testimonials from previous customers. You can share it on your website or through a social media post. This does not only make a good impression but encourages other customers to give their feedback too.
Get positive reviews as much as possible. The best times to ask are during re-orders, social media mentions and referrals. If there are negative reviews (as they’re unavoidable), give a professional response quickly to redeem your reputation.
Local SEO helps you reach out to your local market. Don’t miss the opportunity to let people in your area know you exist!
Use this simple guide to build a local SEO strategy, and say hello to higher search traffic and a larger customer base.