Local SEO – what is it?
In an nutshell, local SEO is the process of trying to get your business noticed by people in your area conducting relevant searches.
Why is local SEO more important than ever?
Go to Google and type in ‘cinema’, ‘petrol station’, or ‘pizza’…and you’ll notice that it’ll show up with a map with pins dropped on the nearest examples of where you can find those things. *That *is why it is important to take local SEO seriously.
If someone types in the most relevant keywords to your business while they’re the next street over and you don’t appear here, that’s a valuable sale you could be missing out on.
The old 7-pack and the new 3-pack Google update
Previously, Google used to show *seven *results on this local map search, or a ‘7-pack’. However, in August 2015 this was reduced to a ‘3-pack’. Half of all online searches are now done on mobile – you’ll want to be sure you’re set up correctly so you show up properly on search when someone is out, about, and in your area.
Here’s an example.
Imagine you run a pizzeria in a student town. You were within the 7-pack radius of the nearby student halls, or the nearest seven as the crow flies. But then – after the August 2015 update – you realise that three of your competitors fall closer to the hundreds of students hungry for some pizza. Those competitors are now the 3-pack on all those local searches – their contacts details and locations coming up, and yours aren’t.
You can’t change this (unless you move premises!), but you can still be found online by other means. Therefore, having a proper local SEO set-up is vital – especially if you’ve been ‘3-packed’ like the poor pizza place in that example.
What’s the first thing you should do for your local SEO?
Get your Google My Business (GMB) listing sorted – that’s the thing that shows up on the right-hand side when your business name is typed in. Without this you won’t appear in the 3-pack results, even if you’re the closest business to the search source.
Take at look at Tomango’s listing below as an example; using GMB you can show your business address, logo, geographic location, opening hours, contact information, and website link – all in one nice call-out box.
Looks pretty good! To ensure your business has this done right, head to the Google My Business setup page and take it from there.
As an aside – make sure that your name, address, and phone number (NAP) for your business is consistent *across the internet. *Whether it be in this listing, on the footer of your website, on Yelp or anywhere else – getting your NAP consistent is imperative. If there are two differing versions, Google can split your SEO goodness between them – to the detriment of your ranking.
But hang on – that box for Tomango also contains reviews…how do I get those?
Once your GMB listing is set up, customers and clients have the ability to leave their reviews. If you’re starting fresh it doesn’t hurt to ask existing clients to leave feedback to get you going – so long as you’re sure they’ll be positive!
On that note, getting reviews through other key directories such as Yelp or TripAdvisor can also help increase the trustworthiness of your brand. These links won’t count towards your search ranking however; directories such as these use ‘nofollow’ links.
What about ranking high organically for local search keywords?
The bread and butter of SEO. The first thing you should do is ensure your website is correctly optimised; see that page titles, headings and meta descriptions are all written correctly and contain relevant keywords for that page and your business as a whole.
Once you’re satisfied it’s done correctly you can think about creating new content to try and improve your search rankings for relevant keywords. The best way to start with this is to first check on what your website is already ranking for.
What is my website ranking for?
To take an initial audit on your current organic search rankings a good tool to use is SEMRush . You’ll be able to see the top ten ranking keywords for free, and can run a full audit and see over 100 search terms if you sign up for a free trial. It gives you an idea of the competitiveness of the keywords, plus you can run an audit of your website to double check you have elements such as meta descriptions in place.
For local SEO it might be worth considering taking the top relevant keywords and adding geographic modifiers like your local town’s name. You might rank low down for broader, more competitive terms such as ‘garden landscapers’, but for ‘garden landscapers brighton’ you might be able to push up a bit higher.
From there, the best starting point is to keep a company blog on your website that is updated regularly with interesting, useful and relevant content. Use each of your chosen keywords as a ‘hook’ for each piece, and include the search term in full where possible along with some closely related ones for balance.
Of course, this is all for a purpose – don’t forget to include some sort of call to action in your blog to redirect visitors to a product or services page where they can continue their purchase journey.
By maintaining a posting schedule and sticking to it you’ll find that you’re already putting more work in than many of your nearest competitors. It is a long process but a rewarding one that will hopefully translate into further business for you and your company.
The points above are to help you get started along the right track with local SEO and understand a bit more about how it works.
However, this is just the start! These are just a few of approximately 200 factors used in search engine algorithms. To borrow a phrase from cycling and Team Sky’s Sir David Brailsford, SEO is the “aggregation of marginal gains” – slightly improving a whole range of bits and pieces which, adding together, will make the difference to your business.
I haven’t got time for all this! Can’t I get someone to do it for me?
Funny you should say that! Tomango provides local SEO for many of its clients, and can help you do all the above and more.