What is Local SEO Marketing?

Local SEO is all about improving a websites ranking position for local search queries, such as these:

Electrician in Dublin
Indian Takeaway Near Here
Web Design Wicklow

Nowadays Google serves up different search results depending on who is searching, and where they are.

When a user enters a search query like the three above, Google understands that the user probably doesn’t want to order a takeaway from a restaurant on the other side of the world, they’re going to need to find a local restaurant if they want to get their dinner while it’s still warm.

To help the searcher get what they want, Google will show them the local options at the top of the list.

So the first step in local search optimisation is ensuring that Google understands where your business is.

1. Get set up on Google My Business

You may have noticed that if you search for a service in an area, Google will often display a large map with the various businesses in the area. Getting your business properly set up on Google My Business is the first step on the road to getting a prime placement in this section of the search results.

Some tips for when you’re setting up your Google My Business account:

  1. Use the same business name as you do on your website.
  2. Add a great description for your business.
  3. Choose the correct category for your business.
  4. Upload some photos, logos and imagery so your business stands out in the search results.
  5. Add the same phone number(s) as you have written on your website.
  6. Add the same business address as you have written on your website.
  7. Add your opening hours.

Verifying your business location

When you submit your listing, it will be unverified until you prove to Google that your business is where you say it is. This is done by entering a confirmation code that will arrive on a postcard at the address you have specified.

Once you’ve entered that code, your business will be verified and should soon be showing in the local search results, although it can take a little while to climb the rankings.

2. Establish your important business info

The business title that you use on your website and other places on the web is important to the search engines. If your brand is consistent across all of the different data sources that Google looks at, you are helping Google establish trust in your business.

You should use the exact same business title on your website, your social media accounts, Google My Business accounts and anywhere else your business appears on the internet.

Include your business name, address and phone number on your website, and make sure its very easy for visitors to understand how to find that information if they want to get in touch. Google are keeping score and will reward improved user experience with improved rankings.

3. Improve your website

Many local business websites are lacking when it comes to content. Expanding the content on your website and engaging your visitors will help in building authority for your brand and your ranking will improve.

Create Great content

While most SME’s have websites up and running, many of these websites are quite thin when it comes to content. There may be a little bit of background on the company and some contact details but not much else.

These sites don’t give Google much text to latch on to, which makes it harder for them to place your website in their top results.

Google have explicitly stated that they demote pages with “thin content”, which means websites that don’t have a lot of information or value for the searcher.

Coming up with additional content for a website may seem like a daunting task at first, but a little creativity can go a long way here.

Explaining your business offerings in detail and giving your vistors something something to look at while they’re on your website will keep them hanging around longer, and Google will notice that.

Speed up your website

Google also likes fast websites, since no users like waiting around for 10 seconds while the page loads. Loading times matter when you’re making a first impression, and a laggy website can make a business look like they’re gone out of business recently and haven’t bothered to take down their website.

If your site is struggling to load quickly, getting that sorted out can pay dividends.

There are plenty of factors that go into improving website performance, from web hosting to image optimisation and improved web design.

Get in touch with us if you’d like help with your website’s content and performance.

4. Ask your customers for reviews

If Google sees your business gets a lot of reviews from real people, it may improve your ranking. An abundance of positive reviews signifies a tested, trustworthy brand. When I’m shopping on Amazon, I can’t help but make most of my buying decisions with reference to the reviews.

According to a Zendesk survey, 90% of participants claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decision, and 86% said their decision was influenced by negative reviews.

Set Up Profiles

There are plenty of websites that your customers can leave you reviews, but first you’ll have to set up your business profile on those sites so your customers can find you there. Here are a few to start with:

You’re hardly going to be able to convince each customer to leave you 5 reviews, so it’s probably best to focus on Google reviews at first, if you are concentrating on improving your Google search rankings, but those reviews elsewhere still matter.

Ask Your Customers

Not everyone is in the habit of leaving reviews for every single business they interact with every day, but if you remind your customers that a review would help your business grow, many people will be happy to leave one for you.

Making it easy to leave a review will also help you stock up on those valuable positive reviews. You can use a direct link to your profile like this one in your email footer or on your website or in your newsletter.

Some businesses even pay a bonus to staff members for bringing in positive reviews.

5. Get on the Local Directories

It can be effective to register your business with websites that list local businesses, such as Yelp and Cyclex. There are loads of these websites out there, and while you don’t need to be on every single one, adding consistent listings to a few of these websites can help your local search ranking. Have fun, but don’t go overboard all at once.

It may take a few weeks before you notice an improvement in the results, but rest assured, Google will notice these listings. Here are are a few listings sites to help you get started:

6. Upload as many photos as possible

When Google shows businesses in their local results, ideally they would like to show their searchers some images of the establishment.

Uploading some photos from the inside of your business can help you stand out from the crowd  and may boost your ranking position, particularly if you’re the only business in the results uploading photos.

Bear in mind that Google now allows other people to upload photos of your business, along with their reviews, so if you don’t upload any, it’s possible that one of your customers might end up doing it for you, and then their (possibly unflattering) image will come up in the search results beside your business name.

That’s another good reason to stay ahead of the game and upload your own professional photos before your listing gets ruined by some ugly phone camera shots uploaded by a visitor.

That’s a good start

If you’ve completed the steps above, you’re off to a good start and should start appearing in the local search results soon enough. It might not be immediate, but give it a few weeks and have a look again to see if your business has started appearing in that local search results box.

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