We’ve spoken before about SEO, and how it can big up visibility for your business. This time, we thought we’d get a bit more granular. Because we know that a lot of our clients are strong South West businesses looking to attract local custom, we thought we’d let you into the secrets of local SEO.
If you’re not familiar with SEO, don’t worry – we’re going to make this as uncomplicated as possible. However, if you want a quick primer in the basics of SEO, we recommend having a read of this blog first.
If you know what SEO is and would like to know how to make it work for you locally, read on!
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is just SEO tailored for a local audience right?
Well, not entirely right.
There’s more to local SEO than just adding a few local terms to your SEO keyword strategy. Local SEO is a whole thing in and of itself.
Let us explain.
Local ‘map packs’
Google knows that when people type a query, they want to receive the most relevant results for their situation. Often, that means getting the most local possible results.
So, Google always tries to return the most locally relevant results, no matter whether or not the customer specifies a location in their initial query.
For example, if someone located in London types ‘Indian restaurant’ into Google, Google will send Indian restaurants in London to the top of the search page. If someone in Exeter types ‘Indian restaurants’ into Google, Google will send Indian restaurants in Exeter to the top of the search page.
So, the same query can return different results based on location.
Google manages this with the help of ‘map packs’. It builds up a go-to ‘pack’ of local businesses, locations and so on based on signals from local content, local Google My Business pages, social media content, and more.
Whenever someone types a query into Google, it prioritises results from the map pack most relevant for their location.
In order for you to boost your local SEO, you need to make yourself stand out in your local map pack.
5 ways to boost your local SEO
It’s all very well to say ‘stand out in your local map pack’ – but how?
Here are 5 surefire ways to boost your local SEO:
- Create a Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile (previously called “Google My Business”) is Google’s first port of call when checking for local search results. To get in the game in the first place, create a Google Business Profile for your business. In case you don’t know what this is – it’s that sidebar that appears when you search Google for a specific business or service. This is what ours looks like:
Don’t worry – this isn’t hard to do, and you don’t have to worry about your Google Business Profile taking precedence over your own website or social media. But it is important for getting your business noticed by Google.
If people do engage with your Google Business Profile – great! Engage right back (in a sensitive and professional manner, of course!). This shows that you’re actively listening to your customers and responding to their comments, which Google loves to see.
- Make sure that your location and opening hours are updated in all your media
Google uses location and ‘About’ data (especially opening hours) when searching for local results. So it’s very important that all your contact details are up to date, that your location is both prominent and pinned to Google’s mapping technology (you can do this via the ‘location’ section on your Google Business Profile), and that the opening hours you display online are always up to date and accurate.
If you are closed for public holidays, like Christmas or Easter, you can add these as one-off closure dates for your business as well.
- Engage with your locals
Putting out generalised content for audiences everywhere is fantastic for general SEO, but for local SEO you are going to have to focus on your community.
Locally-tagged content is great for this. For example, if you have a stall at a local fete, make a social media post tagging both your business and the event. This will reinforce your local presence in Google’s eyes.
Similarly, you could reach out to your local network and encourage them to tag themselves at your business, or leave reviews, or link to your site in their own websites and blogs.
This is admittedly easier for some businesses than others. For example, it’s a lot easier for a pub to get people to tag themselves at their venue than it is, say, a cement company. But do try and do what you can.
- Build up your internal links
If you can get people to link to your site and your social media from outside (as mentioned above) – fantastic! But it’s also important to optimise your own internal linking structure.
What does this mean? Well, an internal link is a link that takes someone from one page of your site to another. For example, if you click here, you will be taken to our Contact Us page. That’s an internal link.
Internal linking is great for local SEO because it helps Google’s spiders (here’s another internal link if you’re not sure what spiders are!) to navigate your site. In specifically local SEO terms, it helps spiders to get to your location information a lot faster – and that’s important, because if your location is hard to find they won’t waste time searching for it!
- Add a Google Map to your website
The simple act of embedding a Google Map to your location in your website can give you serious bonus points with Google.
Google understandably prioritises its own products and services, so using a Google Map in your website to show customers where you are gives you some serious brownie points.
Become a local SEO-ro (local hero is what we were going for there. Sorry, that’s terrible. Also bad SEO. Do as we say, not as we do!)
Time to own up – we’re not SEO experts. But we can help you to build a quality website – and Google loves a quality website.
We’re also always happy to give (FREE) advice on all things digital. So please feel free to get in touch if you think there’s something we can help you with!
Good luck with your SEO endeavours. We look forward to seeing all your lovely websites shooting up the search index! If you need a recommendation for an SEO expert, we’ve got some fantastic small businesses who we partner with, who can help you. Just drop us a line to find out more on email@example.com