If you’re only just getting to grips with SEO, your heart may sink at learning there’s another term called “local SEO.” But don’t worry – it’s quite simple. To help you, we’ve created a guide containing tips from the experts to help you start profiting from local searches.
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What is local SEO?
Before we get into the detailed checklist, you need to understand what local SEO is. Basically, it’s like regular SEO, just with a geographic element included. It applies to any local business with a fixed location – a store, restaurant, sports facility, or tourist attraction.
Say you run a wine bar – on Google, you obviously want to rank for the keyword “wine bar.” But with local SEO, you want to rank for the keyword “wine bar in Winetown.” This means that users based in Winetown will find you and come visit. After all, it’s no good to someone in Beertown knowing you exist – they may never have the chance to walk through your doors. You also want to rank for searches such as “wine bar near me,” which is becoming increasingly popular.
When a search engine performs a local search, it uses various signals to rank businesses, with the most relevant appearing highest in the SERPs. So far, so SEO. What can you do to your website to help boost your local SEO performance?
Successful local SEO: a checklist
When aiming to rank in local search results, there are a few simple but effective tips you can follow.
1. Use Google My Business
This might sound basic, but you’d be surprised how many local businesses haven’t claimed their own business on Google. This feature of the search engine not only informs Google that you’re a verifiable and trustworthy business (something it, therefore, wants to index) but allows users to share reviews and you to respond to them. While you’re at it, you should also set up listings with Bing Places and Apple Maps. Because despite what some people may tell you, Google isn’t actually everything.
2. Clean up your NAP citations
NAP stands for name, address, phone number; and a citation is any mention of these things online. Structured citations are those found on your own website or listings pages, while unstructured citations include brief mentions in blogs, reviews, etc. Both can be used to your advantage – but they need to be correct across the web! Conduct a quick audit and fix any errors (you may need to reach out to website owners to do this). One very important point is to ensure your NAP is displayed in crawl-able HTML text, not just an image.
3. Add a map to your website
Another simple but effective step that’s rated highly by experts. Adding a map makes it easier for users to find you, and helps Google recognize your location.
4. Create local content
Creating compelling local content that includes location-specific keywords can help boost your ranking in local search results over time. Keep it natural and organic, and you will automatically gain authority. This can also be helpful to boost community, which can result in more backlinks from other high-authority domains.
5. Make it mobile-friendly
As so many local searches are conducted on mobile devices, your website needs to be mobile-friendly (it should be anyway, as part of a successful SEO strategy). Optimizing for voice search is also something to consider, as more and more people these days are telling Google to “find me a wine bar near here.”
6. Target reviews
Just as you regularly conduct an SEO audit and update your content, so too should you keep analyzing your local SEO. A good ongoing activity is to monitor and actively encourage customer reviews. These can be placed through Google My Business or on other review sites. Always respond, and also check out Google Posts – a great way of informing people about new activity in your local business, which also helps boost your ranking.
7. Social media is your friend
Social media is a great way to build community, attract links, and get customers talking about your local business. Not only should you claim relevant social media profiles, but be as active as you can – and use keywords wisely. Note: information (especially that NAP content) should be identical across all platforms to boost your credibility with Google.
Of course, local SEO is ongoing – it’s not enough to set up your GMB page and be done with it. Clever content marketing will be local and relevant, and a regular audit of social media and local search rankings will give you an overview of the competition. Above all, remember to think like a customer – answering their needs fully is the first step to successful local SEO.