Local trade and recognition are essential for any business to grow and become successful. Whether yours is a small independent business or a branch of a much larger company, the importance of local search ranking can’t be overstated.
Whether you already have a strategy or not, trying to improve your local SEO should be a priority. We take a look at how your can improve your local rankings with a few different steps.
Google gets more intelligent every day and uses a range of complex algorithms to try and match people with the best possible search results. Having said that, the first, simplest and most important thing you can do is to fill in your details correctly on Google My Business.
This is the first step toward improving your local search ranking, as well as making it as easy as possible for your customers to find out what your business does, when you’re open, and both your physical address and web address. Once you’ve entered all your information, make sure to verify your location and business with Google so that it appears on search and Google Maps.
You should also include high-quality images of your business in either .jpg or .png format, as this is something Google does take into consideration when assigning your ranking. Plus, the images help customers to identify you. Give all your image and videos snappy, relevant and optimised file names too, not just a number or a long explanation.
Google determines its local rankings by three factors: relevance, distance, and prominence. You won’t be able to improve your ranking if Google doesn’t have the correct information for two of those three factors.
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You may have come across the acronym NAP, meaning your business name, address, and phone number, and it’s imperative that you keep it up to date.
Even if your business is already on Google, you must make sure that all of the information is still correct. For example, that you’re still trading from the same address, using the same phone number and open at the same times. Even being an hour out on your advertised opening times could result in a lot of lost business and even negative reviews.
You should also check everywhere your business is listed online and make sure the information is up to date. Even if you have information on an old site or social media page you don’t use anymore, keep it consistent, as potential customers and search engines could still see that information.
As mentioned earlier, one of Google’s determiners for local ranking position is prominence. The prominence of a business in these terms is dictated by how much information there is about it across the web. This does include directory information, but links, articles and reviews all contribute too.
The quantity and quality of online reviews are a strong signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy and authoritative. If you can encourage your customers to leave a review, it will improve your local ranking.
To capitalise on this further, write responses to those reviews. This shows that you’re a business that values your customers and rewards feedback. You can even offer customers an incentive such as a discount if they leave a review about their experience.
The reviews you get don’t just have to be on Google either. If you can get the reviews across multiple sites, then even better. Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are sought out for their user reviews, and you can also publish testimonials on your own website. The more reviews you have and reply to, the better you will fare in the local market.
Once you’ve made sure everything is in order in relation to your Google My Business profile, you can focus on getting your business listed elsewhere. Local endorsement is key if you want to improve your local ranking, and local directories of things to do in your area, tourism websites as well as TripAdvisor, Yelp and FourSquare are all places you should try and get your business listed – the more the better!
You will have to reach out to these directories to get listed, but it is time and effort well spent. Not only could this provide an additional source of traffic, but it also means more links to your website which should boost your SEO efforts and improve your website’s authority.
Local link building is a little different to the traditional link building of an SEO strategy. The main difference is that you’re looking for local sites to provide you with a link rather than ones that simply have a high domain authority.
Related article: Domain Authority: 5 Things You Need to Know
This does include directories as mentioned above, but take a look to see if there are any local online newsletters or publications about events in your area and reach out to them to see if they will do a feature or interview with you. You can start your search by seeing which lists and directories your competitors appear on and contacting those.
Keyword optimisation is a staple of most SEO strategies, and whilst having your business accurately listed with Google My Business is paramount, optimisation should not be ignored.
There are a few tools out there to help you do your keyword research such as Moz Keyword Explorer and Google Keyword Planner. Once you have this information, work those keywords into your content organically. Google knows if you’re just keyword stuffing, so make sure you keep in mind the user experience when you’re optimising content.
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Further to this, make sure your headings and page titles are optimised. The page title and meta description of your page will be the first thing customers see when searching online, so make sure it addresses truthfully what is on that page, whilst hitting those keywords. Your in-text H1 and H2 header tags should also be optimised, as search engines will use these when assigning your local ranking.
If you’re trying to improve your local rankings, your first stop should always be making sure all your information is up to date on Google My Business. Give it as much information as possible and you stand a much better chance at reaching your audience. When that’s sorted, you can then focus on getting quality links and listings in other directories. Just remember once you’ve done all this to maintain it and keep it up-to-date!
If you want to discuss improving your local search ranking or your SEO strategy in general, feel free to contact us to see how we can help.