9 Ways to improve your local SEO

Putting your business online means that you can operate on a global level, but not every business benefits from an international outlook. For many businesses, it’s local custom that matters most, especially when they have brick-and-mortar locations that rely on customers coming to them. For these local businesses, digital marketing is still essential, but local SEO should be the key focus.

People who are looking for local businesses will still search online using a variety of tools. They might use specific keywords or search with their location turned on with their phone or other devices. If you want to target local customers for your business, let’s take a look at how you can improve your local SEO.

What is local SEO and why does it matter?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a set of techniques used to improve the ranking of a website in search engines. It helps a site to show up for the right searches and to put them in a prominent position in search results. If you have a local business, you need to focus on local SEO, which involves optimising a website for specific locations. It means using more specific keywords for your SEO, which include locations, as well as carrying out other methods that help to improve local visibility.

Local SEO is important for local businesses who want to attract customers nearby. Without the internet, your business would have to rely on people walking past, word of mouth and traditional marketing methods like print marketing. But when you have an online presence, you tap into the modern way of promoting your brand.

When you improve your local SEO, you will be able to capture people who are using location specific phrases to search. These include people who might be using keywords like “near me” or “near home” to find a nearby product or service. One of the most important things to remember is that your competition is using local SEO too, and you need to match them if you want your business to be noticed.

1. Your Google My Business page

If you don’t already have a Google My Business page, it needs to be a top priority for you to improve your local SEO. Google My Business helps you to establish your business’s presence on Google, and it’s easy to get started by claiming your business. Creating your page is essential if you want your business to appear on Google Maps. It also gives you a chance to show up in the sidebar of search results and at the top of a general search pinned on a map.

Verify your Google My Business page

There are lots of things that you can do to improve your Google My Business profile. Start by verifying your business to prove its legitimacy. You can verify your business by mail, phone, email, and even using instant verification if you have already verified your business on Google Search Console. You will be given a verification code by post, email or phone that you can use to then verify your business.

Verify your Google My Business page
Verify your Google My Business page

Fill out your GMB listing

The next thing that you need to be sure to do is provide as much information as possible on your Google My Business listing. Start with the basics and make sure that you have essential information about your business, including contact details, business hours, your logo and a good description. Uploading plenty of photos is also a great idea to flesh out your listing and ensure it’s attractive.

Fill out your GMB listing
Fill out your GMB listing

2. GMB customer reviews

Reviews and ratings are an important part of your Google My Business listing too. People will surely check them when they’re searching for the right business, both with a quick glance at your overall rating and a more in-depth exploration of your reviews. If you want to improve your local SEO using customer reviews, you need to think about both encouraging positive reviews and how you respond to reviews.

Encourage reviews

If you want more reviews for your Google listing, you can encourage people to leave one in a number of ways. You might ask them to leave a review as you ring up their purchase, or you can have business cards or flyers telling people where they can leave a review.

Encourage your customers to join your mailing list too, and send them an email to ask them to leave a review for your business. You can also have a link on your website, or perhaps you even have an app that can include a link. You might want to consider offering an incentive for leaving a review, like the chance of winning something.

Respond to reviews appropriately

You should also be sure to respond to reviews properly if you want to improve your GMB page. When people are reading reviews, they will often take note of your responses or notice if you haven’t responded to any reviews and particularly the negative ones. It’s important to not just thank people for their positive reviews but also try to offer solutions for the less than positive ones. Even when a reviewer gets rude, it’s important to rise above it and present a professional image.

Respond to reviews appropriately
Respond to reviews appropriately

3. Local SEO for Bing and Yahoo

Google is the number one search engine that you need to consider when you’re working on SEO for your business. However, it’s important not to discount other search engines altogether. Search engines like Bing and Yahoo still have sizeable user bases, so optimizing your website for these is a good idea too.

Optimise for Bing

Bing has a similar business listing service to Google My Business, so be sure to claim your business listing there too. You can also use Bing Webmaster Tools, which can help you to see useful information like the keywords you’re ranking for and backlinks to your website.

Optimise for Bing
Optimise for Bing

Optimise for Yahoo

Yahoo offers Localworks, which helps you to list your business on Yelp and other directories. It makes it easier to update your details across different directories and gets you found across different search engines. Another tool that can help you to manage your local listings and help with local SEO is Moz Local.

Optimise for Yahoo
Optimise for Yahoo

4. NAP – Name, Address, Phone Number

One of the most important things to think about when you want to improve your SEO is ensuring your location and contact details are correct. Your NAP – name, address and phone number, need to be consistent and correct across your listings and directory entries.

Ensure correct NAP

First, you should check that any existing listings have the correct information. Incorrect information won’t help at all, so it’s especially important to check if you have ever changed your business name, address or phone number. Even if you never have, you should check for any typos or incorrect information.

5. List your business across different directories

You should also make sure that you have your business listed in key business directories. Of course, not just any directory will do. While, generally, the more directories you choose the better it is, you should choose reputable sites to list your business. These might include sites like Yelp, Better Business Bureau or directories and review sites specific to your industry.

List your business across different directories
List your business across different directories

Manage your listings more easily

If you need to change either your business name, address or phone number, you can make it easier to manage all of your listings. There are tools and services available that make it simple to change all of your listings at once so that you don’t have to spend a lot time trying to ensure you have changed all of the necessary listings.

6. Using Schema

Schema is one of the tools that you can use to improve your SEO and specifically your local SEO. Using schema is a great way to get your business into the top local position of rich snippets and answer boxes in local search results. But firstly, what is schema?

Schema markup was developed by Google, Bing and Yahoo to provide a group of common tags that search engines could use to understand and display data. It’s especially popular for local SEO because it helps brick-and-mortar businesses get their information in the rich snippets of search results.

Learn to use schema markup

As with anything you do for SEO purposes, you should pay attention to Google’s guidelines for avoiding looking like spam. You should use Google’s structured data guidelines so that your schema markup doesn’t look like spam.

There are several ways to implement schema markup. The most common and easiest to learn is doing it through HTML. Other possibilities include markup via JavaScript and RDFa, which works with different document types.

Learn to use schema markup
Learn to use schema markup

You can use schema markup for important data, including the location of your business. The schema.org website tells you what data type to use so that you can plan your code structure properly. Before adding any code to your site, it’s also important to test it with Google’s Structured Data testing tool or a similar tool to check that it validates.

7. Creating Content for Local SEO

High quality content is an excellent way to improve SEO, and it can be used to build on your local SEO too. You can create content that focuses on local issues, news, events and other topics that are relevant to your local keywords.

This is the best way to publish content that is relevant, and doesn’t just have local keywords irrelevantly stuffed in. It wouldn’t make sense to have a generic piece of content that mentions a location in random places, so looking for anything of interest to local people is a good idea.

This is the best way to publish content that is relevant, and doesn’t just have local keywords irrelevantly stuffed in. It wouldn’t make sense to have a generic piece of content that mentions a location in random places, so looking for anything of interest to local people is a good idea.

Create blog posts

When you’re creating local content, you can share regular blog posts that keep your site updated. These are great to share on social media, including through your Google My Business page. Your GMB account allows you to create posts that you can share, which can include short blogs or links to a new blog post on your site.

Create blog posts
Create blog posts

Blog post topics for local SEO

Whilst often for blog posts you will be writing about your industry or closely related industries with local SEO you need to be able to tie your local area into these posts.

Types of content you could consider to do this are:

  • What laws apply to your local area for your industry, are there certain planning laws etc, how do you make sure you stay within the law.
  • Write best of and worst of articles. Don’t forget to include your competitors here too else it just looks super spammy. Your title could be ‘Best places to eat in your town’. Remember to do this for related industries not just your own!

Publish location pages

Another way you might use your local keywords is to create location pages on your website. These pages can focus on different locations that your business services in relevant ways. For example, your removals business might have different pages for each of the neighborhoods in your city. Each page could talk a little about the neighborhood and its residents, as well as the services that your business offers.

8. Make Your Site Mobile Ready

Another way to prepare your website for search engines is to ensure your site is optimised for mobile. The use of mobile devices for online searches has grown a huge amount in recent years, and there have been some changes to how Google sees mobile sites too. Some recent examples include the prioritization of faster mobile sites, and Google using mobile-first indexing for all new websites.

Optimise for mobile

For a website that’s optimised for mobile, you need to make sure it loads within no more than three seconds. You should also have a website that uses responsive design so that it adapts to different devices and always provides a good user experience. Listing your business with Google My Business is one of the most important things to do because people use the Google Maps app to find local businesses while they’re out and about.

Optimise for mobile
Optimise for mobile

9. Optimise for voice search

Another thing to consider is optimizing your site for voice search, which people use both with their mobile devices and with smart devices at home for local searches. Using more conversational search terms for your SEO can help you to optimise your site for voice search. Voice search is set to grow quickly over the coming years so being prepared for it is smart.

Conclusion

You can start improving your local SEO using a variety of methods to get your website seen by local customers. Google My Business is one of the key listings to focus on, but there are also other ways you should be improving the visibility of your local business. To improve your local search ranking make sure that you focus on both on-page and off-page SEO.

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