If you are into the marketing of your local business, you must be aware of the challenges of attracting the local buyers especially in this mobile age, wherein people are increasingly searching for information that is very specific to their location. This is where Local SEO comes into the picture. This article aims to cover the basics and provide you with some action pointers about how to do local SEO in 2017.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your business so it shows up in the search engines to people searching locally for your services.
Whether you’re a chemist, eatery, or gym, the only customers that matter for your business are people searching within your city, and because of that, you need to focus your SEO locally where it matters.
Why local SEO is important for your business
Not every website or online business will have a physical location and that’s quite alright. Not every online business/website needs a physical location.
For those of you business owners who do possess a physical (brick and mortar business) location or intend to, in the very near future, you’re the ones who will benefit the most from starting and managing a long-term Local SEO campaign.
According to research from Google, Ipsos MediaCT, and Purchased, recent trends emphasize on the importance of local marketing for small & medium businesses:
- 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local information
- 54% of consumers use smartphones to search for local business
- 18% of local searches on smartphones lead to a purchase within a day
- 4 out of 5 consumers want to see ads that are customized to their location – city, ZIP code, or immediate surroundings.
These trends are strong now and they’re only going to get stronger and more significant in the future. Now is the time for you to take advantage of local search engine optimization and boost your business before your competitors boost theirs.
How to rank your local business?
Location is one of the most significant factors that need to be considered while doing SEO for your business. To rank within the local listings, you’ll need to work on your Schema, local NAP citations, local reviews, and My Business signals.
Schema Markup is one of the latest elements in Local SEO. It is a type of instructional code that you need to include in your website, which gives the search engine complete information about what exactly your website is all about. You can provide information about your organization, its geographical location, the person in charge to name a few. This information will provide users with all the details of your website in the SERPs itself. Thus Schema Markup helps your website to rank in a better position and offers a rich user experience. Organization Schema Markup, Person Schema Markup, Schema Local Business Markup are some of the most important schema markup types.
Google My Business
Google My Business is an excellent platform for small businesses to get noticed in the local market. When you use Google My Business, you can easily manage and update how Google provides your business information to the users. GMB also provides an insight on how customers find your business.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
You need to specify your Name, address, phone number (NAP) throughout your website. Also, you need to specify the exact NAP details in any other local citation on any other external sites such as local directories or industry specific directories or social media channels. Consistency is the key here and a consistent NAP will help your business to rank better.
Today majority of people evaluate a business and the quality of their services based on reviews even before approaching them. So it won’t be wrong to say that local reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings. But these reviews are not just limited to Google reviews. You can get great quality reviews on social channels such as Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp along with other local directories in your niche. Your first priority should be Google reviews though.
On-page SEO for local businesses conforms to some pretty old school SEO tactics. There’s quite a large weighting towards the on-page content in the local search listings, so it’s important that, where possible, you squeeze the most value out of your content.
Again, I’m not going to go into tons of detail on this, because you could just read this, but I’ll break it down into a few important bullet points:
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page title tag.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page H1 tag.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page URL.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page content.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page image ALT attributes.
- Embed a Google map with your business marker into your landing page.
Local SEO in 2017
Local businesses often commit the mistake of concentrating only on a “Local SEO – 3 Pack only strategy”. While concentrating on Local SEO is important, with every business trying to gather their 2 cents of free publicity via Google listings, it is getting increasingly difficult to succeed with a “3-Pack only” approach. As of 2017, businesses need to adopt more organic strategies which can help them on the whole.
In a standard SERP these days, a prospective customer has to go past 4+ paid ads even before he has the chance of seeing your business in the local listing. Not just that. Once you click on one of the 3 results in the local listing, you are taken to the local finder, where depending on the medium, 1-2 paid local results are displayed above other businesses.
Some essentials to consider in today’s times :
- Evaluate and find out which other websites have the most visibility for the topics and keywords you are interested in. This will help you draft an effective strategy.
- Use of voice search is on the rise. Find whether your target audience does the same and if yes, don’t ignore voice search for your local strategy. With the rise in the use of mobiles, this could prove to be a breakthrough for your business.
- Over the years, there has been a rise in the “Near me” searches. Optimizing for “Near me” searches can help you increase your Google My Business ranking.
- Having both organic and paid listings ranking highly increases your overall click-through rate.
So what you need to do?
Build a good website:
Building a solid website is essential. Your website should be SEO friendly and should load fast otherwise it would affect your crawl budget as Google seems to reduce the visibility of slower websites. Also regularly track your website’s and your domain’s health and crawl errors.
Having more Google reviews will increase your overall CTR. Plus, consumers prefer to go for sites which have more reviews.
Backlinks are an important ranking factor. Good quality backlinks can help you on the long run. If you want to rank in competitive niches or in certain geographic areas, the anchor text can make a big difference.
Try and get relevant and high-quality citations from high authority websites and websites in your niche. These can be highly relevant directories or classified sites specific to either your city or niche.
These points will go a long way in making your business click locally.