If you’re running a national or multinational business, you will focus your search engine optimisation (SEO) on reaching people everywhere. But if you’re running a more localised company like a restaurant, panel beater, hair salon, or electrician, most of your customers will be people living in or passing through your neck of the woods.
As such, you’ll want to focus your SEO efforts on people searching nearby. This is where local SEO platforms like Google My Business (GMB) come into play. These tools help you to show up when a nearby user searches for a keyword related to your brand’s business, products or services. After all, if you’re a tailor in Knysna, it doesn’t help you if someone from New York finds you.
Local SEO follows many of the same rules as SEO. Of the three primary categories that drive local SEO, two are also related to general SEO.
- Relevance: Search engines want to show results that best match what the user is looking for. Relevance helps them match results with search phrases and intent.
- Prominence: Search engines want to show results from leading brands and publications. Prominence helps them determine which sites are the most well-known and trustworthy. Sites with higher online authority receive higher search rankings.
- The third factor is proximity – showing results to the searcher prioritised according to their location. Proximity refers to the distance between the searcher and the location of the business displayed in search results.
We are going to focus heavily on GMB in the tips below because this is one of the most popular and powerful tools for local search. GMB is a free business profile that lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. Here are the tips:
- Claim your listing.
- Refine your profile.
- Ensure your company details are consistent everywhere on the web.
- Encourage reviews.
- Optimise your site for mobile.
- Develop localised content on your blog and website.
- Don’t forget about Google posts.
- Stick to the classic SEO principles, too.
Let’s look at local SEO in more detail.
Claim your listing
You can’t optimise for local search until you claim your company listing on GMB . If you don’t yet have a Google account for your business, set one up. You can then go to google.com/business, click ‘manage now’ or ‘start now’, enter your business name and follow the prompts to enter the relevant information. You can also download the GMB app for Apple iOS or Android devices to claim and manage your listing. If someone else has listed your business, you should be able to claim it as your own by going through the verification process.
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Refine your profile
Once you’ve claimed your listing, you can start to optimise your GMB profile to draw in the customers you want to reach. The first step is to make sure that you’ve got the basics covered—make sure you’ve listed your business under the right category; that you’ve written a business description with keywords customers might be searching for; and that basic details such as your name, address, and phone number (NAP), operating hours, and logo are all correct.
Once that’s sorted, consider adding some images to your profile to bring it to life. A great profile photo can help to entice people to your store or restaurant. You can also add images to depict your products and services, your menu, your catalogue, and so forth. You can also add short videos if you really want to stand out.
Keep an eye on the FAQs section and answer any questions that come in from customers. If customers don’t provide questions, enter your own. Add the frequently asked questions that your team hears most and provide the answers to help build out your profile.
Ensure your company details are consistent everywhere on the web
The more citations you have for your brand, products and services across the web, the better it is for your SEO. Besides GMB and your own website, some places you can add your company’s info include your own social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), other search engines like Bing, directory sites like Brabys and Yellow Pages, and industry specific sites like TripAdvisor for tourism and hospitality, or Zomato for dining.
But to get the best results from these listings, you’ll want to make sure that your details are consistent and correct everywhere. Check that your company name is spelt consistently everywhere it is listed and that NAP details are up-to-date and correct on all directories. This can help boost your credibility for local search with Google and other search engines.
Customer reviews are a good way to build trust in your services and products among people who find your business via a search on the web. Gathering more reviews and ratings on GMB also indicates to Google that your business is popular and helps you to rate higher on local search results.
You can encourage customer feedback with a note along these lines in your email signature, on your website, or on communications like invoices: “Let us know how we’re doing” or “We’re interested in your feedback”. You can provide a link to your GMB page. You can also Feature and ask for reviews through your social media accounts. Getting a negative review isn’t the end of the world – it can be an opportunity to show how you respond to customer concerns and address the challenges that arise in any business.
Optimise your site for mobile
A high proportion of local searches come from smartphones and other mobile devices – for example, someone looking for a plumber, pizza parlour, or beautician nearby. You want to make it as easy as possible for people using mobile devices to find relevant info when they go to your website. So, if you haven’t yet optimised for mobile, now is the time to do so.
What’s more, Google can tell what type of device someone is searching on. Search engines want to give the best results possible, so they are more likely to show a site that is mobile friendly when the search is conducted on a mobile device. Make sure your site works properly on mobile by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Develop localised content on your blog and website
Localised content on your blog and website can help position you as the neighbourhood expert or source for the products and services you provide. This isn’t just about sticking the name of your town or suburb into your content wherever you can but creating content that has high relevance for people in the area you are targeting. For example, you can link to events or other businesses in your suburb or city.
Don’t forget about Google Posts
You can use Google Posts to share information about your business, promote events and highlight new products and services. Also, use posts to set a time-sensitive special offer that can drive in new customers. This feature is underused, but it can be extremely powerful.
Stick to the classic SEO principles, too
When it comes to local SEO, you should keep the fundamentals of general SEO in mind, too. You need to implement SEO best practices on your website to ensure that your business can compete in search. You should:
Create an on-going content strategy that allows you to create fresh content that engages readers and attracts search engine bots.
- Submit your sitemap to search engines.
- Use an organised and natural site architecture.
- Add security to your site by installing an SSL certificate.
- Use redirects or delete repeat content to resolve duplicate content issues.
- Use both inbound and outbound links to tie your website to the rest of the online world.
Use these local SEO tips to grow your business
These local SEO tips show why it’s important for brick-and-mortar and service-based businesses to optimise for local search and how to bring in more local customers. Good luck building, growing your online presence and driving more traffic to your business and website.
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