As part of any digital marketing strategy, Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is integral to driving customers to your business across online platforms. In fact, it is one of the tenets of effective marketing as we know it today. In simplest terms, Local SEO is the process of ‘optimizing’ your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches on Google, Bing and other search engines.
The Anatomy of a Search Engine Result
In recent times, it’s become quite difficult to decipher what makes up Google’s search results. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s also been hard for SEO professionals, let alone local business owners, to keep up with how and from where Google is collecting various pieces of information to display on the results pages. You’ll notice, however, that when it comes to local queries, Google tends to return results that include a mix of both website and Local information, which stems mainly from Google+ Local pages.
That’s why Local SEO is so important. If Google is using those local pages as a metric for search quality, then your business’ local pages must be optimized to provide Google what it needs. This not only establishes your business as an authority, but is also a massive boost for your wider SEO efforts, in terms of already optimized geo-locations in your keywords.
Recent data from Hubspot show that four out of five consumers use search to find local information. This means that your business must be optimized for local search, or you could miss out on a whopping 80% of your potential customers. Gone are the days when it didn’t matter so much, but if a business is to stay relevant in today’s market, then local SEO is critical and worthy of that top spot on your digital marketing strategy.
Google’s Local Search Results VS. Organic Results
Also known as Google Snack Pack, these local search results appear in the boxed area that appears on the first results page. This Snack Pack box displays the top 3 local business listings most relevant to the search query. So for instance, if you searched this simple key phrase, “coffee shop in sydney”, you’d see this
Many of the people landing on that results page will hardly bother to scroll past those three options in the Snack Pack box. Regardless of how optimized your business keywords may be, local search results still dominate the search engine’s results page. The key takeaway here is that it pays to rank in both local and organic searches, which is what local SEO is all about.
Local SEO Trends
This crucial component of any effective digital marketing strategy is expected to increase in importance over the next few years, making it more difficult for local businesses to make it to the top of search results. If you’re looking to increase your leads and sales conversion, local search engine optimisation is vital to your marketing success. Here are some things to consider:
- As the years roll by and with steady advances in digital technology, a large percentage of searches will be voice-based so there will be less typing involved. This may lead to placing more emphasis on long tail keywords and hyperlocal searches.
- Reviews have always played an important role in businesses, such that companies with more positive reviews tend to rank higher on the local search results. Review sites and local listing pages like Yelp and Yellow Pages will be more prominent on results pages.
- User engagement will be key. Coupled with an effective local SEO strategy, user engagement will continue to rise in importance as Google will give higher importance to businesses that receive the maximum engagement.
Creating an Effective Local SEO Strategy
In light of these expected changes, it is important to remember that SEO with all of its components is an ever-evolving field. As online users’ behaviors and search engines’ capabilities develop over time, standards will yet again be replaced. That’s why it’s important for every business to work with SEO professionals to stay abreast of developments in the industry. Here are the three pillars of local SEO today:
Local citations refer to any online mention of a local business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP). You have to make sure it is easy for people and search engines to find you by setting up your NAP and confirming that it is included as crawlable HTML text and not as an image, on your website. It is a common mistake to only include the NAP within an image, but images cannot be crawled from search engines.
The most common location for the NAP is in the footer or header of your website. Local citations can also occur on local business directories and on social platforms, so consistency to the last detail is key. For instance, if the address on your website shows ‘street’. Then don’t use St. for other citations on other platforms.
Online directories and map aggregators like Yelp, Bing, My Business Listing Manager, and TrueLocal are crucial to your local SEO. These platforms display your business’ NAP, photos, and even business descriptions, so you definitely don’t want to miss out. In most cases, these local online directories rank higher than organic search results.
The best part is that most of these directories will not charge you to list your business with them, so it is a great and free way to generate direct leads for your business and boost your overall SEO. Again, information consistency is crucial, so be on the lookout for even the minutest discrepancies like misspellings, abbreviations, lack of suite number or wrong phone number.
Google My Business
Google My Business is one of the best local SEO tools available today, and it’s free to use. It helps you create your business profile, which can help more people find your business. The key here is to make sure your Google My Business profile is optimized to generate a good amount of local traffic, and give you a one-up on the rest of your competition.
Keep in mind that Google My Business is not new so chances are the majority of your business’s local competition will also have Google My Business profiles. However, there are a lot of them who do not use it properly or don’t know how to, and their profiles end up lacking some important information that users search for. As a bonus tip, you may want to utilize the Virtual Tour option — this tool is a great way to attract more people to your business by giving them an inside look, which in turn, makes for good and lasting first impressions.
Proper Reputation Management
User reviews and general feedback on your products or services are some of the most important factors that online searchers will take into account when doing local searches. 5-Star reviews build better trust, and increase your authority on the internet. Nowadays, people who have patronized your business can leave reviews on your Google My Business page and in your social media accounts, so you’ll want to make sure you are tracking all of your business reviews and responding promptly to any complaints.
The Bottom Line
As long as your business sells products or services to customers located in your geographic area, optimizing for local SEO will almost always be a must for you. Both Google and Bing indicate that more than 20% of all desktop search queries are local in nature and that up to 50% of queries on mobile devices are also local. It is safe to say that these percentages will only increase in the coming years, so now is the time to get started. If you need professional assistance with your local SEO and someone who stays updated on latest industry developments, then contact The Marketing Angel today. Give us a call at 0435 527 930 or reach us through our contact form.