Starting with the stats, 46% of all the searches occurring on Google have a local approach.
I don’t need to say anything more to tell you that local search is powerful for small businesses. Missing out on local searches can make you lose several customers.
Let’s get on the train and figure out why you need to optimize for local SEO, how you can do that, NAP citations, Google Business Profile setup (former called Google My Business), Social Media, Local Content, and Best Local SEO exercises to rule the local results in this Local SEO Guide.
Hurry Up! Grab A Seat!
Station 1: Local SEO Basics
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the exercise of clearing the visibility of a local business on search engines; this specifically is for businesses that have physical locations. Local SEO is primarily used to improve organic traffic and gain customers in nearby areas.
Why Does Someone Need Local SEO?
I can talk about this all day and wouldn’t get bored. But for now, I don’t want you to fall asleep reading this.
So, I’m gonna show you some great statistics to show how effective SEO can be for local businesses.
To start with,
- 46% of all the searches occurring on Google have a local approach.
- 29% of Google SERPs contain a set of local data in results.
- 76% of users that have searched for something local in their area visit the store after that.
So, I guess these numbers are quite enough to convince you that SEO does make a huge impact on local searches. Because now, if you can get your business in front of those consumers, you’ll be seeing their faces in your store minutes later.
How Local SEO Works?
Starting from the ground, the foundation of Local SEO is the same as the normal SEO. Google goes through the same process as the normal search to provide the best results for a local search query.
When someone puts up a query on Google, it scans its index and provides the best results to the user.
But the core thing that differentiates Local SEO from general SEO is, Local SEO has a distinct set of ranking factors set by Google. And even different sets of ranking signals that include:
- Location, where the user is searching from
- NAP citations (Consistent)
- Keywords used in online reviews
- Presence of Google Business Profile listing
- Number of “check-ins” at that location
- Keywords used in Google Business profile
- Google Maps star rating for that business
- The sentiment of online reviews
- Shares on social media
Station 2: Ranking Factors for Local SEO
Google My Business Profile
The best way to improve your online local presence is no doubt Google My Business Profile.
A few years back, Moz ranked its annual survey to find out the most effective local search ranking factor.
And Google My Business Profile tops the survey to become the #1 ranking factor for local searches.
Well, that doesn’t make your website useless; it’s still much important. The content you add to your website, and all the backlinks you create will increase the website’s authority and help rank higher on local searches.
But then you don’t want to be good; you want to be better, right! Your GMB profile can help you achieve the #1 rank in local searches. (which is why the next station is all about GMB)
NAPs are Must
NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) citations are among the most important and effective local SEO ranking signals.
NAP citations are all the links where you have listed your or your business’ name, address, and phone number.
The most important part about NAP citations are they must be consistent; you have to take extra care that every little detail while filling in your name, address, and phone number on other reputable website doesn’t get altered.
Why are they important?
To say, Google cross-checks your information from the NAP citations around the web. To be sure that your given address and phone number are correct. It checks the NAP citations of your business.
And the more often Google sees your NAP citations around the internet, the more it trusts you on your given address and phone number.
Which makes it so important to be consistent on NAP citations as if you even made a little mistake, the trust built with Google will start to fall.
On the same survey held by Moz, they found that “Online Review Signals” did play a considerable role in generating trust with Google.
More importantly, negative reviews on your GMB profile can drag you down. Also, Google most probably sees reviews of your business on third-party sites (for example, Yelp, Indiapl, and many other business listing sites).
Similarly, positive reviews can help you a lot.
One of Moz’s panellists says: “Reviews given by customers is a big factor of trusting a business.”
Which says replying to reviews does help your local SEO a lot, even replying to the negative ones.
Traditional SEO Still Works
In simplest words, Google’s “normal” ranking factors work 100% for too.
Google has even confirmed that itself:
“Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.”
It gets the equation simple, the higher you rank in Google’s organic results, the higher you’ll rank locally.
This is why you still have to create quality content, do SEO and build positive backlinks for Local SEO rankings.
Station 3: Google Business Profile and Social Media
First, let’s start with Google My Business Profile,
Consistency is all that matters here.
There’s only one way to get your GMB successful, consistency.
All the details you will enter must match the data with your website and the NAP citations you have created.
When Google notices that the info about your business matches everywhere around the internet, even on third-party sites like Yelp, they believe then that your business is legit and you worth ranking.
But even the slightest mistake of having a different address on your GMB than your website will open a red flag to Google.
So if you’ve made any changes to your business like its name, location, or even phone number, it’s just to update the data everywhere, even on the NAP citations you’ve created around the web, ASAP.
One more thing to keep in mind is, don’t forget to double-check your data; I’m repeating that even the slightest difference in data between your GMB, website, or NAP citation will be a huge drag down for your local SEO.
Do Not Pass Any Data Point, Fill It All
Google generates a score on how complete your website is. And the score is quite generous. It’s not hard to get a high score; you can claim a considerable score by filling in the basics.
Moving forward, take their score as a baseline. But while ranking for competitive keywords, there are more things that you’ll probably need to cover.
The next important thing to cover out is category selection.
You have to choose a top-level category to describe your local business, a primary category.
And you have to choose from the given list of categories, so you can’t make your category.
Now to its second “important” category selection, people usually miss out. The secondary category directly affects your ranking for the related keywords and searches.
Now when this much is done, you can fill the “Services” and “Products” tabs too:
It does matter, actually, as it tells Google what exactly your business is selling and affects your ranking according to that.
Keep Updating Your Business Field Data
I mean the opening hours, holidays, and other basic info of your business from field data. They all should be accurate and up-to-date.
If you change your timings or close your store for a holiday, you must update that on GMB too.
This will not impact your rankings directly. But if a customer came up to your shop’s doorsteps only to find that it’s closed, the review will surely be a bad one.
We’ve already discussed that reviews are one of Google’s leading rank signals.
There is no need to remind you that you need to get as many positive reviews as possible.
But the more important thing is, Do Not Forget To Reply To Comments, no matter if they are positive, negative, or in-between; you Must Reply To The Reviews.
This builds trust between you and the customer. Replying to all the comments makes Google believes that you care.
I will make a post on how you should reply to positive reviews as well as to negative ones after this post.
I don’t think I need to tell the impact of social media around us. So I’ll just highlight some things that you can do.
Keep Engaging on social media in every way; by that, I mean by posting content, in comments, and in personal chats too. Keep engaging with your audience to know them well and generate trust.
Post the content shared on social media on GMB too. Google does focus on sharing the content on social media now than ever before.
Station 4: Writing Content with Local Keywords
Google has got a lot smarter in years, making writers write for people directly. So, while writing content for your local website, you need to make sure it justifies the area.
For instance, if your business is located in more than one place, you should create content for each of them differently.
Now how can one write effective content without great keywords? So here are the ways/websites that can help you find keywords for your local business.
Yelp works the same as Google suggests.
All you have to do is type in the keyword that you think is relatable or your competition is using in your area and check the results.
Now, what makes Yelp stand out is sometimes it suggests keywords that do not contain the exact words but can be effective for your business.
Google suggestions can too help to find local keywords.
You have to do the same thing here, too, just put in the keyword that you think would work or your competition is using and wait for the results.
But one thing you have to consider before using Google Suggest is that you have to look out the keyword that would work specifically well on local search and not on general search.
Google Keyword Planner “Start With a Website”
The best thing about the Google Keyword Planner is that it provides you search volume data based on locations, which can help you a ton while writing local content.
So, if you’ve already chosen out a list of keywords from other sources and want to check which one will work better, GKP can get you through it.
Wait! There’s more on GKP. If you’re still finding new keywords for your local content, use their “Start With a Website” feature.
All you’ve to do here is paste the link of one of your competitor’s homepage URLs, and Google will fetch out a list of keywords that can help you out based on the content on that page.
Station 5: Best Local SEO Exercises
Keep Your NAP Citations Consistent
Your job is to make it easy for customers and search engines to find you. To do this, you need to set up your NAPs (Name, address, and phone number). You have to add a Local Business Schema (HTML Text) to the website and make sure it gets crawled.
Ensure you don’t make the common error of putting the NAP inside a photo. Search engines are unable to index images, unlike HTML text.
Do A Local Seo Audit
Once you’ve learned the fundamentals, it could be wonderful to be able to place your foot on the brake. On the other hand, search engine optimization is a continual and intuitive procedure. Rather than stopping there or merely making changes and seeing what sticks, conduct a comprehensive audit to establish where your website stands and what needs to be changed to meet your objectives.
A local SEO audit may contain the following items:
- How does your GMB profile show up in the SERP? Is the information there correct?
- Is your website up to the mark according to Google Search Console? Is it error-free and easy to index?
- It must include an On-Page SEO Audit to ensure that your website has covered all the on-page SEO exercises to help you rank higher.
- Are all the citations of your website on online business directories updated and accurate?
- And at last, a competitor analysis must be done to compare your performance to your competitors.
Modify Your Internal Linking Structure
Although external links to your site are great, changing your internal linking structure will help you rank higher in search engines.
What is the significance of internal linking? It achieves the following goals:
- It aids in website navigation.
- Helps with the structure and information architecture of a website.
- The ranking power and page authority are divided throughout the pages.
Optimized URL, header content, title tags, meta description, and the body content
Each new blog post brings a new indexed page for your site, a new page on which to target a geographic search phrase, and a new chance to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) when it comes to content.
For each content you write, do local keyword research and include high-volume keywords in the URL, title, meta description, header, and body to make it search engine friendly.
Do Not Miss Out Location Pages
If you have multiple physical locations, create location pages. Readers can find your name, address, store hours, phone number, parking/transit information, unique store descriptions, promotions, and customer testimonials on their respective location pages.
If you’ve had multiple location pages, you must avoid adding the same content everywhere. Creating a localized About Us page can help businesses for every single location. Also, adding a Google Map on the location page of your website surely can gain you some extra score.
Make Your Website Mobile-friendly
Searches on the mobile are strongly related to local searches (61 percent of all Google searches are performed on mobile).
People will search on their mobile to know details about your business like contact information, directions to your location, and read reviews from your clients. Google’s data has already shown the importance of mobile searches in local SEO as, since 2017, the “near me” searches have been uplifted by 250 percent.
Make you have done effective Mobile SEO on your site and ensure that your site is mobile-friendly to make it easier for your customers to browse on mobile.
Obtain relevant and authoritative inbound links
Inbound links are a great way to improve your local SEO because each one tells Google that you’re a legitimate business, and they may also help you raise your domain authority. Obtaining inbound connections can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
- Sponsorships or Partnerships
- Posting on a Guest Blog
Sponsor Local Events
We all know most local events love to have sponsors on board.
So if you sponsor an event, you’ll surely get people’s attention and advertisement alongside if event’s ads.
In the end, all I have to say is local searches are increasing day-after-day and wouldn’t want to miss out on a large number of customers. I assure you that placing your bet on local search optimization won’t get you down.
I hope you would’ve found your desired station and all the answers you were looking for. But if you still have any questions, our comment box is wide open for you.
And if you want help to plan out an effective strategy for your local business or want someone to do that for you, our experts are right here to lend a helping hand. Just mail us your query or request at [email protected], and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Also, Thank You for reading along; it means a lot to us.