Optimising your site for SEO is one thing, but making sure you have good local SEO could be the difference between success and failure for your business. If you’re in any way focused on local business – if you’re a tradesperson providing a service, for instance, or a restaurant – then you need to make sure your local SEO is on point. What is local SEO, though, and how does it differ from regular SEO practices? Let’s take a look at our complete (beginner’s!) guide to local SEO.
What is local SEO?
First, here’s a quick rundown on what local SEO is. It’s essentially a way by which Google prioritises local services and businesses. It has its own set of rules and regulations that regular SEO doesn’t quite follow, although there is crossover between the two.
Local SEO relies heavily on the Google Map Pack, which you’ll see at the top of a search page when you search for something. If you’ve ever searched “restaurants” or “hardware stores”, for example, you might have seen hyper-local results for those terms. That’s the Map Pack, and it’s where you want to be for local SEO.
There’s also the Local Finder, which enables users to find more local businesses in their area, and localised organic search results, which display below the Map Pack. All of these are important for local SEO.
Why is local SEO important?
To put it simply, if your business has a local focus, then local SEO will help customers to find you. If you’re not well-optimised for local SEO, then you’re going to struggle to attract customers from Google. Of course, a huge part of a local business’s advertising is putting up posters and other ads in the local area, but Google is still a big part of your strategy.
Alright, what can I do to improve local SEO?
There are many things you can do to boost your local SEO and make sure Google knows about you. Here are just a few of those things!
Claim your Google Business Profile
You might know Google Business Profile by its former name, which is Google My Business. It’s a tool that lets you manage your business on Google, so you can already see why it’s important to make sure you claim it.
As part of your Business Profile, you should make sure your photos are always up to date, your information is current and correct, and you’re monitoring various factors like your Google reviews and questions that customers are asking. By doing this, you’ll show Google that you’re active, which increases your chances of ranking on the Map Pack when customers search for you.
Be good at your job
It might sound obvious, but one of the strongest ways to improve on local SEO is actually just to be a great business! This is because the more Trustpilot or TripAdvisor reviews you attract (and hopefully positive ones at that), the better your business will rank on Google and the more you’ll draw customers to you.
You should also, of course, ask customers for regular reviews. Requesting reviews from customers will help you to build a reputation for yourself; if customers use your business but don’t review you, then you won’t be increasing your visibility. Send emails out, ask customers face-to-face, or put up signs in your premises asking for reviews; however you do it, make sure you’re collecting reviews where you can.
Exercise good SEO practices
A big part of local SEO is…well…regular SEO. Your website should be well-optimised for Google, which means creating strong content with good internal linking and good image metadata. Just because your site has a local focus, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build it for good SEO across the board.
When it comes to local sites, one practice you should get into the habit of is linking to other local sites. If you’re a restaurant, for example, why not create a directory of other things customers may like to do when they’re in the area? This can stand you in great stead for local SEO, because you’re linking to other authoritative pages and they’re hyper-local, too, which Google will like.
Keep an eye on competitors
If you see other businesses trying to do the same thing as you and they’re achieving more success than you are, then ask yourself why that might be. What are they doing that you’re not doing? Try to incorporate some of their SEO practices into your own strategy, and you may well see improvements.
In addition, you could ask customers what draws them to a business like yours. Ask them what they value in your business, and you may get some valuable tips that you can use to improve your service and gain an edge over your competitors. SEO is important, but the quality of your service or product is even more important!
Stay abreast of Google changes
Google is a somewhat unknowable force when it comes to search engine practices. While you can definitely figure out what ranks a site highly and work on your site to that end, there are always going to be processes that Google incorporates that won’t necessarily be obvious to you.
With that said, you can still make sure you know about everything Google is planning to do to alter its search engine’s functionality. Did you know about the recent Helpful Content Update, for example? Are you working on your site to ensure that it complies with the new guidelines set out by that update?
This is even more important for a locally-focused site, because Google may make changes like it did back in 2015, when it slimmed down the Map Pack from 7 results to 3. Knowing about changes like that can help you gain a competitive advantage, so always try to stay across new developments in Google’s practices.