Posted: Thu 13th Apr 2023
If you’re not making the best use of Google’s local search results, you could be missing out on a large opportunity to bring in new customers to your business.
Local SEO can have a positive or negative impact depending on how you approach it and how well you manage your company’s reputation, so developing a strategy to leverage this area of optimisation is critical to success.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO focuses on increasing your brand’s search visibility in the area and community you serve.
Utilising local SEO techniques enables your business listings and location to appear in local searches or in maps and other directories, so people in the surrounding area can find you more easily. It also includes online ratings, reviews and locally-focused social media content.
Google’s search algorithm works slightly differently where local results are concerned because it includes a proximity factor, meaning it takes your present location into account when serving up results.
If you search for something with a local keyword, or a place or product ‘near me’, the algorithm understands that you want local results rather than general ones.
Local search isn’t anything new, it’s been around for many years, but it was previously limited to desktop searches. Mobile usage has changed the SEO landscape and now local SEO is a vital aspect of any marketing strategy, especially for businesses offering local products or services.
Create content-rich pages
Local SEO is particularly crucial to e-commerce businesses and those providing locally relevant services, such as restaurants or tradespeople.
Your website needs to have dedicated pages that are rich in in-depth content, rather than just a list of features or services that customers have to filter through to find what they’re looking for.
Each product page needs to be detailed with imagery, videos and customer reviews so that anyone clicking through can instantly find everything they need to know in one place and leave with their questions answered.
Similarly, your site also needs to be laid out in a user-friendly way so that finding information is intuitive and simple. For example, if you sell products, organise them into categories so a customer isn’t searching through hundreds of products to find the one they need.
Attract inbound links via authority
Inbound links are a great opportunity to boost your local SEO efforts because each link you attract informs Google that you’re a reliable and genuine company.
They help raise your domain authority and build authority which is already becoming increasingly important to SEO. As Justin Aldridge, technical director at Artemis Marketing, explains:
“We are coming into an era where the internet is going to be flooded with AI-generated content, and this content is not the same as content written by real people. Search engines are more likely to reward content with higher rankings if they can trust the source.”
There are several ways to build authority and boost inbound links to your site, including:
working with your local networks such as vendors, manufacturers and affiliate
sponsoring local events and webinars
building relationships with prominent influencers in the community
Being an active participant in your community creates a buzz around your business, helps you grow inbound links and enhances your reputation.
Respond to online reviews consistently
Online reviews are incredibly important, but it can be hard to manage them, especially as your business and reputation grow.
Keeping up with reviews and feedback is critical for local SEO because it’s one of the leading ways that people decide whether to engage with a business and buy from them, especially with the rise of social media shopping.
While it’s unlikely that every single review or comment you receive will be positive, as a business you can manage how you respond.
Companies need to be consistent in replying to customers and not only responding to positive comments. It shows that your team are genuine and authentic, and gives a better professional impression than if you completely ignore your customers or, worse, only respond to positive ones.
Make sure you’re responding in a timely way, you’re remaining professional and courteous, and that you’re mitigating negative reviews when possible.
Use location targeting in ads
Google Ads are an effective way to bring in more customers, and using location targeting strategically can help you reach people near your business more effectively.
Location-targeted campaigns are easy to set up, using area terms that are relevant to your business, and it means that you can build targeted campaigns that are built around local intent.
Google’s Local Service Ads sit above paid search and organic listings, which benefits your business. They’re not meant as a replacement for your organic search results but they can certainly enhance your local SEO strategy and could help increase conversions.
Enhance user experience with Google Business Profile
Lastly, your Google Business Profile (GBP) is an essential tool for reaching local customers. Since Google naturally verifies and shares its own content significantly, it serves as a great tool for reaching your community and building your online reputation.
However, you need to make sure that the details you publish are up to date, otherwise you’re just causing confusion and frustration for local customers, resulting in a bad user experience.
encourage customers to share reviews online
make sure you’re responding authentically to those reviews and specifying the local area when you do so (thanking them for their feedback on the relevant service in the city or town in question)
make sure your GBP is verified.
Having your contact details up to date, from your phone number and address to the services you offer and opening hours, will improve the user experience for your customers and make it easier for people to find you.
Local SEO offers so much potential where marketing is concerned and with a few tweaks to your strategy, you could start seeing huge results for your business.