Posted: Fri 1st Apr 2022
As a small business owner, you'll no doubt be aware of how important it is to make sure that your business is visible to potential customers on Google.
But if you serve customers within a very specific geographic location, that's where local search engine optimisation (SEO) can really make a difference.
Local SEO is a specialised form of SEO that's designed to help local businesses rank higher in local search results on Google.
As a local business, it's crucial that you appear in local search results. Customers are more likely to visit your business or use your services if they can find you easily online.
So, whether you're just starting out with local SEO or you want to improve your rankings even further, this blog is for you. Let's get started.
Is local SEO right for me and my business?
It probably makes sense to get this one out of the way first! A good way to determine whether local SEO will work for your business is to ask yourself this simple question:
Does my business's success depend on driving enquiries and visits from customers who live, work or travel nearby?
In other words, if your customers are based locally and either need to travel to you to buy your products and services, or you need to travel to them to deliver your products and services, local SEO could work for your small business.
Local SEO for high-street businesses
Restaurants, cafés and bars, co-working spaces, hairdressers, beauticians, accountants, solicitors, vets and pet care, gyms, grocery stores, hotels and B&Bs
With so much choice on the high street, how are you making sure that new customers find your business and choose to visit you over your local competition?
Local SEO for local trade businesses
Builders, electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters and decorators, plasterers, locksmiths, gardeners and landscapers
With countless trade businesses competing for attention online, how are you making sure that:
you stand out to new customers?
they trust you can deliver the high-quality service they need?
In short, if your local business falls under the category of a high-street or local trade business, local SEO is worth exploring and you should read on.
How is local SEO different from regular SEO?
Local SEO is different from regular SEO in a few key ways.
Local SEO takes into account the location of the user when they're searching for something online. This means that if someone is searching for "pizza delivery near me", local pizza places will appear in the search results before any other type of business.
Local SEO also focuses on building citations and backlinks from other local websites. These are signals to Google that your website is relevant and trustworthy, which can help to improve your ranking.
What are the different types of local search results on Google?
There are three types of local search results on Google:
Local ads (currently only available to a few sectors in the UK) are the paid listings that appear at the top of the search results.
The local pack is a group of three local businesses that are listed below the local ads.
And finally, organic results are the websites that appear in the main body of the search results, below the local pack.
What is a Google Business Profile and how does it affect local SEO?
Your Google Business Profile is a free listing that allows you to manage how your business appears on Google Maps and in local search results.
Your Google My Business ranking is determined by three factors:
Relevance refers to how your business matches what someone is searching for.
Distance refers to how close your business is to the person searching.
Prominence refers to how well-known and popular your business is.
There are a few things you can do to optimise your Google My Business listing so you rank higher in the results.
Make sure all of your information is up-to-date and accurate.
Add photos and videos to show potential customers what your business is all about.
Encourage customer reviews and testimonials to build trust and credibility.
As well as optimising your Google My Business listing, there are also a few things you can do to optimise your website for local SEO. This includes adding local keywords to your website content, as well as adding your location to your website's title tags and meta descriptions.
What are citations and how do they affect local SEO?
Local citations are another important factor in local SEO. These are mentions of your business name, address and phone number (otherwise known as 'NAP') on other websites – think of these directories as your online Yellow Pages.
The more local citations you have, the better. You can build local citations by listing your business on local directories and review sites.
But make sure your NAP details are correct and consistent across your local business citations, otherwise Google may penalise you.
How do online reviews affect local SEO for my small business?
Reviews are important because they show potential customers that your business is trustworthy and credible.
Encouraging your customers to leave positive reviews on popular review sites such as Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor and Yelp can also affect your local SEO by influencing your Google Business Profile's ranking in the local pack.
What is on-site SEO?
On-site SEO is the process of optimising your website for Google with the aim of improving your ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
It involves making sure that your website's title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, images and other elements are all optimised to help Google understand what your website is about and to encourage them to rank you higher.
Part of your on-site SEO performance, as outlined below, comes down to the quantity, frequency and quality of keyword-rich content that you add to the site.
But there are loads of factors under the bonnet of your website that will affect your local SEO performance, including:
how friendly your website is for mobile devices
how quickly it loads
whether there are broken links
How does a website's page content affect local SEO?
Your website's page content – including blog posts and landing pages – also plays a role in local SEO. This is because Google uses the content on your website to determine what your business is about and whether it's relevant to what someone is searching for.
So, if you want to improve your local SEO, make sure that your website's page content includes local keywords and phrases that describe your products or services in relation to where you deliver or provide your service.
Regularly adding fresh, relevant content to your website featuring this same location and product or service keywords is also a good idea - in fact, the more, the better!
This approach works for any business that relies on local customers, regardless of whether you visit your customers to provide your products and services or they visit you.
Does having more links to your website improve local SEO?
The number of links pointing to your website can also influence your local SEO. This is because Google sees links as a vote of confidence in your website – the more links you have, the more credible and trustworthy your site appears.
So, if you want to improve your local SEO, focus on building high-quality backlinks from local websites.
You can do this by listing your business on local directories (as mentioned above), submitting guest blog posts to local blogs, or partnering with other local businesses for co-marketing campaigns.
How is my local SEO performing?
If you'd like to understand where you're doing well (or otherwise) with your small business' local SEO, benchmark your business today with a free local SEO audit.
Our local SEO audit is designed to quickly identify tasks for you to address and, should you have more questions or require more support with your local SEO, you can request a zero obligation consultation with us.