August 16, 2023
August 16, 2023
If your local business has an online presence, you likely want to be found by local users. But how can you guarantee that your business shows up on relevant searches?
To rank better in your local area you will need to pay special attention to your SEO basics: Google Business Profile, structured data annotations, local citations and backlink profile. Read on to find out more about each of these areas and how to address them.
In this blog, we explore the essentials of local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to help you rank better in your area. But first, let’s get a clearer understanding of what local SEO is, and who it is relevant for.
Local SEO is an optimisation strategy that focuses on improving a business’s visibility in local search results. Local SEO is particularly relevant to brick-and-mortar businesses and services that operate in a specific area.
On most search engines (Google, Bing, etc.), results for search queries related to businesses, products, and services will often be tailored to the user’s location. For local search results, Google often shows three map results above the 10 organic links that most regular searches bring up. This is known as the Local Map Pack or Local Pack. If you own a brick-and-mortar business, part of the aim of your local SEO strategy will likely be to rank among the top three Map Pack results.
While our aim is to rank for local search results, the principles of Search Engine Optimisation we need to follow to achieve these results are much the same as we would for any other SEO campaign, but tailored to your local business’s needs.
Targeting the right keywords is essential. By optimising for keywords that your target users are searching for, you will be more likely to show up in their results.
Your target keywords should cover general terms that describe your business, like ‘tree surgeon’ as well as more specific terms that are relevant to your services. For our tree surgeon example, those may be; ‘tree cutting’, ‘hedge trimming’, ‘tree planting’, etc.
To take the guesswork out of keyword targeting, SEO experts use paid tools like Semrush and Ahrefs, which provide detailed insights into search volume and competitors’ rankings data. If you are doing your own keyword research, Google’s Keyword Planner can be used as a free research tool.
Once you have your keyword selection, map out the relevant keywords to pages on your website.
In doing keyword research, you may even find opportunities to create new pages. This may be the case if there are services with good search volume that you offer but don’t yet have a dedicated page on your website.
TIP: Don’t forget search intent. When choosing your keywords it is important to take into account the intent that search engines understand a keyword to have.
Put your keyword ideas into the search bar and look at the results. If you are not seeing Local Map Packs then the keyword is not understood by search engines to have local intent. If you are seeing lists and blogs rather than businesses and service pages come up for your chosen query, then the intent behind that keyword is likely informational, so you should target it with a blog rather than a service page.
Now that you have chosen your keywords, it is time to optimise the content on your website to target the relevant terms.
Your page content should also target your keywords and location while ensuring that the information provided is useful and relevant to users. Provide information about what you do, and the areas you serve. Include any information relevant to the local area, local case studies and verified reviews to back up your service.
TIP: Do not optimise your metadata and headings for ‘near me’ keywords. When doing your keyword research you may find that keywords like ‘tree surgeons near me’ have great search volumes. This does not mean that you should use that exact term in order to rank for it. Your job is to send clear signals of the service you offer and where. Search engines will do the work to connect the dots between a user’s location, their search terms, and the relevant businesses near them.
If you serve more than one area or have several physical locations, it is a good idea to create separate location pages for each area. Make sure that the content on each of these pages is unique and relevant to the location. That means including details like the unique store address for the area, opening hours, unique store or service information, details about how to reach the location, etc.
Learn more about targeting multiple locations in our dedicated blog, How To Target Multiple Cities Without Hurting Your SEO.
As we have explored above, a unique feature of local results is Local Map Packs. Appearing in these top results will make a big difference to your local visibility.
These three top results are links to relevant Google Business Profiles, so you will need to create and validate a Google Business Profile as a first step towards obtaining these results. Once your profile has been validated, we can move on to optimising it for success! Below are some of the key areas to remember when completing and optimising your profile:
You should also consider creating and optimising your Bing Places for Business Profile to ensure that you have better control over your online business presence. The good news is that you won’t have to do the work twice. You can sync Bing Places of Business with your Google Business Profile and import all the relevant data.
If you have more than one brick-and-mortar location you should create a business profile for each of these.
Make sure that all the profile information, including the description, photos, and opening hours are tailored to that location. Do not include your location in the Business Profile Title, your business name should be consistent across the board.
Structured data or schema is a standardised format used to provide search engines with organised information about the content of a website. There are many types of schema and correctly implementing it to your website can help your site gain rich results, like Map Packs and knowledge panels.
The type of schema most relevant for Local SEO is Organisation schema. There are several types of organisation schema, and you should aim to choose the most specific type of schema that aligns with your business.
By implementing organisation schema, you are providing search engines with essential data about your business in a structured manner that is much easier to read than parsing your website pages. To be effective for Local SEO, your schema should include your business name, website URL, logo, address, contact information, opening hours, reviews data, and area served (if relevant). You can also include information about your social media profiles and other relevant business information.
If your business has physical locations, you should implement Local Business Schema (a type of Organisation Schema) or the most relevant type within the Local Business Schema parent type. See the full list here.
Listing your business in relevant local and national directories is a good way of increasing your visibility, gathering citations, and establishing your online presence.
Start by finding local directories that are relevant to your industry and list your business in them. You can find these by looking at the directories ranking for your relevant service keywords and reviewing your competitor’s backlinks. You can also use free sources like this list by Moz to find popular citation sources based on your business category. Make sure that you provide complete and consistent information across every directory in which you list your business.
If you are already listed in directories and other online sources, you should review these listings to ensure that your name, address, phone number and website (NAPW) details are correct and consistent across every citation. This will help create connections between the different mentions and reinforce the fact that the information search engines have about your business is correct.
This becomes particularly important if your business has been online for some time and there have been changes to your address, contact details, core hours, and other key information during that time. Taking the time to find these citations and get them up to date will have a positive effect on your organic visibility.
Inbound links from relevant sources help build your authority and therefore improve your organic performance over time. While backlink strategies generally focus on gaining links from websites with high domain authority (DA) scores, local mentions and links to your website are more relevant for local businesses.
Linking opportunities can be found in a number of places, and gaining them is all about finding the right ideas and opportunities. You may explore opportunities like:
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list and link-building opportunities can come from very different sources depending on your industry. Working with an SEO specialist can make this task much easier, as they will have access to the tools and expertise needed to find the right opportunities and ideas.
Local Search Engine Optimisation is essential to the online presence of any local business. By following the advice above, you will be taking the first steps towards best practices and enhancing your chances to rank locally.
For even more essential information that will help you punch above your weight online, check out the Wildcat Digital blog.
Or, if you would prefer to leave the digital stuff to the digital experts, get in touch today to find out more about our local SEO services. Wildcat Digital is an award-winning agency that helps businesses of all sizes improve their online performance.