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Help Shoppers Find Your Store with Local SEO

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Never has the saying ‘a world of information at our fingertips’ ever been truer. Gone are the days where we find local information by typing in your address, town or even city. Now, if you’re looking for restaurants, bars, or shops, Google can use your exact location to find those closest to you. And with 84% of searches analysed as “discovery” it more than makes sense to be ready to appear for these searches. Learn how to improve your local SEO efforts with our handy guide.

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is an area of search engine optimisation designed to place local and regional companies and retailers more prominently in search results. Local SEO for a pizza restaurant, for example, aims to ensure that people in the area who are looking for a pizza restaurant can find it in the search results. Local SEO means search engine optimisation in relation to the location of a company. 

Why local SEO?

Anyone with good search engine optimisation and domain authority can rank for a search query like ‘how to create a Christmas wreath’, but when the query has purchase intent behind it, it is likely to become ‘wreath making classes near me’ or ‘wreath making classes in [location]’, for example.

For these types of search queries, which typically include a location or ‘near me’ – which isn’t necessary using Google Maps or if Google knows your location – search engines understand that what the searcher wants is business suggestions based on location, and so that’s precisely what they offer up.

This difference in behaviour and result is precisely why local SEO is important and worth investing in alongside standard SEO. – Should you be focusing on local SEO

Local SEO statistics:

  • Google receives over 70,000 searches per second on any given day – Internet Live Stats

  • Now 46% of searches have local intent – Google Rep on Twitter

  • The average business is found in 157 direct searches each month, and 852 discovery searches. This totals an average of 1,009 searches per month – Bright Local Study

  • 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within 5 miles – HubSpot Marketing Statistics
  • 88% of local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24hrs – Nectafy
  • 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase – SEO Tribunal

If you’re not set up to capture local searches, you’re missing a trick.

Local Ranking Factors

Local searches function similarly to other Google searches on the surface. But Google can use different ranking signals when ranking search results in local search. As Google search starts to become more personalised more and more search terms are being served local results when searched for.

The local pack and local organic results are the two different categories of local search results.

The top 3 nearest companies that are closest to the person making search query make up the Local Pack. These are shown on the first search results page along with their position in Google Maps.

Factor one – Location relevance

To get in the map pack it is important to ensure Google knows where you are so when a user is near you your website appears. Create structured data (address, telephone number, opening hours, etc.). For example, schema markup language can help here.

Factor two – On-Page

On-page SEO includes page level techniques for optimising websites to rank higher in search results. If you stick to on-page SEO best practices, you can very well improve your website’s performance, especially in organic local results due to often lower competition level.

  • Use short, easy-to-read URLs. By using clear, simple URLs, the user and search engines can identify what is behind a page more quickly and easily. If you have several location pages, ensure each is easily identified by including the target location in the URL structure.
  • Optimise your title tag. Using the local search, users want to quickly find companies that match their search query. A clear, relevant title tag is a must for this. Make sure it’s search engine optimised by adding the target keyword you want to rank for as well as including your targeted location,
  • Write an engaging meta description. While meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor, they are still important in driving traffic to your website. A well written compelling meta description that includes local keywords could help improve your click through rate.
  • Optimise your images. In addition to your websites, you can also rank with images in Google image search. You can optimise your images by giving them meaningful, easy-to-understand file names and you can include the location the image depicts in your alt attributes to help your local relevance.

Factor three – Authority

To get your site into the results for the local organic search results a strong backlink profile can still help massively. Linking understanding ranking factors still apply locally. Generate local citations and regionally relevant backlinks (e.g. entries in business directories, profiles on Yelp, Tripadvisor & Co, mentions on local news sites, etc.)

How to ensure you’re in the game…

Organically, there are three ways to compete.

#1 Set up a Google My Business listing

It’s Google’s solution to giving business owners the freedom to manage how their business appears on Google Search and Maps (10 films that would have been fine if they had Google maps).

Google My Business (GMB) is a free business profile that gives owners the tools to update their information, business imagery, respond to reviews, and keep customers up to date amongst other things. To Google, it’s a verification tool, helping you to meet their (Google’s) needs for a coveted sidebar space in Google local search.

Liberty’s Google My Business listing

“it sounds like what you’re looking at is a local service or local business, essentially. And for that I would make sure that you really have a really strong Google My Business entry set up. Because that’s something that can be shown a little bit easier in the search results for queries like this.

And in particular, queries that include something like “near me,” it’s not that you need to rank for “near me” because near me is essentially, like… global. It’s not something specific on your website.

But rather what you need to do t here is just make sure that you have your location very clearly defined on your pages, so that we can recognize this location is associated with your website or with this page and the user is in that location.”

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-explains-local-search/415229/#close

#2 Make some quick fix website updates

Local SEO can be improved with basic search engine optimisation to website landing pages.

  1. Ensure the address listed on your website matches your Google My Business listing.
  2. Optimise urls, title tags, headers, meta descriptions and content for local keywords.
  3. Consider adding location pages to your website with all of the information available on your GMB listing. (How to update your GMB listing)
  4. Write about relevant local news to attract a local audience
  5. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly (not such a “quick fix”, sorry!)

#3 Engage with online directories

NAP consistency is key to quality local SEO, so anytime you list your name, address, and phone number (with its area code!) keep them identical across the board. Yelp, Yell.com, and Thomson Local are good directories to start with.

Improving your local ranking on Google

Tick off these extra tips and tricks to help increase your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps.

  • Enter complete data

Google favours the most relevant results for each search and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to pair with relevant searches.

  • Verify your location(s)

For the best opportunity to appear across Google’s products, especially since ‘distance’ is a ranking signal Google uses to determine local ranking.

  • Keep your hours accurate

Give searchers (and Google) confidence that when a consumer travels to your location it will be open. Maintain these including special hours for holidays and events for a greater thumbs up from Google.

  • Respond to reviews

Show how your value customer feedback by interacting with comments and reviews. High-quality, positive reviews will encourage more visits, but equally a positive outcome to a negative review will show your customers (and Google!) you care.

  • Add photos

Not as important as the other ranking factors here, but photos help to tell the story of your business and sell-in your establishment before they visit.

Otherwise, consider local campaigns

Local campaigns are an advertising tool in Google Ads to promote your store(s) across Google properties unavailable to you organically. They include the Google Search Network, Google Display Network, Google Maps and YouTube, and they’re fairly easy to set up.

To create a local campaign, you will need to define the location(s) you would like to promote then simply add a few lines of text, a bid, some assets and the rest is optimised to help your users find you because Google’s machine learning technology will automatically optimise bids, ad placements and asset combinations on your behalf.

Keep an eye on…

Some local SEO features we have spotted in BETA that will definitely be worth taking advantage of if they’re available to you, are;

  1. Google Store Visits, and
  2. Local Product Feeds

If visits to your physical locations – like hotels, auto dealerships, restaurants, and retail stores – are important to your business, you can use conversion tracking to help you see how your ad clicks and viewable impressions influence store visits.

Store Visits in Google Analytics helps you analyse how your site activities influence visits to your brick and mortar stores and see that data within GA.

Local product feeds allow you to promote products and services available at your physical locations. Giving consumers the ability to explore a curated selection of the products your store carries in a visual, catalog-like experience.

We talk about this in more detail here.

The evidence.

We have had great success delivering local SEO work for a number of clients. Read more about the challenges we faced with Pizza Express to deliver a highly successful organic local project. And find out more about our local SEO agency today. You can also read more of our thoughts on solving a problem like local SEO.for more helpful local SEO tips.

Overwhelmed? Want to see how we can help?

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By

Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

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