Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a powerful marketing tool that is crucial in developing a successful business online. If you’re looking to increase your business enquiries, focusing on local SEO can really help you out. But what exactly is local SEO, and how does it work?
At the end of this article, you’ll be kitted out with all the latest know-how and the tools to use it well.
Small businesses can have a hard time competing with bigger and more established companies. In these cases, they can focus on improving their local SEO to ensure more coverage and a greater online presence.
If you’ve ever Googled something that you’re looking for quite vaguely, like ‘restaurants near me’, you’ll have noticed that three locations pop up. This is called the ‘3 pack’ – and it’s a list of locations that Google deems geographically relevant for you.
The same thing happens if you include an area name in your search, or if you’re looking for a specific type of business that you would need to physically visit to buy their product or service. For example, when you google business like hairdressers and bakeries, you will see that relevant local businesses appear in the search results.
You may want to know how this all works – well, the answer is local SEO. Local SEO helps businesses promote their wares or services to local entities – be it other businesses, or consumers. It does this by establishing the local intent of the business.
Approximately 68% of all clicks go to the first five search results, so it’s incredibly important to understand how to get your websites up there. This is where SEO comes in. Traditional and local SEO are different from one another – but both are equally critical in improving your online presence.
Let’s start with what traditional (also known as organic or national) SEO is. To harness the power of SEO is to improve the ranking of your website for relevant searches. All entities with an online presence should use SEO ,including blogs, recipe sites, businesses, etc.
Local SEO differs from SEO with one major factor – local SEO includes a geographical component. Traditional SEO can be applied to more online presences than just businesses, and thus does not prioritise the geographical aspect when it comes down to assessing relevance.
The search engine results page (SERP) ties in nicely with traditional SEO. If you optimise your SEO, your business will appear higher up on the page. If you search for anything, you’ll first find the sponsored ads that other businesses pay for. This has nothing to do with your optimised SEO, so we don’t need to talk about this in detail.
After the paid ads, the SERPs show a few other results before the organic part of the SEO. These results can include featured snippets – which answer questions. Reviews are also common, along with videos and ‘People also ask…’ snippets. These can be based on machine learning, schema markups or the way in which you format content.
After these results, you’ll find the search results that aren’t paid for or featured. It’s very important to take a look at the various strategies you can implement to boost your SEO and rankings. These strategies can include the use of relevant keywords, the creation of in-depth content, increasing your webpage loading speed and streamlining your site navigation.
Now that we’ve covered local SEO, traditional SEO, and how they differ from one another, let’s take a closer look at exactly how local SEO works. The first thing we need to reiterate before jumping into this section is that every single business with a physical location can improve their online presence with local SEO.
Any business that serves a particular geographical area should prioritise optimising their local SEO as a marketing strategy! It’s simple – not to mention very efficient, and effective.
When you search for something on Google or any search engine, your keywords get matched up to relevant websites. There are loads of processes that are used to rank sites, called algorithms. Local SEO promotes geographically relevant businesses, by including a proximity factor in the algorithms that are used to determine what might be the best place for you.
As mobile searches have boomed in recent years, the geographic component has become increasingly important. This is because if people are moving around constantly, they need to be equipped with the knowledge of what’s going on in the area they are currently in.
Earlier on in the article, we mentioned how businesses are chosen to be displayed in the 3 pack. These businesses are chosen as a result of local intent determined by Google. The phrase isn’t necessarily obvious – so let’s look a little deeper.
Search engines determine local intent by analysing multiple sources – like social media, local content, reviews and citations. It’s important that businesses create, or claim their Google profiles. It’s also important to make sure that all of the information on the page is accurate and filled in – this helps the business to appear on the 3 pack.
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How is Local SEO Measured?
Tracking your local SEO success is a critical piece of the puzzle.
Google Analytics is free and very effective – clearly, we highly recommend this tool. All you need to do is create an account, link it up to your property, and install the tracking code in your website design. You can create goals for your business to achieve, and you can even associate your goals with a monetary value.
Call tracking is also used in a lot of places, and you can link it up to Google Analytics for optimal outcomes. A tracking number is placed on your site (through a process called dynamic insertion) that users won’t be able to see, but you’ll be able to pull useful data from it. If you’re a big fan, you should check out number pools – which avoids some issues of call tracking.