A Guide To Local SEO
Whether your business is reaching out to a close by customer-base or not, targeted SEO is incredibly important to implement in your strategy if you expect to remain well positioned in the SERPs.
This is due to the Venice update which was put in place in February of last year. The update has put a stronger emphasis on returning localised results for searches that Google deems as having local intent.
Another factor is that more users are browsing the web on mobile devices. In fact, access to the web via mobile phones doubled between 2010 and 2013 – from 24% to 53% (Office of National Statistics). These users are often looking for nearby companies whilst on the go.
Previously, these results would only be returned to those signed into their Google accounts, but now the search engine giant tracks the location of the end user by their IP address, or via GPS if they are on a mobile. This may still seem irrelevant if you deal with a national or even international scale of customers, but if you were ranking at the top of the SERPs for a term that the search engine now sees as location based, more relevant area specific results may knock you down the listings resulting in a drop in traffic, meaning fewer customers heading your way.
So how do you combat this? There are a few on-page and off-page factors to take into consideration.
The first thing you need to think about before optimising your own site is that over-stuffing it with terms is not going to provide a valuable, natural or enjoyable experience to your visitors. With this in mind, here are the areas you need to focus on:
Include the location within the Title Tag if you can– do not do this for every page on your site, just where it is relevant. If it seems unnatural to you, then it is likely to feel the same to the user.
Meta data is not just a necessity for SEO purposes; it is your shop window. Add locality to your Meta by including your whereabouts on each page description of your site. As always, never stuff your Meta with keywords or use any terms that are not necessary.
Your address, telephone number and any other necessary contact details should be displayed on every page. This can be scripted into the template, and is often displayed in the footer section. This makes it easy for people to access the information from wherever they are on your website. You can make it even easier to locate the best way to get in touch by having your telephone number at the top.
Where possible, create content that is relevant on a local level. A great method for doing this is to be involved in community events, whether through sponsorship or going along and creating a write-up.
This works best if you have a very neighbourly angle to your business, but if you reach out on a national or international scale; your address can be confined to your About or Contact pages if suitable.
If you have multiple locations, you can create separate pages for these locations – just be aware to avoid duplicating content. Make each page unique to the community it refers to.
If you have knowledge of mark-up, then you can optimise your content using Schema.org’s “address” coding. However, if this is not something you are comfortable with, then in Google’s Webmaster Tools you can always use the Data Highlighter which lets you highlight important information and select the section it comes under – simply highlight your address and select ‘Address’, this data is shared with Google and acts in a similar way to traditional mark up.
Optimising your site is just part of the process of any SEO strategy. You also need to focus on off-page elements such as reviews and social presence. Here’s where you need to have a presence.
Get locally listed
The 3 major search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo all have their own Local listing services that are free to sign up to. Get your company listed on them all to authenticate your brand. Make sure to fill out all the fields required to provide a full description of your business – from ways to contact you, to the products or services you provide. Also include a link to your website to authenticate your profile.
When someone carries out a search on Google, the listings shown will have links to the company’s Google+. When signing up for Google+ Local, make sure you list your organisation under the correct category to appear for the right queries.
Other local listings
As well as search engine listings, there are a few local listing sites that you can get yourself added to such as Yell.com. Once again, it is vital that you fill in your profile as best you can with all the information that will be valuable to someone searching for your product or service. By creating and maintaining these profiles, you not only have control over your brand’s representation, but you are also creating a link back to your site.
On these listings and directories, people have the opportunity to leave reviews, which you should actively encourage and engage with. These can appear in Google search results adding an extra element of trust to your listing.
Reviews on Google+ Local are scored out of 30 on elements such as Appeal, Facilities and Service but the categories can vary for different sites.
Ask your customers for their thoughts by using email marketing campaigns that tell them their opinion is valued – after all, if there are problems that customers are facing with your business, you surely want to solve them? The idea of encouraging reviews might seem daunting, but it is possible to turn a ‘bad’ one into a positive experience if you deal with the issue in the right way by offering or creating a solution.
You have probably heard it countless times before, but your brand needs to have a presence on all of the major social networks – primarily Google+, Twitter and Facebook. Set these up before anyone else has the chance to do so and take your brand handle.
On your Google+ Local page, you can include your location in the Introduction section, whilst on Twitter you can include it in your profile or within your settings under Location. For Facebook, you are able to input your address by editing your information.
By following these steps, you can add strength to your local search campaign. For more information about local search, get in touch or leave a comment below.