By now, everyone in the marketing world is aware of the unmatched potential of localised SEO and the traffic and revenue it can attract for local businesses. The nature of search itself continues to adapt and evolve, as Google’s algorithms get smarter and search terms get shorter. As users, we have become accustomed to a simplified search format that allows us to browse, call and purchase from businesses without even visiting their website!
46% of all searchers are now localised, heightening the importance of implementing a local SEO strategy into your digital marketing plan. Local SEO is also significant because it targets consumers who are looking for your service or product at their point of action. This means more leads and conversions. When conducting a localised search, your screen will look something like this;
But it didn’t always look like this. Local SEO has changed immensely since 2015 when Google changed it’s ‘map pack’ ranking feature from 7 to 3. This not only made it more competitive to rank in the map feature, but it also put the focus back on generalised SEO. In 2016, Google came out with the ‘Possum’ update which brought proximity into the mix, making your businesses location more important than ever when ranking for localised SEO. 72% of all searchers now visit a business within a 5km radius.
There remains many misconceptions surrounding the best practices to rank for localised SEO. Local SEO has three different categories for ranking and each needs its own approach. One commonality is clear; links and content still reign supreme, you’ll need both for any kind of local SEO strategy.
Map Pack: The map section of a localised search is mostly dictated by proximity, links and reviews. A strong ‘Google My Business’ GMB page on may also influence this.
Directory Listings: Directory listings are third-party websites that rank products or services in their own format. Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zomato are all examples of this.
Organic Search: The tried and true way to garner that search engine traffic. Link building and blogging are essential to rank in the organic search section.
Google is now deploying a blended algorithm that combines your onsite practices, which is content and link building, with your reviews and proximity to the location. Your business needs all of these components to be found in the map pack and have a successful local SEO approach. Your ranking position in regular search results is also a factor so fundamental SEO practices also apply to local SEO.
Google cross-checks all these considerations and ensures you are ranking for links, content, reviews and proximity before formulating a local SERPs. This reinforces the weight of organic and generic rankings to be successful in local SEO. Google continues to utilise machine learning technology to smarten their search model. Google no longer requires your geo-location to connect you with local services. Google now recognises benign terms such as ‘coffee’ or ‘sandwich’ and can connect the dots as it already knows where you are.
Despite the different ranking criteria that make up each section, every local SEO strategy should focus in on a few main points. Proximity, relevancy and prominence all underpin local SEO rankings. Addressing these particular cornerstones will ensure you are adhering to local SEO best practices and have you on the fast-track to ranking highly.
While formulating a local SEO strategy it’s still important to adhere to the SEO fundamentals, as such the significance of website optimisation cannot be understated. Google tends to reward businesses that regularly update their website, this means a regular influx of content in the form of blogs or newsletters.
You may not need to include the name of a suburb or city in your searches anymore, but you still need to include them in your website to be found.When it comes to localising your site, it’s important to include your state, country or suburb name throughout your website. This helps Google to match your location with searchers and will fulfil the proximity quota. For businesses that service several locations, separate landing pages can be created for individual locations. This will ensure that consumers in your business’ location are specifically targeted by your SEO strategy.
Links convey a sense of authority to your website, making link building integral to a successful local SEO strategy. The more you obtain backlinks from notable websites that link your business as a resource page, the more trust Google will assign to your site. Not only does this increase domain authority but it also gives your business visibility for the relevant keywords your targeting. Link building not only benefits your organic search results but also increases your chance of ranking in the map pack.
Guest posts, web 2.0 links and backlinks should all be incorporated into your link building strategy. Ensure that high-quality links that have a high or relevant DA are connecting back to your domain. Link building helps to authenticate the relevancy and validity of your brand and thus establishes the prominence of your business.
When it comes to localisation, onsite practices are needed to optimise your website. Onsite practices will help Google assess the topical relevance of your website. It also works to convey a sense of authority that will compliment your link building efforts. Ensure you have keywords in the meta-site and title descriptors and plenty of informative content on your page.
Content remains the most important aspect of onsite SEO, as it informs users and Google about your business. High-quality content will benefit your rankings as it reassures Google of your business’ authenticity. Poorly written content that overuses keyword references may cause Google to mark your site as spam. Content authority is built through regular blog posts and newsletters, which establishes your business as a leading industry think-tank. Any thorough onsite SEO approach should monitor CTR as this affects organic rankings.
Citations are really important for local SEO, it confirms to Google where your business is located and that it actually exists. Citation sites and online business directories also feature NAP (name, address and phone number). Reaffirming your NAP across multiple channels assists in enhancing prominence and will greatly benefit your business. NAP should be present across all your social channels to create cohesion across your digital channels.
My Business Google
Google’s my business page function is another tool that can be leveraged to improve your local SEO strategy. From reviews and images to contact information, the my business format functions as a miniature website for your business. It also allows consumers to contact your business without actually ever visiting your website. To enhance this presence ensure all the information about your business is accurate. Then you can begin to add to your Google profile. This proves to Google that you’re invested in your online presence and will work to convey a sense of authenticity.
Managing your online reputation usually starts and ends with reviews. Reviews and particularly Google reviews are a huge local SEO factor as they are the most genuine source of verification for your business. In fact, an abundance of positive reviews is sure to skyrocket your SEO results, you might even end up in the map pack. A lot of consumers will actually make purchase decisions without actually ever visiting the website of that business because Google’s my business pages is comprehensive enough to give them the information they need.
One Stop Media is an all-inclusive digital marketing agency that specialises in SEO. We understand the local SEO landscape and help our clients to see a real return on their digital investments. For a localised SEO strategy that works, contact us today!