Although it is often mentioned as being vital for businesses, local SEO is still entirely overlooked by small businesses. This is a shame since we are talking about a marketing practice that has a very high return on investment. Once you climb in local rankings, it is easier to maintain your top positions and get a steady influx of traffic to your local business.
Local SEO is now vital for businesses that sell products or services in a defined geographic area. It is enough to highlight that 46% of online searches are right now all about local products. You simply cannot afford not to launch a local search engine optimisation campaign.
The problem is local optimisation is rather new in the industry. Because of this, numerous vital elements are overlooked. This is what I want to focus on in the following paragraphs.
The following elements should always be included in your strategy.
Claim the GMB (Google My Business) listing
Even if Google My Business is not that new, it is still not used by most small businesses around the country. This is a clear mistake because we are talking about the most powerful citation you can obtain for free when you want to increase local rankings.
The very first thing you should do is claim your GMB listing. It will tell Google that your business is on the map, and searchers receive a straightforward way to get information about the business. This is possible through reviews, ratings, and even clicking through and reaching your site.
Fortunately, GMB is free. This is why you have zero possible excuses why you are not using it.
As an extra tip, you might also want to consider Bing Places for Business. Although it only caters to users of the Bing search engine, the extra exposure you get is valuable in local SEO. There are several other renowned general directories you can consider, like Yelp, or even Apple.
Take full advantage of Google maps
One thing you might not know is that Google Maps use SEO to return results. You will have a Google Maps ranking, which is determined by 2 main things: rank and proximity.
Obviously, proximity is not something that can be controlled. It practically means that search results on Google Maps appear based on the physical location of the user. For instance, if you look for restaurants in Sydney and yours is 5 km away, it will not appear first.
Rank is far more important, and you can influence it. Google analyzes different things, like reviews, star ratings, local keywords, and the optimization of the GMB listing. Due to this, you must fill out all the information required. Include store hours and photographs.
Remember that when you do things right, even the factors that cannot be controlled, like proximity, will be improved. As an example, let’s say you run a restaurant and there are 2 other restaurants 50 meters away from you. If a person is in the area looking for a restaurant, he/she can use Google Maps. The recommendations are ordered based on rank because of the really close proximity.
Citation audits are very simple. They involve checking your business NAP (name, address, and phone number). The goal is to make sure that the NAP is always the same in all locations. Incomplete citations or discrepancies confuse Google. As a result, you rank lower than you could in local searches.
One thing that should be mentioned is that with a citation audit, consistency is vital, not necessarily being correct. For instance, the business might have several phone numbers. However, to have consistency, a single one can be chosen to display inside the NAP.
When local SEO work is done, several local citations are created in reputable general directories and industry-specific directories. As long as there is a connection between the directory and the business, the citation is useful. However, if the NAP is not consistent, it can do more harm than good.
Take advantage of local schema markup
Local schema markup stands out as a highly effective local SEO tool that is incredibly underused right now. To put it as simple as possible, schema can be defined as a unique code that is capable of displaying rich information when users look for something on the search engine.
Schema is fairly important because search engines use it to understand the content better. When you include local schema, it is easier to fare better in the local results. Simply put, search engines can easily understand what area is served, together with services, and products offered.
Optimise the business website for mobile users
Unfortunately, most business owners are fixated on using strategies that improve SEO results fast. As a result, they do not realize they miss out on much more important things. A clear example of this is not optimizing the website for mobile users.
Keep in mind that most local searches these days are performed with the use of a mobile device. That is why the site needs to be fully responsive, which means that it will appear perfect on any possible screen size.
The good news is that it is very easy to create responsive websites right now. If yours is not, you have to hire a developer, and the needed changes will be simple to implement. When you use a content management system, like WordPress, all modern themes are responsive.
Local SEO is vital for the business and will be even more important in 2021. If your business depends on local customers or foot traffic, ranging from electricians to hotels, having a powerful local footprint in search engines is very beneficial.
Keep in mind that over half of retailers do not have a GMB listing. This automatically implies that they did not do much local SEO work or launched many online marketing campaigns targeting the area of service. This is why you need to act now and improve your local SEO efforts.