Local SEO: Improving Local Ranking
Learn about all you need to do in order to improve the way your website ranks for local search
We all want to serve and support our local area, but for small and medium businesses, traffic and trade from within the immediate town, county, or region is often the lifeblood of their service.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, consumer behaviour has changed dramatically, with nearly two-thirds of consumers in the UK opting to shop from local businesses over 2020 and into 2021, a trend that looks set to continue as the world tries to move forward.
This has brought about a rise of localism, a growing consumer trend where users show a preference for brands and businesses located nearby that engage with the local community and hit a certain location-based culture.
All of this highlights just how important local SEO is, so let’s have a look at some of the key ways you can help improve the local presence of your brilliant business.
Core Ranking Factors For Local SEO
- Claim and optimise your Google My Business page
- Create online local citations for your business
- Set up your social media profiles
- Encourage reviews and respond to them
- Produce localised content on your website
Bow Before Google My Business
Let’s start with the big cheese of local SEO, Google My Business. What is Google My Business? You may be wondering. Well, to put it bluntly, Google My Business is perhaps the single most important thing you can use to help improve your local SEO ranking. There, I said it.
Google My Business is a free page where you can promote your business profile and website across Google Search and Google Maps. By setting up, verifying, and optimising your Google My Business account, you open yourself up to a world of local SEO possibilities that allow you to showcase what your business is all about and improve your local presence online.
Within your account, you can provide your contact details, select a business category, enter a business description, add engaging pictures, receive and respond to customer reviews, and oh so much more.
There are several ranking signals related to having a Google My Business listing, so by setting one up and, more importantly, optimising it by packing it out with juicy information, updates, and imagery, you can be well on your way to helping your business’s local presence.
Bag Yourself Some Online Local Citations
Anyone remember the Yellow Pages? Local citations are essentially a digital version of this, but instead of there just being one fun-coloured book to go to and find your nearest plumber, there are tonnes and tonnes of online directories out there to take advantage of.
Although there are a lot of online directories out there nowadays, there are a handful of core local citation sites that can add real value to your small business marketing efforts, including Apple Maps, Facebook, Bing Places, Yell, The Independent, and not forgetting Google My Business.
Many directory sites offer free listings, while others do require a fee, and there are also many niche directories out there which are well worth scouting out if your business is in a very specific industry or offers a certain service.
When creating your local citations, it is important that you make sure your business’s name, address, and phone number (often abbreviated as NAP), is consistent across all of your listings. Google values consistency in listings, as this continuity demonstrates to the search engine giant that it can confidently display your information in search results, whilst also helping with user experience – nobody likes wrong contact information, do they?
Review Your Reviews
It’s safe to say that customer reviews are like gold dust. They really are oh so valuable, so it is important to cherish them and make sure you respond to them – whether they be positive or negative.
Reviews on your website, Google My Business page, or social media pages are a direct indicator of the service you provide. Glowing reviews look fantastic and help to build those vital trust signals between yourselves, Google, and potential customers.
But we’re not always going to get outstanding 5* feedback. On the (hopefully) rare occasions you receive negative reviews, it is important to publicly respond to these and show that you are handling the matter. Engaging with reviews, whether it be responding to negative or positive feedback, demonstrates that you value your customers, which gets a thumbs up from both Google and potential customers.
Keeping on top of reviews is especially important when marketing a small business locally, as reputation within your service area and community is what truly makes the difference.
Does your business use social media? In 2020, there were more than 3.6 billion users on social media globally, a figure that is expected to climb up to almost 4.41 billion by 2025. That is quite a lot of people, so it makes sense to get your business on social media and start tapping into this chunky marketplace.
Getting your company on to any of the social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, is a great way to get yourself out there. It provides you with a brilliant free space to showcase your products and services, interact with your customers, build a community, and get discovered by new people on the hunt for the terrific stuff you offer.
Something to note here, though: it is important to remain active on social media. Keep posting regularly by providing updates, news, and promotions relating to your business. Have you ever landed on a business page on Facebook only to find that there’s been no post since 2017? Looks strange, doesn’t it? It is this lack of activity that can deter potential customers from reaching out, so be present!
Get Local With Your Content
One of the most important things you can do when working on local SEO for small businesses is to build and optimise your website with content that has a clear local focus. Depending on the size of the area you serve, it is important to focus on the locations that matter to you.
If you are explicitly focused on one single area, ensure this is prominent in your site content from your main homepage and through into the sub-category pages. If, on the other hand, you have multiple locations that you are targeting, create location specific sub-pages on your site. Make sure each page hosts unique content relating to your services in that location, along with the inclusion of contact information and map if relevant.
It’s also important to optimise your website meta data (page titles, meta descriptions, and head tags), to incorporate your core services and location focus, as these elements are key ranking factors in the eyes of Google.
Want To Improve Your Local Presence?
If you’re looking to boost your local presence, reach out to the Spark Agency or check out our small business seo packages and local seo packages, designed to improve visibility for your business in your local area.
Search Account Executive