Having good local rankings is essential for all businesses that are hoping to compete nowadays, where local searches come up first for users.
Convenience and speed are top priorities for searchers who are looking for products and services. Google has put more emphasis on local search to make sure that users are finding the answers they’re looking for quickly.
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What do local rankings mean?
Local search rankings essentially present businesses to the searcher depending on their geographic location. These rankings usually occur when a user searches for a specific location such as “cafes in Winchester” or “mobile phone repairs near me”, or when the user’s location is determined by the search engine based on data from their device.
What is local SEO?
Local search engine optimisation is when you focus on optimising your website so that it can be found in local search results. Our agency focuses on local SEO tactics as they improve visibility for businesses locally.
A local SEO strategy is really good, and essential for businesses with brick and mortar establishments that want to market themselves to people in their area.
What can local SEO do?
Local SEO can be really powerful when done properly. Here are some statistics:
- 78% of local searches from a mobile device results in an offline purchase
- 71% of searchers say they usually search for the location of a business before visiting the first time
- 50% of searchers that performed a local search from their mobiles went on to visit a store within a day
- 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within a day
This shows just how powerful local SEO can be for increasing foot traffic.
Here’s what search engines tend to look for when it comes to local search:
- Google My Business listing
- Google My Business categories
- Google My Business images
- Facebook Business page
- Consistent Nap (Name, Address & Phone)
- Online citations
- The responsiveness of the website
- Localised, optimised on site content
- CTR (click through rate)
- Quality backlinks
- The proximity to searchers
- Listing on specific review sites
- Positive reviews
Below we’ll outline some ways to improve your local search rankings and increase the visibility of your business.
1. Leverage Google Local Pack
The Google Local Pack is the method Google uses to present relevant results for local searches. You’ll usually see a map and then 3 businesses along with their NAP information.
This makes it really easy for mobile searches to find your business.
And here’s how to do that:
- Create a Google My Business page
- Verify your address
- Optimise your listing with all information including name, contact information, categories and images
- Optimise your website for local search
Once your business has found its way into the local pack, monitor any information that’s displayed regarding your business. Any user can make edits to your business listing and you won’t always receive a notification.
If you see any unwanted changes, you can fix them manually or reach out to Google and have the changes removed.
2. Create locally focused quality content
When it comes to local SEO, locally focused content is key. As with all content, your on site content should answer searchers questions and add value.
Here are some localised content tips:
Having a blog on your website is a great way to make announcements, publish articles, show off testimonials and talk about any local trends and how they’re impacting you. Make sure you update it regularly with locally focused content.
Lists and guides
Including lists and guides on your blog or as separate pages on your site is a great way to share original content that your customers will reshare online.
For example, an estate agent may share area guides, a pub may share their best draughts list, coffee shops may want to share their top favourite blends.
A frequently asked questions page is a really good way to address any of your searchers enquiries in one place. You can optimise your FAQ section and hopefully Google will use yours answers in a featured snippet on the results page.
If your business has numerous locations in different cities, it’s always best to create a page for each location and optimise that page. This ensures users in different locations can actually find you.
Sales, vouchers and special offers will always bring in more business and you can take the opportunity to customise these for your local area. Having a discount that’s for local people only is a good way to make users feel special.
Local link building
An important role in improving local rankings is link building. Local links are added with the aim of building relevance for the location of the business.
Local link building can be more limited than normal link building as smaller, local websites generally have lower authority than major businesses.
Citation building is a great place to start your local link building. A citation is a mention of your business along with your NAP (see below).
When you have citations across many credible sources, this verifies your business to the search engine and proves it’s real, it exists and is legitimate. Always list your business in local directories as well as nationwide directories.
Try to get some backlinks this way:
- See if any local newspapers run features on local businesses
- Ask local bloggers to feature you
- Get in touch with anyone who blogs about things to do in your area
- See if any local charities will provide a backlink as a thanks for donating or sponsoring
4. Keep your NAP up to date
NAP means Name, Address and Phone Number. You need to keep these details updated and is critical for all businesses that want to improve their local SEO. You can’t begin to establish a good reputation if people don’t know where to find you.
Search engines use NAP information to determine which companies show in the search results for local searches.
Google cross-references your NAP across multiple sources to confirm that your business is legit. The more consistent your NAP is, the better.
NAP inconsistencies are usually caused by:
- Your premises moving and you forgetting to update all directories
- If your store address is different to where your company is registered and you’re using both of these addresses online
- If you have multiple phone numbers that are used
Make sure your company name, address and phone number are always up to date and consistent online, both on your website and other sources such as directories.
5. Pay attention to the user journey
Most people would say the user journey starts when a user enters their search term or visits a website for the first time, but it’s earlier than that.
The user journey starts when a potential customer first spots a brand. This could be in search results or at a brick and mortar location.
Local search is the part of the user journey that is crucial. If you remember from earlier, 78% of local mobile searches result in an offline store visit within 24 hours.
When users first perform their online search, you get your very first opportunity to get their attention and try to influence their decision to do business with you.
If your website is appearing in a good position on search results, this is a great start to the user’s journey towards a conversion. You have to make it easy for them to click onto a page with valuable content that will answer their questions or address the reason behind their search.
This will show you’re trustworthy and encourage them to either purchase online, make an enquiry, or get them to visit your store.
Another crucial part of the journey is making sure your website is responsive. Studies have shown that 63% of searchers are now using several devices to search for local business. A website that is mobile and tablet friendly is essential.
Now the world is connected more than ever before, and with customers looking for answers at their fingertips, they want to find the most reliable products and services local to them. And they want the results fast.
By optimising your business for local search, you can ensure your site is seen in the right place by the right people. Any brick and mortar business need to make sure they’re harnessing Google’s local search in a strategic way.