Unless you’re one of the market’s big, dominant brands, local SEO is fast becoming a necessity.
In fact, you’ve probably noticed that whenever you search for products or services on Google these days, the top results you’re presented with are all in close proximity, typically shown with a map and contact details. That’s down to local SEO and it’s the businesses listed that are winning at it.
But why is local optimisation becoming so important, and what practical steps can your business take to digitally localise and stay ahead?
Google’s local bias
With their range of free online tools and services, Google loves helping the small local business. In addition, they’re on an ongoing quest to further individualise search results. Combined this has led them to favour local, with geo-location now a key factor in determining search result priority.
Google’s 2014 ‘Pigeon’ algorithm update was a major move to these ends. Its implementation led to more useful, relevant and accurate local results that are more closely tied to traditional web search ranking signals. It also improved their distance and location ranking parameters.
Mobile, on-the-go search
Alongside this, the growing importance of mobile – confirmed by Google’s recent shift to mobile indexing – means proximity-based, hyper-specific searches have become more popular than ever. This has created a greater need for locally relevant data, leading to optimised businesses performing better.
The growth of wearable devices, such as smart watches, is intensifying this trend.
It’s about carving a niche
For business themselves, not only is local SEO becoming increasingly important for rank position and on-the-go search, but it has also become a key way in which they can find smaller, untapped niches and differentiate themselves from the ever-increasing competition.
Basically, local targeting is about better targeting and offering increasingly personalised (and localised) products and services – the winning ticket to attracting new customers.
Optimising for local
In light of all this, the increasing importance of local SEO is clear, but what can your business do to ride the trend to success? Here are some of the actions you can take which are proven to have a positive impact:
Claim your online directory listings
This is a great starting point and, even better, it’s completely free. Simply fill in your details and verify your business on Google My Business, as well as the following sites:
The more information you provide (images, contact details, links etc.) the stronger your listing and online presence will be. Importantly, ensure citation is accurate and consistent.
Encourage customers to post reviews
Following on from this, online directory listings typically come with a review or ratings feature. Use them to your advantage and ask your clients or customers to visit these sites and rate your product or service. When you appear in localised searches, a good rating can really boost interest in your business.
Optimise your web content
By including localised keywords on your website, you give Google and other search engines fodder for pushing your business up local search results.
Your About Us page offers the ideal opportunity to insert geo-specific references, for example, ‘We are a cosmetic surgery clinic based in Newtown, Sydney’, as does your Contact page where you can include your office address. You can also localise your blog content.
Guest post on local external blogs
As well as locally optimising blogs for your own website, consider guest writing content on quality local external blogs. For example, if you own a local retail outlet or restaurant, you could write a piece for your city or suburb’s tourist information site – a route to boosting your local relevance and getting locally-optimised backlinks.
Create some targeted online ads
Although not technically SEO, paid online advertising can be an effective way to boost your presence in local search results. Two of the best options are Google’s Adwords and Facebook Ads. Both offer high geo-targeting features and can be extremely effective at bringing in local business.
Push to get published on local news outlets
Do something notable, such as holding a free event, and create a press release to announce it. Not only can your PR include localised keywords but, with any luck, your story will get picked up and published by local news sites – another local relevance and backlink opportunity.
And don’t forget social media. This too has an impact on local ranking so update your Facebook and Google+ accounts regularly.
By taking action and making local SEO a priority you’re giving your business a boost now and ensuring its success in the future. Even if you’re targeting a national market, local matters more than ever.