If you’re an upcoming business and are looking for a solution to optimise your website for local SEO, you’re at the right place! So, let’s start from the basics. What is local SEO, and why is it essential for your business? Well, the most important reason — enabling people to find you in real life.
Local SEO can prove to be your best resource for growing your business exponentially. However, to do that, you first need to understand what it is and the factors that affect and improve it. This blog has covered everything you need to know about local SEO and the steps you can use to bring it into practice. So, keep reading!
Local SEO is the process of optimising a website to rank in the local search results. The obvious answer to why you need to do that is because people look for businesses near them. For example, if you search Bakery near me, Google will show you all the bakeries near your location. Remember the box that appears at the top in ‘near me’ search results?
It looks something like this -
This small local results box is called a “Snack Pack”, followed by the usual organic search results. The snack pack consists of the top results and shows the businesses in a user’s closest vicinity. Analytics show that Google Snack Pack has a click-through rate of 33%, a significant number for generating traffic. There are endless questions about how and what affects local SEO, and we tried to pick up some of them and give you executable answers.
Let me ask you a question. If you’re looking for a salon, would you prefer to go to one near you or the one situated in the next town? Well, most of us would choose the nearest one, right? Unless we are craving a long drive! The whole motto of Google is to get closer to a user’s practical, real-life search patterns. For this, it continuously observes and learns its users’ behaviours. This list includes opting for the nearest locations because that’s, well, more convincing. This is why Google introduced the “near me” searches in the first place. Google noticed that people were opening the location-based search results which were physically near them.
Local SEO is vital because it helps you rank in the top search results for location-based searches. In addition, it means improving your visibility on the web in local business results. As a local business, you need this visibility to get people to notice you and your business and, second, to retain them.
Now let us look at some facts to back up this statement -
Even more so, local SEO helps you outrank your local competitors by making your business more accessible to the users via google maps and other navigating services.
Mobile phones are an integral part of modern user’s life. Mobiles generate nearly $1.4 trillion in local sales. To know more about how to increase customer retention using a mobile app, read our article on customer retention through mobile apps.
To understand how you can improve your local SEO, you first need to know where your business niche stands in people’s searches. You can refer to this study from Uberall to read more about this distribution. According to the survey, the approximate percentage of near me searches for different business types is as follows:
Food - 84%
Entertainment - 56%
Banking - 50%
Apparel - 41%
Persona Care - 38%
As per this report, the food industry has the maximum percentage of near me searches. So if you’re a bakery owner or a meat seller, congratulations, you already have the upper hand in this game of local SEO. But, even if you own any other business, don’t frown because we’ve got you covered!
Here are our top-secret recipes for succeeding at Local SEO!
According to a study from bright local, 61% of users are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-optimized website. Of course, it only makes sense in a world where mobile phones account for 50% of the world’s internet traffic.
How do you check if your website is mobile-friendly or not? To check the entire website, you can simply go to Google’s Search Console and enter either the Domain or the URL prefix of your website. To check individual web pages for mobile-friendliness, go to Google’s Mobile-friendly tester and enter the page’s URL.
Now comes the question of what to do if your website is not optimized for mobile. There are so many ways of optimizing your website for a mobile version. Let’s look at them one by one:
AMP has grown alongside google since it was first introduced in 2015. Google integrated it in mobile results since 2016. Thus, it can highly enhance the performance of your mobile results. AMP is an easy method to create mobile versions of your website. You don’t need any technical knowledge or coding skills to be able to work with AMP.
The easiest way to leverage it is by downloading its WordPress plugin, and you’re good to go. It will automatically omit any unnecessary images or content and optimise the design for a mobile version.
Another important WordPress plugin is Yoast SEO which helps you optimise your blogs and see how they look on a mobile device. Just like AMP, you can download the Yoast Plugin and follow along with the suggestions you get from the tool to create the best versions of your blogs.
We all agree that slow-loading web pages are frustrating. Therefore, it’s better to optimize your site’s speed to enhance the mobile performance of your website. You can check your site’s speed using Google’s Site Speed Test Tool.
You can increase the speed of your website by compressing down the graphics and using a content delivery channel to balance the loading times and reducing bandwidth usage.
Always design a mobile-friendly version of your pop-ups and notifications whenever you create one. This prevents these elements from looking inappropriate on mobile devices.
A web host plays a key role in determining the performance of your site. No matter how good it is, if it doesn’t provide you with the required loading speed, it’s not serving the purpose. Especially, in mobile versions, speed plays a major role in attracting more visits.
Our advice is to choose a VPN hosted server, they are affordable and reliable. Here is a list of some popular web hosts to help you get started in your search. Check beforehand how easily you can add a domain and upgrade your current plan.
This is a solution that might seem a little overwhelming in the beginning but the number of long-term benefits it offers will clear all your doubts. Mobile apps have become a common trend and people prefer them much more over websites. Not only are they easier to use but you can offer subscriptions and send push notifications to your users.
Now the question arises, how do I create a mobile app? Do I need to learn to code? Wouldn’t a developer charge too much? Well, there’s a simple answer to all these questions - Use a tool such as Shop2app to turn your website into a mobile app. Such tools give you the freedom to design and decide what elements to put in your app, unlike working with a developer.
Despite the fact that 46% of all Google searches are for local businesses, only 44% of local businesses claimed their Google My Business listing. Claiming your listing is one of the most important parts of SEO, yet it is often not and your ranking suffers.
All you have to do is follow a few simple steps and you’re all set. Go to google.com/business and sign in to your Google account. Enter your business name, address and phone number. If you have a physical business store, enter the address of the business location. If you are an individual, offering services, enter your home address and click on the checkbox against “I deliver goods and services to my customers.” and choose “Hide my address (it’s not a store)” to prevent any inconvenience. Now when people search for your business, only the city and province will show up, instead of the entire address.
After this, you have to pin the exact location of your business on Google map. Be very careful because the slightest mistake will change the location. Simply drag and drop the red pin to the exact location of your business and click the next button when you’re done. The next step is to choose the category your business belongs to. Google prefers that you add a single category instead of multiple ones. Ahrefs recommends that you try to finish the sentence “My business is__________” rather than “My business has _______” because the lateral one could be a long list and some of its elements may be common for businesses similar to yours.
Add your contact details and the link to your website. Finally, finish and verify the process and you’re all set. Your Google My Business listing will be active and users will soon be able to locate you on Google.
Once your account is active, you can always add or change important information about your business. Under the info tab, you can add your contact details, a description of your business, a picture of your physical location, etc. All of these details make it easier for users to locate and find you.
As an online store owner, you must know how important keyword research is and the role it plays in ranking. Let’s see how you can strategically leverage keywords to increase your ranking.
While there will be some keywords particular to your business, there will be some general keywords particular to your business category. For example, if you have a bakery named Moonsbake, you might want to rank for specific keywords like where is Moonsbake located, what time Moonsbake does open, Moonsbake menu Moonsbake reviews etc. There will also be general and broader keywords to rank for, like bakeries near me.
For information like the opening and closing hours, location and phone number, Google pull the information from your Google My Business account, so be sure to fill that correctly and update whenever required.
Here are some tips that can help you go about your research. The first and the easiest way to search your keywords is through the google search engine. Type in the primary keyword you want to rank for, like “Bakery near me”. Use the suggestions from Google’s autocomplete, you will find some good keywords from these.
There are some local classified websites like craigslist for keyword research. Just type in your business category and you’ll find some good keywords that the local customers are searching for.
Another important source for keyword research is your competitors. If you make a list of all the keywords they are ranking for, then you can use the same and you’ll increase your chances of ranking. You will already know what keywords are working for others and get a head start in your search. You can use tools like Ahrefs, Moz and Ubersuggest to search for keywords along with their search volume and other important stats such as generating backlinks.
It doesn’t end with just finding the keywords, you also have to know where to use these keywords and how? Some common norms such as using the keyword in H1 and H2 tags on your, title tags, and in your URL. It would be better if you use short URLs.
For local SEO, the most important thing to do is to optimize your homepage around the location of your business. For example - if your bakery is located in Brooklyn then it is better to optimize around “Bakery in Brooklyn” rather than just “Bakery”. Some other optimization tips are -
Here’s a question. Imagine you were a writer and are trying to write a story. You write your ideas and bits of the story here and there. If you tell someone to read it what do you think will happen? They will be confused and won’t know what piece belongs where or what the story is even about. This is exactly what happens when you don’t organize your website data.
You can refer to Schema.org for the documentation and guidelines about any sort of website you are trying to create. For local SEO, you can apply local business schema to structure and standardize HTML tags and create rich results and conversions on local your local business website. Just like a structured piece of text, a schema helps Google understand what is your business about, its location and how it can be useful to people. In short, it becomes easier for search engines to show your website in the results because they understand what people could benefit the most from it.
You can also use Google structured markup helper tool to check for the structure of your website and add HTML tags. Select a data type (it will be local SEO for your business) and enter the URL to your website. Click on enter and you will land on your website. Here you can select different columns and add tags to them as required.
If you are a business with multiple locations then you don’t need to optimize for a primary location. Instead, optimize using keywords and include NAP (Name, address, phone number) for each location.
Local citations are connections you build online. They are online mentions of your business. Citations have two main types, structured and unstructured.
Local citations are important for your business because they help you rank accurately on Google maps and reach your customers. The more connections you build, the more your chances of ranking good. Now, there are two important things to keep in mind while building citations. Check if your citations are relevant and complete and keep building new ones.
To search for any incomplete or incorrect citations, you can use Moz’s local search tool. It’ll give you a distribution of all the complete, incomplete, and inconsistent citations. Once you know the distribution, you can try to fix it.
Once you’ve already checked for any incomplete citations, you can focus on building new ones. Let’s start with creating a list of core structured citations. One good place to start from would be Whitespark. All you have to do is select your country and you’ll find a list of places where you can find citations. You can get citation from similar business such as for a bakery, it could be store that sells birthday decor.
The second way to get complete and accurate citations is to see what your competitors are doing and leverage that information in your research. Ahrefs is again the perfect choice for doing that.
Open Ahref’s site explorer and enter the homepage URL of a competitor site because that’s where most citations usually lead to. After this go to the anchor tab and search for any of the four keywords mentioned - Website, visit, click here, or a naked URL. These words are mostly used as anchor texts because they can be easily found in directories. When you type in one of these keywords in the search box, for eg - website, you’ll find a list of all the places the word has been used in the page. On the right hand side, click on details> referring domains and you’ll find a list of links to places where you can build both structured and unstructured citations.
Another method to do this is by using the link intersect tool. It is present under the header “More” on the top. You will see this window.
In the first three columns, add the links to competitor sites. In the last column, enter the domain to your website (if you already have one) to avoid getting the links that are already on your website. From the top drop down, select “any of the below targets” to get links from any of these sites.
When you hit enter, you’ll see a list of referring domains. While selecting the domains to link to, look at the last three columns.
Now, how to ensure which one of these links are genuine? Usually the ones that are linked to more sites are the legit ones, where you can create your own citations.
Backlinks are important for increasing your reach and the chances at a higher ranking. According to a Ahrefs study on local SEO statistics, 43.7% of the top-ranking pages have some reciprocal links. Also, a study from safaridigital, backlinks are one of the 7 most important factors that affect the local ranking of your business in 2021.
While you can always include links from sources that you are aware of, it is always a good idea to first understand what links can actually drive traffic to your website. There are two key factors that decide the importance of a backlink - it’s usefulness to the user and it’’s relevance to your business.
Now before starting on how to generate backlinks let’s understand how local SEO link building is different from link building in general. Local link building has mainly two important aspects. First, contextual relevannce to your business and second, locational relevance. Let’s see an example. If you link to a blog on - Bakeries that sell miniature cheesecake, the list can contain any bakery from the globe. Therefore, this blog will have contextual relevance to your business but not location relevance, which is important for local SEO. However, if you link to a blog like - bakeries in Brooklyn that sell miniature cheesecake, only local bakeries will be listed, thus giving your business location preference to be on the list.
Here are the two things you can do for effective link building.
a) Link to helpful resources: Focus on creating and promoting a valuable and knowledgeable resource that is actually helpful to the users rather than liking to a sales service or product page. Here’s the thing, people are not looking for answers, not your website.
According to firstsiteguide, 77% of people regularly read blogs. So the more information you provide them on your blogs should be helpful enough they they actually want to pay you a visit again.
One thing you can do is create content specific to your business. For example- “Best of guides”, “how to guides” or “the ultimate guides” for users, such as “how to bake an eggless cake”. You can also focus on a specific feature that you offer, such as a “Bakeries in brooklyn that provide home delivery”. Blogs like these give you a chance to include and promote your own business name in the list you write. By writing such blogs, you can come up as an industry expert and a go-to option in your niche.
b) Guest posts: Guest posts are articles or mentions you post on someone else’s blog. These posts are usually posted on websites that are highly preferred by users for a particular niche, therefore, they trust these websites and are mostly willing to pay a visit to the mentions on the blog.
Start by looking for blogs that are willing to accept guest posts. You can do this by typing in the following queries -
For example, if you search - “Brooklyn”, “Write for me”, you’ll find some relevant websites that are accepting guest posts. You can also use Ahrefs content explorer for searching relevant prospects for guest posts.
Enter a topic related to your niche in the search bar and set the search to “in title”. In the results, click on - one article per domain filter, present on the top right corner to avoid contacting a single website multiple times. Select the blogs that are most relevant to your business and try writing content that is useful to the users.
All of the above-mentioned tactics work well only if the information and resources you provide are active and updated. Along the way, many things might change in your business, make sure you update all of these from time to time. If there are any changes in information like the phone number or operating hours, you will have to update these on your Google My Business account and recheck and update your citations.
You can do this in three ways:
a) Actively respond to customers and client reviews: Staying updated with what the customers are saying about your business will help you grow and improve your business in the best possible ways. Be it the positive or negative comments, respond to them and take them as suggestions about the loopholes that need to be worked upon.
b) Watch out for inaccurate edits on your Google My Business listing: In the Google results, there is an option called “suggest an edit”. Anyone can click on that link and make some edits. Google may or may not accept these suggestions, in case it does, you need to look out for those and correct them as soon as possible and prevent possible customers from getting mislead.
c) Use Google Posts to keep the customers informed: Google posts is a micro-blogging platform present within Google My Business. The blogs you post here will be visible in the knowledge panel from where people can directly access them. These are excellent for connecting with your users without having to write lengthy blogs.
You can add a Google Post by going to your Google My Business account > Posts.
On the screen, click on “Write Your Post” and start typing. You can add an image and up to 300 words of text.