Local SEO is exactly as it sounds. It is a specific type of search engine optimization that is geared towards local communities instead of national or global audiences. It is the process of optimizing one’s online presence to attract more business from local search results. Businesses in your local community are able to promote their products or services in real-time to customers who are within their area with the help of local SEO.
The Foundation of Local SEO
Some of the key building blocks you need to use to be successful with local SEO include keyword targeting, content, links and technical SEO.
If you own “Polar Bear Ice Cream” in Houston, Texas, for example, you would want your business appearing in searches like “ice cream shop close to me,” “Polar Bear Ice Cream,” “What is the distance from my home to Polar Bear Ice Cream?” and “What time does Polar Bear Ice Cream close?” Google will pull this kind of information from the Google My Business listings and reveal them in card-like results.
If you happen to be an electrician in Houston, people will be searching for electric companies if they need power restored to their homes. They will most likely go to Google and type in search terms like “electrician in Houston” or “emergency electrician in Houston.” This keyword targeting is also known as service in location (SiL). Useful tools like bulk keyword generators can help you find the services being searching for.
When you run your own company website, consider how you are getting the word out on what you are offering. When people click on a link to visit your website, they want to get as much information as possible about your business. Who is writing your website’s content? What is your content about? When was this content written? Is the content locally focused? Why is this content relevant? How many social shares is this content receiving? These are important questions to answer.
Developing a link-building strategy helps your business in the long run. The types of links you can have in your company website include niche local sites, editorial local links, Chamber of Commerce links, and local links that are .gov or .edu sites. A popular way to improve Local SEO results is the use of Local SEO directories. Some good examples of such directories are Webfeat Complete, Circle Marketing and Local SEO Guide.
Implementing on-page Technical SEO involves you locally optimizing almost everything, especially title tags, meta descriptions, URLs and an on-page copy with a rigid topical and keyword focus. Also make sure your website’s HTML and CSS coding are validated and high quality. It would be a wise strategy to use coding from Schema.org in your website’s background. This coding won’t be visible to any website visitors. Local businesses that use this code on their websites in the right places have more success over other businesses that don’t.
The Differences in Search Results
There are many platforms people use to perform online searches for their local businesses. To name a few of the usual suspects, we have Google, Bing, Yelp and Apple Maps. There are key differences between each platform. On most of the other platforms you will get organic search results that only feature links and meta descriptions. Google implements what is called “Snack Pack” (or “Local Search Pack”) results where you will see the location of the business you searched for on Google Maps, and its rating.
What is Google Snack Pack? It is an isolated area that appears on the first results page when local online searches are performed on Google’s search engine. In this Snack Pack box, the top three local business listings that are most relevant to a search will be shown.
According to one study, a test measured how often users would click a business from the Google Snack Pack if some listings had reviews and others did not. 33% of total clicks went to the top 3 Snack Pack results, coming in second only to organic clicks which were 40%.
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The Art of Geotagging
There are many practices that can be done in local SEO, and geotagging photos is another strong component in maintaining a healthy local SEO campaign. Geotagging is the process of adding accurate global positioning data, incorporating geographical coordinates such as latitude, longitude, and altitude. Each photo taken is associated with these coordinates so you can organize and visualize them on maps.
How to Do Geotagging
You can do geotagging in two ways. The first way is to look at a map and establish where exactly the photograph was taken. Once you do this, manually enter the information into the photograph. Then, you can upload these images on your website, and Google will realize you should be ranking in a specific area. Great geotagging software includes GeoSetter, EXIF Pilot, and Enny GeoTagger.
The second way to do geotagging is to use a GPS to log the photo’s location and then add that information to the Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) data either automatically or manually. Most smartphones help you do this automatically. For example, if you have an iPhone, you may have noticed you can sort your images by location. Or, when you upload your images to Instagram or Facebook, it automatically pulls the data to tag a location on your post.
Why is Geotagging Important in Local SEO?
Potential customers primarily search for information on local businesses from their mobile devices. So, web search engines factor in a person’s current location into the search results they provide. Additionally, customers prefer web searches that are simplified, more specific and more sophisticated. This way, they won’t have to sift through thousands of irrelevant search results.
It is critical to have geotagging information on your business website because if you don’t have it, you’ll find it more challenging to rank high with local competitors. That means it will be harder for you to compete for local customers. No geotagging information means customers won’t see your business online.
If data is collected on specific locations, business owners can better determine what types of audiences a location draws, what one audience likes to do at a certain location, and what times they gather at a location. Learning more about the behaviors of customers at various locations makes a marketer’s job easier.
Make Your Website Mobile Responsive
Websites that are responsive have layouts, images and designs on their web pages that work well on various mobile devices. Convenience and responsiveness are critical when designing your website. Otherwise, websites that are not optimized for mobile devices will likely turn away customers that are smartphone users. Mobile-first indexing is used by Google, which means that a website’s mobile webpage is picked up for indexing and ranking purposes.
Google’s mobile-first indexing strategy suggests both your desktop and mobile sites contain the same content in both crawlable and indexable formats. Text, photos and videos make up this content. For both desktop and mobile sites, you should write the same titles and meta descriptions.
Establish Your Local Identity
With the help of multiple keyword phrases that can improve your business’ rankings and begin to establish your company’s local identity. Check out our post on how to rank beyond your location on Google for tips on how to optimize local searches. Come up with potentially important questions that customers will ask your staff. Answer the Public, Google Trends, and Brand24 are Social Listening tools that can help you with this process. Social Listening helps improve customer satisfaction, helps protect your online reputation and allows you to find new customers.
Establishing your own local identity also involves you knowing the identities of your competitors. This is when having an SEO Manager comes in handy. Once you find your local competitors through targeted words or phrases, perform a competitive audit. One tool that assists you with competitive audits is Screaming Frog. Establish the settings to your preferred specifications, and crawl each competitor site. After you export the Excel spreadsheet data, filter out the data so only titles, meta descriptions and links appear.
What You Should Not Do for Local SEO
Now that you know what you should do for local SEO, it is important to know what you shouldn’t do. When implementing Local SEO for the first time, try your best to avoid making even the simplest mistakes. One mistake businesses often make is creating content that reminds users of Wikipedia. This type of content is not focused enough because its quality has become so diluted through copying and pasting. Customers will not get authentic value from this type of content. We recommend taking what you’ve learned through experience or research, and then creating your content in a quality and original way. This way you will provide the value that customers will find unique.
Summary of Local SEO
There are many factors you need to consider before you can promote your local business to potential customers. Local SEO is not an overnight process. It requires studying both your company’s own capabilities and that of your competitors. It also takes the right kind of strategy to get the word out on your business. Overall, you must have a solid foundation set for your Local SEO campaign if you want your company to succeed. If you need help with Local SEO, please contact us. We would be glad to answer any questions related to Local SEO. You can fill out the form below to contact us.