Local SEO is a process that can be overlooked by businesses due to the hyper focus on traditional search strategies. Even if you don’t have a physical store, optimising your pages for people who are making local searches to find regional brands and products can pay dividends in terms of increasing visibility in SERPs.
The good news is that local SEO is an extension of the traditional SEO tactics with a common overlap between the two. Both require high-quality, targeted content with the right keywords, and both can increase your expertise and authoritativeness in an industry.
However, there are tweaks to existing tactics and new things you can do to increase your success in local search. Here are seven things you can start implementing right away.
Optimise Google My Business
Every local SEO strategy needs a Google My Business (GMB) account. Setting up a profile will give you the opportunity to list your company’s location, address, contact details, opening hours and other important information. It will also tell Google that you are an authentic business.
As Google succinctly puts it: “By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers to find you and tell them the story of your business.”
When users make localised queries, the signals from GMB can result in your content being featured in search results, either in the form a ‘local pack’ with a map or in general SERPs.
You should also include a question-and-answer segment within GMB that informs customers about any recent store closures, shipment delays, and new health and safety measures. Try to update and optimise GMB regularly to clearly communicate everything that is relevant to your business to potential clients and customers.
Use schema for event statuses
Google will often list information about events within a box titled ‘Events’ below your business details in search results. There is actually a new schema type – a form of structured data – that covers different event updates. This allows you to tell searchers whether an event has been cancelled, moved online, postponed, rescheduled, or is set to go ahead as normal.
Again, event information can be listed in your GMB profile with event schema, so head into your account if you need to make any changes. It may also be pulled in from other external sources such as Facebook or Meetup.
Nurture positive user-generated content (UGC)
Positive feedback and reviews can really transform a brand’s ability to rank in Google’s local Map Pack. This is because online reviews are the digital equivalent of ‘word of mouth’ and are used as a signal in rankings. When five-star reviews are flooding in, Google will know that you deliver an excellent experience.
You can use your GMB account to encourage recent customers to leave reviews. Not all feedback will be positive though. If there are negative reviews, make sure to respond in a timely manner as this can address the issues that someone may have had. It can also build trust as it shows that you are willing to make an effort to put things right.
Consider creating hyper-local content
Localised content can come in many forms. For global companies, using translation and transcreation services to cater to users in different languages may be best, while for others, simply crafting blogs and articles in a single language for a regional audience is the way forward.
The one thing in common across everything is the user experience and the need to deliver content that is fully optimised for a range of devices and platforms.
For local SEO, this means focusing on hyper-local terms that will improve the visibility of pages when nearby searchers make queries. Tweaking your titles, headings and tags to cater to local searchers can give you an edge in SERPs listings.
Research Google Trends
Google Trends is a free tool that tells you the top search queries by location and language. You can use this to see how specific keywords and search terms are performing. Google Trends presents search volume data in an easy-to-consume graphical form.
More importantly for local SEO, you can dig deep into ‘interest over time’ for a term by country and sub region. When entering the term ‘fleece jacket’, for example, interest in the UK spiked in late November, but when looking at sub regions, interest was higher in Northern Ireland compared to Wales and Scotland, with England registering the lowest interest.
If you have a product and service that sells by country or region, you can use Google Trends to see the popularity of terms related to these products. It is also possible to break down the data further by city.
You can then follow up by analysing data in Google Analytics and Google Search Console to see whether metrics such as traffic and conversions have changed during the same period. Google Trends gives you the option to look at trends for anywhere from the ‘past hour’ to ‘2004-present’.
Optimise for voice
Voice search is a big part of local SEO because searchers are more likely to use their smartphones and smart speakers to find out simple information about a business. Question-and-answer scenarios are among the most common tasks for which people use digital assistants.
To optimise for voice, you should try to write in a natural language that is readable and makes sense in any content that you publish. You could also create a FAQ page on your site that answers some of the most pressing questions raised by new customers.
Mobile-friendliness is another facet of local search as, like voice, smartphones are the go-to device for ‘near me’ and other similar queries. Optimising your content for mobile is something that you should be doing anyway – not just for traditional SEO but also for web experiences as a whole.
This means prioritising page speed, compressing your images, using structured data, getting rid of annoying pop-ups, and generally delivering a responsive and easy-to-navigate website. Your mobile site should also be exactly the same as your desktop site.
With all that done, you are ready to start ranking in local SERPs and rich results for the keywords and terms that matter to your business.