Local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is different from standard SEO as it deals specifically with optimising your businesses search results in the area that your business operates. According to Wordstream (2016) 50% of consumers who searched locally visited a business within the day of the search, and Google statistics show that 30% of mobile searches are now related to location (2016) - if you are a local business you want to be at the top of these results.
For example if you search for "lunch in Inverness" google will show you the following results:
Try a local search for the products or services your company provides, does your business show up in the results? If not consider the amount of traffic and potential customers you could be losing, when customers nearby search for your product or service - this is why Local SEO is important, and it's importance will only continue to rise as mobile device usage continues to increase.
An effective Local SEO campaign means your business will appear on page 1 of Google's search engine results page - both in the Map and Organic listings, here are some steps you can take to ensure your business benefits from local buying intent.
Google My Business Setup and Optimisation
Google My Business is the first port of call for Local SEO, without it you won't appear on local map lisiting in the search engine resulst that google dispaly for the majority of local search queries - by following the link above you can foolow the simple steps provided by Google to make your listing. Ensure you put in as much information about your business as you can including images and opening hours and make sure you complete the verification process so that you can access the advanced features that unverified bussinesses can't. To optimise you Google My Business:
- Aim to complete your profile 100%
- Choose a profile image or logo that is likely to get clicked but make sure it is directly related to your products or services
- Add multiple images and name your image files with the keywords you have in mind for example "lunch-inverness.jpg", "takeaway-lunch-inverness.jpg"
- Categorise your business correctly - while google recommends selecting the fewest number of categories, you can select multiple if your business does fall into more than one business type, continuing the lunch example - if you were a cafe that did takeaway you could select both the Cafe and Takeaway categories.
Google is not the only search (no really!)
While more than 50% of your website traffic probably comes from Google, this doesn't mean you don't have to think about the other search engines, maximise your online traffic sources by also adding your business to Bing Places for Business which follows a similar process to Google My Business.
Keyword Research for Local SEO
Keyword research is an important part of all SEO, when people search online they search via these keywords, The Google Keyword Planner is a good example of a free keywords research tool:
Clicking the get ideas button will return you pages of related keywords that will give you a good place to start, another tip for the Keyword Planner is to do some competitor analysis, enter your competitors website address in the planner and the Get Ideas results will help you to brainstorm and come up with new keyword ideas for your own business.
Add the name of your local area with the most important keywords for your business, for example if you are a hairdresser
- “hairdresser inverness”
- “haircut in inverness”
- “hairstylist inverness”
- “hairdresser near inverness”
- “wedding hair inverness”
(and some longtails)
- “places to get your haircut in inverness”
- “where can I get a cut and colour near inverness”
Once you have your keywords, it can be handy to check out https://trends.google.com/trends/
to see if your keywords are popular in your own area (a keyword can be popular in one region and not another)
On Page SEO
The title tag is the text that appears in the search engine results pages as the title of your listing, and the text that appears at the top of your browser when you visit a webpage. Search Engine Robots use the title tag to get the idea of what the content of the web page is about.
Meta descriptions are also important for browsing robots, think of it as a text snippet that contains your keywords but also acts as a mini advert for your potential customers, they should:
- contain your important keywords
- be unique to that page
- entice people to click through to your website
The loading speed of your website is now an official google ranking factor, therefor it is important that you optimise your images so that they don't take a long time to load, there are free image optimisers online that you can use
including: Optimizilla that can greatly reduce your image file sizes without losing the quality. You also want to add your keywords to your “alt-text” to help google understand what the image is about.
Search engine robots also look at the headings in your web pages, this means it is a good idea to use your keywords in your headings if you can (Don't add random headings that don't make any sense just to get them in there). URL structure is also a factor for the robots, make sure on your product and service pages that your location and product/service are included in your URL.
Your local business website must be mobile freindly! Search engines will not rank you highly in the results pages if it is not, local customers are often using their mobile devices to search for businesses close by.
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