Local SEO Guide, Make Your Business Stand Out
The amazing benefits your business could receive from investing in Local SEO.
If you are a local business looking to attract local customers, then it is an absolute necessity to look into Local SEO and the benefits of being at the top of the Google Local Pack.
Not having a Local SEO plan set up for your business you are potentially missing out on taking advantage of the demand from local customers wanting your product or services.
Throughout this blog post we will go through everything you need to know to get in place an effective Local SEO campaign that will get your business noticed and in front of your customers.
In this post we are going to cover:
- Local SEO 101 – BEST PRACTICES
- TAKING ADVANTAGE OF GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
- EFFECTIVE LOCAL KEYWORD RESEARCH
- ON PAGE SEO BEST PRACTICES
- UTILISING GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
- … AND OTHER TACTICS TO HELP YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS GROW
Before we go anywhere we should probably start right at the beginning.
Local SEO 101 – Best Practices
Back in the early 2000s SEO was just… well, SEO, people researched terms and tried their hardest to rank for them, whether they were in London, or Nottingham it didn’t matter, if you wanted to rank for a specific term you went for it.
Not anymore, Welcome “Local SEO”. Local SEO is the part of SEO that is specifically aimed at helping local business make the most of their surroundings by giving them the ability to rank on the first page of Google for their shop/service in both the “Local Pack” and the “Organic Page Listings”.
Lets take a look at what we mean by “Local Pack” and “Organic Listings” when it comes to Local SEO.
“Local Pack listings when somebody searches for the term Electricians in Grantham”.
First of all, we will go into the “Local Pack”. To get the above results we have gone onto Google and searched directly for “Electricians in Grantham” while of course, being sat in Grantham, Lincolnshire.
You will notice first of all that it displays 3 businesses directly at the top of the page just beneath the “Sponsored Adverts” section of the 3 most prominent businesses that offer this service in Grantham, Lincolnshire.
Before we go into details here, can you imagine even in a small town like Grantham how many people search directly for services like Electricians and what just how effective this could be towards drawing new customers in to your product / service?
Above is complete proof of why Local SEO is so important to local business.
Just underneath this section you will find the “Organic Listings”. While these are ranked in a different manner to “Local Pack” these still play a huge huge role into marketing your business.
The “Organic Listings” work in a different manner and usually relies on the following information from a website in order to link organically for a specific term such as “Electricians in Grantham”.
- Correct meta titles
- Relevant meta descriptions
- H1-H6 tags on the web page
- High Quality keywords on the site
- Good authority backlinks
- Useful relevant content on the service/product
While in certain cases not all of the above is needed, its good practice to get all of them done as it will give a much higher chance of getting on the first page and staying on it ahead of the competition.
Quick tip: “Local SEO doesn’t happen overnight, in most scenario’s it takes months of work and changes to get in the top 5 spots on the Organic Listings”.
Local SEO is only on the rise too. Now it is far in favour of people searching on mobile and tablet devices against those searching on computers/macs.
When we check through the average searches of our customer’s analytics we often see figures of 70%+ of the traffic coming from mobile devices and tablets, especially for local services and shops.
Why is mobile usage so prominent with Local Business?
More people who are on the go or in urgent need often rely on their mobile phone for instant access to the service/product they are looking for.
People searching from a mobile phone are often more likely to have local intent, for example;
somebody based in Grantham looking for “Emergency Plumbers in Grantham” will more than likely be somebody who is looking to contact somebody about the service rather than just be “browsing” the term.
Imagine just how much of an impact this could have on the business if you were to list for terms that your local audience are searching for?
The business will not only have a higher chance of being clicked on but will also be more likely to gain customers over the ones who don’t list.
Local SEO Against Traditional Marketing Methods
To most people and businesses, especially those who already have an active customer base and have years of pedigree behind them Local SEO might seem some what technical/not needed.
Here is the most amazing thing though that people ALWAYS bypass… Local SEO is almost always cheaper than traditional marketing, and even more… its actually not too technical.
With traditional marketing methods you rely on things such as local newspapers, purchasing flyers, putting up posters, all of which cost money and generally a lot of it.
The worst bit about traditional marketing methods… you have absolutely no control of their distribution channels and the reach making it almost impossible to measure their performance accurately.
Furthermore, with the above traditional marketing methods, you can’t tweak your budget as and when you like, no removing under performing methods and no budget reduction.
With Local SEO the above really isn’t an issue, you can target and track everything…
Google Analytics – While we will go into this at a later date, this allows for you to track everywhere that your customers are reaching you from, how many customers you have converted and more.
Hopefully by now you can fully understand just how important Local SEO and Local Pack are to your business and the benefits it yields.
Are you ready to learn the skills needed to optimise your website and eventually get it listing on the first page of Google?
What are you waiting for, go to the next chapter.
Taking Advantage of Google My Business
Right let’s learn about Google My Business (formerly known as Google Places). Google My Business is pretty much the go to place when you are starting up with Local SEO.
Without a Google My Business account you have absolutely 0 change of listing in the “Local Pack” which we discussed above and the worst bit is, for local searches this is what comes up first for the large majority of local searches.
Great news for you though, setting up Google My Business is dead easy and can be done thoroughly in probably about 30 minutes should you have all of the information readily available to content it.
Lets walk you through step by step on how to setup Google My Business:
First step visit: Google My Business to get an account.
Second Step: Click the button which says “Start Now”.
Third Step: You will next be to a page which makes you submit various details about your business, these steps will be:
- What’s the name of your business?
- Where are you located?
- Service area
- Business Category
- What contact details do you want to show to customers?
- Finish and verify this business?
Make sure that when you are filling out this information that it is fluent across the web. No matter where you fill in your business details on the web they must be same (trust me, this will benefit you and Google will love it).
Fourth Step: Upload all of the relevant information to your business profile. The more thorough this information the more you stand out to Google, the better chance you have of ranking on the first page.
Fifth Step: Verify your listing. All of the above is redundant without verifying your listing. You will have to at first, verify by mail. Google will send you a postcard with a unique code which you will need to enter into your Google My Business Account.
“Quick tip: This usually takes between 3 and 14 days so don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t arrive straight away”.
Optimisation Tips & Tricks:
- Make sure that your Google My Business account is 100% complete. You can run your account without it being at 100% but it is highly advised and hugely beneficial to complete your profile 100%.
- Ensure your business is in the correct category. Correct categorisation is essential for Local SEO success. Ensure your business is in the category for what it does and nothing else.
- Use a relevant profile picture. A good start with this is your logo however ensure it is in the format and size that Google My Business recommend. It’s also good practice to ensure that the image you upload name is the name of your business.
Looking to add some more exposure to your business? Add your listing to Bing Places.
Bing Places when you sign up for an account will let you import your listings from Google My Business saving you time and giving you even more exposure than just Google.
We will go into Bing Places in more details in another post but for the sake of today, complete the above if you are feeling super productive.
Effective Local SEO Keyword Research
You want to know one of the amazing things about having your business on Google? You can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
For this section I will be showing you how to use Google Keyword Planner in a way which will help you find keywords for your local business & Local SEO needs.
If you want a full and thorough overview of using Google Keyword Planner we would advise visiting Backlinko’s blog post on “How To Get The Most Out Of Google Keyword Planner”.
Let’s get started with what we need to do to use Google Keyword Planner. Firstly you will need a Google Adwords Account. Click on the link before this and click the green button in the top right saying “Start Now”.
You will be given a list of things to do (pretty much just data entry) and you don’t need to enter credit card details.
Fully enter all the information required until your account is setup, once completed you will see a dashboard like the below.
Next up, we are going to click the wrench in the top bar with the word “Tools” underneath it, from here you should be greeted with the following screen.
The one we are looking for is under the “Planning” section and you will see from the image above, the one we want is greyed out “Keyword Planner”. Click this and let’s get started.
Once we are on the above page you get 2 options:
- Find new keywords
- Get search volume and forecasts
The one we want today is “Keyword Planner”. As a quick thing to note, the information you enter is dependant on the value you get back from Keyword Planner so think strategically what your customers would search before typing into this field.
So let’s use an example to correctly show how to use the keyword planner:
For this example, we are going to use the term “Web Design London”. Go ahead and search for this.
You should be presented with the following:
You will see from the list that it has brought back our term “Web Design London” but also other terms which it has broad matched for the same category such as Website Design London, Web Design Company London so on so forth.
The information we are interested in for this exercise is the “Vol(UK)” column. Reading this you will see that a staggering 3600 people search the term” Web Design London” per month.
That means the businesses that rank on the top half of the first page of Google for this term are being placed in front of 3600 more people than those who aren’t.
While the above term may be for London even smaller towns have upwards of 100 searches per month for services meaning you could be reaching up to 100 more customers per month.
Surely just the above information is enough to tell you that this method of advertising is simply too good to pass up on, if your competition is there and you aren’t, you are the business losing out.
In the above link to “How To Get The Most Out Of Google Keyword Planner” blog post they go into more detail about things such as location targeting, term filtering, language and more. Take a look for a more in detail view regarding Googles Keyword Planner tool.
Before we progress, go and search for your service in your area using “Keyword Tool” to see how many people you are missing out on advertising your business to.
On Page SEO Best Practices
Now we have gone over how to use Google Keyword Planner lets start putting those keywords into action with our on page SEO best practices (this section is only relevant if you currently have a website).
If you don’t, you can go to our page Affordable Web Design to get a website for your business from as little as £199 + VAT that looks like a 4 figure website.
Lets first of all take a look over what we are going to cover in this section:
- Meta Titles
- Meta Descriptions
- Heading Tags
- Image Optimisation
- URL Structure
In the above image you will see the writing in blue, this is classed as your “Meta Title”. In your meta title you want to get across a few things.
- Your main key term (in this instance “Web Design Grantham, Lincolnshire”
- Your Offering (Web Design)
- A USP (In this case it is “For All Budgets”.
This is going to be the first thing your customer sees on google when they search for the desired term they are looking for.
So let’s say they are searching for “Web Design Grantham” they would expect to find customers with relevance to the term “Web Design Grantham.
Search engines rely on your Meta Title and give it importance based on the keywords they find on it. It helps the robots realise what information they should be looking for on the page.
Looking to craft the perfect Meta Title?
- Keep it under 55 characters in length so your titles don’t truncate
- Ensure your best primary keyword is added to the title tag, use keyword planner to get this.
- Use your primary keyword at the front, or as close to the front of the title as possible.
Underneath the meta title (looking at the example above) the text in the grey is the meta description. This is another important aspect that the search engines take into account when the robots browse.
The Meta Description is a text snippet that should not only contain the primary keyword and business name, but should be used as an advert with contact information that customers want to click over your competitors.
What qualities are needed in a Meta Description?
- It must be no more than 160 characters in total. Use as much as possible to get the most information in.
- Ensure it contains your important keywords that are relevant to your business
- Write for search engines but also humans as both read your meta descriptions.
If we are looking at the Meta Description above, you will see we have included:
- The Primary Keyword (Web Design Grantham)
- USP’s (Grantham’s Leading Web Agency)
- Contact Details (0800 699 0037)
This appeals to both users searching for “Web Design Grantham” and search engines as it contains all the core requirements, and encourages clicks from customers.
When you look at people’s web pages you will notice that they have more prominent pieces of text which more than often contain the Primary Keyword we mentioned above?
These are Header Tags and believe it or not, search engine robots absolutely love these as they help them understand the context of the page.
Heading tags go down from H1 to H6 and have different authorities per tag. On a page, your primary keyword should be your H1 tag with some subheadings taking the H2 and H3 tags.
Google uses heading tags as a ranking factor so make sure you use your keywords correctly throughout the header tags.
On a website your page speed is everything and having large images can drastically slow down websites which guess what? Search engines absolutely hate.
Mentioning the above, so do your customers, nobody wants a website which loads slowly right?
You should optimise your images on your site so the file size is as low as possible without reducing the quality of the image.
Apart from the above, there is more to websites than meets the eye when it comes to SEO. Search engines want you to insert an “Alt Text” to each and every image on your website to describe what the image is about.
Use this opportunity to ensure that images on the page match the Primary Keyword you have chosen.
This is also good because if for some reason the images don’t load the end user will be able to see the “Alt Text”.
The above improves user experience and is very good for the SEO structure of your website.
When you look at the URL Structure of a web page you will probably notice how many keywords are included within the URL.
To show examples of this we are going to take boohoo.com as the example.
On the page the end goal is “Men’s Trainers”.
You will notice the URL Structure goes, Primary Domain > Gender > Product Category > Product Sub Category.
The above basically tells not only google, but the end user what page they are on and what they are viewing.
Search engines love this as it helps them clearly tell what is on the page and also demonstrates the keywords in the URL.
When you are writing your own URL Structure ensure your product/service is included along with your location in your URL.
Utilising Google Search Console
Firstly, before we go any further, thank you for getting this far! thank you for reading this post that has taken us time to write and thank you for taking the time to give your business another valuable advertising method.
Let’s teach you how to monitor your website and find out an absolute wealth of knowledge about your website.
To top this off you can also use Google Search Console to monitor and improve your websites SEO health.
Step by step, lets get started:
Click through to Google Search Console and login with your Google Account.
Once you have logged in you will see a red button which says “Add Property”. This is where you want to be adding your website.
Type in the URL of your website in full and click the “Add Property” button. You must ensure that you use your URL exactly as it is displayed on the search engines otherwise Search Console may feed you in consistent data.
Next up is good old verification, Google need to know that you own the website of course!
There are many ways you can verify the business and these include all of the above. HTML Tag, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Domain Name Provider.
This bit is probably the only part we would say will need help with if you aren’t proficient with adding code to the head of the website, you don’t have a Google Analytics account or you don’t know how to operate DNS.
If you are struggling with this section and don’t have a web team give us a call on 0800 699 0037 or email us on [email protected] and as a thank you for reading our post we will do this part completely free of charge.
Consider the above our gift for you taking the time to further your business and allow it to grow online.
You now have a fully verified Google Search Console and you should wait for it to start populating data.
Information won’t come immediately so give it time to start bringing in information about your website.
Should more information be needed on making the most of Google Search Console either read our latest blog post on “Mastering Google Search Console” or call us on 0800 699 0037 where a consultation can be setup to get it working properly.
Closing It All Off…
We hope you have gained a wealth of knowledge from the information we have written above and it gives you a good start with how to get the Local SEO in action for your local business/service.
Without working your Local SEO campaign correctly, you can’t expect to rank higher than your competitors in the “Local Pack” and “Organic Listings”. If you utilise the techniques above and take them all into account, you have a high chance of ranking.
Another thing to remember, depending on how many other businesses operate your service in your town/city will provide how difficult it is to rank at the top (or close to). Make sure that you monitor your competitors and see what information you provide.
Make sure to provide it in more detail with clear and concise images ensuring the offering is displayed correctly and in a clickable manner.
We will be offering more blog posts each week showing more in depth that will work hand in hand with this post such as gaining backlinks, using Social Media correctly and more.
Once again, thank you for reading the post, we hope you enjoyed it and found it useful!
Managing Director – CodeSky Media.