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Your Guide to Local SEO

HostPapa Blog / Marketing  / Your Guide to Local SEO
22 Feb

Your Guide to Local SEO
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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2019)

Did you know that 50% of consumers who search for a local business on their smartphone, visit the business within 24 hours of searching?

More importantly, 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within a day. The same survey also revealed that 68% of searchers used the ‘get directions’ or ‘call now’ buttons to reach or contact the local business.

That’s the power of local SEO! If you do it well, you’ll have more people reach out as they search for your services.

With SEO you’ll have more people reach out as they search for your services.

Why Should You Do Local SEO?

The reason for doing local SEO is simple: to become visible through search engines to as many prospects as possible in and around your area or to those who perform location-specific searches. This could be a user located in Orlando, looking for an Italian restaurant in Orlando, or a user located in Australia, looking for Dentist in New York City. They’re both considered part of ‘local SEO’. Simply put, it’s about being able to find a business in a specific location.

It’s important to note that while there may be a lot of overlaps between organic SEO and local SEO, local SEO is quite different and requires additional strategic effort done consistently over time.

In this article, we will look specifically at local SEO and how to do it right. We’ve outlined the main steps below.

Step 1: Local Keyword Research

Exactly as you would work on identifying keywords for organic SEO, it’s important to figure out the right keywords for local SEO too.

Local keywords include the name of the area or territory the business is in. So if you own a pizza shop in Manhattan in New York, then a few appropriate keywords could be ‘Pizza Restaurant New York’, ‘Pizza Shops Manhattan Area’, ‘Pizzerias in New York’ and any other variations or combinations of those keywords.

You can do keyword research for local SEO the same way as you would do it for organic – using the Google Keyword Planner. The tool will give you a ton of options and insights on which keywords to choose and how they’re performing.

Another smart option is to use the ‘autocomplete’ option on Google. This is when the search bar auto-populates itself when users search for local businesses, just like in the screenshot below:

Use autocomplete to search for keywords

One way is to ask your customers what they’d search for on their devices, using which search engine, this information can give you invaluable insight. Try to do a journey map of a user who’s looking for your product or service in the area, so you understand exactly how they think, in order to do local SEO with precision.

Step 2: Know Where You Want to Be Found

The next step in the local SEO journey is to know exactly where you’d like to be found by your customers online. You need to have your marketing goals set before you can start working.

The steps below will help you figure it out:

  • Know which search engines people use in your area to find your type of business.
  • Know how these search engines display the results.
  • Define the display goal for your local SEO: where you’d like to appear in search results.

Google has two main display zones where they show local businesses to users: organic search results and ‘snack pack’ results up on the top of the search page. The image below shows you clearly the difference between the two:

Snack Pack Display Zone:

Google has organic search result

And organic results:

Google has organic results

Snack pack results usually get noticed right away due to their high visibility on the top of the search page, compared to organic results. It’s like going into a grocery store and purchasing the products that are displayed on shelves at your eye level, not the ones at the bottom. Visibility counts!

It’s not just organic results where local businesses can be found. There are also places like Google Maps, Bing & Yahoo search engines. Local SEO will take a very inclusive approach to any avenue that may be utilized by users to find a local business. Try to identify all the ways you can be found.

Step 3: Prepare Your Website

Now it’s time to prepare your website to become a lead magnet for local searches. Here is what you can do:

  • Use local keywords on your website: You must make sure your website includes local search keywords in the most important places. Include your business address on the website, local keywords on relevant blog articles, and maps with your location clearly mentioned. Include local keywords in your meta tags and meta descriptions. This will ensure you enhance your local presence.
  • Update your contact details: You need to ensure your website has a Contact Us page with relevant local business details, like your phone number, address, and other information. You should include your contact details in the footer of your website as well, so it’s visible throughout your whole site, while also assisting with local SEO efforts.
  • Create locally-themed content for your blog: Your website is a medium to educate, entertain, and attract new prospects. The best way to do this is to create awesome content with a local flavor to it, so you attract people from a specific location and demographic. Create location specific content on your blog for the local audience who will appreciate you for sharing your wisdom.
  • Work on local citations: This is an integral part of local SEO success! Local citations are any mentions of your local business information online. This could be mentioning your business phone number, address, or website information in relevant places online. Consider having a presence on local business directories (like Yellow Pages or Yelp), geo industry-specific platforms, social media, and anywhere else online!

More specifically, your business citations could include your business opening hours, business email addresses, categories, images, reviews, or any other relevant information pertaining to your local business.

You need to ensure you’re taking an active interest in your local citations by managing or removing duplicate citations, correcting grammatical mistakes, and removing any inaccuracies that may misrepresent your business information. Make sure you invest time and money into enhancing the quality and location of your citations to boost search engine rankings.

  • Get backlinks from other complementary local businesses: If you’ve got other complementary businesses in your area, you can work out win-win deals for them to direct traffic to your website.

Step 4: Google My Business Page

This is definitely one of the most important pages for the purposes of local SEO. By having a well optimized Google My Business page, you boost your local search engine rankings, show up on Google Maps, Local Finder, and other organic results.

The first step is to get on Google My Business! Register and publish your unique business page as soon as possible by claiming your listing. Ensure you fill out all relevant details about your business on the page.

Users who view your Google My Business listing can suggest or make changes to your listing using the “Suggest An Edit” button as seen in the screenshot below:

Users can edit and suggest information for your business

That’s why it’s important that you regularly track your listing to check for any unnecessary changes or misleading information.

Google My Business (GMB) wants its users to share their insights with each other, in order to empower them to make the best decisions regarding local businesses. That’s why they ask “Know this place?” and invite users to answer a few questions that may help them and other users. The aim of GMB is to foster a community of businesses, through user-generated content.

GMB also allows users to ask, see, and answer questions through the “Questions and Answers” feature. This offers transparency to users regarding the overall customer experience provided by local businesses.

GMB also allows local businesses to create business posts. These posts show up in the form of images and small bite-sized ads when people search for a specific business on Google Maps.  

Create posts with Google My Business

Image Credit: Moz

You can create posts for multiple purposes like events or a sales promotion. Using a combination of text, images, and videos, along with customer reviews will boost your chances of being found on local searches.

If you’re a business that relies on customer appointments, GMB offers the ‘bookings’ feature, allowing users to book appointments with local businesses, without having to leave Google. They can just book the appointment while conducting the local search:

Allow your customers to book appointments in your business

Image Credit: Moz

You can also enable customers to message your local business through the messaging feature on GMB. Answering customer inquiries when they are searching for you can be a great way to give them a reason to visit you by providing responsive customer service.

Perhaps, the most important aspect of GMB that helps customers form an opinion about your business is reviews. 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. More importantly, positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more.

Due to these reasons, it’s critically important that you seek customer reviews. You need to make sure they’re genuine and are provided by your target audience. That’s the only way to build a long-lasting reputation in the market. Do not incentivize reviews, most people can sense a fake review from a mile away.

Photos, videos, and business descriptions are a great way to add a visual, and text appeal to your business listing. Try to humanize your business listing as much as possible, as people like to deal with people. Show them who you are as a local business, and your users will love and respect you more for it.

Use your GMB listing as a way to engage your prospects. The more engagement you drive through your business profile, the higher your chances for positive local SEO.

Step 5: Get Customer Reviews & Ratings

Reviews are not just limited to your GMB listing. Online reviews can be anywhere on the internet.

Make a list of all possible reviews websites, search engines, and social media pages where people are talking about your business. Once you know where the social action is happening, you can invest time in online reputation management, and actively seek reviews in all of these online mediums and platforms.

If you receive a negative review, don’t worry, but ensure you understand why you’ve received it and take the necessary steps to resolve the problem. Turn the customer experience around if you can!

Customers that search a local business through their smartphones, visit that place within 24 hrs

Step 6: Mobile SEO

As the majority of searches are conducted via mobile devices, optimizing your local business for mobile SEO is an absolute must.

  • Make your local business phone number clickable: don’t just type a phone number, but ensure customers can just tap on it to call you.
  • Create a responsive website: Having a responsive website will ensure it’s accessible on mobile phones, tablets, and other devices your customers may use.
  • Consider voice search: As a lot of people now talk to their phones using AI technology, you need to ensure your local business actually shows up if a user gives their mobile device a voice command.
  • Don’t forget about Maps: Ensure your local business shows up on all maps on all devices as accurately as possible. You don’t want any inconsistencies here!

Step 7: Form Local SEO Partnerships with Other Complementary Businesses

If you sell sports equipment, partnering with a nearby sports attire store could be a great idea. By offering them incentives to refer customers your way online, you can form a local SEO partnership.

This can be achieved through guest blogging on your desired partners website, and including links that lead to yours. Not only can this be mutually beneficial, but it’s also of value to your customers who want an integrated experience to meet their needs.

Make sure you are building high-quality links. Don’t just build a local online SEO partnership with anyone. Do it because they’re authentic and because you can work out a mutually beneficial outcome. If your reasons to build a partnership are strong, you won’t go wrong.

Step 8: Find Out Where Your Competitors Are Going for Local SEO

Check what other local businesses are doing for local SEO to drive traffic to their website.

Find Out Where Your Competitors Are Going for Local SEO

There are plenty of tools that allow you to check how websites are attracting traffic. For instance, Ahref’s backlink checker will give you the top 100 backlinks to any website, which will help you analyze a competitor’s top traffic sources. This information can be invaluable!

Once you know this, you can search for similar sources of traffic for your local business. Or you can decide to choose a different path. The whole idea is that you empower yourself with the knowledge, tools, and strategies to put your business in the best possible situation to generate traction.

Are you working on your local SEO? How has it been going for your business?

María Bustillos

María is an enthusiast of cinema, literature and digital communication. As Content Coordinator at HostPapa, she focuses on the publication of content for the blog and social networks, organizing the translations, as well as writing and editing articles for the KB.

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