Introduction to Local SEO

So - what is Local SEO?

Think of Local SEO as one of the many extensions of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Every day, millions of people across the world search for products and services in their local area. Whether it’s a barbershop in Brooklyn or a florist in Falkirk, search engines serve as the go-between in connecting these customers with local businesses.

Much of our lives have faced immense digitalisation. Searching for a local business is no different. Search engines like Google and Bing have implemented a number of nifty initiatives to ensure that it’s easier than ever to put prospective customers in touch with a business in a specific area. For a business owner, it’s a no-brainer. However, like most things nowadays, there’s a catch – and some work to be done to ensure you reap the rewards.

Simply put, the higher you rank in the search engine result pages (SERPs), the more attention you’re likely to attract. This translates to phone calls, emails, bookings, contact form submissions… you get the jist. The lower you rank in the SERPs, the less attention you’re likely to receive. This is where Local SEO comes in. Finding a freelance SEO to deliver an effective Local SEO strategy helps your business to consistently rank towards the top of the SERPs. In turn, you generate real leads and enquiries that convert into revenue.

How is Local SEO different to normal SEO?

Local SEO is considered to be different than other forms of SEO for a number of reasons:

  • Intent – Local searchers know exactly what they want when they search. They’re often ready to buy at the exact moment they hit ‘search’.
  • Criteria – When searching locally, convenience and proximity become the main factors influencing how a customer makes their purchase decision.
  • ROI – Due to its specialised nature, Local SEO is considered one of the best digital investments a local business can make.
 
It’s also important to distinguish between the two mechanisms that Google and Bing utilises to display your business locally. The first is often referred to as the ‘Map Pack’. The Map Pack (pictured below) is made up of business listings which can be set up for either search engine via Google My Business and Bing Places for Business, respectively. The Map Pack listings typically display user reviews, location, photos and opening hours of local businesses that best match the search query.

The other mechanism is the search engine result pages, or ‘SERPs’ (pictured below). For local search queries, they are positioned below the Map Pack. The SERPs are where your website ranks – not your business listing. Depending on your industry, you could also see directory listings (Yell) and review sites (Tripadvisor) here. For optimal results, it’s important to fine-tune both your business listings and website. Ideally, you’ll have both appearing on the first page of Google or Bing – making it impossible for local searchers to not find your business.

How is Local SEO different to normal SEO?

Luckily, it’s not rocket science to get started with a Local SEO strategy. There are a number of immediate actions you can carry out to boost or revitalise your local search presence.

Business Listings

If you haven’t already, make sure to claim your Google My Business and Bing Places For Business listings. It’s the very first step in making sure you have a local presence in the search engine results.

Once you have claimed and set up your listings, it’s time for optimisation. Upload high quality imagery of your offerings. Update your business hours and craft a keyword-optimised business description. Ask loyal customers to review your business on these platforms, and reply to these reviews. Having a fully optimised business listing really does pay off!

Name, Address, Postcode

A crucial element of any Local SEO strategy is your NAP. This handy term stands for name, address and postcode. Every time your NAP is referenced across the internet, this is classed as a citation.

These citations confirm to Google and Bing that your business is real, boosting your online credibility. List your business in good quality online directories and review sites, and ensure that your NAP is consistent across all of these citations for maximum effectiveness.

Keywords

Ensure that both your website and business listings are targeting the local keywords that you want to be found for. It’s a great idea to conduct some keyword research at this point. Keyword research will ensure that you’re not wasting time on search terms that nobody actually searches for.

Keyword optimisation can involve creating location-specific website copy, regular posts on your business listings, optimising your page titles and meta descriptions, and so much more. 

Closing thoughts

It’s important to note that Local SEO should always be an ongoing process. Results won’t be immediate, either – it will take time for the likes of Google and Bing to recognise your efforts. Some things might work, others might not. Local SEO is always a work in progress. As long as you keep your customers and their needs at the forefront of your strategy, you can’t go too far wrong.

If you have any questions about this article or freelance SEO in Birmingham, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m happy to answer any questions!