Local SEO is rapidly becoming one of the most essential components of a digital marketing campaign. It is imperative that companies and brands looking for long term success with search engines understand the importance of applying local SEO.
I recently covered some of the most important skills anyone with a vested interest in online marketing should know. But, I didn’t get into specific detail on the importance of local SEO and so I will do this here.
I want to provide my readers with a practical guide to local SEO and how it is key to driving
traffic to your physical business. So let’s get right into the importance and best practices for kicking off your local SEO.
What is local SEO?
The importance and prominence of local SEO has grown considerably in the past few years and even more so since the advent of smartphone usage and improved connectivity for mobile devices no matter their location.
While the idea is very similar to organic SEO it is also very different.
Local SEO is focused on providing the most relevant search results to a user given their location and the services in close proximity. If I get hungry and search for the best pizza delivery services, Google will show me the best option right near me.
It was discovered in 2011 that over 40% of all searches were made with local intent. According to a 2013 post in Fresh Egg, 4 out of 5 people will use smartphones to investigate local information. Furthermore, 2 of every three people who make such a search will then take action according to the information they receive.
Optimizing for Local Search
Here are a few practical tips on how you can make your website more local SEO friendly:
Google Places for Business
This is the first thing you should do and certainly the most important.
You need to set up your Google Places Directory account. This is simple enough, all that is required is to enter all the pertinent information and make sure it is 100% correct and on point, the smallest errors can have large consequences. You will need to enter your business name, contact information, address and opening hours. Furthermore, make sure the entire profile is complete before you save your account.
The more pertinent information you include, the better the Google Search Engine will be able to understand the nature of your business. This will make it easier for them to match you to localized searches for the products, services or options you are providing.
This is the first step to showing up on all kinds of searches and the Google Maps App.
The next thing to do will be to connect your Google Places page with the Google+Local page you will set up next. This is a page geared toward social interactions. This is where your business will place their reviews, information about the restaurant, posts, images and more. Even better, your customers will be able to access content as well as leave comments and reviews.
Here are some important pointers to keep in mind when creating your Google+Local page:
- Reference keywords in order to optimize your business’s information copy
The page needs a title that includes the brand as well as any other keywords important to understanding your business. The goal here will be to include what you can without making it sound unnatural. Your title must cater to both human and search engines.
- Reference your keywords in the title
If your business is a restaurant or boutique, you must include this information in the title.
- Make absolutely sure that your listing is in the right category
It would be better to include “Italian Restaurants” rather than just “restaurants”.
- Schema markup
Add rich media to ensure you offer something interesting to your potential customers.
- Add your address in a consistent format on all online directories you will feature
NAP stands for Name Address and Phone Number. These citations are crucial to a high ranking with local SEO. Just like with links, NAP citations on reputable and authoritative websites provide high value.
Having your NAP stated clearly and uniformly wherever it is found sends a strong signal to Search Engines and potential customers alike. Your visibility will improve considerably.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews
Reviews are solid gold in the local SEO game and are a lot like having top-quality back linking if you are working with organic SEO.
Listings will often include a spot where customers can leave reviews and it will behoove you to find ways to make this happen – of course, so long as the reviews they post are positive. If your food sucks, it is not the fault of your SEO work, better fire the chef or rethink the menu.
On-page local SEO
When you are working on the SEO for your website, you will also need to have the NAP displayed in the same consistent manner as you have set up everywhere else.
The next thing to do will be to ensure that the title page on the tag features a brand name, the location of your business and the keywords you are using. You will also want to consider this for the meta data of the page.
If you only have a single page you can also try to include this in the information provided in the footer.
Finally, embedding a map on your “contact” page has been known to increase the SEO rankings as well.