Local SEO: How to Soar Above Your Competition

Local SEO is the practice of optimising a website in order to increase traffic, leads and brand awareness from local search. Common tasks associated with local SEO include finding local keywords, optimising a business’s Google My Business profile, and building local “NAP” citations.

In this article, we’ll discuss why local SEO is important to your business, as well as the steps you can take to raise your website's visibility amongst the local competition.

Why is local SEO important?

No surprises, with an ever increasing amount of browsing and searches occurring on smartphones, there’s been a continual surge in local searches in Google. More often, we’re seeing keyword searches that include local intent, for example “near me”, “nearby”, “closest”, “local” and “open now”.

In fact, 46% of all searches in Google have “local intent” and out of all local searches, 76% of consumers go on to visit a physical location that day

Create local landing pages

If you serve two or more distinct areas, consider creating a separate landing page for each area. It might be different neighborhoods, towns, counties or even countries (international SEO!).

A good landing page should include:

  • Address and phone number.

  • Additional contact details e.g. email, contact form, social media icons.

  • Map and directions (embedding a Google Map is a preferred option).

  • Opening times.

  • High quality photos of your local presence in the area.

  • Services provided.

  • Each page needs an optimised:​

      URL e.g. barkweb.co.uk/eastbourne

    • Page title

    • H1

    • Meta description

    • Schema.org markup

    • Canonical tag (in case there are any filters that could generated duplicate content

By creating unique landing pages for each individual service area, you’re ensuring your content is as relevant as possible to your individual audiences, ensuring your content has a higher chance of ranking in local search results for local keywords.

Optimise for local keywords

Include location-based keywords throughout the content of your website, having the address in the footer just isn’t enough – you’ll need to be clever in your content writing, alt and title text on images, page title and meta descriptions and even in your site architecture i.e. the way you structure your URL’s across pages.

Focus on your specific keywords using the optimal TF:IDF keyword frequencies to ensure your content is highly relevant to searches occurring in Google. To help identify what keywords are being searched for, here’s some useful tips:

  • Listen to the words your customers use to describe your services, whether that be in meetings or over the phone or in submitted webforms

  • Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find suggested keywords and trends

  • Perform a Google Search and analyse the “Searches related to” section

Utilise structured data

Not a new trend by any means, Structured Data Markup is still very much a new frontier for digital marketing and SEO in particular, as many site-owners have avoided the use of it.

Structured data, and in particular schema, helps Google understand and contextualise the content on your website. This understanding makes it easier for Google to match your content with the most relevant search queries, often doing so in the form of rich snippets.

For instance, if you are posting a recipe, you can tag each ingredient, cooking time, calorie count, the number of portions, and so forth. Google will then be able to find this information on your page and use it to create rich snippets, like so:

In terms of local SEO, SEOs can use “local business” schema to mark their company and it’s address, as well as other key contact details. This local schema provides Google with important information about your business and improves your chances of appearing in local search results.

Whilst structured data markup used to be reserved only for those who were ‘technically’ minded, it’s now easier than ever to create the HTML code needed. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper is an online tool, where you submit your URL and choose the type of structured data you want to create. From here, you simply highlight the elements of your web page that match up with Google’s requirements and Google will generate the code for you.

Claim/Optimise your GMB listing

GMB is a free product that allows business owners to verify and submit basic details about their business to Google. Owners can also engage with existing and potential customers across Google’s properties, such as Google Maps.

A useful tool for informing Google of your business location, contact information, opening hours, business categorisation and more. By creating and verifying a Google My Business listing for your business you’ll also benefit from a Google Maps result which will display in local searches and enable users to get directions.

Google My Business is an effective way of directing calls and footfall to your business without even sending visitors to your website.

To create a Google My Business listing, visit this page: https://www.google.com/business

Once you’ve created or claimed your listing, make sure to fill it out completely. This ensures that you provide Google, as well as end-users, as much relevant information about your business as possible. This helps Google accurately display your business for relevant local searches, as well as helps users find the information they are looking for easily, all in one place.

For more tips on optimisation, read our top 12 tips for local optimisation.

Build NAP citations

This isn’t about link building per se; it’s about making sure your business is registered with well-known business directories.

If you focus on high quality domains and directories with a relevant audience, you will benefit from the domain association and potentially get direct referral traffic. Citations must use a consistent NAP format (name, address, phone number).

This is important as it provides validation to search engines that the same business is being listed in multiple authoritative places on the web, a good quality signal. So if your registered business name is Consulting Ltd but you trade as Consulting, then pick one and use it consistently, don’t switch between the two.

We recommend focusing on the free directories first. Create your business listing and use the same copy wherever possible for consistency and speed of set-up. Then use a small budget to test paid for directories (often this is simply an enhanced service from the same service providers, for example an enhanced listing that is better promoted on the site).

A good example is Touchlocal, part of the Scoot network. You can create a free simple listing with company name, address and basic contact details. However, to get your web address shown and an active link, you need to upgrade to a paid subscription.

The most commonly used directories for UK businesses are:

  • Touchlocal

  • Scoot

  • Yelp

  • Yell

  • Central Index

  • Factual

  • Foursquare

  • Trust a Trader

  • Checkatrade

Build Local Backlinks

The power of contextual, local backlinks cannot be overstated. They are one of the determining factors that influence your website’s position in local search and should not be overlooked.

Contrary to national, or even international, link building campaigns, local link building can be relatively straightforward - if you know where to start.

Local Businesses

For most local businesses, the best place to start would be with your pre-existing business connections. This list will vary depending on your industry and individual circumstances, but a good rule of thumb is to list out the following businesses:

  • Local clients, if B2B

  • Distributors

  • Suppliers

  • Wholesalers

  • Contractors

  • Neighboring businesses

Review their website’s, looking for any relevant pages where a link to your business would make sense. For local clients, this could be as simple as linking to your business on a ‘partners’ page of their website.

If you were a distributor, you may ask your regular contractors to link to your website as a trusted partner.

Whatever you choose to do, the trick is to make sure the link is contextualised, relevant and visible.

Local Chamber of Commerce

If you operate in the UK, you’re bound to have a Local Chamber of Commerce - you may even be aware of it already.

Local Chamber of Commerce offer the perfect opportunity to generate an easy, authoritative local backlink for your business. Not only do these links offer your business the benefit of external traffic, your business will also benefit from the community it provides. If your local business is active and engaged within the chamber, other members are more likely to use and promote your products and/or services.

How you get your business listed will depend on the Chamber in question, as each will have its own rules and requirements. The majority will require an annual fee, in exchange for annual membership.

Generally, in exchange for your membership, you’ll receive a NAP citation on their website, alongside your website link.

Below is an example of a NAP citation, including an external website link, on a local chamber of commerce website.

Sponsor Local Events

If you do a quick search in your area, you’re likely to discover a whole host of local events happening soon.

More often than not, these local events will be in need of sponsors, in order to fund and support their activities. By doing so, your business will often be promoted in some way alongside the event, earning a link on their website.

Local events could be as simple as a charity fundraiser or local football tournament. However, if you wanted to take this process a step further, you could research local events that have a direct relevance to your businesses' offering. In this instance, not only would your business benefit from a NAP and backlink, but also the promotion of your products and or/services to your ideal target audience - a double win.