This is a step-by-step “how to” guide on local optimisation strategies to ensure your business gets the local attention you need in Google search. But first of all, we need to define what local optimisation is and why it’s important.
Place-related searches are displayed when a search indicates intent to find a local or nearby business that can provide the product or service at the time of the searchers need. Google analyses the search terms used and the location of the searcher to deliver the most relevant results as possible. So when you search for “Taxi companies”, Google recognises that the search infers local intent as the user may be looking for a taxi near their location and displays the most relevant organic search result below the places listings on Google Maps.
One of the chief benefits of local is that you’re only competing with your local competitors, near you. Bigger companies who may have a much stronger backlink profile and greater domain authority than you will struggle to rank above your smaller, local business for these types of searches as the local context of the search effectively rules them out if they aren’t nearby. This makes local search engine optimisation a vital part of small and medium businesses marketing strategy.
In addition to this, have a places listing on Google Maps means that users of this platform can find directions to your business easily, helping with any footfall to your local shop, store or office.
Local searches are increasing
No surprises, with an ever increasing amount of browsing and searches occurring on smartphones there’s been a surge in local searches in Google. More often, we’re seeing keyword searchers that include local intent, for example “near me”, “nearby”, “closest”, “local” and “open now”.
So, what are the local ranking factors?
As with all organic search results, the most important ranking factor is relevance. Is your business a relevant result for the searched keywords? Does your business match what the searcher is looking for?
What is your proximity to the search? How far or near are you to the location of the searcher? If you’re both relevant and nearby, then you should achieve a good rank in search engine results.
3. Prominence and authority
How well is your business known? Do you have many reviews? What is the state of your backlink profile? Are there local backlinks referring to your website?
Step 1: Make your website more relevant to local
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
Step 2: Page titles and meta descriptions
Page titles, or Title tags, should include your primary keyword related to the pages content and give the user an immediate snapshot of what content is on the page. They display in Google Search as the larger, blue text in the results above the URL and meta description.
The meta description is the smaller, black text under the Title tag and URL in search results, again it is really helpful to optimise this so that your keywords or semantically relevant words appear here.
Step 3: Google My Business (GMB)
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 you 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.
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.
To create a Google My Business listing, visit this page: https://www.google.com/business
Step 4: Facebook
It’s possible to add your business to Facebook in a similar way to Google My Business so that you can appear in any local searches for your business.
To create a Facebook business page, go here: https://business.facebook.com
Step 5: Local directories
Search engines use other local directories such as Bing!, Yelp, Yell (there’s loads more!) to determine just how relevant and local you are. It’s important to list your business details including address information and website links in as many authoritative local directories as possible.
Adding your business to local directories can take time, so tackling this task monthly to ensure a consistent and steady growth in your local profile is a good approach.
Step 6: Reviews
Build a strong review profile by directing as many happy customers to review your business as possible. Use the Google My Business listing as a review engine for your business by providing your cusomters with a direct link to review your business. Google Support provide info on how to create a link for customers to write reviews. In addition, using other review engines such as Trustpilot or Feefo will certainly be beneficial in building your review profile. Reviews also are an influencer that can positively improve conversion rates, encouraging prospects to make the decision to get in touch with your business or make that purchase.