Local SEO Guide: Everything You Need To Know To Rank Website Locally in 2020
Did you know that 50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day? The numbers on other devices are almost as good. 34% of consumers who searched on a computer or tablet visited a store within a day.
If you have been ignoring local SEO for your business, now is the time to wake up. Users are not only searching for local products and services, but they are also taking action on what they find. SEO is about so much more than just links and content. It’s about attracting and engaging with users who want and need what you provide.
Here’s a quick explanation of what is a Local SEO
With around 2 million small businesses across Australia, showing up on local search results is extremely important. Google knows how relevant local search results; that’s why they have given increased focus to personalised search results that focus on businesses that are local to the searcher.
This change from Google caused a shift in how small businesses plan their SEO strategy. Years ago, all you need to do to rank on the first page of Google was to build a website and hire a company to spam links to your business. That is no longer the case today.
The modern SEO requires a well-rounded and sophisticated approach to increase online search visibility.
In this blog posts, we are sharing everything you need to know to rank your business in the local area, for example, “Plumber in Mandurah” or “Electrician in Perth.”
The first topic we would like to discuss is the importance of Local SEO and why SEO is one of the most important investment you can make for your business.
Many businesses know ( or think they know ) that they need SEO to stay relevant online, and the benefits they will get from that SEO work being implemented.
Organic search is most often the Primary source of Website Traffic.
Organic search is a massive part of most business’s website performance, as well as a critical component of the buyer journey and ultimately getting customers to either use your service or buy your products.
Everyone knows Google owns a significantly more significant portion of the search market than competitors like Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and the many, many others.
That’s not to say that all search engines don’t contribute to a brand’s visibility — they do — it’s just that Google owns about 75 percent of the overall search market. It’s the clear-cut leader, and thus its guidelines are essential to follow.
But the remaining 25 percent of the market owned by other engines is valuable to your business, too.
Google, being the most visited website in the world, also happens to be the most popular email provider in the world (with more than 1 billion users). Not to mention YouTube is the second biggest search engine.
We know that a clear majority of the world that has access to the internet is visiting Google at least once a day to get information.
Being highly visible as a trusted resource by Google and other search engines is always going to work in your business’ favour. Quality SEO and a High-quality website take you there.
SEO Builds Credibility
Our goal as your marketing partner is for your business is to establish a strong foundation for a beautiful website with a clean, effective user experience that is easily discoverable in search results.
Many elements go into establishing authority regarding search engines like Google. In addition to the factors mentioned above, authority is accrued over time as a result of elements like:
- Quality backlink profiles.
- Positive user behaviour.
- Machine-learning signals.
- Optimised on-page elements and content.
But establishing that authority will do more for your business than most, if not all, other digital optimisations. The problem is, it’s impossible to build trust and credibility overnight — just like real life. Authority is earned and developed over time.
Establishing a brand as an authority takes patience, effort, and commitment, but also relies on offering a valuable, quality product or service that allows customers to trust your company or your brand.
Good SEO Also Means a Better User Experience
Everyone wants better organic rankings and maximum visibility. Few realise that optimal user experience is a big part of getting there.
Google has learned how to interpret a favourable or unfavourable user experience, and positive user experience has become a pivotal element to a website’s success.
Customers know what they want. If they can’t find it, there’s going to be a problem. And performance will suffer.
A clear example of building a strong user experience is how Google has become more and more of an answer engine offering the sought-after data directly on the SERPs (search engine results pages) for users.
The intention of that is offering users the information they are looking for in fewer clicks, quickly and easily.
Local SEO Means Increased Engagement, Traffic & Conversions
With the rise and growing domination of mobile traffic, local search has become a fundamental part of small- and medium-sized businesses’ success.
Local SEO aims at optimising your digital properties for a specific vicinity, so people can find you quickly and easily, putting them one step closer to a transaction.
Local optimisations focus on specific towns, cities, regions, and even states, to establish a viable medium for a brand’s messaging on a local level.
For example, Shoutout Digital team can do this by optimising the brand’s website and its content, including local citations and backlinks, as well as local listings relevant to the location and business sector a brand belongs to.
There should also be a strong emphasis on user reviews on Google, as well as other reviews sites like Yelp, Trustpilot (among others), depending on the industry.
SEO Impacts the Buying Cycle
Customers do their research. That’s one of the most significant advantages of the internet from a buyer perspective.
Using SEO tactics to relay your messaging for good deals, groundbreaking products and services, and the importance and dependability of what you offer customers will be a game-changer.
It will also undoubtedly positively impact the buying cycle when done right.
Your business must be visible in the places people need them for a worthy connection to be made. Local SEO enhances that visibility and lets potential customers find the answers, and the businesses providing those answer.
SEO Is Very Cheap
Sure, it costs money. All the best things do, right? But SEO is relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things, and the payoff will most likely be considerable in terms of a brand’s benefit and bottom line.
This isn’t a marketing cost; this is a real business investment. Proper SEO implementation will hold water for years to come. And, like most things in life, will only be better with more attention (and investment) it gets.
While SEO doesn’t offer the easier-to-calculate ROI like that of paid search, you can measure almost anything with proper tracking and analytics.
The big problem is trying to connect the dots on the back end since there is no definitive way to understand the correlation between all actions taken. Still, it is worth understanding how specific effects are supposed to affect performance and growth, and hopefully, they do.
Any good SEO is going to be aiming at those improvements, so connecting the dots should not be a challenge. Brands also want to know and understand where they were, where they are, and where they’re going in terms of digital performance, especially for SEO when they have a person/company that is being paid to execute on its behalf. There’s no better way to show the success of SEO, either. We all know the data never lies.
Now that we have discussed the importance of a Local SEO. You might be asking, so how exactly do create a successful Local Search Engine Optimisation Campaign?
We created this very detailed infographic that guides you step by step on how to start your Local SEO campaign without paying for a Digital Marketing Agency or a Local SEO Company.
One of the central aspects of a successful Local SEO campaign revolves around optimising your Google My Business Profile.
Here’s an example of one of our search terms optimised locally and organically. As you can see if done properly, you can rank 1st on the Local search results and the organic results as well.
So Claiming your Google My Business profile should be one of the first steps you need to take before you start your local campaign.
Why Google My Business is crucial for any business
Every business with a storefront or a physical location needs to have a Google My Business listing. It provides a lot of information to consumers and offers your Business a local search presence.
Setting up your Google My Business listing is free, it’s quick and easy to setup. Once you have completed your listing, you can then start the optimisation process to boost your local presence.
Your Google My Business profile needs to be updated and optimised to tell Google everything it needs to know about your business details, address and phone number.
Here are some tips to optimise your Google my business listing.
Accurate Name, Address and Phone number
The first step in optimising your Google My Business page for local search is to ensure that your foundations are done well. This means that your business name, address, and phone number or (NAP) is correct, up-to-date and consistent across local business citations.
Citation help with business discovery, they can help consumers to find your business, and they feed Google the information it needs to help rank your business. If your NAP is inaccurate on other business directories, it makes it harder for costumers to find your listing.
For example, you might enter XYZ company as your Google My Business listing, but on your Yellowpages, it’s XYZ Pty Ltd.
Detailed Business Description
Your business description should describe your business in an engaging and authentic manner, and it shouldn’t reference sales terms and promotions. You can add up to 750 character description to your profile.
The description tells searchers about your unique selling proposition, your story, and why they should do business with you.
We recommend picking one or two keywords to build your description around and ensure that search phrase appears early in the text. To get the most out of your description, make sure you are also adding your business location in the description.
Make sure you choose the right category and sub-category.
The category plays a significant role in your local search ranking as it tells Google which searches your business could be relevant for.
as per google,
“Categories are used to describe your business and connect you to customers searching for the services you offer. For example, if your primary category is “Pizza restaurant”, Google may show your business in local search results to people who search for “Restaurants”, “Italian restaurants” or “Pizza” in their area.”
If you are a Pizza shop choosing the correct category is relatively simple, but that’s not usually the case for other businesses.
In some instances, there isn’t a choice that suits your business on the category selection. For example, a law firm can practice many areas of law, from corporate to environmental to family matters. If you are unsure of what category to select, the primary category should be the category that is most important to your business.
Google also mentioned that the category that you are selecting needs to be specific. For example, if you own a nail salon, your primary category should be ‘nail salon’ rather than just a salon. Having a correct category is better for optimising your Google My Business profile, and it tells Google what exactly do you offer.
As for the secondary category, it outlines additional services that you might offer. Here are some examples from Google – If you run a grocery store with a pharmacy and a deli on-premises, ‘supermarket’ should be your primary category and ‘pharmacy’ and ‘deli’ then added as secondary categories.
A picture says a thousand words.
A recent report shows that 60% of consumers said that local search results with great looking images captured their attention.
Other reports also found that images give posts three times more chance of being shared on social media. So for example, if you are a builder, make sure you are adding professionally captured photos of your work to showcase on your Google My Business listing.
Google gives you a lot of options when it comes to images so you must add photos that will capture your potential customer’s attention. If you have a great looking office or store, you can add interior and exterior photos. You can even add videos on your listing to give searchers a quick tour of your office or store.
Asks, monitor, and respond to your Google My Business reviews.
If you are looking at generating more reviews for your Google My Business listing, then check out our Reputation Management tool only available for existing clients.
The reason why you should be asking every single customer for review is that they influence the buying decision of a searcher.
For example, if someone searches for a ‘Pool cleaning service’ one company on the result got 100+ 5 star reviews while the other company got 20 5+ star reviews most likely the searcher will call the business with 100+ reviews first before the other business with fewer reviews. Generating positive reviews for your business can have a direct impact on sales.
A recent survey did also found that more than half of consumers will only use a business if it has four or more stars- increasingly, this means that you need reviews to generate new customers. Typically, 50% of consumers will visit a local business website after reading a positive review, 15% will visit the business location, and 13% will contact the business directly.
You are more likely to rank 1-3 if you have Google Reviews attached to your Google My Business profile.
Make sure that you create a consistent process for requesting online reviews or you can use an automation tool like our reputation management to ask your customers for review automatically.
You also need someone to monitor and respond to every review Good or Bad.
Use Google Posts to showcase your business.
Posts are crucial to your Google My Business listing optimisation process. Posts are blogs to your Google My Business page, which can be used to update, share an offer or any upcoming event.
Google posts are a fantastic way to increase your local search visibility as well as optimise your Google My Business profile.
Here are some steps to create a post on your Google My Business listing:
- Log in to Google My Business
- Click on ‘Post’
- Select post type (update, event, offer or product)
- Upload a relevant image or video
- Write your content (you’re allowed up to 1,500 characters)
- Select button type to display below your post and add your link
Add Q&A on your listing
Q&A allows searchers to ask questions about your business. The purpose of the Q&A is to give searchers and local consumers additional information about your company- which is a great way to gain local exposure and further build your profile as part of your optimisation efforts.
This is essentially your FAQ’s page. The good thing about this section is you can also add questions and answer them. We suggest listing the most common questions you get from customers and combining them all on the Q&A section.
Part and parcel of optimising a GMB profile are ensuring it is as complete and up-to-date as possible. As we have seen throughout, there are some serious search visibility benefits to be had if you complete your profile information, often update and make the most of the myriad GMB features.
In some knowledge panel search results, social media profiles will appear alongside local business information. Google explains,
“When people search for your Business on Google, they may see links to your business’s social profiles included with your other business information in the knowledge panel in search. Google gathers business information from a variety of sources and may include it to give customers a more detailed overview of your business. Social profile information is automatically added to listings for eligible businesses.”
Make sure that you complete your social media verification. This tells Google that your social media profiles are real and connected to your business. To get the most out of this part, make sure that your social media profiles are updated often.
Now that you have completely optimised your listing using the steps above, it’s time to start generating links to your business.
Google search result is a popularity contest. If more websites are talking about your business and linking to your website over your competitor, you will rank higher in the local search results.
Here are some tips to generate more links to your local business.
Some common techniques for building local links include:
- Get listed in relevant local directories: Most local directories and review websites will allow a link to your website. This is a diamond in the rough that can result in an endless amount of traffic to your small business website. Examples of local directories include Yelp, Truelocal, Yellowpages and Whitepages.
- Build local partnerships: One easy way to build easy and relevant links is through a local partnership. As a matter of fact, you may already be in some form of local partnership with other small businesses. You just have to ask them for a link pointing back to your website. Check the websites of your existing partners and check if they have “Our Partners” of “Partnerships” page. If they haven’t included a link pointing back to your website, request them to do so. Savvy marketers and small business owners are always looking for local partnerships.
- Give testimonials: Sometimes building local partnerships may not be as easy as it sounds, especially if you are new. The alternative to local partnerships is by providing testimonials to businesses you regularly transact with. These are great link building opportunities you can grab. No one will refuse a kind word or full-blown endorsement of their business. At least I haven’t heard of one business owner who declined a testimonial.
- Get into the local news: Small businesses that want to be noticed must ensure they are never ignored. That sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Well, a lot of people think so too, but what they forget is that it is not easy to get noticed when there are over 1 billion websites. How do you get into the local news? Create a controversy. Let this sink in for a moment. You aren’t going to agree with 100% of the people 100% of the time. Sometimes, you have to stand for something. Your clients will appreciate if you have something you stand for and believe in. So, don’t be afraid to create controversies. It is a great opportunity for people to talk about you. For example, you could sponsor an eating competition for the homeless, and the winner gets to live in an apartment for free, for say two months.
Apart from creating controversies, get involved in your community events. By engaging in local communities, there is an opportunity for you to earn a link on the news outlets.
Think about it. How many times have you linked back to others? If you want people to link back to you, make it easy for them. A lot of people who own small business websites might not be tech-savvy, and yet they may want to quote you or mention your page or resource back on their social media accounts or blogs. One way is to create HTML-ready snippets that let people plug into their content to link to you.
You can also generate an HTML link snippet at the end of each post or article for people to create links.
For instance, if you publish an infographic, you can include an HTML ready code snippet at the end of the post to make it easy for people to publish the infographic on their blog and link back to you.
This is different from guest blogging because it involves people directly copying your content or part of it into their site or social media account.
Blogging is a powerful link building opportunity because it can instantly generate quality backlinks from other blogs if you publish quality content that people like. The good thing about blogging is that it captures people’s interests in a non-promotional way. This makes them loyal customers and dedicated brand ambassadors.
Apart from publishing high-quality blog posts on your blog so that people can share and link back to you, you should try guest blogging. Make a list of blogs you would like to pitch and create content that aligns with the requirements of those blogs. Most blog owners will allow you to include one link back to your blog. Guest blogging takes time, but once you have published some blogs, you will notice a significant improvement in your search visibility.
When it comes to writing blogs with the aim of increasing visibility and building links, keyword research is essential. According to WordStream, targeting long-tail keywords is the best approach to improving your chances of appearing in local search results. This will undoubtedly bring targeted traffic to your website and tremendously reduce your marketing costs. Here are three popular tools to use when conducting keyword research:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Wordstream Keyword Tool
- Keyword Eye
- Keyword Discovery
- Advanced Web Ranking
Sponsor Local Events
One way to get mentioned and earn local links is through sponsoring a local meet up. A meetup is an event where like-minded people gather to discuss and do activities together. Organising a meetup is a great way of creating brand awareness and establishing yourself as an expert in your field.
An easy way to find groups to call for a local meet up is to use websites like Meetup.com or use social media to invite people. Facebook can be helpful in spreading the word and finding relevant groups to sponsor. For instance, if you own a restaurant, you could sponsor a local clean eating meetup club.
Also, supporting a cause you believe in will endear your business to many potential customers who share the same values. By joining a local movement or supporting a cause, you are not only building brand awareness but also giving back to the community. To find a local cause or movement, you can join, sponsor or support. If you can’t find any, you can as well start one and others will join you.
Build Relationship with Local Influencers
Do you want to stand out and ahead of your competition? The difference between ordinary small businesses and great, influential small businesses is not about how great their products are but how tactical they are in setting themselves apart from the rest of the herd.
Local influencers range from politicians to journalists, to celebrities. Finding and connecting with them may be challenging, but it’s worth it. The reality is that you are not just going to send a few emails or hookup on social media to build relationships with these people. You’re going to get out of your office and interact with real humans if you want to create a strong network.
Join membership clubs or attend events and get to meet people. If you know someone who knows someone who is a local influencer, you can arrange for an introduction. Chances are they will be interested in your product and mention it on their social media accounts.
Tip: Offer free samples to local influencers. One can endorse or mention something they believe in.
Finding the time to do all of this can be quite hard, especially when you have a business to run.
So if you want to start looking for a Digital Marketing Agency to partner with we are sharing some handy tips to qualify and disqualify different marketing agency that can help you achieve your goals.
Here are some tips for choosing the right SEO Company
Choosing your next SEO company can either bring your business tremendous results or wipe your online visibility. The difference between a massive increase in organic traffic and a decrease in Google rankings comes down to choosing between a good and bad SEO company.
We are sharing five tips every business owner should consider before signing that Local SEO deal.
SEO is not Black Magic
SEO, the process of optimising to drive organic traffic to your website. Is very difficult, this also means that most business owners don’t know what it takes to achieve great results on an SEO campaign.
Any SEO agency that says that they have an insider who tells them all of the Google algorithms are usually lying. Rather, good SEO requires extensive knowledge on how search engines work, attention to detail, and constant updates since Google’s algorithm changes almost every week.
Additionally, shortcuts like buying links, keyword stuffing, and cloaking can lead search engines to demote your website. These techniques are called Black Hat SEO because they violate search engines’ rules. Once Google’s bots discover that you’re using these tools, they’ll demote your site in their rankings, which will decrease organic traffic. SEO specialists who claim to have specialised knowledge could be using Black Hat SEO practices, for which you will ultimately pay a high price.
Find a company that can help you achieve your goals.
When looking for an SEO company, do not hire a company with the simple goal of increasing traffic since increasing traffic does not automatically translate to increased revenue.
You and your team should outline exactly what you are trying to achieve with SEO. Are you looking at increasing sales by ranking for specific products? Or are you trying to increase your website’s conversion rate? Are you looking for help building a social following or other services that go beyond SEO?
No matter which SEO company you choose, make sure you have a clear goal in mind before making the decision.
Don’t just go by searching for ‘Best SEO Company’.
Why shouldn’t you choose an SEO company based on how well they are ranking? Some of the best SEO specialists are too busy optimising their client’s websites rather than optimising their website.
Some of the best SEO companies typically have a lot of long-term customers who have been referred by their professional circles to the same service. Only companies who are always looking for new clients will bother to rank for “Best SEO Company ( Insert location )” this applies to other keywords such as “Best SEO services.”
Generally, Good SEO companies already have too much business to bother optimising for their website or paying for a spot on sites like “bestseocompanies.com” or “topseos.com” list.
This means that the best way to find a good quality SEO company is by relying on the good old’ word of mouth. Instead of asking Google, ask personal recommendations from friends and your professional circle but not your competitors.
Find an SEO company that aligns with your metrics.
Once you understand your goals and narrowed down your options to a few companies, it’s time to make sure that you and the company you choose have a precise method of outlining your progress.
Before you choose your next SEO company, you and the SEO company must be on the same page when it comes to key metrics. For example, a new business would have a different key metrics than a business who’s been operating for many years.
With hundreds of different key metrics to track such as bounce rate and conversion rates, you need an SEO company that understand which key metrics are the most important to you and your business and can turn those metrics into information that you can easily understand.
Here are some of the most important key metrics that you should consider:
Organic Sessions: How many people visit your website through an organic search? This is the most basic, and one of the most critical metrics in SEO.
Conversion rate: What percentage of visitors buy your product, sign up for your newsletter or engage with your content?
Keyword Ranking: Which keywords you are ranking for and have the ranking increased since you hired the SEO company?
Page Load Time: the time it takes for a page to load directly to how quickly people leave your site.
Communication is the key.
Though you should have access to the tools they’re using to measure your KPIs — SEMRush, Google Search Console, Google Analytics— most likely, you don’t have time to spend the time to analyse all that data. For this reason, you need an SEO specialist team that works for you in terms of communication and fostering trust.
Keep in mind that SEO is a process so you could be working with this firm for years to come. Even if you only plan on working with an outside company temporarily, meeting your organic website traffic goals takes time, patience, and a constructive working relationship.
SEO is one of the most critical business investment you can make and choose the right SEO company can have significant consequences for your business and your bank account.
Many SEO companies make promises that they cannot keep or violate Google’s policies, ultimately hurting your business.
o Instead of turning to Google or “best of” lists, consult friends and business associates to find a qualified SEO firm. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, make sure that you and your firm are clear on your goals. Then, establish KPIs to measure those objectives.
It’s also essential to choose a firm that communicates effectively so that you can foster a long and successful working relationship.
But most importantly, do not mistake SEO for a buzzword. Search Engine Optimisation is a process that can help you build a successful brand — if you find the right SEO firm.