Optimizing SEO (search engine optimization) is important for any business to improve website traffic from search engines. If you have a local business, however, there are additional local SEO factors that can help you to stand out to your local customers. And this is important because, in a sea of similar businesses across the UK and the rest of the world, you need to be seen by the people who live nearest to you.
Thankfully, there are lots of steps you can take to optimize your local SEO and improve your local search rankings. Some of these local SEO tactics are related to improving your ranking in local search results. Others are related to the user experience once they reach your site. While traditional SEO practices are still important, specific local SEO tactics also come into play when dealing with local potential customers.
The first step in the local SEO checklist to improve your local SEO rankings is to register your business with a Google Business profile (also known as Google My Business). Once you sign up, Google will post you a card with a pin so you can verify your business listing.
Google My Business is much more than just verifying who you are, however. The data that you create in it is populated not just in search engines but also in connected applications. This includes Google Maps, Knowledge Panels, mobile SERP carousels, and more.
It is especially important for local search visibility and potential customers that you make sure that the information you use for Google My Business is 100% accurate. This includes your business name, business location, opening hours (if relevant), etc.
Local SEO ranking factors differ slightly from more general SEO ranking factors. Most notably, there is a much greater emphasis on social media and citation signals (brand mentions).
As well as social media, you need to ensure that your business listing appears in local directories. Appearing in places like Yelp, Google Map, TripAdvisor, MapQuest, and more including directories that are specific to your industry will go a long way to improving your local SEO.
Within these local directories and social media, you need to engage in brand reputation management as part of your local SEO checklist. As a local business, you need to ensure that there is a space for customer testimonials, positive reviews, and rankings. Also, try to respond to as many of these as possible.
As part of your local SEO strategy, you should also make it possible for user-generated content. This should include online reviews on your business page as well. Becoming part of the local community will go a long way towards engaging with potential customers.
Make your business more visible by being present and active on as many of these relevant sites as possible. This will make it far more likely that you will appear when people look for you on search engines. And, importantly for local businesses, by seeing how your business is viewed by customers and how you respond to them, new visitors will immediately get an idea of how well they can trust you.
What your domain contains can be just as important as the work you are doing. Especially, with local directories, social media, Google My Business, etc. Your site needs to be in great condition to prevent a high bounce rate. Thus, it needs to be set up in a way that is easy to find by search engines and local customers.
You should also think about including details into your content that reflect you being a local business. Just like with a traditional SEO strategy, relevant keywords are important for driving traffic to your site for local SEO. Think about including local content into your URL strings, and optimizing your keyword research with local keyword targets. Include local keywords in your meta descriptions, and having a local target keyword in your title tags.
For example, rather than titling something "How to find the best bicycle tools", you could title it "How to find the best bicycle tools in Newport". This will help people using search engines in your local area find you.
When people are searching for local businesses, the chances are that nowadays they are using their smartphones to do so. If your site isn't optimized for mobile devices then nearly half of your visitors may give up. Thus, they will try one of your competitors instead.
You can check if your local business site works well on mobile devices by using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test. It's really easy to use by just inputting your URL into the search bar. Google will then tell you how well your site functions on mobile. Including how easily visitors can access, read, and navigate your site.
Google Search Console is a free search engine optimization tool that can be invaluable for optimizing your local SEO. You can use it to see how your site performs, how successful your keywords are at driving traffic to your site, your page experience scores, and more.
Connect Google Search Console to Google Analytics to have an extremely powerful way of optimizing your local SEO. You can use Google Analytics to see how people are finding your site from search engines and other methods. Additionally, you can monitor your site traffic, and see which of your site pages is generating the most traffic. Plus, see how long people spend on your site, how many people have visited, and more.
The more information you have about how your site is performing on search engines and how local people are interacting with it, the more you understand. Thus, allowing you to better target your search engine optimization strategy.
Google is the biggest search engine in terms of the number of users. However, you shouldn't neglect optimizing your local SEO for other search engines, such as Bing. Like Google, Bing has tools that can help you to see how your site is performing (Bing Webmaster Tools).
Using a local SEO checklist to perfect your local SEO strategy can make a big difference to your business traffic. It also changes how easily visitors can find your site using local search words, Google Maps, etc. By optimizing your site's content for local markets and supplementing your SEO strategy with a targeted off-page link-building campaign, be it DIY or through a marketing agency like Sure Oak, your business will be well-positioned to increase its search rankings and attain valuable local customers. As a result, you will likely gain more business in your area.