Consumers always want to find products and services close to their location. As such, more than 46% of all Google searches are for local content. So, regional businesses must leverage all local search engine optimization (SEO) tools and ride the digital marketing wave if they want to survive.
Additionally, local Search Engine Optimization enables physical businesses like yours too in building an online presence. It gives you visibility and provides customers greater and faster access to your stores.
Hence, you must apply a winning local Search Engine Optimization strategy and optimize your local search results to attract new customers.
What is Local Search Engine Optimization?
If you search Google for “pizza delivery”, it will show you results for pizza places that deliver to your specific geo-location. But while there might be multiple local chains, the ones that rank the best on Google will most likely be the place you order from. This is where local SEO comes in.
In simple terms, it is nothing but a digital marketing technique that creates more visibility for your business in local searches on Google and other search engines.
So you must keep in mind that your local SEO efforts can benefit you tremendously if your business has a physical location or serves a particular geographic region. As such, when you make a local query with keywords related to your business, Google shows you three listings underneath the map for the neighborhood.
Furthermore, with local SEO, your business listing can be one among the three in the Google Snack Pack (or the local pack). This helps you attract potential local customers and outrank your competitors.
Additionally, your local business must evolve with the times in this growing digital market. Hence, understanding local search is crucial for your business. But to do so, you must first create your online store page to kickstart your local SEO strategy.
How to create a local landing page?
A high-ranking landing page is not just something you stumble upon. You have to consider many factors and optimize your page as you are creating it.
So, here is a look at things that go into making great local landing pages:
Clean URL: A succinct URL in the format <domain_name.com/keyword> can go a long way in SEO. So, ensure that your URL does not contain any uppercase letters, “%20” space character, or “Index.html”.
Business details and keyword: The title of your landing page must consist of your keyword and your business details such as name, address with city and state name, email, phone number, and product keywords.
Location map: Your users must be able to find your physical locations without any trouble. Hence, including a map with information about all your storefronts helps your business.
CTA for products and services: The content on your page must describe your product or service clearly. As such, adding CTAs like ‘Call Us Now’ or ‘Book a Meeting’ can help you hold the customer’s attention and enable them to connect with you.
Share social proof: Having reviews, pictures, testimonials, and awards on your page makes your business more trustworthy.
Social media and blog pages: Do not limit your marketing to your store page. Provide links to your social media accounts to create a personal connection with your business.
Additionally, crafting an engaging blog post and talking about topics and problems your customers care about can incentivize them to invest in your products.
Understanding sitemap.xml: The XML sitemap for your online store directs search engines to the content on your site and enables them to retrieve it. It shows search engines like Google every page on your site, how important each page is and how often it is updated.
SEO tags: The location tag is compulsory for all sitemap.xml files. It benefits local stores greatly by lowering their page load time, reducing bounce rate, and dealing with duplicate content.
Moreover, other tags like lastmod, changefreq, and priority tags also help in further SEO.
How does Google rank searches?
To understand local Search Engine Optimization, first, you must learn what parameters are considered when ranking your business’s pages.
When you look for something on Google, it does not perform a live search of all current websites. Instead, it looks through the Google Index, which is a copy of all the sites Google has previously discovered.
The Google ranking algorithm also makes use of this index. The websites that match your search are ranked by relevance, distance, and prominence and then displayed to you as results.
To understand this better, here is a closer look at these three parameters:
The most vital element of any search engine is displaying relevant sites for the searches. When someone in your region searches for a keyword related to your business on Google, where do you show up?
So, having a good search engine listing is crucial to focus on your business. You will also have to compete with local businesses vying for the same target audience, so the higher you rank, the better your chances of converting those potential customers.
Back in the day, Google used the centroid algorithm to measure distance. So, if your location was not detectable, it would use the city center to measure your vicinity.
This was inefficient for people and businesses located far away from the city’s center.
However, with advancements in technology, Google can now detect your location accurately, regardless of your location. Hence, ranking higher in your locality gets direct customers from your neighborhood which increases foot traffic at your physical stores, and invites in more business.
This component of the algorithm has to do with the popularity of your business. Most tourist attractions rank high because of how well known they are. Take, for example, the Sydney Opera House.
However, this does not mean that the algorithm limits itself to landmarks.
Instead, Google bases its ranking on your online prominence. It looks at directory citations, reviews, articles, links, and many other factors to determine your business’s listing.
Types of local Google ads
Google ads are an asset to local businesses.
In 2021, Google search and advertising created over AUD 837 billion in economic activity for millions of businesses. Moreover, with increasing dependency on mobile searches, Google advertisements are a natural extension.
Given this importance, below are the three types of Google Local ad offerings that you can employ for your business:
Responsive display ads
These are ads automatically created by Google using the media and descriptions you upload and are native to the partner websites you visit.
So, network ads work not just on the Google search engine but also across its network of advisors. Plus, these ads work on all device types, from phones to desktops.
This is a great advantage because your targeted ads will automatically reshape according to the device. Furthermore, they will not be restricted just because customers use their phones.
Local search ads
Local search ads make your business locations appear on search results and Google Maps. This is a significant advantage for businesses with physical locations as it leads users to visit your storefront.
Moreover, you can share coupons on local search and Google maps which drives the same ad on multiple channels. This repetition drives more traffic to your site and allows you to convert more customers.
Individual bid adjustments for device types
You can manually adjust bids for specific keywords and devices. This means that you can favor mobile advertisements instead of tablets or laptops, depending on the product you are advertising.
For example, if you want to draw new customers to your café, reducing the bid amount for desktop searches makes sense.
So, although a desktop search is usually not an immediate sale, however, a mobile search is more likely to convert into a customer at your storefront in minutes.
The difference in these bids thus can be as high as 900% which means that you can bid AUD 1 per click on desktop ads and pay AUD 9 for the same ad on mobile search.
How to improve your Google local listing?
Harnessing local search engine optimization to fuel your business is the need of the hour. It can generate immense traffic for your sites and boost your brick-and-mortar sales too. But before you jump into the deep end of optimizing your search results, here is a preliminary step you cannot ignore:
Optimize website for mobile visitors
Mobiles are the most used devices for googling queries.
They dominate the modern digital life, so you must optimize your online store for mobile users. Additionally, the chances of conversion increase when you have a mobile-friendly site.
Moreover, Google offers a free Mobile-Friendly Test to check if your website translates well onto mobile. And, to add to that, the aesthetics of your website are essential for your brand image and identity.
Now that you have a multi-device-friendly website, here is a guide on using local SEO to boost your business:
Start by thinking about how your customers find you. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What services are my customers looking for?
- What problems does my product or service solve?
- What questions can consumers have about my business (like opening hours, address, contact details, etc.)
- Where are my customers expecting this service?
Keyword research is about analyzing and anticipating all the Google searches that can lead to your website or landing page. While actual questions are easy to estimate, you also need to nail down the traditional keywords associated with your business.
So, here are three easy ways to do that.
- Integrate your service and locations: The primary keywords for your business will be straightforward. If you own a café located in Brisbane, then your service in location keywords will be ‘café in Brisbane’, ‘nearest café in Brisbane’, or ‘coffee in Brisbane’.
- Use Google autocomplete: Type your keywords into the search bar and note the autocomplete results.
You will also find extensions of your keywords that you might not have thought of before.
- Look at your competitor’s keywords: Another local SEO trick is to study competitor’s keywords to ensure that you have all the corresponding, top-ranking keywords too.
Claim your business
To rank on Google business listings, the most obvious step is to create a Google My Business account. This is because Google My Business (GMB) is one of the biggest factors contributing to local pack as well as organic results. Hence, having a GMB account is a crucial part of local SEO.
Additionally, if your business is new to the internet, you can create a new GMB account. But if you have an existing local business that customers or third parties have mentioned, you simply need to claim your name with your Google account.
In either case, the process is straightforward, and your business will appear on services like Local Search and Maps within minutes.
So, take a look at the steps involved in creating a GMB account:
- Enter your business name: Start typing your business’s name. If it appears automatically, claim the business; otherwise, hit “add your business to Goog
- Choose a business category: You get to choose only one category for your business. As such, it helps to think along the lines of what exactly your business is rather than what your business has.
But, if you are unsure, you can look at the category your competitors are listed under.
- Enter your business address: If you are claiming an existing business, then this field might be prefilled. If not, then type in the address to your brick-and-mortar.
Also, if you do not have a physical location, you can simply choose the geographic locations where your product or service will be available.
- Enter your location: You will be shown a map that you can navigate and zoom into to point at your exact business location. This makes it easier for customers to find your store after their search.
- Enter contact details: You can enter your phone number and website URL to make it easier for customers to contact you with inquiries.
- Verify your listing: You need to verify your listing before your business goes live. So, do so by phone or via postcard.
Local citations are one of the most prominent factors in local search rankings. Hence, it is essential to understand what citations are and how they can benefit your business.
A citation is when your business gets listed in local business directories. These local online directories are third-party websites.
They can list your business name, address, and phone number (NAP information) to lead consumers to your store.
So, when Yellow Pages cite your business on their website, you get credit for being a viable business on local search directories. Additionally, the higher the number of citations, the more comprehensive your online mentions.
In short, all of it boils down to higher business prospects.
Furthermore, since citations are an integral part of local SEO, here are a few ways to improve your citations and create more local traffic at your door:
Your business profile must be consistent on all platforms. The NAP information for your business must be the same on your website and across all your directory citations. This is because a single wrong phone number could lead to the loss of multiple clients.
So, maintain uniformity by ensuring that all direct sources of information are regularly updated, like your website and your ‘My Business’ page. Additionally, to confirm your address, you must verify your location.
You can do this by responding to the URL in time after Google posts you a postcard at your physical location.
Studies by local SEO experts have deciphered that the quality of the citations matters more than the quantity. Just because a lot of citations are available to purchase does not mean you need to buy every one of them.
So, look out for high-quality directories for building citations. You can benefit more from directories with an established presence but do not abuse Google’s algorithm.
Moreover, do not seek broad directories. Identify reputed directories that are niche to your industry and invest in a listing with them. The higher the relevance of the directory, the more Google trusts your listing.
Local search is fruitful only when your clients can find your business listed under the correct industry. A simple oversight in categorization can cost you many potential consumers.
So, categorize your site accurately on Google + Local and your GMB account.
Additionally, labeling your business correctly will make it more accessible to the local audience and optimize your webpage for category-based searching.
Promote useful local resources
To establish a connection with your regional community, address their needs with your content. This will propagate your brand and give you link-building opportunities to help with your local SEO.
Moreover, you can use your content platforms to keep your consumers posted about local happenings and brand events and you can also have a local calendar to keep them updated.
Additionally, whatever you put out must add value to their lives, so guides related to your products and offerings are also an excellent way to link building. Not to forget, having expert guest writers can add credibility to your business as well.
Furthermore, keeping an eye out for high-ranking competitors can help you attract links that are more advantageous.
Note: Ensure your content is not controversial and keeps the best interest of your consumers at the forefront.
Encourage customer reviews
It is the age of the conscious consumer. Everyone relies heavily on word of mouth for an offline location. The same translates to customer reviews online.
They help build trust among clients and serve as a reliability parameter for new consumers.
Always remember, a consumer is more likely to depend upon an audience-based opinion than a description you provide for your own business.
As such, reviews, which are user-generated content prove to be a great way to engage with your customers.
People appreciate businesses that reply and are willing to have a conversation.
Always keep in mind that a simple acknowledgment can make the customer feel heard and significantly improve their experience. Plus, it would help if you also made an effort to stay active on all your social media pages, mainly your Google + Local so that your local audience finds more avenues to converse with you.
Moreover, the repeated mention of your name in positive reviews can help boost your local search rankings and will allow you to make a home in the Google local pack.
With the numerous local SEO tools available to local and small businesses, formulating a winning local SEO strategy is no longer difficult or expensive.
Google local search provides a wealth of opportunities to local stores that need the organic search to drive traffic to their businesses.
However, not everyone who has access to these facilities can make the most out of them.
This is because Local SEO is as much research as it is business. Hence, your strategies must expand with your locations, products, and variants to stay ahead of the game.
If you are looking for an SEO company in Brisbane, feel free to contact us for further discussion.