I’ve always been told that only boring people get bored, and that if you’re ever feeling restless or are looking for something to do, then you should take that opportunity to learn something new, and expand your skill set. As much as I have loved rewatching old comedies and getting back into photography, I’ve also used this lockdown as an opportunity to strengthen my knowledge of SEO, and take up Moz Academy’s kind offer of free courses for the month of May (seriously recommend checking them out). To say I’ve learnt a lot is an understatement, and the course that I’ve so far found most enlightening is, ‘’Local SEO Fundamentals’’. Within this extensive 2 hour course, I’ve learnt about local listing eligibility, local SEO ranking factors, the 6 local SEO business strategies and propagation, as well as the importance of reviews and interactions. Therefore, in this blog, I’m going to relay some of the key things I learnt in that training session, to help you boost your knowledge of local SEO too!
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimising your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. It’s an incredibly effective way to market your local business online, as it helps businesses promote their products and services to local customers at the exact time that they are searching for them online. For example, have you ever been wondering what time Sainsbury’s, Tesco or another supermarket of choice was opened until, and been presented with search results that rank them in order of locations closest to you? Of course you have, and this is local SEO in action.
To be eligible for a local business listing, you must:
- Have a physical address
- Meet face-to-face with your customers (e.g. in a shop or at a business).
Local SEO Ranking Factors
There are a multitude of SEO ranking factors that help determine local SEO success, and these include:
- Online Citations: Mentions of the name, address and phone number (NAP) for a local business, that feature on local business directories, websites, applications and social platforms.
- Behavioural Signals: Interactions with your local business listing and website, including click through rate, mobile click to call and social media check ins.
- Google My Business (GMB): Search algorithms use GMB signals like proximity, contact information, categories, and updated content to analyse and decipher where and when your business is shown to people in your area, as well as on Google Maps. Not only is it incredibly important for businesses to set up, claim, and verify their GMB listings but a comprehensive local SEO campaign will also work to optimise the listing for enhanced visibility.
- On-Page Signals: Relevant use of keywords; Mobile-friendliness; NAP.
- Online Reviews: Nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase and reviews can increase conversions by 270%, so it’s important that positive reviews feature on the local listing. Positive online reviews suggest a business that is trustworthy, reliable, and legitimate, as well as a business that is regularly engaged with.
Other local SEO ranking factors include backlink profile, local content and personalisation.
The end goal of local SEO is a brand interaction, and local SEO is all about improving interactions from organic map results and local search intent queries.
Local SEO Interactions – What Counts?
- Clicking on the ‘Website’ button.
- Clicking on the phone number.
- Clicking on the ‘Questions & answers’ section.
- Clicking on the ‘Ask a question’ button.
- Clicking on ‘Write a review’.
For businesses such as hotels, spas and restaurants, further interactions include clicking on buttons such as ‘Book a table’ and ‘Check availability’.
6 Local SEO Business Strategies
There are 6 local business models, and these are:
- Single brick & mortar (e.g. restaurant, hotel, dentist and local retail store).
- Multi-location brick & mortar (e.g. retail chains, healthcare corporations, restaurant franchise and hotel chain).
- Multi-practice (e.g. legal firms with multiple partners).
- Service area – single (e.g. plumber and contractor).
- Service area – multiple (e.g. plumbing business)
- Home-based business (e.g. lifestyle coach).
Brick & mortar businesses have the greatest advantages in a Google-ruled local environment. However, they should not expect to rank in local search results outside of their city of location, even if customers come to them from other cities.
Each type of local SEO strategy is not without its challenges however:
- Multi-practice businesses need to decide whether to build local business listings for each practitioner, and take proximity issues into consideration.
- Service area multiple businesses may rank well for their city or location, but may not rank well for other cities in which they serve.
- Home-based businesses may suffer from a lack of privacy, as well as limited citations and hidden address listings.
Other challenges to local SEO and listings include duplication, conflation and inconsistent or missing data. Duplication, conflation and missing data are known collectively as propagation issues.
What Causes Duplicate Information?
- Third party tools
- Check-in from mobile apps
- Creating a new listing without checking for an existing listing
What Causes Inconsistent Information?
- A change of brand name
- A change of address
- Being acquired by another company
What Causes Data Conflation?
- Crawl errors
- Variation found on another directory or aggregator source
- Poor listing accuracy
It’s very important to identify propagation issues, otherwise the quality and trustworthiness of your local listing reduces considerably. Here at Embryo Digital, we can identify propagation issues during our specialist SEO site audit, which we highly recommend.
Checking Signals For Each Location
If your business has multiple locations, and you’d like to appear for all of them, then it’s important that you check the following:
- Correct name, address and phone number (NAP) appears on each location-specific website page.
- That your ‘Contact’ page in the main navigation features a complete NAP.
- Title tags of core pages feature the name of the city where the business is located.
- That there is geographic-related content on core pages relevant to the business.
- That reviews and testimonials are readily discoverable on your website.
If you have multiple websites, it’s also worth considering whether it may be better to consolidate them into one, and have location-specific website pages instead. This can remove duplicate content issues too.
Well, there you have it! A rundown of the key things I learnt during the ‘’Local SEO Fundamentals’’ course. If you’ve been considering a local SEO strategy, but weren’t sure where to begin, I hope this blog has been at least somewhat helpful! And if you’d like some extra guidance with local SEO – whether that’s the audit, content creation, creating social media posts or a full-fledged SEO strategy, then everyone here at Embryo Digital is only too happy to help. To learn more, please contact us on 0161 327 2635 today.