How to Master Local SEO in 6 Easy StepsWritten by InvoiceBerry Team on June 23, 2016
If you run a business that caters primarily to people in your local area, you might be fed up with having to have to rely on word-of-mouth to bring people into your store.
However, if you’re interested in how you can draw customers in using another method – you’re in luck.
That’s because in this post, we’re going to explore how you can improve the odds of your business appearing at top of the local search engine listings.
Mastering this can take your business to the next level, especially when you consider that 50% of mobile users are likely to visit a store, within a day of their local search.
We’ll take a look at the six key steps you need to pay attention to, and how you can overcome some common newbie mistakes.
By the end, you’ll know everything you need to know, to go out and do this as if you’re a pro.
1. Claim Local Listings
The first thing you need to focus on is claiming your local listings.
You need to do this for Google, Bing and Yahoo.
If you want to list your business with Google, head over to https://www.google.com/business/ and click on ‘Get on Google.’
You then need to find your business.
If you can’t find your business, you’ll be asked to enter in some location information.
You’ll then need to provide some verification, of which when done, will result in you having listed your business with Google.
For Bing, go to https://www.bingplaces.com/
Once you click on ‘Get Started,’ you’ll then need to go through the same process as you did for Google.
Lastly for Yahoo, you’ll need to go over to https://www.aabacosmallbusiness.com/local-listings/ and set up an account.
2. Get Reviews
Positive reviews can impact how high your business ranks in search engines. It also affects the perception that people have of your business, and the likelihood of them clicking on your site.
Take a look at the screenshot below for instance.
Wouldn’t your rather click on the business with 115 reviews than the one with 8?
Thankfully, collecting reviews is not all too hard.
You simply need to let people know where reviews can be left.
Be careful that you don’t solicit or incentivise reviews, however, as this can be frowned upon by Google.
Below you’ll see a brief summary, that explains Google’s Point of View on collecting reviews.
You also want don’t want to attract too many reviews in too short a time, as this can also suggest to Google that you’re doing something untoward.
Consider collecting the email addresses of your customers and then emailing them after a purchase, letting them know where they can leave an impartial review.
3. NAP Citations & (quick win) Local Backlinks
Once you’ve taken care of the steps above, you then need to focus on collecting NAP citations and local backlinks.
NAP Citations sounds like something complicated, but it isn’t really. NAP simply stands for Name, Address and Phone number.
Local backlinks are just links to your website, that come from other sites.
If you want to build up your NAP citations, all you have to do is submit your business information to business directories.
Certain websites, such as this one, will tell you the best places to submit your NAP Citations.
You can also visit the Moz citations directory to find places to submit citations too.
It’s worth remembering that there are some paid solutions available, of which will make this task easier.
For instance, Moz also offers a service, where they’ll help do a lot of the NAP citation work for you.
If you want to collect local backlinks, you need to see if there are any local businesses that might consider linking to your website.
Of course, rarely will another website link to yours, just because you ask them too.
There is a way around this, however.
If you’ve used the services of a local business recently, let them know that you’d like to provide a testimonial. Then in your testimonial, provide a link to your website.
Consider providing a video testimonial to improve the odds of someone showcasing the testimonial, on their site.
4. Create Service Specific Pages
A lot of local websites are very ‘thin,’ on content, and this therefore provides you with an opportunity to get ahead in search engine rankings.
The easiest way to improve the content levels on your site, is by providing more detail in terms of what your business does, and who it helps.
Google will reward websites that are more in depth and relevant to a search query, because it leads to a better user experience for the person browsing your site.
As a result, aim to have a page dedicated to each aspect, and service provided by your business.
If you’re struggling to think of what you can write, just imagine that you’re trying to explain your services to a someone who knows nothing about them.
So if you’re a mechanic, you might have a page dedicated to tyre fitting, engine repair, brake repair and so on and so on.
Try and shoot for 500 words per page.
5. Set up a blog
You then need to focus on setting up a blog.
Your blog isn’t a place designed to sell to your ideal customer.
Rather it’s a place to educate and inform them.
As you do so, you’re also presenting yourself as an authority on the said topic in your customer’s eyes, and in the eyes of Google.
If you’re stuck on what you should blog about, here are some great blog post concepts to get you started:
- How to guides
- List style posts – ‘21 ways to do X,’ for example
- Case studies
- Frequently asked questions
- Best practice guides
- Industry statistics
- Latest trends
6. Optimize all pages for local search
As with content, the fact that a lot of local sites are poorly optimized presents you with a massive opportunity too.
Optimizing a site properly, just means that you make it easy for Google to find the information it needs to, when it needs to.
It can also mean that you make your website more secure, and faster loading for those browsing it.
When optimizing a website, you’ll want to do the following –
- Identify a keyword for a page – this can relate to the service the page covers.
- Create a page title and description, using the keyword you have selected.
- Include the keyword, in the page URL.
- Add a H1 heading to the page, and insert your keyword into it.
- Include your keyword into the page’s body of text, so that it makes up around 2-3% of the overall text volume.
- Link to other pages on your website when relevant. So if you’re a mechanic writing about tyre fitting on a page about engines, link to your tyre fitting page when relevant.
Doing all of this manually can be tough, so you might want to use a tool like Yoast SEO, to help you stay on track.
When it comes to speeding your site up, switching over to SSD (Solid State Drive) hosting can make a big difference. This is mainly to do with the fact that SSD hosting provides the latest hard drive technology, meaning your website can be loaded faster
Additionally, you can use the Pagespeed insights tool provided by Google to find out what else you need to do to speed up your site.
If you have a tech assistant you can send these suggestions off, and let them make the adjustments needed. Alternatively you can hire a freelancer.
Note: This tool will also provide you with tips on improving user experience. Something that you also want to pay attention to if you want to improve search engine rankings.
Just because you’re a local business, doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from the wide reaching power of the internet.
In this post, we’ve taken a look at how you can set up your site, so that it will appear in the local search rankings.
We touched on the importance of obtaining reviews and the need to obtain relevant NAP citations too. There was also some discussion on how you can optimize your site.
Take what you’ve learned in this post and put it into action. Should you do so, there’s a good chance that your business will benefit as a result.
Do you have any tips to share? Please let us know in the comments below!
Tony Messer is the co-founder and CEO of UK web hosting company Pickaweb. He is also an author and loves helping small businesses, web designers and developers to achieve great things.