Having a solid local SEO strategy is going to become more important than ever in 2020 and I’ll come onto why shortly. But before we get into that, let’s establish exactly what local SEO is.
In a nutshell, local SEO is the act of optimising your local business listing to appear at the top of local searches.
For example, if I was a hairdresser in Canary Wharf, London, I’d want to appear for people searching in that area like Toni & Guy below.
What Types Of Businesses Can Benefit From Local SEO
As the majority of mobile devices these days pull in your location data, Google will automatically show you results based on your location. However, the order of these results depends on the SEO of each company which is why a local SEO strategy can be so important.
In theory any business can benefit from local SEO and listing themselves in local directories as this helps to build online authority and presence. But primarily, local SEO will help brick and mortar businesses who have a location customers can visit.
Think of the kind of things you might search for on Google if you were in a new place.
For example, whenever I’ve been away on business and want to look my best, I often go onto Google and type in “barber shop near me”
Here’s a few examples of local businesses that would benefit from optimising their local SEO:
- Estate Agents
- High Street Shops
- Tourist Attractions
How to Get Started With Local SEO
To get started with Local SEO, the first thing you’ll want to do is sign up to Google My Business and start optimising your profile on there by filling in all the relevant information, uploading pictures etc…
This allows you to customise your listing in search, manage reviews change opening hours, add booking buttons, etc…
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How To Optimise Local Search Listings In Google My Business
Whilst Google My Business is relatively self-explanatory, there’s a few things to check to really ensure you’re getting the most out of your listing:
1) Make sure your business address is correct and consistent across ALL channels.
Because of the way local search works, it’s extremely important that all your listings use the exact same address.
For example, if your Facebook page says you’re on Sesame St but your Google My Business Page says Sesame Street, this can make it difficult for Google to correlate the two.
2) Fill out as much information as possible in your listing
Don’t cut corners with your listing, make sure you have as much detail as possible filled out. This will help users find you under a more specific search criteria.
3) Make sure you’ve got the right category listed for your business.
This is another extremely important part as it helps Google to understand what search terms your business should be listed for. Be sure to review ALL the options and pick one that best relates to your business.
4) Upload at least 3 photographs to your Business Listing.
Google reported that businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to their websites.
Here are a few ideas of pictures you could upload.
- Photos of the team (make sure they’re smiling!)
- Photos of the the reception desk
- Photos of customers being helped
- Photos of your product/service (for example, a restaurant may want to showcase a special dish)
The photography you have for your business can make a BIG impact in the perception of your potential customers. As such, it may be wroth hiring a photographer to get some new pictures taken if you really want to make a positive impact and stand out in search results.
5) Consider adding a 360-degree view or a “virtual tour” of your business.
Virtual Tours can be a great way to showcase your unique style, location or facilities.
Google has a list of trusted 360 photographers which you can access from within your account.
6) Write a detailed introduction/descriptions.
This is where you describe your business to potential customers. You can also include links in your Introduction where relevent.
You’ll also want to make sure your description includes your target keywords. For example, if you’re a hairdresser be sure to include the words haircuts, hair-cutting services or other variations of the primary keyword.
7) Ask for reviews.
When people are presented with a list of choices in local search results, the first thing they’ll usually do is find the one with the highest reviews.
So it goes without saying reviews and reputation management are an extremely important element in your success online.
However, gathering frequent reviews can also help to boost your SEO and push you up in the rankings!
8) Respond to the reviews you already have.
Yes, this applies to both good and bad reviews!
The negative reviews aren’t going to go away and by ignoring it, you’re only showing potential customers that you don’t want to (or know how to) deal with problems.
When bad reviews happen, it’s essential to own up to it and address the reviewers concerns! This can actually in-turn help to build trust with potential customers instead of damaging it
9) Utilise Google My Business posts
The “posts” section in GMB can be used to make announcements, share updates and post about offers or events. This can help to build out your listing and drive more traffic to your business.
Once you’ve gone through these 9 steps; you’ll then want to go through the basic steps of optimising your website and creating a link-building/content marketing strategy.
You can find out more about this in our recent article How To Improve Your SEO In 2020.
Something to also be mindful of in 2020 is that Google has put a huge emphasis on rich snippets and schema markup over the past few years.
This is going to have a big impact on local SEO and how search results are shown.
What Are Rich Snippets & How Will They Effect Local SEO
Rich Snippets (also known as Featured Snippets) are enhanced search results that Google have created to give users a better searching experience. This information still comes from a website but Google is able to more easily turn the data into a Featured Snippet by using something called schema markup on websites.
“Schema” is effectively additional code you put on your website to show search engines like Google what type of content it is.
Establishing the type of content can then help Google display the “rich snippet” in the search results.
For example, going back to the hairdresser; there’s a good chance their customers might be searching for “how much is a haircut in London”
You’ll notice that instead of Google just displaying a regular link, they now display a “rich snippets” of a prices graph
As you’ll see in the screenshot above, this has been pulled from (http://whatprice.co.uk) likely because they have the relevant schema on their website.
The thing you’ll notice about these rich snippets is they absolutely dominate the search results due to their size and position.
Google are likely to utilise rich snippets more and more over the coming years in an attempt to optimise the user experience. They’ve stated several times that they want people to be able to access the EXACT information they need as quickly and easily as possible.
There is a potential downside to this in that a lot of search results now get “zero-clicks” because people are able to get all the information they need just from the snippet itself.
However, this is still HUGE opportunity for local SEO for a couple of reasons.
1) Rich Snippets still allow you to drive a tonne of traffic whilst dominating search results
2) Schema is extremely underutilised by local businesses which means there is massive opportunity for a select few to take a landgrab of local search
3) It’s now easier than ever for local businesses to pull reviews, services and prices through to Google
If you have any questions about local SEO, schema or anything else we’ve covered in this article, feel free to contact us or book your FREE digital marketing review below.
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