What Is Local SEO & Why Is It Vital for Smaller Businesses?
Local SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of optimising a business’ product or services for a search query that is location specific. Google (and other search engines) use a user’s location based on IP address for desktop & geolocation for mobile to determine what results to display to the user. When someone in Swansea performs a local search for a dentist, car wash or locksmith – Google will display local businesses relevant to their location and search.
Local SEO is essential to smaller businesses that operate on a regional, as opposed to a national level. While national SEO focuses more on ranking in searches across the country, local SEO prioritises appearing on SERPs (search engine results page) in a specific location. This strategy relies on marketing your brand, products and services to local leads and customers. Pursuing a local strategy means more website traffic, leads & conversions since the strategy is more relevant to your base of local customers.
Think of this strategy as a way to help you compete more effectively against larger national brands that have unlimited resources to spend. And if you don’t think it’s important this should change your mind – 35% of ALL search traffic is local according to ReviewTrackers 2018 study! And that has only grown since. If you are wanting to explore your local market more, we have you covered – with 5 solid strategies that improve local SEO.
1) Create a Google My Business Account
Optimising your Google listing (business profile) is perhaps the most effective way to rank higher on Google maps whilst also gaining visibility in Google search results. Once you have created a Google My Business account (GMB) associated with your business, you can add the necessary information. All information entered will appear in Google Search local results, the Google Search knowledge panel, and Google Maps.
To optimise your business profile on Google, it is vital that you:
- Create a GMB account and verify the ownership of the business
- Provide accurate and up-to-date information
- Include your businesses logo, hours of operation, payment methods, the product/service you sell & plenty of imagery
- Encourage your customers to review your business online
- Respond sincerely to customer reviews
- Publish posts to your profile about product events, special offers etc.
2) Optimise for Voice Search
Voice search is quickly becoming one of the most used forms of search across smartphones and devices such as The Amazon Alexa, Google’s Nest and more. It will continue to grow rapidly in the coming years, therefore in local SEO it is vital to optimise for how people ask questions when speaking into their devices – as opposed to how they type out their searches.
It is also vital to remember the user’s intent when optimising for voice search. These searches are often performed when the user needs a specific piece of information like converting measurements or asking about the weather. The user expects immediate and useful answers, so if a potential customer uses voice search to ask what your business hours are, the response needs to be quick and useful. Voice search is often used in a hurry, or when hands are full – therefore the results must reflect finding info quickly on a page.
3) Optimise Your Website For Mobile
This may be the most vital strategy for improving local SEO. A 2018 Stone Temple study showed that mobile visits to website visits grew from 57% in 2016 to 63% in 2017, and the overall visits to websites from desktop shrunk from 43% in 2016 to 37% in 2017! This confirms the importance of optimising for mobile users for local (and as a whole) SEO.
We are truly in the mobile first generation, with 3.5 billion smartphone users in the world according to Statista So it is vital that your website is mobile user friendly, not just for local SEO but to ensure an enjoyable user experience (UX) for your customers. You can achieve this by:
- Ensuring your website loads quickly – no more than 3 seconds or you could lose a customer!
- Using bigger fonts that are easy to read on a smaller screen. (Think tablet & mobile screen sizes)
- Using images and text sparingly, conveying only the information you need as you have no extra room for filler on a mobile screen.
- Ensuring intuitive user interfaces (it works the way a user expects it to) to make sure the user experience is seamless.
4) Research Local Keywords
Your keywords used for your business and website should be relevant to users from your area, as this is where you want to target. Google’s own keyword planner lets you filter keyword searches based on location, so you have an idea of popular search terms for Wales or Swansea. This then enables you to create a list of locally relevant keywords to target, and once you have them, they should make appearances on your website’s meta content, the actual copy and URLs.
As well as this, including local hotspots & landmarks in content is a good way of improving local SEO. Phrases such as “steps away from Mumbles Pier, Swansea” may be more of an attractive element for your business, and tip customers to choose you over a local competitor.
5) Take Advantage Of Online Business Directories
Online business directories like Yelp, Yellow pages and more will not only get NAP (Name, Address & Phone Number) correct, but consistent as well which is considered valuable by Google Search. Incorrect information can lead to confusion for customers and a poor user UX. Afterall, the purpose of these directories is to show only local businesses to users and search via industry. It is therefore vital that when users are browsing these directories – yours stands out.
This can be done with simple tasks such as:
- ensuring you have an accurate business name, number & address across all directories
- Making sure you have a working backlink to your website
- And a thorough description of your business and why you stand out.
Why Is It Important to Stay Updated with Local SEO?
SEO changes quite rapidly. You never know when Google will introduce new features on its SERPs for local searches, but you can count on these changes coming. That’s why it’s essential to always stay on top of local SEO. By implementing these 5 actionable items, you will ensure that your business doesn’t just take advantage of lucrative local searches, but also has a solid foundation when new SEO features are introduced.
Local SEO Experts in Swansea
Search4Local specialise in local SEO, and strive to meet customers expectations or improve their digital presence in Swansea. Whether it’s wanting a larger presence on search engines, or more compelling content – we are the agency to deliver.