Getting to the front page of Google seems impossibly daunting. Competing with the astronomical SEO spending of multinationals is beyond the reach of most SME, but the benefits of securing visibility on a search engine are hard to overstate.
Thankfully, this a problem Google understands. If a user searches for a business type, Google knows that they don’t just want to find the big spenders. They want local, relevant businesses that can be of use to them. Google takes this into account and personalises each set of search results based on the location of the one that’s searching. Mixed in with their results, there’ll be the best of your local offerings. Chief among them is the ‘local pack’ a selection of 3 local businesses that are shown at the very top of the page, above even the top ranking search result. This is known as Local SEO and getting your business into that unusual position can be more simple than you might think!
Get the SEO basics right
The first step is to ensure that your website is set-up in compliance with best practice. This makes it easy for Google to see what you do; without it, you’ll always struggle to rank. If you feel confident editing your site’s HTML, then there are some great resources to guide you in page architecture best practice this yourself, such as this one by SEO experts Moz. If the sound of “page architecture best practice” has you breaking out in a cold sweat, then this is one area where it’s most definitely worth investing in a one-off edit by an SEO professional.
Master ‘My Business’
The second essential step to good Local SEO, maintaining a great ‘My Business’, Google’s own listings service for businesses. Begin by making sure that all the essentials are right. As obvious as it seems, you’d be surprised at how many businesses make mistakes with their opening hours, address and business category. Then try and ensure that a relevant keyword is featured in your business title. Simply stating your business type like “dry cleaner” or “restaurant” in the title can be deceptively important. An appealing, high-resolution image is a must as businesses with photos enjoy an extra 35% more clicks through to their site. Finish by adding the area that you serve: this is especially important if you’re a business that provides its service to a much wider area than its immediate address.
Reap the rewards of good reviews
We’ve talked before about the value of customer reviews, but they also have a noticeable impact on your Local SEO. Google is trying to provide their users with outstanding local services, so it pays to show off your quality in a way that their automated system can understand. Good reviews boost your chances of being selected for the local pack and are generally just great to have anyway. Be aware that Google draws these reviews from 3rd party services like Yelp too, so having a broad range of ways for customers to rate your services will work in your favour.
Collect reputable local backlinks
Having your site linked to from renowned sites is always a winner in SEO, and this is doubly true when it comes to Local. How you get a link leading back to your site is mostly up to you. Local business directories, for example, have a mutual interest in having your up to date details and a description. Most will be happy to trade that information for a backlink. Be creative; you could sponsor a local charity, work with bloggers in your niche or convince a local journalist why they need to feature your business. The key is to make sure the links come from sites that are both relevant and local.
Mobile has become a massive market; 63% of website visits are now from mobile! This huge usage swing has caused Google to reevaluate their method for ranking sites, to prioritise a good mobile experience. What was once sensible advice will become essential, as poorly optimised mobile sites plummet down the rankings. Those that adapt as the changes roll out, however, employing a great Local SEO plan alongside a fully optimised mobile site, have a rare opportunity to climb the ladder.