If you’ve ever seen an advertisement for a Canadian business, you’re probably familiar with the mantra “Go Local!” This reflects an ongoing trend seen around the world: consumers are increasingly interested in supporting their local shops and businesses.
A small business needs a robust local SEO strategy if they hope to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, the practice of ranking highly enough on search engines such as Google so prospective customers can find you.
We’ve had multiple clients approach us about the value of Local SEO, and they all had the same questions. What is Local SEO? How does it differ from organic SEO? Do we need to care about it? How do we do it? This post will answer all of these questions and more, making it your go-to guide for everything about Local SEO.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO helps businesses appeal specifically to prospective customers in their geographic region. It differs from organic SEO in its intent. For instance, a plumber in Montreal is of no use to you if you live in Vancouver. Google knows this, so it displays only plumbers based in Vancouver. They are sorted by local reviews, allowing you to quickly select an ideal contractor to complete the task at hand.
If you instead try to handle the problem yourself and search for a guide to help you do it, Google knows that you don’t especially care about geographic location. You’re looking for the best possible guide, whether it was written by a local plumber or one based in Australia. In this case, Google will use an organic listing to give you the best options to choose from. Google is quite good at differentiating between these types of searches, so you can count on it to deliver what you need when you need it.
Why Does My Company Need Local SEO?
The most straightforward reason is that local consumers are increasingly using the internet to find local businesses. Roughly half of all searches are local in nature, so you’d be insane to ignore the potential market. Organic SEO alone will never rank highly for a local search, as geographic considerations trump everything else. Local SEO allows you to reach a lot more prospective customers.
Local SEO strategies are intended to give you a slot in the “local pack.” The top page of any list of search results is dominated by two sections: the paid ads on top and the local pack beneath them. Most consumers choose which business to patronize based on the local pack listings, so inclusion there keeps you in the running for a lot of revenue.
Local Searches Are More Personalized
Not only does Local SEO get more eyeballs on your business’s offerings, but it also boasts a higher conversion rate than typical advertisements. Local searches are usually indicative of intent to purchase something NOW. Going back to our plumber example, you are highly unlikely to wait a few days before contacting a plumber if your bathroom has flooded. Therefore, prospective customers conducting a local search already intend to part with money. There is no more valuable individual to appeal to drive your conversion rates ever higher.
How Local SEO Algorithms Work
The first local search results were rolled out by Google in 2007. By 2012, the company released the first update that helped users find results that were both relevant to their search terms and close to their general proximity. This initial update still features prominently in local SEO strategies today, so it pays to know what it is looking for.
The first factor Google considers for local searches is NAP information, or your name, address, and phone number across all of your online profiles. If this information is inconsistent, it raises a red flag that your company may not be based where you say it is. Google will direct searchers elsewhere if it is unable to verify your location, so maintaining consistent NAP information is the first step in any Local SEO strategy.
The next thing Google looks for is a listing on local business directories such as Foursquare, Superpages, Yelp, Google My Business, and Yellowpages. Listings on most of these websites are free, so there is no reason to avoid telling Google exactly where you are and what you do through them. Most of them also allow you to “verify” your profile, adding additional legitimacy to it in Google’s eyes.
Reviews are also a key driver of your performance on local searches. You should regularly solicit positive reviews through your social media accounts and search profiles to ensure that search engines and prospective customers alike will get a good first impression when they find your business.
You can also improve your local SEO performance with localized content on your website. Relevance still matters in Local SEO, allowing unique geo-targeted pages, lists of areas served, and accurate maps to increase your appeal.
Finally, you can improve your Local SEO through Schema markup. It involves changing the guts of your website to give search engines additional information on the locality of your company. Your web developer can probably do this for you if they haven’t already.
The Most Important Factors In Local SEO
The above is a comprehensive list of how to improve your Local SEO ranking, but what are the most critical aspects of it? The first and most important of the SEO tips is distance. If a search specifies a location, the search engine will use that location to determine how far away any given business is. If no location is specified, search engines utilize GPS information to estimate how far away something is from them.
The second factor considered is relevance. How well do the services you offer correspond to the content of the search term(s)? The best way to improve your performance here is to provide complete, detailed information about what you do across a multitude of digital platforms. This allows Google to quickly establish what you do, ensuring that you are not forgotten whenever somebody types in a relevant search.
Next up is prominence, or how important you appear to be to Google. Prominence is determined using information gleaned from the number of links, how often your content is updated, and your performance on the directories cited above. The quantity and quality of your reviews also factor into this aspect, so a high number of positive reviews is likely to improve your score. If this sounds a lot like organic SEO to you, that’s because it is! Standard SEO best practices are very applicable here, so any efforts you previously spent on them were not in vain.
Our Top Local SEO Tips And Strategies
We highly recommend that any business lacking a Local SEO presence develop one as soon as possible. Companies are entitled to listings across a plethora of digital directors, so claim them all to boost your visibility. This helps prospective clients locate you just as they are about to complete a transaction, an ideal time to enter their consciousness.
If you want to go above and beyond the above, our premium services are just what you are looking for. We handle Search Engine Optimization and Local SEO alike by using data to dictate the best course of action. Your website will rapidly become your best marketing tool when our trained experts are managing it. Our goals include a consistent local pack presence and strong organic SEO showings for all of our clients using the following tools.
- Ensuring your NAP listings are consistent across the board.
- Claiming and Verifying your listings on free digital directories such as Google My Business. We also remove any duplicate listings that confuse potential customers and reply to all reviews.
- Adding local business schema to your website.
- Assisting in the creation of geo-targeted web page content to improve your Local SEO performance.
- Help you get the reviews you need to impress Google.
- Building local links to improve your credibility.
If these services sound like they could be beneficial for your business, please contact us today to find out more about what we can offer!