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Go local or go home. Dominate your local market with our Local SEO guide.

What is local SEO?

First and foremost, let’s understand what Local SEO is. IT is essentially the process of optimizing a website to get it to appear in local search results. It is defined as a branch of small business SEO practices. Its main focus is to position companies’ websites for searches based on the intended or current location of the user.

This local SEO guide aims to highlight the below aspects:

  • Why is local SEO important
  • The elements of a Local SEO strategy
  • Hacks for optimizing a site for local search
  • The key Local SEO ranking factors.
  • And tools that are helpful for Local SEO campaign.

This guide has been designed for:

  • SEOs

SEO providers who are looking to start offering services to local businesses can benefit from this guide. This guide consists of all the key steps of a local search optimization process.

  • Marketing managers

Those working with a local business looking to increase its customer base will find this local SEO guide useful. It will be helpful in understanding how to position your company in local search.

  • Local Business Owners

This is the group of people who can benefit from this guide the most. Whether you run a store, restaurant or office, this guide will show you what’s to be done in order to reach your target customer base by positioning your business online properly.

Elements of a local SEO strategy

1)     Local content

A website’s content is the thing that makes it attractive and relevant. Therefore the website should consist of the answers for the inquiries its target audience must be having such as what your brand is, what it does, why you do it and in some cases, how you do it. Your location and contact details should also be included.

2)     Google My Business

This is a platform which allows the management of information that appear in search results, Google and Maps. It has been designed to complement existing websites by providing an online presence and public identity on Google.  It makes it possible to specify the information you prefer to be seen in search results in addition to managing customer reviews and uploading photos and videos.  Thus make sure to set up a Google My Business account with a business profiles.

3)     Customer Reviews

This is highly important for your ranking factor. If there are is a highly quantity of quality reviews regarding your Google My Business site as well as other sites, your ranking in your local area are bound to rise. Hence, as a key aspect of your strategy, you should find ways to generate customer reviews.

4)     Citations

Google uses Citations to determine the location to rank your site. It is quite similar to organic SEO’s backlinks. Citation means the mere mentioning of your business name, phone number or address on the internet. It doesn’t require the inclusion of a live link to the site. All it requires is consistency.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Besides reviews and citations, there are other local raking factors that amount more than 160. They are divided to two sections: positive (factors useful in achieving higher rankings) and negative (factors that deter your local SEO efforts).

  • Positive Local Search Ranking Factors

This includes the keyword in your business title categories specifies for your listing and the proximity to the location of the searcher. Additionally, external location signals such as NAP consistency and website factors such as Keywords in Meta-Titles, presence of NAP on each webpage and web authority are also important ranking factors. There are also review based factors such as their quality, quantity and velocity as well as review diversity. Additionally, social factors such as Twitters followers, Facebook likes and Google+ authority also contribute to your local rankings.

  • Negative Local Search Ranking Factors

These include:

  • Incorrect business category.
  • Mismatch between NAP / Tracking Phone Number on My Business Landing Page.
  • Mismatch between NAP / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Citations.
  • Keyword stuffing in business name.
  • Presence of malware on site.
  • Presence of Multiple My Business Pages with the same Phone Number.
  • Absence of Crawlable NAP on Location Landing Page.
  • Reports of Violations on your My Business page.

How to optimize a Site for Local SEO

Typically, your website allows your audience or potential customers to find out your location and how to contact you, make reservations or an appointment and download your price sheet, menu or product lists.

Hence optimizing your site is essential for a successful SEO strategy. In order to achieve this you should:

  • Include pages that your local audience may search for

Typically your audience would be visiting your site in search of your contact details, services, etc. They are bound to mainly visit your ‘About us’ ‘services’ and ‘Contact us’ pages.  Therefore it is important to have all these pages in your site. To further optimize it, you can create several subpages for each product/service you offer. The same is applicable for location pages: create subpages for all the locations your business is operating in.

  • Optimize the contact page to feature a map as well as directions to your business

As mentioned before, a large amount your potential customer visit your site seeking details about how to reach your premises. The best thing is to provide driving instructions as well as a map. Hence it is ideal to include those in addition to opening times, email, phone number and address

  • Use Schema Markup

This is a code that is put on a website to make it easy for search engines to present more information to your audience. There is a large number of mark-up types from events, restaurants and local business information to location details and reviews.

  • Optimize the website for Mobile devices

Almost 80% internet users today own a smartphone and most of them use it for local searches as well. Hence, it is clever to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. Start by investing in a responsive theme and installing an efficient mobile version of your website.

  • Enhance site loading time

It is no surprise that users end up abandoning sites that take too long to load. Hence, page loading time a major ranking factor. Delays in page loading have proven to conversion rates of websites. Therefore it is essential to optimize your site to load as quickly as possible. There are tools that help to identify what could be increasing your site’s loading time and fix them.

  • Add testimonials and trust marks

Testimonials are a way of confirming your credibility. They are useful in overcoming the natural skepticism of customers as they enable them to connect with others who have experience with your products or services.

On the other hand, a trust mark is sort of an electronic logo, image or badge displayed on a website indicating that the brand/business of represented by the website has proven to be trustworthyIt gives a good level of confidence to potential customers regarding your products/services.

Reviews & ratings

The reviews posted by customers have a major effect on your local SEO results. In fact, such reviews are among the local search ranking factors. They allow users to share both their positive and negative experiences pertaining to your products/services.

  • The ways of soliciting customer reviews include:
  • Including a request for review on your bill/invoice
  • Featuring a link to your review profiles from your website
  • Creating dedicated materials featuring the sites where you want customers to leave reviews
  • Including QR code for reviews, on your feedback material.

Building Citations

Links are needed for your site to get a good ranking in organic search results. When it comes to local SEO, citations (mentions of your brand/business online) are the replacement for such links.

Typically, citations may include name of the company/business individually or along with the contact number.

When it comes to building citations, there are numerous ways. Best places to build citations include:

  • Local directories and business listings –  Places such as your City or Town Council,  local business directories or local Chamber of Commerce feature good business listings to include your company in.
  • Industry directories
  • Industry memberships and Profile pages

Blogging for Local SEO

This is a key method in any SEO strategy. Posting relevant and quality content regularly, increases your online visibility and helps to confirm your expertise and authority in the field.

Some ideas for blog content targeting local SEO:

  • List and review your local competitors
  • Focus on local laws, regulations or ordinances
  • Post about industries related to yours

Monitoring local rankings

This element is typically the final part of a local SEO strategy. In addition to tracking increase in conversions and web traffic, you should make it a point to also monitor your positions in local listings as well as keywords pertaining to your field. Software such as SERP enable you to monitor these rankings.