Local search engine optimization is the technique applied to your store or headquarters page(s) that helps to appear in search engines, commonly pictured below in the “Google Local 3 Pack.”
Local search has many aspects, but the most important thing to understand is that search engines want to ensure that your business has accurate name, address and phone (NAP) data available. If your information is the same on many different sources, then search engines will trust that your business is genuine and reputable. This trust flows into services like Apple and Google Maps so it is very important to have accurate information, especially if your business has moved or changed hours of operation at any point.
While NAP data is the most popular field for local search optimisation, there are several other opportunities. Here are a couple of ways you can ensure that your company still appears as users search your local area.
CREATE LOCALIZED CONTENT
An aspect that other businesses don’t recognize (because they want to appear ‘corporate’) is producing content directly for the local region. If your business is in Overland Park, KS, then you should concentrate on what is going on in your city. Although it is tempting to only create content around universal topics, local content helps establish semantic linking (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_search) for your topic clusters. This is great for your business if you are serving a local area (HVAC/plumbers, hotels, restaurants, etc).
USE GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Google’s free local listing service, Google My Business (https://www.google.com/business/) provides local search information that can only be obtained through having an account with Google (such as Google Local 3 pack clicks for phone calls and directions to your store). The service allows you to send local business information to the search engine (such as photos and posts which can highlight specials or promotions) and to view local search analytics. Bing also has a local listing service called Bing Places for Business (https://www.bingplaces.com/). Don’t forget to setup both search engines’ local search service!
UTILIZE A LOCAL SEARCH LISTING PROVIDER
To establish a strong local search presence, it is important for your business to build a large footprint on the web. This can be accomplished very quickly by investing in local search citations through a citation provider or local search listing agent. Some of our favorites are Moz Local (https://moz.com/products/local) and WhiteSpark (https://whitespark.ca/). Moz Local charges a recurring $99/year fee to actively manage your local listing citations from one platform. You can check your current local search presence with their free tool here (https://moz.com/local/search). Whitespark offers a wide variety of services and tools; however, I want to highlight my personal favorite service of theirs. Citation building (https://whitespark.ca/citation-building-submission-service/) creates a set of citations (both general and contextual to your industry) to your business to assist in inbound links and local NAP data distribution. You can combine Moz and Whitespark services to get the most out of you local search listings.
GATHER AND RESPOND TO REVIEWS
Local business reviews (in Google, Yelp or other platforms) are extremely important. BrightLocal found that 68% of consumers say review sentiment influences the trust they feel in a business. Getting reviews for your business is all about ASKING for reviews.When customers are pleased with your product, they need to be constantly reminded that the real customers who would really enjoy the good PR run your company. When people are pleased with a service they need to be constantly told to say something, but when someone is unhappy the reverse is true. Unfortunately, people can jump on easily for a negative review if they’re disappointed with your operation.
If you’re struggling to obtain reviews, here are some great tips from Moz (https://moz.com/learn/seo/local-reviews):
- Gathering emails at the time of service and sending a request for a review shortly after the time of service
- Have a Review Us page on your website, featuring links to you major review profiles
- Offering print material (receipts, handouts, cards) at the time of service that requests a review
- Asking, personally, for a review at the end of a transaction
- Experiment with more advanced techniques like these ones, these ones and these ones.
- If your business has been neglecting review management and you’re ready to change that, consider doing a full review audit.
- Beware of spammy review management services, but know that some good options do exist. GetFiveStars and Grade.us are examples of paid services which help you mine customer sentiment and encourage reviews in a totally above-board fashion.
ADD STRUCTURED DATA TO YOUR SITE
Structured data are additional details which can be added to your website’s code. Similar to your page’s meta data, structured data provides additional background to the search engines about the information given. It helps search engines understand better the semantic relationships between your content and helps improve how Google shows your knowledge in the search results. Google’s Gary Illyes has stated that “It will help us understand your pages better, and indirectly, it leads to better ranks.” For local pages, the best structured data to add to your page(s) is Website, LocalBusiness, Business Hours, Event, Reviews and potentialAction (if users can make reservations on your site). Here is Google’s resource on local business markup (https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/local-business). If this seems a bit too technical, consider contacting us to help setup Structured Data on your website.
ADD HYPERLOCAL CONTENT TO YOUR LOCAL PAGE(S)
- Owner/manager photo and profile
- Services list and descriptions
- Click-to-call phone number
- Hours of operation
- Address and link to Google Maps directions
- Promo offer and call to action
- Custom description about what makes the location special
- Featured brands
- Frequently asked questions
- Most popular products/services
Create a one-stop shop to help clients get to know your local business. It will effectively increase the conversion rate for the local business sites, as well as search engine rankings. Here is a great example: https://www.gcrtires.com/locations/526/kansas-topeka