Local SEO is becoming increasingly important for small companies, as more people are starting to use search engines like Google to look for local businesses and events. In fact, Hubspot found that 89% of people make at least one local search on their mobile phone per week.
Additionally, 76% of all local searches ended with a phone call with the searcher contacting the top rated companies in the search results. Going even further, 72% of searchers will visit a business within five miles. It’s hardly surprising that local SEO is all the rage in digital marketing at the moment. But what even is local SEO?
Local SEO Explained
Local SEO is similar to organic SEO, but it includes an additional, geographical component. This means the goal of local SEO isn’t just too rank better in the search engine results, it’s to rank better for local searches in a specific geographic region. The region can be as large as a continent and as small as a city block.
How to perform local SEO
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, local SEO is essentially a geo-specific variant of organic SEO. In other words, to perform local SEO, you must first perform all standard on-page SEO practices, including technical optimization.
Local market research
You must research your local market and find competitive keywords. Tailor your content around specific local terms and phrases such as Houston lawyer or Texas law firm. Create landing pages specific for each location – beware of the duplicate content issue here. You can’t simply switch out the names of cities and recycle the same content. It simply won’t perform as well as unique and original landing page copy.
Clickable phone numbers
As we mentioned earlier, an overwhelming number of searchers decide to call the businesses that appear in the local search results. Make sure your phone numbers are clickable everywhere that they appear.
Then, add a map to your website. Specify the precise location of your business, so that local residents can easily find you, if they decide to make a visit to one of the nearby companies.
User reviews and testimonials
To further increase your likeability, include user reviews and testimonials. Searchers typically check the user reviews to find proof that you’re a legit business. Building up a base of trusted reviews can be time-consuming, especially for new companies.
If you’re looking to build up your reputation, it’s recommended that you kindly ask your clients to leave a review, provided that they were satisfied with the service that they received. Some companies go as far as offering special deals and discounts to their customers. Consider this an investment in your business’ portfolio and don’t hesitate to allocate resources to building reviews.
In traditional SEO, you build links to rank up. In local SEO, you need to build links and citations to rank up and appear in the famed Google snack pack. Citations may even have a larger impact than links, although that is debatable.
A citation represents a snippet that contains your name, address and phone (or NAP) information. Similar to links, the more often your citations appear, the higher you will rank. However, it’s not as simple as that.
Citations must be the same across all websites. Use a single phone number and the same number format. Always spell your name and address correctly.
Any discrepancies in NAP information can lead to duplicate entries, which means Google and other search engines will see your citations as separate businesses and may even rank them separately. This means your business will not rank as highly as it should.
It’s vital that you add this information to the site-wide footer on your website.
After that, you will need to start looking for online directories to submit your website. The best place to start is your local chamber of commerce and yellow pages. Google seems to trust them more than other directories because they require a lot of information from businesses that want to get listed.
Once you submit your business to local chambers and yellow pages, you will need to start researching other useful directories. If you’re having trouble finding relevant directories and websites where you can submit your business, examine the top local citation sources from Whitespark.
This will give you a nice head start, as you begin your citation building campaign.
Keep in mind that building citations is arguably the most important part of local SEO, together with region-specific keywords. It will take a lot of time – plan accordingly.
In the end, you will need to perform some plain old link building. Here, you should focus on building links from local websites and look to include local keywords in your links. This is important because it will bring more benefits than creating links on random, unrelated websites.
A good place to start are local news agencies. Create a press release about your business and share it across social media to gain traction. Start guest posting on blogs that are especially popular in your location.
If your business is located in an area with low competition, you will find it relatively easy to rank up, as long as you follow the instructions in this guide. However, if you happen to live in a competitive area, you may need to run SEM campaigns to increase your visibility and drive traffic that will gradually help you rank up.
How do you focus on local SEO? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.