- What’s it all about?
- Is it the same as SEO?
- Do I really need it?
- Where do I get started?
- And what’s this Google My Business thing?
So what’s Local SEO all about?
Google My Business
Put your company on the Map!
NAP and Citations
Consistent Name, Address, and Phone No. across all profiles
Local Content for your services locations
Optimise your homepage and website so Google can read it
Build Local links to drive customers from other websites to yours
Customer Review Strategies
Enhance your social proof and build your online reputation
What is Local SEO all about?
Local SEO is another element of SEO. The crooks of it are mostly the same but with different nuances to be aware of.
Google Local SEO is the biggest topic within the Google/Search/SEO sphere today, and is having a massive impact on visibility for all types of local businesses.
Ahrefs probably has the most comprehensive Local SEO guide if you want to read in more detail.
The lingo: Often referred to as Local Search, the Local Pack or the 3 Pack.
So how does the Google Algorithm work for Local SEO?
Google uses this simple concept to rank businesses in Local search; Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.
Google’s goal is to provide the most accurate search results to the user in the fastest time possible, and this means giving you the best, most relevant search results which are going to solve your problem.
What exactly are you talking about here?
Local SEO.. we’re talking about the small map on the search results when you search using your mobile device or laptop.
What businesses should care about Local SEO?
Local SEO is extremely important for local businesses. If a user searches for ‘plumber’ or ‘locksmith’, the results they will see on the map are local companies who are in close proximity. So if you work for one of these companies, you want to be optimising for Local SEO.
Some other examples of local businesses: restaurants, painters, plumbers, pest control, counsellors, mechanics etc.
Why does local matter?
Local SEO gives small business a chance to rank.
FACT: For a new company starting out within a competitive industry, its hard to rank on page #1. It can take between 6-12 months to see results.
Larger players with big budgets dominate page 1. They occupy all the top organic spots making it really hard for smaller businesses to get in ear shot. They have bigger budgets and dedicated marketing teams to drive performance.
And we all know, if you’re not on page1 for your desired search term (and really within the top 4), you’re not getting much action.
When you’re a small business without the dedicated focus on SEO, it becomes hard to achieve organic page 1. Then you resort to paid search ads. And depending on how competitive an industry you are in, this can be expensive as hell.
‘personal injury lawyer’, $111 for 1 click…. pretty crazy right!
So, optimizing to appear on the Local Search Map is now the name of the game. This way local businesses gain better visibility, more traffic, and can compete.
Optimizing for local search gives smaller local companies a chance.
Enter, the importance of Google My Business. If you’re not set up with GMB, then you’re missing out BIG! As, you won’t appear on the local search map.
And what’s a SERP?
Before we go any further it’s important know what a SERP is.
“What does SERP stand for?” – A question we get asked a lot, as you can probably imagine. SERP Definition: “SERP” is an acronym for “Search Engine Results Page”, or “Search Engine Result Pages”.
Colloquially the meaning of SERP is really used to describe any set of results that you get as a consumer after “searching” something using a search engine.
Google My Business
A wise man once said.. if Google owns the ecosystem, (Google.com, GoogleMyBusiness, Google Ads), do everything you can to make them happy. If they provide tools within Google My Business, take advantage of them, and they will reward you.
Google is steaming ahead with tons of tools and updates for the Google My Business platform. Upload photos, publish blog posts, add your company URLs and appointment booking URLs, manage your reviews, and message customers.
Once your inside and setup, then you can start optimsing your Google My Business page.
One thing you can do right now is start posting photos.
A Synup study found, “Listings with photos are 2x as likely to be considered reputable and get 35% more clicks.”
Let’s take an example.
Search term: Office space Vancouver.
Company: Central Park Business Centre (website)
While they do not rank on Page 1 for the search term “office space Vancouver”, they appear first in the local pack.
What are the rules of local SEO?
Let’s start with the foundation of what is expected for SEO for any site to rank.
- Site Speed
- Website user signals (time of site, bounce rates)
- On Page SEO structure (Do a website SEO audit)
- Optimised Content (long tail search terms)
- Backlinks (local and relevant)
- Brand Search Queries
- Multi-media content availability
- Social signals
- Customer Reviews
..and so on..
What are the additions needed for local SEO?
Now for Local SEO, in addition to the above, we would take into account the following;
- Google My Business page – (and Optimising your page)
- NAP – (name, address, phone on every page of your website – e.g the footer)
- Citations and Directories (learn more)
- Localised Content – building out location pages for each service area. You may have 1 office in 1 location, but you may serve many municipalities. Build a locations page on your website.
- Local backlinks – target backlinks from other local businesses, and other associations within the local community. Examples of these would be car garages, churches, local charities, local sports clubs. This can be achieved through partnership, joint events, sponsorship, charity donations.
- Reviews – Google wants to show reputable companies in local results. They will aggregate reviews from all review sites, so make sure you’ve got a good balance across Google Reviews, Yelp, Homestars, BBB.org, etc.
Backlinks build credibility and overall Domain Authority. The more links from reputable websites pointing back to yours the better.
Imperial Gem Lab, a Jewelry appraisal company, has a link from Appraisers.org, a leading appraisal association. This quality backlink is adding to the website’s reputation and therefore the domain authority.
How do I start building backlinks?
For an in-depth look at backlinks, jump over to No-Nonsense Local Backlink Guide
Some great ideas for sourcing Local Backlinks
- Local sports teams
- Neighbourhood watch
- Local community events
- Speaking slots at community centres and libraries
- Local podcasts
- Art festivals
- Church Directories
- Rotary Clubs
- Blog about local blogs (secret here is that they love to share)
- Your partners, suppliers & contractors websites
- Local Chamber of commerce
- Local news release – can be anything from an award you won, to a new hire.
- Car dealerships – they run events
- Flyers in dentist or doctors office, community centres,
- Foreigner immigrant directories – (www.vansky.com)
- Local BIA – Business Improvement Association.
- Approach your local BIA to give free seminars
- Facebook groups
- Volunteer at charity events
- Local restaurant, dry cleaners, doctors office
- Find Local business directories – (vanpages.ca)
- Join a meetup group / Host a meetup group
- Partner with other local businesses who are in the same boat as you (Try to find any local business who might have over 500 monthly visitors)
- Organise a community event
- Show up at a chamber breakfast
- Join a social sports team and sponsor your team
- Have an open house at your business premises
Check out this great video from Julian Goldie on how to rank without backlinks
Video by SEO link builder Julian Goldie
What else helps boost local SEO performance?
As with SEO, no-one truly knows exactly how the PageRank algorithm works, there are only guidelines that Google shares.
However, there is a general consensus amongst the marketing and SEO community about what the top 20 most important elements are.
With Local SEO, there are many experts who constantly test and retest in an attempt to crack the code.
Here are some tips from experts in the field who have seen results by carrying out these Local SEO activities.
- Having Google Maps with a location pin on your homepage.
- Linking out to your Google My Business page from your website
- Having multiple review channels – Google will aggregate reviews from each of the individual review sites. Having reviews on Google My business is not enough. Google wants to see strong reviews in Yelp, Homestars, TrustedPros etc.
- Schema markup – adding local business Schema. Schema is the language by which google reads the content and architecture of your site. If you give it clues as to what your site it about, Google doesn’t have to figure it out by itself. E.g., Local business, with these opening hours, in this industry, with these phone numbers.
- Activity on Google My Business – many SEO consultants are reporting traction when posting content on Google My Business. And some are even now offering it as a service, because they are convinced it’s having an impact on performance. Be sure to include this as part of your social media schedule.
- Localised Content – local content related to the areas you are serving. Write a bit about the city and neighbourhoods in relation to the services you offer.
Ads in local search
“I’ve seen ads in the local pack”, can we do that as well?
Yes it’s possible with Google Ads. Navigate to location extensions in your Google Ads account. Learn more
Podcasting for Local SEO
It might not seem that it’s related, but podcast appearances are a very powerful tool in your Local SEO arsenal.
For 1 they provide a solid local backlink.
2. they will typically share across all their social platforms, email database, meaning exposure is pretty damn good.
and 3 podcasts channels will typically try and promote the hell out of their shows to gain listenership. So there are going to give you a great exposure and promotion, for typically 30 minutes of your time
What might result from this is another 4/5 links for their community to your site.
Sounds like a deal?
Watch John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing explain
So how do I track it all?
What tools can I use to monitor my rankings and search performance over time?
There are some great free tools like Google Analytics and Search Console, but then there are other more professional rank trackers, like SEOLium.
Other great ranking tracking tools include Ubbersuggest and Hoth’s Rank Tracker
Optimising your website for Local SEO
Luckily there are some great resources out there about how to build your website for SEO. If you apply some of those actions, you’re bound to make some gains.
When optimsing your website for Local SEO, you should consider things like
- like Optimize URLs And Page Structure
- NAP – name, address, phone number. Should be in your footer.
- Location / City Pages
- Google Maps Embeds
- Linking out to your GBP page (GBP, GMB..)
- Having local content on the website (local FAQs, local news articles etc)
And so much more.
How to get started with Local SEO?
Hubspot has a fantastic step by step guide, so check out their Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO and start implementing.
There are some great tips here from ImpactBND about Local SEO best practises for your website and landing page
For those who need to see a map, check out this great visual roadmap designed by Tidings
Great Local SEO resources
Wordstream 6 Local SEO tests you can run
ImpactBND – how to get found in your service area
ImpactBND – how to optimise landing pages for your service area
Moz – Local SEO