Local SEO is critical for any business wanting to appear in the search results for local search queries.
In my experience, most small and medium-sized local businesses have a website of some description. What they don’t have is a clue if that website is ranking for their niche keywords. In fact, most businesses only get as far as having a website built. As the site is usually developed on a small budget, little or not thought has been given to how they are going place their website in front of potential customers.
Think about the above statistic. The reason? If your website is not on page one of Google your local business is highly unlikely to receive any significant organic traffic to your website.
Here’s a few stat’s to back up the above.
- Top 10 results account for 96.5% of ALL total traffic
- Position 1 on average receives 32.5% of traffic
- Top 3 results taking 61.5% of total traffic
The trouble is, most small businesses don’t have the budget, or time to put the effort in to get their website to appear on the first page of Google. So is that the end of that? No. Not at all. Google has really gone to town in recent times on delivering accurate local search results, for local search based queries. As a result, if you follow a few simple steps, you can place your business, and website, in front of people searching for your products and services.
Optimising your local online presence will greatly improve your visibility on the local search results.
Local SEO/Search or Social?
For those who wonder why they should concentrate on improving your search engine rankings rather than social media. Google still accounts for nearly 90% of all searches made across all digital platforms. Social media definitely has a place in your online marketing mix. However, Google is still where the vast majority of us make informed decisions about products and services, and still the best platform to send traffic to your website.
What does Local/SEO search look like?
When you make a Google search for product or service in your area, you’ll get results in three ways. You’ll see paid ads, usually right at the very top. Next comes the Google Local/Maps listings. Finally the organic search results, and often a few more paid ads.
The Google Local/Snack/Maps box gives you 3 top results for local businesses that match your search. These results are displayed above the organic results.
The Snack Pack box displays the top 3 local business listings most relevant to the search query. Google populates these results naturally, you can’t place your business there, but you can take measures to give yourself a good chance of being one of the top 3.
The difference between Google suggesting your business or your competition comes down to your local SEO optimisation.
So how do we do influence the Local 3 Pack results?
The Local SEO Checklist: Your Ticket into The Snack Pack results
- Google My Business (GMB)
- Business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)
Let’s look at the steps needed to place in the top three maps listings for the local search phrases you want to appear for.
Google My Business listing
The first step is optimising your Google profile in Google My Business.
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organisations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers to find you and tell them the story of your business. We have a specific post explaining how to claim and optimise your Google My Business listing.
56% of local businesses haven’t claimed a Google My Business listing.
If 56% of businesses haven’t even claimed their GMB listing, well, I doubt they’ve done much else, which is a great opportunity for you!
Encourage customer reviews!
SEO experts Moz published findings on how different factors appear to impact one’s appearance in the Snack/Local 3-pack; they found that review signals (such as review quantity and diversity) were responsible for a large part of an organisation’s presence in the Local Snack pack.
It’s therefore important to set up a system for encouraging reviews – known as a review acquisition strategy. Implementing a process for steadily growing your reviews helps to make it a habit, so it becomes almost second nature to ask customers for their thoughts with each purchase.
A good tip is to add a link in your email footer to all of your review platforms, which acts as a prompt to everyone you deal with to leave you a review.
Get Your NAP Right & Submit your website to local directories.
NAP stands for the business name, address and phone number. You will need to go and register your business with as many local directories as possible. Also, update the contact details throughout your website exactly the same as the NAP details you used when you created your GMB listing.
Look at all of your social media accounts. Make sure all of your information is consistent across all those platforms as well.
This all helps Google triangulate your location and relevance to the user for particular local search queries. The easier you do their job, the better your local SEO ranking.
The above steps are b y no means the only aspects to conquering local SEO, but if you get those right you will be a long way to having a great local search presence.
Local SEO success key points
- Claim your Google My Business listing
- Submit your business/website to local directories/citations
- Obtain varied reviews
Get the basics right
- Mobile friendly website
- Make sure your site is indexable by Google
- An optimised website with keywords relevant to your industry