What is local SEO?
Local search engine optimisation (Seo) is the art of optimising your website and entire Internet presence to rank for local searches on Google.
If you have a local business such as an office, shops, restaurants or similar local service you need to rank for searches from people in your area who are looking for your service.
While it can be difficult to rank for local searches, it is still by far the easiest method of SEO you can use in order to get qualified traffic to your website. This is because while it still uses similar ranking factors to any other search engine optimisation process, the competition is far less as you are only competing with businesses in your local area.
What factors affect local SEO?
It may sound obvious but the first place to start with is your website. It needs to look professional and low quickly. It also needs to be mobile friendly. Google no longer lists websites that are not mobile friendly for general searches made on handheld devices. So if your website load slowly, doesn’t display properly on a mobile phone or have a strong call to action when people do visit your site you may as well go back to the drawing board and read rest of this article once you have a professional, search engine optimised website.
Google My Business
Google my business is one of the main factors you need to optimise for.
If you do not have a Google my business account you can set one up here
Once you have completed the application process Google will send you out a card with a code on it to verify your address. Once you have verified your business you can expect your listing to go live shortly afterwards.
You can make your Google my business profile more prominent by getting reviews from clients. Make sure that your listing includes your address, contact information, opening hours and phone number.
This is the kind of information that people who are searching for local businesses normally look for. If they can find it on your listing they will most likely move on to one of your competitors.
You should include your listing in as many high quality online directories as possible. This will provide Google with multiple reference points showing your business details from Citation websites.
When you are setting up these listings it is vitally important to make sure that your business address is consistent throughout each listing.
If there are any mistakes such as spelling mistakes, address in the wrong order it may damage your rankings so make sure that your address is laid out exactly the same way on each website you submit your site to.
Keywords are very important to your local search engine results and again are easier to rank for.
When you are selecting the keywords that you want to rank for you will need to aim for keywords that include your catchment area.
For example, if you are a solicitor trying to rank for solicitors services in North County Dublin, your only competitors are based in North County Dublin, as opposed to trying to rank for solicitors services (you are now competing against every solicitor in the world) or solicitors Ireland (you are now competing with every solicitor in Ireland).
Once you have your keywords you need to incorporate them into your body text, website headings, alt text wherever appropriate. The same rules regarding keyword stuffing and overuse of keywords applies to local Seo as well as normal search engine optimisation so use them sparingly.
Inbound Links to Your Website
The number of high quality inbound links your website has is without a doubt the most important factor in getting your website on Google’s front-page. This is because Google counts each link to your website as a vote for your website from the website that linked to you.
Of course all links are not created equal, for example if you are selling Mercedes cars a link from the official Mercedes website will count a lot more than a link from Joe’s blog about cool cars.
The good news here is that with local search engine optimisation you do not need a huge amount of links to rank at the top, just more links than your local competitors.
Another huge ranking factor is the way visitors interact with your website. When somebody visits your website from Google they track their interaction with your website.
For example if somebody clicks on your website from Google search results and clicks back almost immediately it sends a signal to Google that your website is not relevant for the search query. If enough visitors do this you can expect your website to drop in the rankings.
On the other hand, if a visitor goes to your landing page and then moves on to read more information on a different page and then goes to the contact page it sends a signal to Google that your website is relevant and should rank higher in the results.
So the signals that Google monitor include:
- Click through Rate (CTR) (the percentage of visitors that click on your link)
- Bounce Rate (the number of visitors that click on your link and immediately return to the search results page)
- Pages per Session (how many pages a visitor views once they have visited your website)
These are the main things to look out for to rank your website for local search. If you follow this advice and do it better than your local competitors you can expect to dominate the Search Engine rankings in your local area