If you want to drive footfall into your business and increase local enquiries, sales or conversions, local SEO is an absolute must. Rachel Bloom, senior digital account manager at Liberty discusses the 10 steps you should follow for local SEO success.
1. The Basics
It is absolutely essential that Google can easily understand that you are a local business. It may sound obvious, but having your name, address and phone number clearly displayed on your contact page means that Google can easily understand your location, giving you a chance of ranking in the local results.
For multi-location businesses, it is recommended that you have a separate page for each of your locations. Not only does this make it much easier for Google to read your pages and understand your locations, but it means users can easily find the information they’re looking for. You can also use these landing page URLs in your communications and adverts, sending the user to a highly-targeted landing page.
2. Getting it Right On-site
As well as having the basics in place, making your contact page super friendly is a sure fire way to convert online users into offline visitors (and all the while impressing the search engines with your useful, relevant content).
It’s important to include as much information as possible to make a visit to your business as easy as possible for the user. Be sure to include things like opening hours, parking information, services/products offered at each location, directions, booking information etc.
3. Optimising for Local SEO
There are a few extra tips and tricks that can help you on your way to local SEO success. Embedding the Google Map location into your landing page can help users navigate their way to your location, whilst also reinforcing your relevancy to Google.
Furthermore, now you have an engaging location landing page, you have the opportunity to optimise it for lucrative local keywords. In the same way you would optimise any other landing page, including relevant location keywords can prove to Google that you are worthy of a position in that map pack.
Making use of structured mark-up tools can also have a positive impact on your local results.
4. Google My Business
Google My Business is the user interface behind Google’s map results. Firstly, see if your business listing already exists. If so, assuming it has not already been claimed, you can take ownership of the listing and verify it, giving you full control of its content, as well as visibility of GMB’s Insights data which allows you to see the number of views and clicks your listing is getting.
If your business does not already exist, you will need to create it and verify it. For businesses with over 10 locations, you can make use of Google’s bulk upload process, which allows you to upload your locations via spreadsheet.
5. Optimising your Map Listing
Once you have ownership of your listing, there are a number of things you can do to optimise it for your local keywords. One of the most important parts is the category you choose. Google have worked really hard on improving their categorisation and you can now select a niche category from their list. This, again, helps Google to understand your business.
You can also add a unique description to each listing. Weaving your keywords into this adds to your relevancy.
It is also worth uploading professional imagery to your listing, to make it as engaging as possible in the SERPs.
6. Building Authority
Now that you have a presence on Google Maps, the next stage is to reinforce your listing and prove your importance as a local business through the building of citations. There are a huge number of citation sites out there that act as local aggregators, feeding Google information about your local business.
Start by analysing your current citation profile, ensuring any existing listings are accurate and up to date. Then look to create new citations, paying particular attention to the sites that are most authoritative in your industry.
7. Consistency is Key
Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to local SEO. Ensuring you keep your NAP (name, address and phone number) consistent throughout your website, your map listing and your citation sources, reinforces your local presence. Small things like having “St” instead of “Street” can affect your relevancy, so it’s really important to decide on a NAP at the beginning of the process, and using the same throughout your local campaign.
8. Managing your Reputation
Reviews on your Google Map listing can really help your click through rate and are a contributing ranking factor, as it shows Google that your audience are engaging with you.
Encouraging users to leave reviews, whilst at the same time managing negative reviews, should be a core part of your local SEO management.
9. Keeping Up to Date
Managing your Google My Business account is an ongoing process, especially for those managing multi-location businesses. Google uses citation sources and user feedback to edit information such as your address, opening hours or map marker position in Google Maps. It is your responsibility as a business to approve or disapprove these changes.
Furthermore, adding information such as bank holiday or Christmas opening hours enhances the user experiences and keeping your audience informed reduces your chances of unhappy customers.
10. Monitoring Performance
By monitoring the referral traffic to your location pages and making use of Google My Business’ insights data, you can measure the improvements in your local SEO presence, but also, monitoring the offline uplifts can give you an indication of how well your campaign is performing.