How is local SEO different to traditional SEO?
Traditional SEO focuses on ranking websites whenever a certain keyword is used to direct the search. However local SEO try to rank a website whenever a keyword is used within a certain geographical area.
yourbusiness + city/area
yourservice + city/area
The geographical area can either be based on what was directly entered into the search bar or it can use the geographical location of the searcher themselves.
Any business with a physical location or that services customers within a specific geographical location absolutely needs to be using Local SEO.
It connects your business to people searching for your products and services in your area. Local searches are less competitive than international or national searches as there are less companies vying for the same space.
But how can I rank my website well for local SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is difficult because Google keeps changing the rules it uses to decide where to rank websites. Below you will find a quick summary of Google’s last few changes and how they changed the rules.
- Panda Update: Penalized Bad Content
- Penguin Update: Penalized Bad Links
- Hummingbird Update: Semantic Search – which means Google were trying to understand what the users are looking for rather than just the words in the search bar.
- Pigeon Update: Local Search ( July )
Googles’s Pigeon update is the update that most affected the local search results, which we are discussing. The update brought local search results more in line with traditional website ranking factors.
What changes came with the Pigeon update?
- The geographical search radius shown was reduced.
- Different search radius’s are also applied for different types of searches.
- Favors directory websites. Look for our upcoming post on Barnacle SEO.
- New local map pack – called “snack pack” with only 3 results instead of 7.
So what influences local search rankings and how have they changed?
The local search ranking factors have changed substantially in 2015.
On-Page Signals: ( down to 20.3% ):
1. Quality content is now more important than ever, it is more valuable to have fewer high quality posts rather than lots of average content going up on your website. Once you have quality content then optimise it for your local targets.
Area to optimise:
- City in the title tag
- City in the H1 heading tag
- City in content
- City in image alt text
- City in URL
- City in metadescription
2. Embed Google Map from Google My Business not Google Maps.
3. NAP – Name, Address, Phone Number
4. Use a local phone number
5. Blog regularly
Link Signals ( Up to 20.03% ):
- Quality links are important, not just quantity.
- Local sites with high authority carry a lot of weight.
Citation Signals ( Down to 13.55% ):
Citations are mentions of your website and NAP on other websites and directories around the internet. The listings will usually include you name, address and phone number along with a link to your website.
- Make sure your citations are consistent.
- Get citations your competitors are not paying attention to.
- If you have ever moved or changed phone numbers? Then citation clean up is your number 1 priority.
Google My Business ( Up to 14.72% ):
- Claim your Google My Business (GMB) location.
- If you are having problems use phone support.
- Customers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to buy from a business that has a complete GMB profile and page.
- Optimise your GMB page:
- Use a long description with formatting and links
- Choose the correct categories
- Upload lots of photos
- Use a local phone number
- Use your own profile and cover images.
Review Signals ( Down to 8.39% ):
88% of customers trust online reviews as much as reviews from friends and family. People will decide not to buy from you if you have bad reviews. Definitely do not fake reviews, rather care about your customer and let their reviews shine through.
- Make it easy to leave reviews
- Don’t forget to ask for reviews.
- Set up a review page on your website domain.com/reviews ( Link this to your GMB page )
- Hand out post cards with a link to your reviews page.
- Follow up with emails asking for reviews.
- Google reviews are the most powerful.
- Have at least 10 reviews on Google before targeting 3rd party review sites.
- Most importantly have more reviews than your competitors.
- Reply to all your negative reviews.
Seem like a lot to take in and not sure where to start. The best place to start is with a local SEO audit of your site. Get one for free below.
Scan your website’s local SEO for FREE.
If you have any questions please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information sources for this post include Moz.com and Greg Gillford’s Local SEO – A Seriously Awesome Blueprint.