One of the most important features of the internet is that it enables users from all around the world to communicate with one another and connects us on a global scale. But even in today’s globalised world, people still often turn to local businesses. If you want your business to be visible when people are searching for local businesses, you need to optimise your local SEO. Here’s what you need to know to make that happen.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO refers to the application of SEO techniques to localised search terms and keywords in order to draw in as much business as possible. This involves targeting search engines with general SEO techniques, as well as taking advantage of Google’s local business features.
Just as consumers use internet searches to locate online e-commerce stores, they also use them to find local businesses that they can visit in person. While Google isn’t the only search engine out there, they account for a significant majority of all internet searches. Coupled with its proprietary local business features, Google is the most important search engine provider to target as part of any local SEO strategy.
Google Snack Packs
You probably know that Google sometimes adds special features to its SERPs. For example, if you use Google to search for information related to Covid-19, Google will present you with a box linking to authoritative sources like the NHS and CDC. Similarly, if you ask Google a simple question or search for a calculation, the answer will be presented to you on the SERP. These features can enable users to answer their search queries without having to leave the SERP or to preview results before you access them. In addition to these SERP features, Google gives sponsored content a more prominent position on results pages, ensuring that they are clearly visible in searches for relevant terms.
Snack Packs are another example of a SERP feature that Google uses to improve the user experience, and they are something that every local business should familiarise themselves with. When a user searches for a relevant term, Google displays a Snack Pack box that contains listings for the 3 businesses most relevant to the search query. There is at least one study that suggests as many as 33% of clicks generated through these searches go to businesses in the Snack Pack.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore organic search results; there is still great value in placing highly in the regular results listings. A comprehensive local SEO strategy should aim to achieve both objectives simultaneously.
Local Keyword Research
As with any SEO strategy, you need to begin by conducting keyword research. When you are targeting local SEO specifically, the keywords and search queries that you prioritise should reflect your goals. In particular, you want to target what are known as ‘service in location’ queries. These are queries such as ‘coffeeshop in Sheffield’ or ‘plumber in London’ and are the most important queries to target for local SEO.
If your business offers multiple services and or serves multiple locations, then you should make sure that you target each of them. Remember to include plurals and other variations. For example, if you are targeting the search query ‘plumber in London’, make sure that you also include ‘plumbers in London’, ‘plumbing in London’, and other close variations on your main term.
My Business Listing
Google, Apple, and Bing all provide local business listings in search results as appropriate. Of course, your business can’t show up in these listings if you haven’t provided the above businesses with the appropriate information. Setting up your business profile with each of these businesses is time-consuming, but it isn’t difficult.
Google’s My Business should be your priority, although it is worth making sure that your business is listed by as many search providers as possible. When you are creating your business profile with Google, focus on including all of the most essential information and checking that it is accurate.
Many SEO specialists recommend including some keywords in your Google My Business listing, but you should be careful about shoehorning them in unnaturally. Once you have completed your profile and added your business to Google’s database, you can then focus on your SEO.
An SEO specialist with experience of local SEO can then help you to optimise your business listing once it is up. For example, Big Surf Digital is a UK-based SEO agency that knows how to optimise for local searches.
Businesses that neglect their local SEO are doomed to underperform and will struggle to reach their full potential. Local SEO ensures that customers living locally to your business are able to find you more easily and ensures that you aren’t giving traffic and business away to your competitors.