About Local SEO
A Small Business Advantage
If your business provides a local service, or you welcome customers to your premises, Local SEO is an opportunity that you shouldn’t miss.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a method of marketing your business to people who are…
- Local to you
- Interested in your product or service
- Actively searching for your product or service online
It’s very effective in getting your business noticed at the exact time people are looking for a service that you provide.
The methods that are used in Local SEO can differ significantly from standard SEO.
Why is Local SEO Important?
Google has told us that a high percentage of searches are made with “local intent”. There is no doubt that many people search for products and services that are local to them, and they use local search phrases to get more focused results.
It’s important that your business is prominent in search results. If someone local to your business searches for the products or services you provide, you need to be found.
Local Intent – An Explanation
Let’s compare two search phrases that are related, for instance “how to fix a leaking tap” & “plumber to fix tap near me”. They both provide two different sets of results. The first searcher was looking for information about how a tap can be fixed, the second was looking for someone close by that will fix a leaking tap. The second showed “local intent”.
This is where Local Search comes in to play. Local search results can vary from generic results significantly.
What are Local Search Results?
If search engines believe you have made a location based search, or a search with local intent, they return results that they believe will provide you with the information you seek. If your search is believed to be of a commercial nature, its highly likely they will return a list of businesses that can help you out.
Search engines provide the information in a variety of ways that are not influenced by standard SEO practices, so this is where Local SEO becomes valuable.
Local Search Results Example
The types of results that Google provides can be confusing for those who want to market their business through search. Local search results muddy the water still further. Let’s try and make it a little clearer.
The Local Pack (AKA 3 Pack)
Here we’ve used a search query “plumber near me”. Part of the page that’s returned shows the “Local Pack” that you can see to the left.
This contains a lot of useful information including the location on a map, whether it has any reviews, as well as the address and phone number. Often opening hours and photos are also shown, so it seems that these plumbers are not getting the optimal benefits from local search.
You’ll notice the red dots on the map, they are secondary results that Google thinks are less important but still relevant to our search.
The “More places” link at the bottom opens up Google Maps which provides more choice.
The information that is displayed here comes from Google My Business, more about that in a minute.
Google also provides standard results on the page, I’ve shown the top 5 to the left. This area is influenced to a greater extent by standard SEO practices, but there are things that can be done to improve your position that are locally focused.
You’ll notice that some results gain a rating and these can be influenced by your website’s content, or external review systems.
If you want your business to appear in standard results for this type of search you will need some content on your website that reinforces your locality.
As you can see, there is only one actual plumbing business shown in standard results. It’s obvious there is room for improvement.
The rest of the results page, often at the top and the bottom, is made up of Ads. These are adverts that are paid for via the Google Ads system and have nothing to do with Local or Standard SEO.
Google My Business (GMB)
GMB plays an important part in Local SEO. It’s a service that allows you to claim a profile and provide accurate information about your business. The more information you can provide, the more likely it is that you’ll appear in relevant searches.
Google My Business Profile
You can populate your profile with a great deal of information that will be useful to searchers. You can include and services you offer, your contact details, a description of you business, your business category, and your opening times. It’s also possible to provide images and even post short messages to promote your company.
There are some things that appear in your profile that you have no control over. Features such as Attributes, Questions & Answers, some photos and Google Reviews are generally provided by the public at large, ideally by people with experience of your business. You also have no control over the “People also searched for” feature.
Because your GMB profile is so powerful, it’s very important to keep it up to date.
If you don’t take control of your GMB profile Google will populate it from other sources it finds around the internet, which is what has happened to the profile we can see here. It is obvious this company has a great deal of scope for improvement.
Additionally, if you don’t take control of your profile, you won’t have the opportunity to respond to reviews about your business that people have left on Google.
Reviews are important to your business. Any method of thanking people for their review, or having the opportunity to respond to a negative review is welcome.
What Else Influences Local Search Results?
Apart from the GMB profile, Google uses any other reputable source of information regarding your business it can find. This might be directory listings on sites like Yell or Thomson Local, or citations in places like TripAdvisor, TrustPilot or across social media. Google isn’t the only search engine of course, Bing also provides a similar service for businesses.
It’s important that you ensure that wherever your business appears online, that the information is correct and consistent.
How to Rank Well in Local Search Results
You’ll have a good idea after reading through the above what’s required to rank well in local search. To recap, results are influenced by:
How close is your business to the person who is searching?
Are your products and services related to the search phrase?
Has your business got a good online reputation?
Local SEO Services
I can help with…
- Localising Website Content
- Claiming and optimising your Google My Business Profile
- Claiming and optimising your Bing Places Profile
- Reviewing/Creating Business Citations
- Managing Reviews