Ultimate Guide To Local SEO 2020

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Ultimate Guide To Local SEO
Customers are looking for the best goods and services online, they usually search for the things they’re looking for on search engines like google and they’ll most likely click on what they want based on the top ranking pages, the top maps listings and the top products or images displayed on the first page that appears after they’ve clicked search.

This is because they want fast solutions, and to find what they are looking for quickly.

So, to target these individuals, there’s a few things you need to ask yourself.

  1. Does your company appear in the search results at the exact moment local consumers are searching for it?
  2. Will you be selected over all the competing local businesses that sell the same goods and services?

This Local SEO Guide explains everything you need to know about maximising your local search and how to do it. Local search engine optimisation requires a strategic and focused approach that is distinct from the general SEO approach.

Brick-and-mortar companies seeking to win over rivals should ensure that all local signals across Google’s digital search environment are reliable and accurate.

We have built this detailed guide to help local SEO professionals and local businesses who are doing their own SEO to gain a deeper understanding of today’s local search environment.

Read our Guide to Local SEO to learn:

The fundamentals of local search engine optimisation are as follows:

  • Find out what local SEO is
  • Why it’s relevant
  • Who benefits from it
  • And who doesn’t benefit from it
  • A short history of local SEO
  • Google’s evolution of the local algorithm adjustments and what’s in store for the future.
  • The main components of local SEO
  • Find out what the top local search ranking signals are and why local backlinks, localised content, consistent NAP, Google My Company, and reviews are important.
  • The best local SEO tools.
  • Get to know the important local SEO tools and listing management software that you can use.
  • How to use local SEO for large organisations.
  • Social networking tips for local business.
  • The pros & cons of local SEO for larger companies and the necessary activities to keep you going?
  • Why local businesses should engage in social media marketing and how to communicate with virtual customers.

If you want to have a good base for local search engine optimisation, please read our Local SEO Guide below.

What Is Local SEO & Why Is Local Search Important?

what is local seo

Local search engine optimisation is a segment of SEO that focuses solely on improving a website so that it can be found in the local search results.

Local search includes all the search words that scream local, such as:

  • Beauticians near me
  • Supermarkets near me
  • Butchers in [city name]
  • Plumbers in [city name]

Local SEO is basically a strategic approach that focuses on highlighting the local brick and mortar companies’ enhancement activities.

Content, on-page optimisation and link building with a centred, localised purpose are part of these efforts. However, the emphasis shifts when it comes to localising the creation of the links.

Emphasis improvements ensure that all possible local signals across Google’s local search environment are both reliable and accurate. If they aren’t, or you inadvertently provide the same organisation with different details, you can experience circumstances where your local results suggest something different from what was intended.

Why Local Search Is Important

Here are a few statistics that demonstrate how relevant the local search continues to be for businesses:

  • In one day, fifty percent of the people who searched locally on their phone went to a physical store the same day.
  • Thirty-four percent of those who searched a smartphone or a tablet did the same thing.
  • Eighteen percent of local smartphone searches lead to a same-day sale.
  • Sixty per cent of English adults are searching for local services or product information on tablets and smartphones.
  • Fifty percent of mobile phone searchers who search locally are looking for things like a local business address.
  • Seventy-eight percent of local searches on a mobile device end up purchasing offline.
  • Seventy-one per cent of those surveyed said they were looking for the location of a business to verify its existence before visiting
  • 1 in 3 searches on a smartphone is typically made just before the customer arrived at the store.
  • In 2017, 97% of consumers searched for local businesses online, on a search engine, with 12 percent looking for local companies online every and every day.

Who Benefits from Local SEO & Why Do They Benefit?

Law Firms & Lawyers

If you have never done SEO for lawyers, here is a little bit of a secret: one of the greatest benefits of local SEO for these clients is that Google displays a call button directly in the local smartphone search results.

But when a prospective client takes out their phone and searches for a “[type of] lawyer,” they will see tailored results for their specific location.

If done correctly, the local SEO will drive the attorney to the top of the search results for that area, and the dominant call to action will be the “call us” button.

The explanation why this is such a massive advantage is that someone who has been in an accident and has an injury will be on the phone trying to locate lawyers who give free advice.

This one path provides a way to get in front of those customers exactly when they need a lawyer.

Doctors & Medical Practices

When someone is looking for a doctor, it has been my experience that someone is either looking for a doctor nearby or a doctor near me.

Most people don’t want to leave or drive for a few hours to see a doctor. They want a doctor nearby who can treat them on a continuous basis.

This local result gives the doctor’s name upfront, along with an immediate “directions link” that opens in a map application on the user’s phone.

People are more comfortable asking for an appointment when it comes to Doctors, and they are more likely searching for a simple way to find directions to the doctor’s office.

Plumbers

The plumbers are one of the next companies to profit from local SEO.

Think about it: when someone has a plumbing emergency, are they going immediately to the store? No, they’re normally going to Google to look for [a plumber near me].

Google search results offer a super simple way for anyone to call a plumber directly, read feedback, and quickly contact local plumbers if they have an emergency.

Restaurants

These companies profit most from local SEO due to the immediacy of customer feedback and local address information contained on the Search Engine Results Pages ( SERPs).

This immediacy of knowledge brings potential customers to the restaurant industry in the least amount of time.

In addition, it helps people to see, very easily, restaurants that offer the highest quality food and service in the area.

Who Won’t Benefit from Local SEO?

Although we as SEO professionals strive to see others take advantage of local SEO and promote these services to more customers, the reality is that some organisations simply don’t respond well to local SEO endeavours.

Businesses such as online e-commerce shops, local authors, businesses who don’t want to disclose their local information such as their location or local contact number and private online vendors that want to keep their information private such as their address are potentially not viable candidates for local SEO services.

What’re The Most Important Parts of Local SEO?

Local SEO isn’t all that different from organic SEO – when it comes to local SEO – keyword analysis, written content, links, and technical SEO on the actual pages. They’re all the same, just for local pages they are locally focused.

These elements are critical to getting it correct for the website your working on and the industry as a whole for you to be able to outperform the competition in the SERPs.

However, these pages, while optimising for local search, include more of a local emphasis that focuses more on the searches people conduct in the companies immediate vicinity (e.g., local city and town names).

Keyword Research

Keyword research hasn’t changed all that much for local SEO, although some aspects are a little different.

Statistics show that more people have access to devices like tablets, Amazon Echo, and Google Home. These devices lay the foundation for a voice-activated search to be one of the key ways to conduct a local search.

It’s far easier for people to say “find a lawyer near me” or “find a locksmith near me” than to write it. It is, therefore not surprising, that we are seeing an increase in local queries based on conversational voice search.

If your industry is service-oriented, consider keyword variants that involve queries.

All of the above sites have ways to see questions people are looking for, together with their search volume.

This is a great way to reach local-purpose keywords.

Try out keyword variations that have a more conversational tone and focus if your industry is in a local brick-and-mortar, service-related sector, such as a restaurant or a lawyer.

You would be shocked by how much search volume you can get while doing keyword research in this manner.

What Is The Importance of Content With Your Local SEO Efforts?

Material with a local focus is of considerable importance to local SEO efforts.

Depending on the business, content with local focus, depth, breadth, and knowledge tend to do well. However, writing long-form content does not necessarily always produce the best results.

It’s all dependent upon the nature of the results of your question, and whether this content fits the purpose of the user to the best of the query. It doesn’t matter if the result has the highest word count.

Writing local content that is custom to the company/business with all of these aspects will help you create the quality content that Google wants to return for some of its local results.

What are you not supposed to do when it comes to adding content?

Wikipedia content is some of the worst forms of content you could publish.

The reason is that this form of content is usually thinned out, and the value of the analysis into the content is also typically just as thin.

Thin content adds no value to your SEO effort.

Local SEO Links

For local SEO, links are somewhat different from organic SEO.

First, when you acquire links, you must accept the Google Webmaster Guidelines. You don’t want your link acquiring effort to lead to manual action (i.e. penalty/blacklisting) from Google.

If you create links that breach any of the Google Webmaster Guidelines, Google will eventually discover them. The next thing you know, your site could totally disappear the results of an organic search query.

A Briefing On Local SEO Link Categories

There are different categories of links in local SEO which make up a profile of local SEO quality links. Including the following:

  • Citation / NAP sites
  • Local directory websites
  • Local manufacturing sites
  • Local partner pages
  • Central Chamber of Commerce
  • Local news pages
  • Local Facebook groups and social media pages

Citation / NAP Sites

These are websites that you submit the details of your website to in order to improve the reach of its local search.

These citation sites are typically NAP-focused.

What Does NAP Stand For?

NAP stands for:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number

And that is the details you enter for your company that you would like to see on these pages.

The aim of adding your details to these citation sites is to increase your presence on Google Citation / NAP.

Local Directory Website Placements

We would also advise you to concentrate on local directories as a general link category.

Creating these local directories will help you increase the local search link authority on your website.

Industry-Related Local Sites

Think of some local places that could give local link opportunities, including:

  • Newspapers.
  • Colleges, Schools.
  • Universities.
  • Associations of the Government.

These industry-related local sites will usually help to dramatically increase the importance of your local link profile and will usually help to add the credibility and uniqueness that Google values.

Local Partner Websites

These sites are typically local business partners.

Google forbids unnecessary sharing of links, but it’s not a bad thing to engage your business partners locally to make links.

You simply wouldn’t want any unnecessary link exchanges in a manipulation scheme just for page rank. It can be rather difficult to find out what constitutes excessive, but it can be done through proper testing.

What’s the Future of Local SEO?

Latest statistics, data and patterns indicate that local SEO is heading towards a paradigm shift in a substantially improved sense and understanding.

The proliferation of devices, such as smartphones, echo dot and google assistant, signals a step towards the further development of smart devices with more conversational approaches that are equal to or surpass all human comprehension.

It may also be proposed that these devices incorporate a higher-quality, a quicker, and overall improved algorithm to provide the user with a more enhanced voice search performance.

Google still improves and upgrades its algorithms. What would happen to such devices in the future remains to be seen but hopefully they will help improve all search results.

The Best Local Search Ranking Factors You Need to Know About in 2020 & Beyond

the best local seo ranking factors 2020

Optimising these factors will help increase your local rankings, improve your likelihood of getting into Google’s Local Pack, and help your consumers discover you.

Getting a local business to place high on the search results has never been more challenging.

This is for two reasons:

A huge rise in the number of mobile devices (meaning that more people are turning to their smartphones to find businesses near them)

A growing number of companies that understand the advantages of local SEO.

There is also a Google Local Pack, which pushes the first search result of the website below the fold.

The Local Pack is the top list of Google Search Results, which highlights three local search-related businesses.

They will easily find a business close to them and see hours, phone numbers, ratings, and more – all without ever clicking onto the website.

For companies, this means that local SEO has never been more important.

You need more than decent content to be found.

You need local SEO and, preferably, you want to be included in the Google Local Pack.

So, what are the best ways to boost local SEO in its entirety, and how can you increase your chances of being included in Google’s top list?

As with most SEO questions, the answer is not straightforward.

Although I can’t give you a simple answer (hint: there isn’t one), I can outline several of the aspects you should be looking at if you want to rank as a local company.

What Are the Best Local SEO Ranking Signals in 2020?

Below, I’ve divided the most important local SEO ranking signals into two sections:

The Basics: This refers to the most common rating signals. Should you want any chance at all of ranking well for local SEO, these are the factors that need to be tackled.

The Nitty Gritty Local SEO Ranking Signals: details the more in-depth ranking signals. These are the signs that need to be tackled if you’re trying to climb to the very top and kick a rival out of the coveted Local Pack.

The Basic Local SEO Guide Ranking Signals

Do you want to make sure that all your bases are covered by a full local SEO audit? Start right here.

Google My Business

If you haven’t requested your Google My Business profile, do it now. It just takes a couple of minutes, and it’s free.

Here’s where you’re going to claim your Google My Business. This is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to start improving your local SEO.

2. Google My Business Categories

Make sure you have selected the correct categories within your Google My Business account.

Using as few categories as possible for better results and make sure they are as accurate as possible.

For example, don’t use the phrase “takeout restaurant” if you’re a pizza restaurant where most of the customers dine.

3. Photos on Google My Business Page

Take photos of your place, your goods, your employees, and even your customers (with permission, of course).

Photos help give your company reputation and act as a local ranking signal.

4. Bing Places for Business

Google is by far the most talked-about search engine, but Bing also holds a respectable market share (somewhere about 33 percent, depending on who you’re looking for). Make sure you take the time to make a claim for your Business Account on Bing Places.

5. Online Directories & Citations

Ensure you have claimed your business on other popular online directories, too.

There are also plenty of other online directories that you should make sure you claim for your business. These include but certainly not limited to:

Citations do not have the same impact on rankings as they once did, but they are still crucial. (You wouldn’t want to be the only local plumbing company that hasn’t claimed these listings!)

6. Listings on Review Sites

In addition to the online directories mentioned above, there is a range of review sites with listings that you can claim. these include the following:

It seems that reviews are the most valued directly on Google, so don’t forget about google maps reviews either.

7. Number of Positive Reviews

In addition to claiming your listing on the review sites, you want to make sure that most of your reviews are positive.

According to Google, high-quality reviews increase the visibility of your company.

Bear in mind that it goes against Google’s review policy to submit feedback in return for anything or set up review stations. Here you can see all of their evaluation policies.

Similar policies extend to Yelp and other review pages.

8. Reviews With Keywords & Location

The dialect reviewers use matters according to an analysis in the Local SEO Guide.

When reviewers use the city or keywords, they send signals to Google that you are a trustworthy local company.

9. Reviews with Responses

The very same local SEO Guide analysis listed above showed that the amount of review responses you have also contributed to local SEO.

10. Percentage of Negative Reviews Not Responded To

In a double whammy, the number of positive reviews not responded to counts, but negative reviews that have not been responded to also count.

These last few signals make it clear that you need to have a strategy in place to follow up on all online reviews, but especially on Google.

11. Create a Facebook Business Page

Countless people use Facebook as a search engine; that’s why it has its own number on the list.

At the very least, make sure you create a business page and update it with your website, business hours and description.

Social signals may have a small impact, but they do have an impact on local SEO.

12. Social Listings

claim other media listings on popular web networks ( e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram). Do this even though you’re not going to be super involved on those pages.

Pin a tweet or post encouraging users to call/visit your website / follow you on whatever social media you’re most active on.

People expect business to respond quickly on social media, so be sure to leave a note or other contact details if you’re not managing that platform.

13. Consistent NAP

Be sure your name, address, and phone number are consistent with all of the above pages, including review sites, maps, and social media.

Above all, Google wants to make sure that they provide the correct info.

Making sure that your business name, address, and phone number are exactly the same on all of your online listing makes it easier for consumers to connect to your company as it appears online.

Don’t have your company name as Rowe’s Famous Burger Joint in one place and Rowe’s Burger Joint LLC in another.

14. Mobile Responsiveness

Google’s first-ever mobile indexing has now been rolled out. This means that Google first looks at your web site, not your desktop site.

You’re supposed to be on top of this already, but if you’re not, it’s time. The Google Mobile Test will get you started.

The Nitty Gritty Local SEO Ranking Signals

If you’ve got all the basics covered, it’s time to look at some of the more in-depth local rating signals.

Making changes in these areas will take you past the “good enough” stage of the local SEO, which will give you a real good shot at making the local pack.

Bear in mind that most of these are not easy fixes, they can also entail a major change in strategy.

15. Structured Data Markup

There are many ways in which structured data markups can be used for local SEO, including:

  • Multiple departments.
  • Hours.
  • Address.
  • Menu.
  • Website.
  • Phone number.

This is highly recommended by Google. You may add a markup using the Google Guide or the Schema Tool.

It is also worth noting that there is some lack of clarification as to whether using GPS coordinates in structured data is beneficial.

16. Click-Through Rates from Search Results

It turns out if you’re doing well in SEO, you’re going to do better in Local SEO. Who’d have thought it?

You should concentrate on making sure all of your meta titles and description make sense so that visitors can find what they expect when they arrive at your website.

17. Localised Content

Make sure that you keep publishing content where you can organically include your keywords and location.

For example, write about local activities, share efforts to raise funds for local charities, etc. Well, whatever makes sense to your company.

18. On-page Location + Keyword Optimization

Don’t just optimise for “air conditioning repairs,” for example. Optimise for “Chicago Air Conditioning repairs”.

19. Title + Meta Description

When feasible, use your keywords and location in your title and meta descriptions.

This one coincides with the signal above, but it is important enough to mention it separately.

20. High-Quality Inbound Links

No great shock here, links from Google Trusted sites are good for SEO.

In truth, a solid link profile is good for local SEO all round.

21. Diversity of Inbound Links

another no-brainer.

You want a set of inbound links that are appropriate, authoritative and that have been gained organically.

These next few signals are ranked among the top local organic factors in Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors survey.

22. Inbound Links from Local Relevant Sites

Links from local news outlets, community blogs, and so on show that your neighbours trust your website.

23. Inbound Links Using Local + Keyword in Anchor Text

A wide variety of inbound links from well-optimised sites is fine, but the Holy Grail is an inbound link from a high-level site that uses both your city or community and the main keyword.

24. Proximity to the Searcher

Although you can’t optimise for a physical location, it’s a strong ranking signal, which is why it’s important to tell your Google my business and to have a consistent NAP.

25. Domain Authority of Your Website

As per Moz Local Search Ranking Factor, the domain authority (not to be confused with the same name Moz metric) ranked 6th in the top 50 Local Pack Finder Factors.

Increasing your domain authority isn’t a fast or easy operation, but it can pay off pretty well.

So What do all these local SEO features mean for your local SEO strategy? Well, the most important thing you can do to improve your local SEO rating is to assert and optimise your Google My Business account. Several ranking signals are linked not only to making a GMB listing, but to optimising it by selecting the correct categories, adding photos, getting feedback, reacting to feedback, and so on.

The second most important thing you can do achieve great local SEO results is to concentrate on a comprehensive SEO strategy for your site. Create a solid link profile, build valuable content with both local and keywords, and make sure that your meta descriptions are optimised.

Local SEO is a competitive environment, but there are still plenty of areas for growth for most companies.

The above list will help you boost your local SEO ranking, increase your likelihood of being included in the Google Local Pack and, most crucially, help your customers find you.

What Are Local Links & How Can You Find More Local Link Opportunities?

what are local links and how can you find them

Do you have trouble getting links to your local business? This article will help you find out how to get your local link building campaign underway.

Inbound links play a major role in the ranking of a website, whether it is a local service or a brick-and-mortar company.

But how are you going to find links for these kinds of businesses?

This article will help you find out how to get your local link building campaign underway.

What Is a Local Link?

The typical thinking process when we think about linking is that we want high-level domains to connect back to our websites, and we want as many of them as possible.

However, this way of thinking might not always be applicable to small or medium-sized local businesses.

If you’re tasked with building links to a local brick-and-mortar shop, it’s important to consider what you’re looking for when you create those links.

Local links are made with the goal of making the website important to its locality.

Local SEO professionals concentrate on:

  • Correcting NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information.
  • Building up lists of citations.
  • Creating local content.
  • Building links.

These tasks are all carried out in order to establish a presence within the local SERPs for more local terms in the local pack with Google My Business and organic search results for geo-targeted keywords.

The following criteria should therefore be used for a local link:

Link back to your website.

Provide the opportunity to speak with your local audience.

Those who influence your particular local market may not have a highly authoritative site. They themselves may be small.

But, because they have an influence on your small market, obtaining a link from them might be more beneficial than Forbes, Huffington Post, or The New York Times.

While it’s always great to get this kind of link, We need to consider the constraints local companies face – and, more often than not, the lack of budget to produce the kind of content that these big publishers are looking for.

It’s great to reach for the stars, but we need to consider the constraints that we’re dealing with.

A local business can only do business within the boundaries of the local space in which it operates, so doing business in San Francisco and having traffic from New York could prove to be useless to the business in the end.

Start with Citations

Citation creation, locating general directories, and correcting the details you currently have will help you get started.

Citations are good because they provide the opportunity to position your NAP details somewhere and allow you to link to some pretty respectable websites that are not spam and may even be viewed by some random searches if the question is low enough in competition.

The concept behind this method is to get into the habit of getting the name of the company out there in as many places as possible.

The resources that allow you to tackle the citation building include:

  • Yext
  • Moz Local

These are both useful resources that I have used, and they can also be excellent auditing tools.

Where Do The Opportunities Lie? – Anywhere You Can Find Them!

There is a general feeling that local link building may not be useful, may not be natural, or (in some cases) may seem impossible.

Which is why those who do local SEO need to be more innovative than those who do SEO for a major brand as the opportunities for Links are far more minimal. You’re battling to rank for hyper-local keywords, which appear not to have a lot of search frequency, and you’re negotiating with low-level websites to get started.

“Who would link back to a bagel shop?”

Here are some of the types of local links you could create for a bagel shop to address the quote above.

  • Local newspapers or media outlets that have fresh food features.
  • Local bloggers who have a modest following but the whole following is in your locality.
  • Local event pages that create material on what to do in a community – tourist attractions, downtown directories, chamber of commerce.
  • Many local companies who also have websites and are open to getting a local affiliate page or a companies we like page.
  • Local charities that could be funded or volunteered by the company owner to have a featured volunteer page.

The possibilities are endless.

If you do SEO for a local space, it’s important to understand where the boundaries of that local space are and to make that space your new world.

Anything you do to support this company happens within the limits of the range you set out.

Understanding your limitations will encourage you to think more creatively and efficiently about seeking opportunities in this area, which will eventually lead to the most benefits for the type of business website you’re working for.

Open A Linking Tool & Source Prospects

I’ve been using Ahrefs for anything related to links for as long as I can remember. Any good SEO tool, however, should work for you.

To start building your target list, you first need to understand where the company is within its space and how difficult it would be to rank going forward.

Begin with the terms that you believe will bring the most value to your business. Then see what companies are currently ranking on the first page of the SERPs.

Gather a list of websites and see what links have been acquired in the past.

Consider what the shared relations are between them, and what the separate relations are that they have gained. These are direct rivals, meaning that most of the connections are related to the particular company you are working on.

Compare the lists you gathered with the link profile of the site you are currently working on and see where you are currently lacking.

Remove all duplicate links that your website has in common with the competition, and then pursue the links that you don’t have, but maybe your competitor does.

Do this link building as well as you can. If you are in a position to acquire all the links that the competition has acquired, you will be able to stand on a more level playing field as far as the links are concerned.

How to Find More Link Opportunities

If you’re caught up with your presumed space competition in terms of links, then the next logical step for you would be to get more links than your rival.

Explore other local companies and where the press has been purchased. Doing this will help you gain some insight into how other companies that are not in your industry have developed links in the same local space.

Looking at successful businesses in general within our local region, we will begin to find some low-hanging fruits of opportunity to create links, find local authors, local blogs and websites in general that want (or have supported) local businesses in the past.

The approach I used is to identify companies with a lot of momentum and put their website through a link analysis tool.

One way to find a high traction company is through review platforms like Yelp.

Go to Yelp and check your city and filter the most-reviewed company.

These companies may not be relevant to your value proposition at all, but they provide a wealth of information on advertising opportunities for your website in the local area.

San Francisco’s top-reviewed company was for the Tartine Bakery. If you’re placing this site in a backlink review tool, you may be shocked by the results you’ve found.

According to Ahrefs, the website has more than 3,000 links. I’m more than willing to bet that not all of these are food-related.

So, if you’re working with a small takeaway that deals with fast food, you’ve got a gold mine of possible links that are local to your area, even if you’re not supplying the same kind of food.

Do this for companies that have earned the most feedback and businesses across a range of different verticals to get a variety of possible links.

When you go through these lists, you will find links that are totally unrelated or unobtainable. But that’s all right.

The whole point of this is to locate the few gems in the rough and to make links with others in the local area that have some leverage as much as possible.

Which Types of Content Will Help Local SEO

Which Types of Content Will Help Local SEO

Content development is an efficient way to rank for less competitive, local keywords. Here are some examples of the type of content that you can use for your local SEO.

The ranking for local SEO used to be very straightforward. You would add your NAP to the footer, create a couple of directory links, and voila! You’re on your way to the local 7-pack.

Somewhere along the way, the 7-pack was reduced to 3-pack, and the local directory links are no longer adequate.

You need content to step up the ranks in the local SEO.

Say you’re the proud owner of Sprinkles Doughnuts, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to compete with major chains for keywords like “best doughnuts.” But you could be in a position to rank for the phrase “Best Doughnuts in Norfolk.”

Content is a super-efficient way to rank less competitive, local keywords.

But unless your local business has hit Meghan and Harry status, you’re going to want to keep reading.

9 Examples of Content for Local SEO

Do I really need to build content for each of my locations?

I still find myself answering this post-content audit query because my clients fear the whole content development scenario.

And, secretly, I kind of fear it, too — watching the mind-blowing instant (watch this GIF for full effect) when my clients realise that the content they’ve worked so hard to create isn’t cutting it.

However, not producing content for your locations is risky. No one will come to your party without an invitation.

The answer: be a local content machine.

It’s not enough to be different.

You’ve got to be local.

Your local content needs to be important and useful to you. — all pieces of content need a purpose to be on your website.

Here are a few different types of content that will support your local SEO all the way to the top of the search results.

1. Village/Town & City Specific Landing Pages

Can you rank for local keyword words without a website location page?

Although you can succeed after a few sleepless nights, it’s much easier to rank in the local SERPs if you have a website location page.

If you are a local multi-location company, take a note from Ambient Edge, a multi-location air conditioning repair company. They’ve built a separate page for each location.

Since local SEO is nothing to mess with, I would suggest sticking to a strategy like Ambient Edge.

If you are a smaller local company, creating separate websites for each location is daunting and can dilute your authority.

Keep this easy with one webpage per location.

2. State or Regional Landing Page

It’s hard to get a customer excited about making more content. But if you compete in local SEO space, the content could make or break your move from 2nd or 3rd page to 1st Page.

If you’re creating multiple city-specific location pages, it might sound like a daunting task, but start with the city or area of your choice.

3. FAQ Pages

The FAQ pages are so close to being my one-stop-shop for all the local SEO content.

With voice search changing the way people browse, the industry sees a change in how people access the content.

Think about it: Almost a third of mobile searches are connected to locations.

And, according to BrightLocal, over the last 12 months, 58 per cent of consumers have used voice search to find local business information.

Ok, let me prove it to you.

Search for Google [what vaccines does my dog need to take? ].

You’ll see that Pet Hotel Hadley has updated its FAQ pages and is now a featured snippet.

This featured snippet is now the second results when I ask Siri the same query.

That’s why FAQ pages can help to improve your local SEO.

4. Specials

Specials and discounts are the creme de la crème for local business owners.

Everyone is a serious couponer (guilty) in today’s smart shopper era.

Offer your customers what they want by personalising their deals to local residents.

Hotels are well known for this.

Take the St. Petersburg, Florida, Trade Winds Hotel. They sell a 13 percent discount to residents of Florida.

As well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium has a “locals only” section on its website with deals and special occasions.

By offering a location-specific discount, you are appealing to your local audience. You make them feel unique.

This is an intense race to the top of the local SERPs. There’s no discount too small.

5. Host Local Events

Every Friday, just like clockwork, I search through my Facebook events to see what’s going on this weekend. There’s always a party, a free yoga session, or a loving dog wash going on.

As a marketer, I enjoy seeing local businesses use Facebook events to raise awareness. But what I don’t love is not to see the event on their website.

If you’re holding a local event without advertising it on your website, you’re missing out on a big local SEO.

6. Partner with Local Event Organisers

If the idea of hosting or attending a local event is too unnerving for you – like the first time you’ve tried ordering the McDonald’s dollar menu? Consider partnering with a local event.

If you don’t have a cash flow to endorse local events, talk about local events.

7. Blog Content

Blog content is where magic is going to happen. If you’re a local company looking to compete in local SERPs with an active blog, it’s going to help improve rankings.

8. ‘Best of’ Guides

When it comes to making the “best of” list, I would like to quote rapper T.I., “You can have whatever you like.”

With the “best of” list, you want to create a guide to give your readers whatever they want about the subject.

9. Press Pages

The press pages are like Wendy’s fast food. You know it’s there, but you rarely pay attention to it.

When I came across the press page of WeWork, I couldn’t help but marvel at the photos of each place they had.

Start Creating Local Content Now

Once upon a time, small business owners had a tunnel vision of NAP and directory links when it came to local SEO. But what about the content?

For years, too many small business owners have developed an inherent fear of producing local content. But times are changing, however.

Content is important if you want people to find your local business online and visit your website.

Search engines have significantly raised the ante on all local things.

Yeah, you still want to have the correct NAP and create a directory link. But you want to build hyperlocal content if you want to increase sales and your business.

Why NAP & User Experience Are Crucial For Local SEO

what does NAP stand for - local SEO

Name, Address and Phone (NAP) data accuracy and user experience are key components for local searching, here’s why:

Although it’s no secret that smartphone use exceeded desktop use in 2015, another aspect that often goes unnoticed is a shift in user behaviour in terms of the number of devices they use.

According to Google’s App Barometer, the number of consumers who are only using a single device to complete a trip has decreased from 32 per cent in 2012 to just 14 per cent in 2017.

This presents new challenges for local businesses, as users switch their search and browsing experiences from one device to another, as parts of the Local Pack and local algorithms are weighted differently, namely the proximity of businesses to the position of users.

As the guide has already mentioned, NAP consistency is an important part of Google’s local and local pack algorithms, and creating quotes with a consistent NAP to your Google My Business list and listed online addresses will affect your local rankings.

Nevertheless, having a consistent NAP is also essential to the user’s path, as online directories and social bookmarking sites are not only used by Google but are also used by humans.

When the Users Journey Starts

A lot of people consider the user’s journey and the brand experience to begin when the user makes the first query or spends a lot of time on the company’s website.

The journey, however, begins much sooner.

Google data shows that there are five interactions that, more often than not, lead to a purchase / positive site action:

  • Used a search engine.
  • Visited a store or other location.
  • Visited a retailer website or app.
  • Visited another website or app.
  • Used a map.

The user journey begins when they first see your company either in the search results list, in the Local Pack group, on a google map, or in your brick-and-mortar store.

Local search is an essential part of this journey and is even more important given that up to 78% of local mobile searches result in a 24-hour visit to an offline store.

This is where a consistent NAP becomes vital because customers need consistent information to make progress on their journey. We often assume that users will find our local businesses and brands through our website, guest posts and our Google My Business listings. Users, however, can find our brand through a range of internet portals, such as the directories where we create our citations and business listings.

Influence Your User Journey at a Search Stage

As users conduct their first searches, this is the first chance to make an impact and be part of the user’s journey.

If you appear prominently in the Local Pack or inside the SERPs, you want your customers to click on content that provides value and satisfies their user intention.

Lazy Local Pages Help Nobody

In certain instances, when the website “localises” it means the production of local content and local sites. They are implemented with varying degrees of commitment, consideration, and accuracy, but fundamentally, lazy local pages don’t support anyone.

In essence, a lazy local page is a doorway page, a thin page that gives no benefit to the user and has the sole purpose of trying to rank local search words.

Google doesn’t like doorway pages (because they offer bad user experience) and rolled out the doorway page “ranking change” algorithm in 2015.

Google’s Possum update in 2016 also went some way to addressing low quality and spam, but this is a technique that has continued and is still effective in a lot of verticals (until something better comes along).

Google’s official support documentation defines the doorsways as:

Sites or pages that have been developed to rank highly for particular search queries. They’re bad for users because they can lead to several similar pages in the results of the user quest, where each result ends up bringing the user to exactly the same destination. They could also lead users to intermediate pages which are not as useful as the final destination.

Even if you rewrite all the material on these pages to make sure they’re not duplicated, but they all hold the very same message with a different target area, they don’t give any value at all.

Google will see through this, and users may be left disappointed.

Creating Good Local Value Pages

To be sure, it is much simpler for businesses that have actual brick-and-mortar stores in areas that they want to advertise to create high-value local pages.

But this does not mean that it can not be achieved for businesses providing intangible goods or services with a local focus.

The Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines describe the content in two parts:

  1. The main content.
  2. The supporting content.

This is the way you’re going to look at the local search.

When anyone in London is searching for [plumbers in London], Google has to break down the question into both main and supporting parts, as well as look for meaning.

“Plumbers” the key part of the question is that the consumer is searching for a plumber/plumbing service.

“In London” means that the customer needs the plumber to be local.

From this, Google can retrieve appropriate weighting and optimisation results for the local purpose of the query.

The key contents of your website should reflect the products/services that you provide, with content-enhancing elements that add value and topical relevance to the venue.

This can be achieved in a non-commercial way through a blog, as a guide or as a resource.

NAP Consistency

As stated earlier, the quality of the NAP is critical as the directory listings, and quotations that we create are not only used by search engines. Potential consumers would also find them.

Inconsistent or incorrect NAPs can lead to irritated users and potentially missed leads.

Common Reasons for Inconsistent NAP

In my experience, inconsistent NAP can be caused by a variety of human errors and business adjustments, including:

Changing business address and not updating previously created citations, directory lists, etc.

Getting a separate store address to the registered address of the organisation and using them online.

Generate various phone numbers for identification monitoring purposes.

Not only can all of the above create problems for your local SEO, but they can also create a variety of user interface issues – and bad user experience contributes to a loss of revenue and harm to your brand.

Customer experience also stretches beyond the Local Pack group and SERPs to your site, how the local SEO journey is managed and whether it can satisfy all local purposes.

It is vital to be able to track and accurately report on the success of marketing activities.

However, there is a case for “over-reporting” and “over-assignment” in some cases, especially when it comes to local SEO.

Google Local Pack: User Experience & Attribution

Google’s Local Pack uses a different algorithm to the conventional organic search results, which is highly influenced by the position of the user when searching.

Google My Company has an issue with attribution, and more often than not more clicks from GMB listings are listed as direct traffic rather than organic traffic in Google Analytics.

The way around this is to use the following parameter:

?utm_source=GMBlisting&utm_medium=organic

The parameter will not trigger NAP/citation accuracy problems, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Getting a consistent NAP means that you are more likely to appear in the Local Pack, and if you’re in the Local Pack reports, you’re likely to get a high number of clicks on the results pages.

If you are likely to get a lot of clicks, it means that you’re going to have a lot of users wanting fast loading pages and reputable information to satisfy their search intentions.

Directory Attribution

This is a more common issue that I’ve come across on the working agency side, as well as one that I’ve been asked to introduce when working on the client-side.

In order to monitor the marketing activities, I have known organisations to create unique phone numbers for every directory they submit to.

Pros: you can calculate ROI fairly precisely on your marketing activities.

The cons: You’ll end up with a lot of written citations for an inconsistent NAP.

Also, a lot of directories like to produce Google My Company listings based on the data you insert as a kind of “add service.”

This results in multiple Google My Business listings being created for individual locations, with different phone numbers and often different map pin locations.

This is bad for user experience, as they face multiple options for one position with only one being right. Like this example for an online blinds retailer:

It’s the same business in the same retail park, but it has two different phone numbers and two different closing hours.

If the consumer sees both of these, it’s confusing and means that they need to take extra, unnecessary action to interact with your company.

Avoiding Spam Marketers

Another common explanation why I’ve seen businesses use false numbers on directory lists (when creating them for SEO purposes) is to stop spam phone calls which follow.

While using an incorrect number helps to prevent spam calls from reaching you, it also prevents genuine customers.

We sometimes forget that a lot of things that we do “for SEO” can also affect users and their experience with your business.

Getting Local Right

Local searches offer higher than average conversion rates, as consumers seeking a local product or service are likely to try and complete their purchases.

That being said, many local businesses also do not take full advantage of the opportunities they have and are committed to success and customer satisfaction.

Where & How to Get the Right Reviews for Your Business

where to get reviews for your business

Here are some of the best online review sites you can use, and tips that will help you get the right feedback for your local business.

Online reviews play a significant role in the journey of the modern customer.

Earning a review is a required part of any modern marketing campaign.

But where are you going to get started if you want to take control and make the most of the consumer’s voice?

Let’s talk about the top platforms for review, and the best way to utilize them.

1. Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB), the most recent iteration of what was formerly known as Google Places and Google Local, are the starting point for any online marketing review strategy.

Ratings here will decide your star rating in the results of Google Maps, as well as in the Google Local Pack, a compilation of map results that will appear when users conduct a local search.

Reviews are the most significant factor in deciding where local businesses appear in the Google search results, and Google My Business is the company’s most reliable source for these reviews.

And if you think it doesn’t impact you because your company is online instead of local, you’re wrong.

In one study involving 30,000 websites, investing in feedback boosted organic traffic from 5,500 to 8,000 in nine months.

But understanding that your Google profile wants feedback and actually earning them is two different things.

It should go without saying that an outstanding product and excellent customer service are a must.

A strong focus on customer service should be emphasized, as poor customer service is more likely to contribute to a complaint than good customer feedback.

In addition to thoroughly testing your customer service and creating the best product you can, there are additional measures you can take to get the most out of Google My Business.

Let’s start with the obvious: you can set up a Google My Business profile instead of making it sit unclaimed:

Go to https:/www.google.com/business/

Pick or create a Google account that you want to be associated with your company.

Enter your Name and address to search your for your company.

Click on the correct location.

Click “Mail me my code.” Google needs to verify that you own the physical location of your company. This is the best way to do it.

Add high-quality images to your profile, with a focus on what aspects of your company and your goods can be most effectively conveyed via visual media.

Now you’re going to need to persuade your customers to leave you with a review, and the most successful way to do that is to provide them with a direct link to where they can review your business. Here’s how to:

  • Go to the PlaceID Search Tool.
  • Put your business name in the field “Enter a location.”
  • Click the Name of your business. If you have trouble, enter your address.
  • Your Place ID is on the map, under your business name and above your venue.
  • Copy your Position ID to “< place id >” in this URL: https:/search.google.com/local/writereview? Placid=<place id >.
  • Visit the link, and you should be taken to a page where a Google review form will appear.

This is a link that you will need to share with customers at common interaction points to enable them to leave a review, particularly during interactions where you have reason to believe that you have a happy customer in your hands.

Tips for Getting Google My Business Reviews

Incorporate your Google My Business review link to your email marketing campaigns.

  • Use your email signature to ask any customers to leave feedback.
  • Segment your audience and look for associations between quantifiable experiences and the duration of the customer’s value, and seek feedback from those in your audience that is most likely to be long-term customers.
  • Make it part of your training to teach all customer-facing staff to ask for customer reviews, especially where customers seem to be completely happy.
  • Where it is not possible to have a direct link, provide ready-made materials to teach customers how to leave feedback.
  • Write personal emails asking for feedback. The meaning of the personal email should make it absolutely clear that the email is not mass-produced.

2. Industry-Specific Review Sites

While industry-specific review sites do not directly impact your ratings on Google Maps and Google local search results, they do have an impact on your rankings in search engine results, your review stars in non-local search results are sometimes visible before clicking.

In addition, 97% of customers say they are influenced by customer reviews.

The more reviews you have, the better, which is why you want to get as many reviews on as many platforms as possible, provided that your products and customer service meet customer expectations.

Angry or annoyed customers are the most likely to leave a review – and they can cause severe damage to your brand reputation.

It is therefore important to make an effort to encourage reviews from a more representative sample of your consumer base.

Industry-specific review sites are sites built for or usually used in specific sectors, such as Yelp for restaurants and TripAdvisor for hotels.

You can use the tips discussed above to get Google My Business reviews and simply apply them to these other portals.

You should indeed find industry-specific review sites by searching Google for:

  1. [Name of your industry] reviews/ratings
  2. [Name of your competitor] reviews/ratings

The list of industry-specific review sites that you will encounter will be much bigger than any list of review sites that you should point to in a single email or conversation.

It is important to focus on deciding which review sites to send clients to.

If you feel it is important to send customers to a wide range of review sites in order to avoid low numbers or poorly representative scores on some sites, this is best achieved by alternating your review links instead of overloading buyers with too many options.

3. Product Review Sites

Product review sites are third-party websites designed to help businesses generate feedback while testing for accuracy.

Since consumers are more likely to leave a review when they know it has been tested and published by a third party, and because customers are more likely to trust these reviews than those chosen and potentially manipulated by the business itself, reviews on these sites are more likely to lead to sales and positive brand sentiment than reviews on your own platform using your own native method.

Among these, Trustpilot is probably the starting point – kind of the Yelp product review sites – in large part since Google trusts them to use their product reviews in the Google Shopping Ads.

The platform is “free,” ensuring that reviews are not edited or moderated to give brands a skewed favourable score, so they are likely to have a positive effect on both brand awareness and search engine rankings over the long term.

One of the most valuable functionality that a third-party review platform can bring to the table is the ability to provide feedback directly on your site (here’s how to do it explicitly with TrustPilot).

A good product review site would also have the Schema markup required to get your star ratings displayed in the Google search results, and have enough confidence built into the search engine to increase the probability that those star ratings will be noticeable.

Through taking advantage of the product review pages, you can take control of the story surrounding your brand and be part of the discussion.

If you are worried that authentic reviews will eventually point to an inaccurate image, consider the following statistics from Bazaarvoice:

Product page users who read and engage with online reviews have a 58% higher conversion rate.

If a site goes from zero reviews to 30, it may result in a 25% rise in orders. One hundred reviews can result in an increase of 37%.

As discussed above, the review number has a more favourable effect on sales than the review average, with scores in the 4.2 to 4.5 range usually performing better than higher ratings (which generally have less total reviews).

4. Social Media

The launch of Facebook Local has increased the need for companies to perceive social media not only as a marketing source but also as a location where consumers evaluate businesses.

Share Customer Reviews

Social media is not only a place where reviews are earned; it is a place where feedback can be posted. The trick to this is to do it tactfully.

When you share, retweet, post, and pin feedback that your customers have published, it’s crucial to do it in a way that is all about the individual customer and less about the brand.

Social media is a place where people are going to keep up with their friends and loved ones, so it’s important to use the site for its proper use.

Always Respond to Online Reviews on All of Your Platforms

This plays a significant part in how the customers believe they’re going to be handled, but this is twice as true of social media.

There’s an explanation for the term “social.” Customers are expecting you to be part of the discussion.

It is necessary to be constructive – but not defensive – in reacting to the negative press.

It is also important to note that social media reacts more to behaviour, images, and events than to words.

Resolve Customer Issues Publicly on Social Media

If you’re asking the customer to contact customer service and take the conversation offline, they’re curious to what you’re trying to hide.

There are clear lines that should not be crossed, such as the disclosure of personal information, but the public consideration of the needs of the consumer and the fair treatment of them are essential acts.

While you should never give in to unreasonable requests, you should show how customers would expect you to treat them.

User reviews play a critical role in the understanding of consumer brands.

Without successfully addressing them, no marketing campaign can be deemed successful.

While brands can not influence the quality and tone of the reviews, they may promote a more inclusive and beneficial dialogue by engaging with their consumers to increase the number of reviews and the diversity of opinions.

These acts have been seen time and time again to increase sales.

Don’t forget what you’ve learned here if you’re planning to master the art of branding in the years ahead.

We hope you found this ultimate guide to local SEO useful and we hope you learned some tips and tricks that you didn’t know about before or that we have resurfaced some of the techniques you had forgotten about. If there’s anything you think we’ve missed please drop us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you. There will be more updates and segments added to this page in the future but for now you can check out our other posts to learn more about SEO and how it’s done.

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