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An introduction to local SEO

Local SEO refers to the activity that is carried out to improve a company’s visibility for location-based keywords in search engines. This can be an extremely effective way for businesses of all sizes to grow and attract more customers – from small local businesses to huge, international organisations with multiple locations.

Included within local SEO are two important factors – both the local pack (also referred to as Google My Business or Google Maps) and organic rankings for the term. This information is important for driving in-store visits, as it helps users find your locations and may also drive higher converting traffic to eCommerce websites.

How does local SEO work?

Like traditional SEO, local focuses on key concepts, although the factors involved in ranking well are different. Local SEO is based on the principles of accuracy and consistency. With local results, the search engines’ primary goal is to connect users with a real-world location that is:

  1. At the exact location that the listing has specified
  2. Open when the user gets there

To understand this, crawlers will take location listing information into account, but will also take information from the host’s websites, user sentiment, and from alternative sources across the web.

How do I optimise my Google MY BUSINESS listing?

It’s better to think of Google My Business (formerly known as Google Places) and your website as a single entity. If you want your site to perform well, your Google My Business listing needs to accurately match the information that is displayed on your website. If you are a business with multiple locations, we would recommend including a dedicated page for each location that you own. This can be referenced in the Google My Business listing and will give crawlers a main source of information to check against.

Once your website page has been created, the Google My Business listing should match the details exactly – for example, if the address for your business on your website is, ’21 Matt Cutts Street, San Francisco’, this must be replicated exactly in your Google My Business listing. This is particularly important for your location’s name, address, and phone number. To make this information clearer, we recommend tagging this information in your websites code using structured data (schema markup, JSON, etc).

Finally, you should then add as much additional information as possible, including:

  • Category
  • Store code
  • Images
  • Website link – which should then link to the dedicated location landing page that you’ve built.

You may also want to include a UTM tracking code to understand how many users are being referred via Google My Business compared with core organic traffic.

How do reviews fit into this?

Reviews are an important part of the local search algorithm, as they help search engines understand more about the location itself – is it open, is it as described, do users like it?

To succeed in local SEO, we recommend driving users to review on Google My Business listings. This can be done through your CRM system, by sending your customers emails prompting them to review your business. Alternatively, this can be done in-store.

Having reviews on your site can have major benefits; however, most search engines do not allow for review integration with their own systems, so we recommend using an approved provider for this, such as Yext, TrustPilot, or Feefo.

Once live, we advise using structured data to markup reviews. You’ll need to capture and display information for each location separately; however, an important thing to bear in mind is that Google can penalise you for using a site score for each location.

What is citation building?

Previously we mentioned search engines that use information from across the web to corroborate information on your location. This information can come from anywhere, but particularly from local and/or niche directories. Crawlers also look at more internationally known directories for this – think Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Foursquare.

As such, to improve your local SEO standing, we recommend carrying out citation building activity, or more simply, adding your locations to relevant directories. Unlike traditional SEO, the important factor here is the citation and not the link (the information you add about your location) and this, as per your listing, should match your website and Google My Business listing.

Search engines also look at websites in the local area to your business, so working with these is a useful tactic in becoming more visible. While links can drive value in this tactic (as well as the citation alone), the notion of a ‘good link’ is different to traditional SEO, as many local websites will not have high SEO metrics, but their proximity and ‘localness’ are where their benefit lies. As with directories, remember to match the citation in the mention to the information on your website and other listings.

Looking to find out more?

To help break things down further, we’ve created a handy summary video:

And if you’d like to  see how local SEO has benefited our clients, you can read our Regus case study and find out how we helped our client double their enquiries and traffic from Google My Business in less than six months.

If you’d like to find out more or wish to speak to a member of the team – get in touch.