The Ultimate Guide To SEO in 2018
If you’ve been neglecting to optimize your website because you’re a local business and get most of your business via word of mouth, you might be missing out on a huge opportunity. The members of your community are using the internet, and they’re not always doing so to shop online. Almost half of all Google searches are local.
That means that you’re losing out on business every time a potential customer heads to the internet to look for a product or service that you offer. Almost three-quarters of the people doing local searches will head to a business within a five-mile radius.
Businesses that haven’t worked on their local SEO will likely be left out of those visits.
The Importance of Local SEO
Google has also enhanced its approach for ranking local businesses. Not long ago, an individual in Melbourne would get the same search results as someone in Brisbane. Now, Google takes location as well as personal preferences into account when deciding which results to display to searchers.
When people seek out places to spend their money, they may use phrases such as, “consignment shops near me.” Even if they don’t specify that they’re looking locally, Google picks up on the location and includes nearby results in a box that’s referred to as the “Snack Pack.”
These are different than the organic search results. They’re located above the organic display and shows the primary three local business listings that are applicable to the query. Approximately one-third of searchers click here first. Even if you’ve worked on your organic SEO, ignoring local opportunities may make you miss out on 33 percent of your potential business.
Before Google enhanced its local functionality, a search for “Lawyer” would probably have left you in the dust. Today, locals searching for broad terms are more likely to find you within a certain area if you have targeted those competitive keywords. However, there’s fierce competition vying to rank in one of the top three Snack Pack spots. Nab them by ramping up your local SEO game.
How To Do Local SEO For Your Business
Local SEO is more important than ever. Although many SEO strategies are geared toward ranking well in large-scale organic search results, local businesses should also narrow down their efforts to improve their reach and visibility within the community. There are several strategies for improving your local SEO, and you can perform most of these steps yourself with a little guidance and diligence.
Improve Your Website
People will click out of an ugly or hard-to-navigate website as quickly as they entered it. The first order of business may be to hire a consultant to ensure that your site is completely user-friendly.
Local websites should have a dedicated contact page. Clearly list your business name, address and phone number here. Make the phone number clickable to help those who locate you on a mobile device.
Testimonials can also establish trust before customers interact with you. Start by including a “Testimonials” page on your website. We’ll discuss how to get reviewed on other sites and search engines later.
Adding Schema markup can help all of the search engines to recognize that you’re local and should be ranked as such. One of the easiest ways to do this is using the JSON-LD Schema Generator. It’s free to use, and the tool will walk you through the steps.
Once you’ve established a clean, accessible website, you can move on to the next steps.
Optimize Your Site for Mobile
When people are driving around the city, they tend to use their mobile devices to look up local businesses. If your website is not optimized for these visitors, they might skip over you in search of an easier-to-navigate site.
If you’re not sure whether your website is mobile-friendly, use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. The results will tell you what to work on if your site needs improvement.
Use the Right Keywords
Researching local keywords is essential to show up when your neighbors search for you. You can start by looking up the keywords associated with your competitors. One way to do this is to enter your competitors’ homepage or contact page URL in Google’s Keyword Planner.
Add all of these words to a master keyword list. You might want to create a spreadsheet that you can refer to later.
Continue to brainstorm keywords. One way to do this is to combine the service or product that you sell with your location.
For example, if you’re a Lawyer in Brisbane, keywords might include:
- Lawyer in Brisbane
- Lawyer care Brisbane
- Emergency Lawyer in Brisbane
- Cheap Lawyer in Brisbane
- Brisbane Lawyer
Once you have a decent list going, you can search for each keyword using the Keyword Planner. If your city is large enough, you’ll be able to access the search volume for each phrase to determine which terms people are actively seeking.
There might not be enough searches in small communities to provide data for this field. If that’s the case, replace your location with a more populated one just to get an idea of the most relevant searches in your industry.
You can also use the autocomplete feature on search engines to generate additional suggestions. Start by entering your primary keyword and seeing what comes up in the autocomplete drop-down list.
Typing “Lawyer in Brisbane” gives you the following autocomplete options:
- Best Lawyer in Brisbane
- Lawyer Brisbane cost
- Best Lawyer Brisbane reviews
- Lawyer Brisbane price
- Best lawyer Brisbane CBD
- Brisbane Lawyer
- Best Lawyer Brisbane
- Cheap Lawyer Brisbane
This might bring up recommendations that you had not considered. Make a note of the relevant terms so that you can research their volumes. You can repeat this procedure for any of the keywords on your list.
Don’t ignore long-tail searches. In general, the people who are performing specific queries are more likely to take action on the results.
Also, make sure that you include some keywords that use the phrase “near me.” Many people activate the location feature on their mobile devices instead of typing their location into the search bar.
Where do you incorporate the local keywords for which you’re trying to rank? Use them in business directories and online profiles. Incorporate them into your static web pages, title and meta description tags. Include them in your blog content.
Claim Your Google My Business Listing
More than half of the local businesses out there have not claimed their business listing on Google. These are the listings that appear along with Google Maps when someone does a local search. The information in your listing also populates results when people search for data related to your business, such as your hours or phone number.
The companies that show up in the results are often submitted by the Yellow Pages. If the business hasn’t verified the listing, though, inaccurate listing data could be preventing clients from finding you.
Google ranks those businesses in a variety of ways. If you can’t find your business on Google Maps, you may not have verified your listing. Your business address and other information may be incorrect. Data that has been recently edited or doesn’t comply with Google’s guidelines may also rank poorly.
To claim your business listing on Google Maps/Places, create or sign into your Google Account. Then, head to Google’s search engine. Search for the name of your business and city.
When the results appear, click on Maps in the search options across the top of the screen. If your business is included in the listings, you should be able to click on “More Info” to view the full listing. Then, click on “Manage this Page” under “Is This Your Business?”
If your business doesn’t appear in Google Maps search results, you can add it. Under the search bar, you’ll get a prompt that reads, “Add a missing place to Google Maps” when you type in your business name. Click on that and enter the requested information. Make sure that you click on “Claim this business” before you click “Submit.”
After entering or editing your information, you’ll need to verify it. Google will send you a PIN via your business number, text or email. Once you enter that PIN in the Google Places account, your listing will be live.
Claim Your Business in Bing Places and Apple Maps
Google isn’t the only relevant search engine. Bing has a 3.25-percent market share in Australia. That doesn’t sound like much, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure that you’re included.
Setting up your Bing Places listing is simple. First, make sure that you’re not already listed by searching for your business name in Bing Maps. If you find your listing, click on “Is this your business?” at the bottom.
You’ll be sent to a page where you can complete your business information. At one point, you’ll be prompted to import your data from Google My Business, which is why it’s important to complete that step first. Doing so will also reduce errors.
Making sure that you’re included in Apple Maps is also important. It’s the default map application on an iPhone, and it’s built into Spotlight and Siri searches. Help customers find you by visiting Apple Maps Connect.
Claim Your Other Online Profiles
Because locals search using platforms other than Google, you’ll need to claim your profiles on the following websites.
You don’t need a profile on every social media site to improve your visibility. Choose the site that your target demographic uses the most. Facebook is the top social media channel in the world, but depending on your niche, YouTube or Instagram may be preferable.Set up a profile that includes your company information. This will give search engines data about your business. It will also put you in front of more leads. Consider posting regularly to secure a following.
Customers that have visited your businesses may have already left a review on TripAdvisor. If this is the case, find your listing and claim it. Use a high-quality photo, and include as much information about your business as possible. Try to use the same keywords as you use in Google.Once you have a great listing on TripAdvisor, add a link to it from your website. Including high-quality outbound links improve your Google rankings. A link to TripAdvisor also gives you a way to ask customers to leave reviews.
Whereas TripAdvisor is ideal for businesses that cater to visitors and tourists, Yelp is appropriate for just about any local company. Search for your business on the website, and click “Claim your Business.” If you don’t see your listing, click “Add your business to Yelp.”Complete your profile, and consider creating a photo gallery of professional images to help people get a feel for your business. This will set you apart from the competition. It’s also essential to use appropriate keywords.
Keep an eye on your Yelp profile. Include a link to Yelp on your website, and respond to reviews in a timely manner.
Local Review Sites and Guides
Especially in larger cities, independent websites write guides and reviews about the top businesses in town. You can search for these using keywords such as “your city reviews” or “industry location reviews,” substituting your area and industry for those terms. If you find any sites, contact them to learn how you may be included.
Ask for Reviews
Once you have a profile on local review sites, you need to ask for feedback. Consider creating a promotional piece that encourages customers to leave a review. Make it personal and fun. You might consider providing an incentive, such as a coupon, to people who submit reviews to Yelp or TripAdvisor.
You can also ask for reviews from time to time in your email newsletter. People are happy to spread the word if they love your business. Provide the best service possible, and you won’t have trouble securing stellar evaluations.
Google has made it easy for businesses to ask for reviews. Click here to learn how to create a link that you can send to customers to streamline their feedback process.
Don’t ask too many people for reviews at the same time. Sites like Yelp and Google may flag your account if it is flooded with reviews. They do this to avoid fraudulent feedback. Make review requests a consistent, ongoing part of your SEO and marketing strategy.
Start or Optimize Your Blog
If you don’t maintain a blog on your website, you’re behind the times. Even the businesses that do write blog content miss the mark by neglecting to incorporate local SEO techniques. Tailoring your blog for local queries will help you dominate the local search landscape.
There are a few rules for creating the best blog content:
- Keep it valuable
- Keep it relevant
- Keep it consistent
Blogging can enhance your SEO efforts in a variety of ways. It gives your customers and other businesses a reason to share your website.
Most people nowadays can recognize a salesperson from miles away. There’s a difference between telling someone to buy your products and encouraging them to read an important, relevant article that happens to talk about your products. Blogging allows people to refer to you naturally without feeling schmoozy.
You can also use your blog as a gentle approach to getting visitors to your website. Look at it as the liaison between your newsletter and your shopping cart. If you only send emails to your list when you’re pushing a sale, your followers will eventually unsubscribe. Informing them when you’ve posted something thought-provoking on your blog will keep them on your side.
Blogging also shows that you’re engaged in your industry. Unless they’re seeking out your services, people have no need to return to your website if you simply feature service pages and contact information. However, they might hang on your every word if you provide them with pertinent information or surprise them with fun facts regularly.
Plus, your blog gives you additional keyword real estate. You can only include so many keywords on static web pages. Improve your search relevance by including ranked keywords in the interesting articles that you write.
When brainstorming blog content, think about how to keep it local and relevant. If you run a daycare, you might want to write articles about fun things to do with kids in your city. Recommending other local companies also gives you a chance to form relationships that could deliver referrals to your business.
Your job is not finished once the blog article is posted. If you’ve created an in-depth, highly researched piece, you can devote most of your energy to marketing it. Keep the content evergreen to allow you to promote one blog post for a longer period of time.
Get Backlinks and Citations
Your visibility and ranking will improve when reputable companies link back to your website. This can be done in a few ways. Business directories may include structured citations, which display your name, address and phone number, also known as NAP, in an organized visual format. Blogs and newspaper articles about you might contain NAP information in an in-line format along with a link to your website.
It’s your job to make sure that the NAP information associated with your business is correct wherever it’s displayed. Getting additional citations and backlinks will also help you get noticed.
Use Moz Local to evaluate your listing on multiple search engines. This will indicate how to optimize your profile in the sites on which it’s already listed, such as Facebook and Yelp. You can use this tool to find inconsistencies and duplicate listings as well.
You can also make sure that the larger data suppliers, such as Infogroup and Acxiom, have correct data for you. These provide your information to many of the smaller directories.
If you have had a different address or phone number in the past, you can use any search engine to look for it along with your business name to find and update it in outdated directories.
Once you have corrected existing citations, you can add more. Here are the top business directory websites in Australia.
You can also reach out personally to other local businesses and ask for links to your site. You may consider writing a guest post for a company in a related niche or asking to be added to a sister business’ local resources page. Another technique involves leaving thoughtful comments on local business blogs.
Local SEO optimization gives you a chance to stand out from your competition online and create a loyal following. Moreover, it’s one of the most affordable ways to market your business. Contact us if you need help refining your SEO to capture as many leads as possible and soar to the top of your industry.