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Over the past few years SEO has become increasingly specialized. That includes Local SEO, which has become one of the most in-demand yet poorly understood branches of SEO. Mostly, it’s where your entire online presence is optimized for local customers.
Local SEO is one of Google’s main targets for SEO and rankings, so businesses that can adjust to maximize their local presence will do well. If you own a local business, mainly if you only service a small area in a single city, listen up: this is how to maximize your online presence, generate more local customers, and lead the pack on Google’s search results page.
1. Create a Local Page for your Business Area
If you’re considering SEO and Local SEO, you should already have a website that features your top-selling points and tells potential customers how to reach you. That might seem like enough, leaving all the SEO and internet hijinks to the huge corporations. But even if you’re not a colossal interstate or international business, there’s still a lot of online optimization you can do to benefit your business. For starters, you can create one or more local pages that feature your business locations and where you operate.
If you have a local store, your local page will focus on the neighborhood where that store is located. The page should talk about things like where most of your customers come from, what services you provide and how they benefit the neighborhood, things like that.
Your local webpage keywords should focus on your main business keywords, coupled with the words ‘local,’ ‘near me’ or with your neighborhood’s name. For example, if you own a café in Richmond, your local page could target the main keywords “café in Richmond,” “café near me” or “local food in Richmond.” It would also be helpful to include some links leading to high quality local pages on other websites too. This will signal to Google that you are focussed on local business and help people in your area find you.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make on local pages is to copy and paste or reword information from their local council website. Alternatively, to copy and paste from a central home page while keyword stuffing the neighborhood name is equally damaging for rankings. Google can tell that it’s mostly copied content, and these days rankings favor information over particular keyword amounts. Unoriginal content also misses the point: a local business page should demonstrate how valuable a business is in the local context.
Aim for high quality content and local links, and Google is more likely to recognize your site as a reliable source of information, products, and local connection. That’s where the high rankings come from!
2. Adjusting Other Keywords and Internal Links on Your Website
To make sure Google gets a strong signal from your local page(s), it would be a good idea to create a strong internal linking network with other relevant pages from your website. Of course, it’s essential that the anchor text feels natural and actually related to the content on your target page. The process is a pretty common sense affair, as long as you’re not wildly mismatching anchor text to destination content, it should be useful.
An excellent place to start is making it clear where your business operates and your service area on your home page. So, for example, you might write something like this:
“MetroMovers are the most reliable removalists in Melbourne!”
In this case, you could link the words “reliable removalists in Melbourne!” to your local Melbourne page. Or on your commercial removals page, you might want to include a link on a location relevant phrase such as:
“Moving office in Melbourne …”
3. Google My Business
Setting up a Google My Business listing is free, valuable, and definitely worth the time. Google will boost your website based on quality listings and reviews through GMB. It’s a great way for your customers to find your locations on Google’s maps, which is currently one of the most popular ways to discover local businesses. It’s also great for when users search for “nearby” services that match your business.
Part of the process of setting up a GMB is verifying your business address with Google. This gives them a higher incentive to rank your business in local searches based on your physical address. If your business services other local areas, you also have the option to choose a relevant service radius around your physical address.
Let’s say you’re a local removalist service and your depot might be in Caulfield, but typically your service area would extend to all metro areas. GMB can help you advertise in all your service areas within a chosen radius.
4. Social Presence
Social networks are another excellent opportunity to advertise your local business. Apart from the promotional advantage, Google has recently changed its backlink definition so that social media references and backlinks are no longer strictly ‘no-follow’ – they now have some (small, but noticeable) power and can pass a filtered version of “link power” to their websites.
Advertising on every social platform isn’t the best strategy. If you’re a small local business with limited staff, time, or funds, it might be challenging to manage multiple social accounts. Maintaining a strong, regular presence on social media is usually significantly more important than having a baseline presence spread thin across all networks.
Fortunately, each social network has a set of advantages and niche audiences that you can work with. Choosing the right network for your business means finding audiences that will respond well to your particular brand of ads, services, and local offerings.
For example, if you own a cafe or fashion boutique, Instagram’s focus on images and popular culture would be a great outlet for showcasing your business. On the other hand, things like Twitter and LinkedIn would be more beneficial for B2B companies that focus on a professional or news based style of information sharing.
If it suits your business, YouTube and Facebook have a few additional benefits. YouTube is owned by Google, so ads and good content there might add a bit more of a boost to your website compared to other social platforms. Facebook reviews can also be linked to your GMB listing, which has the potential to boost your review numbers.
5. Local Presence, Reviews and Backlinks
Another reliable resource for boosting your business in local search pages is to make sure you’re featured in high quality review websites and directories. Placement in these directories is a great way to generate solid backlinks, and they also focus on your local area which can again signal Google that your business is considered a fixture of the local landscape.
Think of Google as a friend recommending local hotspots. If Google is trying to rank your business for some particular local search, having more local reviews and backlinks from big name review aggregators will help push the recommendation.
Be warned, however: a lot of directories and review websites exist purely for backlinks in an attempt to game the Google system. While there might be some short term gain, Google is constantly adjusting to cut down on less legitimate resources, and it could hurt your rankings to suddenly lose all the value invested in a set of backlinks and reviews if a site comes up lacking in one of Google’s updates.
You can tell the difference between review sites and directories by checking out the website in question. See if they have a lot of other local business, read their reviews to see if they sound sincere, make sure they don’t outright state their intentions in the About Us page. Basically, look at the page like Google would. Is this page actively trying to help people searching for local businesses? Are the reviews realistic? If so, it’s probably safe.
6. Local Community Sponsorship
If you happen to be a pro-active member of your local community, it’s likely that you’ll naturally get more backlinks from local online sources.
For example, if the local paper reports on your business and events, or if you’re regularly featured on “top x restaurants” type lists, you’ll naturally end up online. Most places add a direct link to your website for the convenience of their readers. These are some of the best backlinks you can ask for. They’re natural, local, relevant, and they come from trustworthy sites in the eyes of Google.
So if your business isn’t getting in the way of local backlinks, it might be a good idea to be more involved in your local community. Try running a booth at a local even, engage in local social networks, or sponsor some kind of local festival. By building a stronger bond with your audience you can earn your business natural, high quality backlinks that will boost your website’s regional SEO power!
Aiming For the Top
Getting to the top of google’s local search isn’t rocket science. Google wants to promote genuine local businesses that represent valuable fixtures in the local community they inhabit. That way Google’s local customers can find what they’re looking for, and presumably, continue trusting Google to provide the answers and information they’re looking for.
Apart from these tips, the main focus should be on genuine promotion throughout your local community. Remember, if you want to be a part of the community, uplifting the whole benefits you just as much as trying to uplift yourself!