Search engine optimisation, often referred to as SEO, is essential for every website to succeed. You may think as an owner of a small business, targeting mostly local clients that SEO is not for you. However, local SEO is a thing, in fact it is a very big thing, and getting it right can make a huge difference to the success of your website and ultimately your business. 46% of Google searches are local; if you’re not optimising your website for local search you are missing out on revenue. This is the ultimate guide, explaining local SEO for small business owners, what is it? Why do you need it? And how do you do it?
Do You Really Need Local Search Engine Optimisation?
Let’s start with a brief explanation of what SEO is. Search engine optimisation is optimising different elements of your website with an aim of improving your ranking in search engines. This is important because the higher up the results you are the more traffic you will get. The graph below from Search Engine Watch shows the average percentage of traffic gained from each search position 1-15. As you can see position 1 gets a whopping 33% of the traffic. By the time you get to the second page of search results share of traffic is less that 2%, and dropping to almost nothing by the time you get to page 3.
Keywords are the words that potential customers might put into a search engine when looking for a specific product or service. So, for example if you are a plumber in Staffordshire your potential customers might use phrases such as; plumber in Staffordshire, emergency plumber Staffordshire, boiler servicing in Stafford and so on. The higher up the search results that your website comes the more likely that the potential customer will click through to your business; and subsequently make contact in regard to your services.
Getting to the top of this list is the purpose of SEO. As demonstrated, the higher up the list of search results that your website is the more likely to get a click you are. It is important to remember that not everyone can be number 1; but sustained search engine optimisation efforts are incredibly important for building your business and improving your rankings.
Would Your Business Benefit From Local SEO?
If you are still unsure whether your business could benefit from local SEO answer the three questions below with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
- Is your target customer/client primarily in your local area?
- Do you have a website?
- Do you have capacity to sell more products or take on more clients?
If you have answered yes to all three questions, then local SEO will be of benefit to your business. If you have a website but your business covers a wider area you still need search engine optimisation; contact us to see how we can help you. If you currently don’t have capacity, you should still consider local SEO to grow your business for the future.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is specifically targeting customers in the local area of your business. There are many facets of search engine optimisation; with some being more important than others if improved local search rankings is your target. Below we look at some of the key areas to focus on for local search engine optimisation.
Google My Business
One of the most important things to do for local search is to claim your Google My Business page; and complete all the relevant information including business name, address, contact details and website URL and business type. Be sure to verify your business for maximum effectiveness. Completing this information will help your business to appear in Google’s ‘Snack Pack results’; these are the lists of local business and map that show when you perform a local search.
In addition to Google My Business, be sure to claim your Bing Places location; you can ask Bing to take your details from Google Business making this super easy to set-up. Although Bing only accounts for a small percent of search compared to Google, you should still take the time to set this up as it is a valuable part of your local SEO efforts.
A citation is an online mention of your business, including name, address and phone number. Citations can be in the form of business directories, profiles on social media as well as business posts, newspaper or blog mentions. Consistently showing the business name, address and phone number across multiple places reinforces trust in your business identity to Google.
Relevant citations also provide more ways for potential customers to find your business, and details of how to make contact. Using Facebook, LinkedIn and local business directories are great ways to both boost local SEO and increase website traffic from potential clients/customers. Be sure to keep a regular check on citations and keep the information up to date and relevant for maximum impact.
We briefly explained what keywords are earlier in the article. You need to compile a list of keywords relevant to your business and local area. There are many keyword research tools available to help you complete an extensive list; these tools often advise on number of monthly searches and how difficult each word/phrase is to rank for. These phrases can be used in key areas of your website to help to improve rankings, these areas include:
- H1 and other headings
- Title tag and meta description
- Keywords and clean URL structure
Optimising the content on each page of your website is also vital to local SEO. The content on your website should be focused on the offerings of your business; it should include relevant key phrases, but most importantly be written for the user. Content should offer value and information to potential customers/clients as the number one priority.
Local Link Building
Link building is one of the most important ranking signals for Google; and therefore, should be an important part of your local search engine optimisation strategy. Building citations, which we discussed earlier, is a great start for your link building efforts; however, many of these links will be no-follow. No-follow means that so called ‘link-juice’ does not pass from the host site to the destination site. These links are still important but are not as big in terms of ranking as follow links are.
There are many agencies that will tell you that for X amount of £££’s they can get you great backlinks; however, as a general rule of thumb links are best earned from creating great content. Create content that people want to link to. In terms of local SEO and local links try to create content that is in some way, however tenuously, linked to your niche and of benefit to the local population. Launch you content and promote it on social media channels; and hopefully it will be picked up organically and linked back to by other local businesses or news-sites.
Avoid temptation to pay for links or to enter into link-swaps with other businesses. Google is savvy and often spots such obvious ‘paid link building’ efforts. This is frowned upon, a best-case scenario would be that the link is ignored; worse case would be a site-wide penalty affecting all your rankings. You may however, like to look into guest blogging; this can be an effective strategy to gain links back to your website; but do ensure the content is relevant, informative and well-written.
You Know You Need Local SEO, What Next?
There are a lot of terms and ideas mentioned in this article that may appear daunting or overwhelming to someone not familiar with search engine optimisation. This guide to local SEO is not intended to be a step-by-step but an introduction of where to start, and what to research in further depth if you intend to do your own SEO.
As a business owner we know that you are busy, and that you excel in your particular niche; therefore, you may prefer to leave the local search engine optimisation of your website to the professionals. And that is where we come in. We have SEO packages to suit businesses of all sizes, and can take care of the ongoing local SEO requirements of your website. We can look after your Google My Business page, create great content, build citations and links and of course ensure that your website’s on-page SEO is perfect. Take a look at the packages we have available; and contact us today to make a start on improving the local search engine optimisation on your business website.