What Is Local SEO and Why Is It Important for Your Business?

Laura Fletcher
By Laura FletcherSenior SEO Executive
5 minutes to read

Local search engine optimisation (SEO) may not be as buzz-worthy as content marketing, or deliver flashy coverage like digital PR but, for some businesses, it should be their most important marketing channel.

Research shows that 46% of all Google searches are local, showing the enormous audience that is available for businesses to capitalise on. However, many site owners don’t realise the opportunities available and instead miss out on reaching customers via local Google SEO.

What is local SEO and why is it important?

Local SEO could benefit your business if you have a local client or customer base. Using local SEO allows Google search to link your business with localised searches, highlighting your business as one that is significant within the local area.

However, local SEO doesn’t target just your local customer base, it’s also a way of connecting your business to geographical locations. For example, if you owned an events company, you’d want to be found by all people who are hosting events in venues nearby or within your service area. Regardless of whether they’re based locally or not, if they’re looking for event planners near their chosen venue, you want to be able to be found.

How to optimise for local search

So, how does local SEO work? Here are 4 ways you can optimise your local SEO strategy to increase visibility in your area.

1. Work on your Google My Business profile

Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most powerful tools for local SEO. A profile will not replace a website, but it is the cornerstone of any local SEO strategy and can help to drive sessions, leads and eventually sales.

Before creating your Google My Business profile, do some keyword research on your industry and make sure your business name clearly outlines what the company does. For example, adding “estate agents & letting agents” to an estate agent’s business name will help to inform Google and users exactly what you do, and give you a better chance of ranking for those terms.

Google is investing plenty of resources into GMB and has features such as a messaging service, insights data and call logging. With Google updating its capabilities regularly, the tool is growing in strength year on year.

Here are some tips from Google on how best to manage your profile for optimal local SEO:

  • Be sure to represent your business honestly and consistently online, and in the same way it’s represented offline, for example keeping all branding and signage the same. 
  • Your business details need to be accurate and detailed. If you service a particular area, give as much detail as possible about the different locations you can provide your services to.
  • Previously it was believed that the more information you give the better, however, Google has recently stated that choosing fewer, core categories to describe the business is more favourable. 
  • Businesses should not be duplicated on GMB with only one profile per business to avoid confusing Google on Maps and Search.

2. Avoid off-topic or irrelevant content

Furthermore, when posting updates on your GMB or replying to reviews, make sure the content and topics discussed are relevant to your business.

Below are a few things to keep in mind for local SEO when updating content:

  • When posting updates on GMB be sure that they’re of high quality and don’t contain spelling mistakes, gimmicks or contain automated or distracting content. 
  • Offensive, controversial, explicit, sexually suggestive or obscene videos, images or language should be avoided, with Google urging all businesses to be respectful. 
  • Links are very sought after to help improve SEO which is why you should only link to websites that you trust with links to malware, viruses, phishing or pornographic material not allowed. 
  • You can post if your business involves regulated goods and services, however, you’re not able to post content that relates to the products themselves.

3. Reviews

Reviews are powerful when it comes to local SEO, with 73% of consumers trusting a business after seeing that it has positive reviews according to Hubspot statistics. Therefore, good reviews boost website traffic which in turn helps your SEO ranking, creating a positive feedback loop.

Encouraging current and previous customers to give feedback after using your services or products is a great way to start building your reviews on your GMB profile. Just remember, in order to add a review to GMB the customer needs to have a Google account/email address.

4. Update online directories

The Yellow Pages may seem like a relic from another era, but online directories are a crucial part of any local SEO strategy.

By making sure business listings on sites such as Yelp, Yell and Thomson Local all match up to each other and the company Google My Business profile, companies are sending a signal to Google that the information is correct, which will increase your chances of appearing for local terms.

Updating these directories is very important, proven even more so in the last few years with the coronavirus pandemic impacting how many businesses operate. Inconsistent information will confuse potential customers and potentially drive them to a competitor.

5. Don’t forget about UX and content

The best local SEO strategies need to focus on UX; a great Google My Business profile will not drive leads if it is sending users to a page where they cannot convert.

For example, a local restaurant should make sure there is a “book a table” button on their Google My Business profile to allow users to quickly convert. By only adding links to the website and forcing users to click through several pages, the chances of converting are likely to be reduced.

Similarly, any page that the user is sent to needs to speak with authority about their products or services. When writing content, look at keyword research and competitors to try to understand the kinds of topics that users want to hear about, so they don’t look elsewhere after you’ve put in all of that effort to get them to your website in the first place.

To find out more about how an SEO focused website content strategy can help drive the right traffic to your website, check out our case studies to see examples of SEO success.

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