As a local business, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that you are visible to your potential customers. Local SEO is a great marketing tool as building a well-optimised website that appears on search engines is a solid strategy for getting noticed and generating customers.
At Gorilla Marketing, have worked with a great number of Mancunian businesses in improving their SEO and online ranking. This includes some well-established brands, smaller sole traders, accountancy, and law firms as well as local tradespeople hoping to increase their footfall traffic. However, it is not necessary that your business is Manchester-based as Gorilla Marketing can work to improve your rankings in the local search results wherever “local” may be for you!
It is now believed that four out of five consumers will search the internet when they require a local service or business using a ‘near me’ or by entering the business and location eg ‘solicitors manchester’. By not engaging in local SEO, you may be missing out on the demand online for your product or service!
Introduction to Local Search
Local SEO is a marketing strategy that involves the process of ranking your local business website for ‘service’ + ‘location’ keywords. Unlike e-commerce or national SEO campaigns, local SEO keywords will often produce a map in the search engine results – which you can also work towards ranking your website in. Regardless of what your local service or business may be, it is vital that people are aware of your location and what you have to offer, and ranking highly for local searches is a hugely effective way to increase visibility and generate additional customers.
In this guide, we will go through the technical and marketing aspects of local SEO that we normally implement in a campaign at Gorilla Marketing.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
Just like the other major types of SEO, local SEO is split into both the ‘on-page’ and ‘off-page’ aspects. Before we begin a local SEO campaign, we carry out a site audit of both the local business site and the relevant competitor websites so that we have a greater understanding of what needs to be done in order to achieve ranking success. The on-page checklist that we use before starting our local SEO campaigns is as follows:
Site Speed. Does the website load in under 2 seconds?
Mobile Responsiveness. Can the site be viewed on all devices?
Site Structure. Are all the services & locations logically organised (silos)?
Blog. Does the site regularly produce fresh, relevant content?
Content. Is the content and user experience of the website up to standard?
Titles, Meta & Headings. Are the keywords and LSI’s used in here?
Schema. Does the site have local business schema markup?
Internal Links. Does the site link well internally to the main content pages?
Once we have worked through the site audit, we can then start the off-page optimisation of the website. The main areas that we look to improve upon are:
‘Google My Business’ Listing. Is it claimed and fully filled out / optimised?
Local Business Citations. Are you in relevant, high authority directories and does the info on them match your GMB listings exactly?
Social Profiles. Does the website have active social media profiles such as Twitter & Facebook?
Backlinks. High-quality backlinks from both local sources and niche relevant authority websites.
Ranking in Google Maps
Correctly optimising your website through the methods above should have a great influence on your Google Maps positioning too (and whether or not you break into the ‘3 pack’ results). However, there are a couple more factors that Google may take into consideration when compiling the map results:
Your Business Location. Are you physically located in the map area that shows up when you search your keywords?
The Searcher’s Location. Since the Pigeon Update, Google takes into account the searchers location a lot more, especially with mobile queries.
Business Reviews. Does your business have positive feedback from verified customers?
User Signals. Are people actively searching for your business / asking for directions to your business on Google Maps? Evidence has shown that this could be a major map ranking factor too.
Building Backlinks for Local SEO
Ideally, there are 3 main types of links that you want to be gaining for your local business website – citations, local links, and niche relevant links:
Citations. We normally try and aim for a maximum of 15, fleshed-out profiles in the highest authority directories nationally; and then 3 – 5 profiles in city-specific directories.
Local Links. Links from local websites are immensely helpful for your local listings. Local charities, universities, business groups, chambers of commerce and council websites should all be targeted as a link opportunity. Ways this can be done is through scholarships, sponsorships and getting involved in community causes.
Niche Relevant Websites. These are links from websites or blogs in the same industry as you. Read our backlinking guide to find out how to find and get links from these websites.
Our local SEO campaign strategies have been improved, refined and continuously updated over the years to ensure the most effective results possible for our clients. If you are looking at running a national SEO campaign, that guide can be found here.