As a local business, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that you are noticed in and generating customers from the search engines. Of course, there are other methods to generate new business opportunities – nearly half of all small businesses in the US & UK didn’t have a website in 2017 – but do you really want to be missing out on the ever-growing online demand for your product or service? In this guide we will discuss (almost!) everything we undertake when starting a local SEO campaign:
- Keyword & Competitor Research
- Local SEO Ranking Factors
- Ranking in Google Maps
- Building Backlinks for Local SEO
FREE SEO AUDIT
Local SEO is the process of ranking your local business website for ‘service’ + ‘location’ keywords (Like how we will SEO for ‘Internet Marketing Manchester‘). Unlike e-commerce or national SEO campaigns, local SEO keywords will also often also produce a map in the search engine results – which you can also work towards ranking your website in. In this part of our SEO process, we will go through the technical and marketing aspects of local SEO that we normally implement in a campaign at Gorilla. We hope you enjoy!
Just like the other major types of SEO, local SEO is split into both the ‘on-page’ and ‘off-page’ aspects. Since local businesses often have small websites, the on-page SEO is often a lot easier and you can get away with a lot more being ‘technically incorrect’. Before we begin though, we like to do a site audit of both our website and competitor websites. 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 the above list has been signed off, 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.
Correctly optimising your website through the methods above should have a huge influence on your Google Maps positioning too (and whether or not you break into the ‘3 pack’). However, there are a couple more factors that Google may take into consideration with their 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 maps ranking factor too.
As mentioned above, there are 3 main types of links that you want to be getting 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 here to find out how to find and get links from these websites.