Local SEO explained

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Every local business knows that it’s pretty important to rank highly on Google’s results pages, but many see search engine optimisation (SEO) as something of a dark art.

Big businesses employ entire teams of SEO experts to boost their companies to the top of the rankings – leaving SMEs struggling to make it anywhere on the first few pages of results.

If you don’t think you can make a mark on the most competitive keywords in your market, local SEO can provide another opportunity – so why not consider it when you’re tweaking your marketing strategy?

Local SEO aims to help your website rank highly for search terms with local intent. By local, we mean search queries like ‘plumber near me’ or ‘electrical contractor in Leeds’.

These search terms are less competitive than more general queries, and it’s more likely the searcher will find what they’re looking for.

Also, Google processes these local internet queries in a different way, displaying a map with the location of the top three local business results for that query.

This local ‘three-pack’ should be your goal. It’s above the rest of the search results, and is only below an advert.

So, how do you get there?

Your Google My Business Listing

Think of it this way: Google only wants to display business information to users if they know that it’s accurate and reliable.

That means you need to manage your online business listings.

Here’s a step-by-step guide.

  • Claim your Google My Business Listing.
  • Update details, adding as much information as you can – including a short summary with a keyword in (such as ‘York plumber’).
  • Get verified.
  • Submit your business details to relevant aggregators and listings sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, 192.com, and Thomson Local (here’s a longer list).
  • Take steps to remove or merge duplicate listings (you’ll usually need to report these on each site or contact them).
  • Maintain name, address, and phone number (NAP) consistency throughout all your listings.

This can be a time consuming process to begin with, but as you make progress, Google will recognize the improved consistency and data quality so you should start to see your rankings improve.


Keywords and On-Page Local SEO

We’ve mentioned keywords already in this post – you probably already know that they’re the words or phrases that a user types into Google when they’re looking for a business like yours.

If you’re struggling to decide on the right keywords for your business, a good rule of thumb is to come up with a list based on your location and your trade. For example, you may wish to secure traffic from users searching for ‘electricians in North Yorkshire’ or ‘electrical contractors in York’. Plug a couple of these keywords into Google, scroll to the bottom of the page and take note of the related searches – these tell what other terms users search for and act as a great guide when choosing keywords.

These keywords not only tell Google that your website (or social media page) is relevant to searchers, but they’re also a good sign for the users themselves, too.

Here’s where you should consider adding relevant keywords (without overdoing it!):

  • Your Google My Business listing introduction
  • Title tags on your website (ideally on a landing page)
  • H1 tags on your website
  • Somewhere in the body text of your website
  • In the URL of a page on your website
  • In an image’s alt text on your website
  • Facebook/Twitter/other social media profile descriptions

Clearly some of these alterations will require digging around in your website’s HTML – but even if you only have basic knowledge of your site’s HTML, the changes are relatively straightforward to make.

Other SEO tips

The above guide is specific to local SEO, but general SEO tips also benefit your local rankings, including:

  • Having a mobile-friendly site
  • Publishing new, original content on a regular basis
  • Building up a network of ‘backlinks’ (links on other websites to your website)
  • Having a fast-loading, easy to navigate website

This article should serve as a starting point for your local SEO efforts. You’ll be able to carry out many of the above processes by yourself, but might find that you need help from an agency for a handful of them.

If you’d like to update your marketing and SEO approaches, contact the Built for Marketing team. We specialise in providing marketing guidance for businesses in the construction and built environment sectors.