Intro to Local SEO

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Written by Luke Glassford

Intro to Local SEO

Before understanding what Local SEO, it is important to first understand what ‘SEO’ is.

SEO – or Search Engine Optimisation – is a process that can improve the quality and quantity of ‘organic’, or ‘unpaid’, traffic to your website from search engines like Google and Bing.

SEO is a very popular digital marketing technique for businesses – including local businesses that only want to attract a search audience from a certain town or city. To do this effectively, local businesses need to approach SEO slightly differently and use ‘Local SEO’ techniques to maximise their search engine traffic.

What is Local SEO?

As the name suggests, Local SEO is focused on improving the visibility of your business on search engines when people in your local area are searching for your services.

If your business provides a local service (such as a plumber, locksmith, removal service etc.), or you have a physical location that serves a local clientele (such as a shop, florist, restaurant, pub, solicitors, dentist etc.) then you will likely benefit from focusing on Local SEO.

To do this, you must first optimise your Google Business Profile to give your business the best chance of appearing in Google’s ‘Local Pack’ results – which look like this:

Google Local Pack example

These often appear very prominently in Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when a keyphrase with ‘local intent’ has been used – in this case “guitar lessons”.

If the main keyphrases that relate to your services have a ‘local intent’ and you are not appearing in Google’s Local Pack, then you are probably missing out on a lot of targeted traffic and potential new customers.

How to appear in the ‘Local Pack’

The Local Pack is one of many ‘SERP features’ that can appear on Google after a search. Depending on the ‘intent’ of the search term used, Google shows features like ‘Shopping’ results, ‘Videos’, the ‘People Also Ask’ box and much more.

The Local Pack results appear when Google thinks the search term used has a local intent, and are shown with a map and business information which is taken directly from Google Business Profiles.

Google Business Profiles, formerly known as Google My Business, is a free service provided by Google that allows businesses to add information about their location, opening hours, contact information and products and services so that it can be displayed in Google’s Local Pack.

If you haven’t already signed up for a Google Business Profile, you can do so here: https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/business/

How to optimise your Google Business Profile

Once you have set-up and verified your Google Business Profile, you need to optimise it to give it the best chance of showing up in the ‘Local Pack’ in Google’s search results.

  • Make sure you complete all the information about your company – business contact information, opening hours, business category, extensive business description that helps customers learn about what you offer etc.
  • List ALL of your services – you can select as many services as you like when completing your profile, so make sure you select every service you offer to customers
  • Add photos – give your customers a chance to see you in action and add clear photos of your business location – including your logo and a cover photo
  • Keep your profile fresh – upload new photos and posts to your profile on a regular basis (weekly is recommended) to show Google, and your customers, that your business is active

The more relevant information you add to your profile, the better chance it has of appearing to local searchers, so be as thorough as you can. A good starting point is to search on Google for your services and see which competitors are ranking in the top 3 positions in the Local Pack. Take a look at each of their profiles and see what is included – have they included a lot of images/videos? Are there a lot of positive customer reviews? What could you add to your profile to make it better than these competitor profiles?

Citations and ‘NAP consistency’

As well as having a detailed and well-optimised Google Business Profile, your business also needs to have a good ‘local presence’ elsewhere online for Google to trust it enough to rank it prominently in the Local Pack.

The key to this is to be listed on other well-known and trusted online business directories - which are known as citations. A good starting point is your local newspaper website, as these tend to include a local business directory. There are also more ‘trusted’ directory websites such as Yell.com and 192.com that can be used to help boost your presence.

However, don’t fall into the trap of listing your business on every online directory you can find. Many of these websites are not trusted by Google and are seen as ‘spam’, so it could do more harm than good to associate your business with them.

For a list of trusted citation sources, visit:

Another key consideration when listing your website on other directories and building citations is to make sure your business information is consistent across all of them. This is known as NAP consistency – Name, Address, Phone number. If your business name, full address and phone number is formatted exactly the same wherever it appears online, then it is easier for Google to see where your business is listed.

If your name is slightly different, e.g. sometimes it includes ‘Limited’, other times ‘Ltd’, or your address sometimes includes the building name, or ‘Ave’ instead of ‘Avenue’, then you risk Google not associating a citation with your Google Business Profile.

Customer reviews

Having a lot of positive customer reviews listed on your Google Business Profile will not only help it rank better in the Local Pack, it will also help to convince potential customers that your business is trusted and offers a good service.

Although it is against Google’s guidelines to try and solicit positive reviews e.g. by offering discounts to customers who give you a 5-star review, you can actively remind customers to visit your Google Business Profile and leave a review. If you send customers any form of email after their transaction, you can include a link to your Profile for them to add a review, for instance. You can also share your link on social media to encourage past customers to leave a review.

Google also recommends that business owners take the time to respond to reviews to help build trust with your customers. This should be done on good reviews as well as bad reviews, to show your business values input from customers.

To see Google’s full advice on customer reviews, visit: https://support.google.com/business/answer/3474122?hl=en-GB

Optimising your website

Much of the focus of Local SEO is on your Google Business Profile, but you can also work on optimising your business website to give it the best chance of ranking in Google’s organic results.

This will include:

  • Optimising your content for location-based keywords – do your title tags and H1 tags feature the location name?
  • Create ‘local content’ – feature any local news that is relevant to your business, promote local industry events on your blog etc.
  • Make sure your website is technically sound – does it load quickly? Is your website mobile-friendly?

If you would like more help to improve your Local SEO, you can book a live SEO audit with me now:

Book your FREE SEO strategy call!

Get real-time, face-to-face SEO advice from our SEO expert Luke Glassford.

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Book your FREE SEO strategy call!

Get real-time, face-to-face SEO advice from our SEO expert Luke Glassford.

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Written by

Luke Glassford

Marketing Director at Gambit Partners