Googles search algorithm is constantly changing and they way they show results is too. In 2016 and into 2017 we’ve seen some challenging changes to the way local search results are displayed in particular. If your business is targeting a local area you better be prepared! Our top 5 tips to get you higher rankings are further down the page but first here’s an intro to local SEO and what’s changed recently.
What is local SEO?
First up for any newcomers to SEO we better explain briefly what Local SEO is. In a nutshell it’s the process of optimising your website with the aim of increasing visibility to local customers in the search results on Google. If your business operates only in a localised area or is a physical bricks and mortar outlet local SEO is incredibly valuable. From restaurants and hairdressers to plumbers and lawyers, local SEO can help a huge variety of industries to tap into their local demographic.
What has changed in local SEO during 2016?
Until last year, local SEO (search engine optimisation) offered a great deal of value to any business that was looking to attract people from the local areas because their websites were easily distinguishable from non-local organic listings in the search results. However, Google in it’s wisdom decided to change the number and way results for local businesses were displayed. This reduced the number of businesses that got exposure making it more difficult to gain traffic to website. Many think it’s Google playing the “show less and get more people to pay for Adwords” routine but conspiracy theories aside it’s had a big impact on many businesses.
This means that local businesses have to seriously ramp up their local SEO efforts to increase the chances of being listed in the pack of top 3 local results. There is a more link that users can click on to get more results displayed but in reality it’s the top 3 that show on the page that will be eating up the lions share of all the business. Getting into that box is the number one priority now.
Not only that, but Google has also started to include ads in the “More places” results, which means that businesses relying on organic ranking have paid listings to compete with as well. Double whammy from the big G for local businesses there!
Thankfully we’ve got some tips to help you edge closer to those 3 magic boxes where all the clicks are going.
If you need help with local SEO just give us a call on 01903 368559 and we’ll explain how we can get you into those spots and gain more local business.
Five local SEO tips to improve Google local ranking
There are key signals Google is looking out for when deciding who to put in those coveted top 3 spots. Here’s a rundown of that you need to be aware of and will form a great base to get started.
1. On-page optimisation
There are a lot of technical things you need to get right on your websites pages which your web design company will be able to help with. More importantly however is the content on your pages and it’s relevance to your potential customers. This will tell Google how relevant your website is for a particular search that is performed. The two main factors you need to think about are the areas you cover and the services you provide. It goes without saying (well hopefully anyway) that if you are a plumber in Sussex you should have those words prominent on your websites page. How is Google to know you are a plumber in Sussex if your website doesn’t say you are? Sounds obvious but you’ll be amazed how many customers come to us for SEO help and their websites don’t even say what they do!
Aside from meta data, headers, images and quality content which are essential signals for all SEO, you should try to include the following on each of your web pages:
• Title tags which include your service, location and brand along with relevant keywords
• A Google map showing your location or a list of the towns you service
• NAT information (name, address and telephone number) which you should have exactly the same everywhere on the web.
• Customer testimonials, reviews from credible websites (Checkatrade, Trustpilot etc) and any trade bodies or accreditation you have.
• A URL structure that makes logical sense and can show the text for areas and services. i.e. www.myplumbingcompany.com/boiler-repairs/sussex/
2. Get your Google My Business page created/updated
A Google My Business page is essential for getting into local listings as Google uses this data in the results. If you don’t have one you’re never going to rank in that box! Most businesses have one but you can enhance and optimise yours by:
• Keeping your NAT information accurate and the same as your website exactly.
• Entering the categories for your business correctly. Google gives you pre-selected choices, if in doubt see what your competitors are using by looking at their listings.
• Get the description of your business completed and don’t worry too much about keywords here. Just right it to sell your business to customers.
• Get reviews on your business page. Get in touch with your last 5-10 customers and ask them nicely if they can review you. Once they have reply to the reviews so you are active on your business page.
3. Get business citations and lots of them
Google validates business listings using what are called citations from all over the web. It’s important that the information about your business is consistent everywhere it is listed. Your NAT information should be exactly the same everywhere.
Building citations is basically the process of building mentions and links all over the web with your business information. This is the NAT information we discussed earlier. This is a different process to link building which needs to have a link back to your website to have any impact. Citations just need to be accurate text entries which list your company name, address, phone number and in some cases your website address.
Start with well known directories like yell.com or your local chamber of commerce. Then search the web for directories of similar businesses to yours and see if you can get a listing on their websites. Try also your suppliers and ask if you can be listed as a retailer or provider of their services. The more you get the better.
We have a citation building service which is £250+vat and we’ll go out and get you 100’s of these citations very quickly. If you don’t want to spend the time doing it yourself it’s a great investment. Call us on 01903 368559 and we can explain more.
4. Get great customer reviews
Reviews really help validate your business in Googles eyes and will give an instant boost to your chances of ranking in the top 3 positions for local searches. These star ratings are easy to get and a simple phone call or email to customers you’ve done a great job for will soon have you looking great in Googles eyes. We’ve seen businesses jump to the top spots with just 5 or 10 reviews so you don’t need to go out and get 100’s to be effective here. Spend 30 minutes crafting a nice email or letter to your customers asking them to help you by reviewing your business on Google. You’ll be amazed how many will do it. Reviews are vital for local SEO success, so you need to know how to improve Google reviews and make the most of them.
5. Use relevant geographic keywords
This one is a must for those looking to get noticed for specific towns or counties. It’s natural that if you operate within a local area that you will mention that on your website. Don’t just cram all the towns and counties into a single page though. Be clever with your use of this. One way we do this for our customers is to have an area coverage page on thier website. This lists out the major towns or counties covered. Each of these then link to a specific page on the website that is optimised for that town or county with information about what the business does. Also on that page is information specific to the town or county to make it unique and ensure Google ranks it in the search results.
A good strategy you should also be employing is to include your NAT details on every page of the website in the footer or a sidebar. You can also list the main areas covered too such as “servicing customers throughout Sussex, Surrey and Kent”.
That just about sums up your strategy for local search result domination. If you want this all done for you get in touch with us on 01903 368559 or drop us an email. We’ve had customers reach the top spots within months and some within weeks, we can do the same for you too.