Local SEO A-Z #2: Becoming ‘local’
Local SEO is becoming increasingly more competitive. Previously, Google displayed seven businesses in the “Local Pack” but this is now reduced to only three listings. This aimed to improve user experience, especially on mobile. However, it means that businesses with multiple local presences simply cannot afford not to implement a fine-tuned local SEO strategy if they want to rise to the top. This next instalment in our Local SEO A-Z series explains the roadmap to help you do just that.
To start optimising your website to ‘become local’, Matt Cutts, former head of spam at Google, recommends individualising your URLs for each of your locations. If your business has a range of locations, such as a number of shops or franchises across the UK, you want each of these to be found. And how will your potential customers find them? By creating a webpage for each franchise that has a unique and easily crawl-able URL. To finish off, create a HTML sitemap which points to each of your individualised pages.
According to Moz’s Local Search Ranking factors report, on-page signals were the most important factor determining local SEO rankings, so it’s imperative to get this right! You need to ensure that each individualised page is optimised using relevant title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, images, maps and of course, keyword rich content. These pages must also contain relevant NAP information – Name, Address, Phone Number and the franchise or business’ opening hours.
Google My Business
Google My Business, formerly known as Google Places, is crucial for local SEO. Without claiming your business with Google My Business, it will not appear on any local map listings in the search results, which Google displays for the majority of local searches. To optimise your Google My Business profile, Google states that the name of the each local business should reflect ‘your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website stationery, and as known to customers’. In addition, this should be consistent across all your local listings. Do all your franchises have the same name? Or are there sub-brands? For example, Tesco Superstore and Tesco Express. Similarly, your local listings must follow category consistency – all falling under one category which best characterises your business. Finally, ensure all listings have accurate and helpful descriptions.
Manually building local citations
To begin building citations and expanding your local business’ online presence, you need to register your business with high-authority sites such as Yelp.com, Bing Places, Yahoo! Local and create Facebook, YouTube and Linkedin pages for your business. Afterwards, look for the most relevant directories for your industry and finally relevant local directories such as your city’s business directory. When creating citations, again it is imperative that you record the NAP information in exactly the same format as you have on your website. This is crucial because if Google finds your local business’ address in many locations but formatted differently, it is unsure if you have one or many different businesses!
Aside from relevance, we know that Google places emphasis on quality and therefore the credibility of your website and brand. And so do your customers. Research suggests that reviews are crucial in generating business from local search with a staggering 88% of users consulting reviews to determine the quality of a local business. And this number is set to continue to rise. The number of people who never consult online reviews when seeking out local business has been falling steadily since 2011. To improve your local SEO, include testimonials on your website and make sure that each of your citations on the major players such as Facebook and Yelp have reviews.
Here at Tamar, we are committed to igniting digital brands, so if your business is in need of a guiding hand in becoming ‘local’, we are here to help!