Guide to Local SEO in 2020
According to statistics, 46% of all Google searches are local: meaning users are explicitly searching for local products, services or businesses. Despite this, an estimated 56% of local retailers haven’t claimed their own Google My Business listing: a basic practice which is the cornerstone of local search engine optimisation. In this blog I’ll explain what local SEO is and the basic principles behind optimising your website for local searches.
What is Local SEO?
Local search engine optimisation is the process of optimising your website to specifically target local searches. An example of a local search would be “SEO Wigan.” This search shows that the user is interested in finding a SEO agency in the locality of Wigan. There are two techniques for ranking with Local SEO: ranking in organic results and ranking in map packs. A map pack is a set of 3 Google My Business listings accompanied by a map. You can find a map pack result by using any type of localised search, such as “web design near me.” Organic results are then below the map pack, which features the optimised web-pages. Now we’ll get into how you can optimise your website for local searches.
Keyword Research with SiL
SiL simply stands for “Service in Locations.” As with any SEO marketing, you need to identify the keywords you want to rank for, and attach a locality to them. Example: “website designer in Wigan.” See the formula? Service + Location. There’s really not much else to say about keyword research in local SEO: it’s just the same as researching keywords for any type of SEO campaign.
Google My Business Optimisation
Google offers a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence through Google My Business. Bing has its own version of this tool: Bing Places. An optimised GMB listing is one of the top ranking factors for local SEO, especially for ranking in the map packs. A GMB listing allows Google and other search engines to directly display useful information about your company and show its relevance to the local area you are targeting. Information can include your business address, phone number, website, reviews, work hours and more.
If you have a large business with multiple offices, you should create a seperate GMB listing for each location. However, do not create listings for virtual offices, unless the office actually has staff during the business hours your listing displays.
You can find the full guideline and rules for Google My Business listings here.
Citations and Directory Submissions
Most businesses will already have some existing citation links and business directory submissions. It is important to audit these citations and submissions to ensure all the information is correct, up to date and corresponds with information found on your website. If search engines find mismatching information between a citation and your website they can become confused and can even harm your own credibility.
An example can be you have a citation on a business directory website with your office address. Some time after you made this citation, your business moved offices and has a brand new address: but your citation still lists your old office as your current address whilst your website has the new address. It’s important to correct pre-existing citations with the latest information.
Once existing citation links and directory submissions have been audited (and fixed where necessary) you should continue to build more citation links. This is a great way of spreading your business NAP around the web, which will increase your relevancy to the locality you are targeting. Another useful part of citation links is for anchor text diversity. Generally speaking, most business directories will use generic anchor text such as:
- Visit Website
- Click Here
- [naked url]
- [brand name]
The new diversity in your anchor text will become very useful, especially if you have previously used very aggressive SEO in the past and your anchor-text is mainly keyword-focused.
We all know the usual on-page SEO things like putting your keyword in your headers, using short URLs, optimising meta and alt tags etc. But in Local SEO, there’s a bit more to on-page work than usual.
Firstly, you need to ensure your website’s URL structure is properly set up to support multiple areas and localities. I would recommend a basic structure like the following:
The creation of location-specific pages allows you to use SEO-optimised content for each page which targets the specific area using the SiL keywords you found during the keyword research.
Link Building For Local SEO
Link building for a local SEO campaign can be quite different from your usual link building. Many people will obsess over “high DA links” when acquiring backlinks for their website (tip: DA is 3rd party metric and has nothing to do with Google.) but when link building for local SEO, simple metrics such as DA, DR, PA etc have no relevance.
Hold your horses (and your GSA blasts!) because I’m not saying you should just build a ton of crappy low-quality links. Instead, you should put a much higher focus on the locality of the linking website. For example, if you are targeting the Wigan area then a backlink from a website like Wigan Today will be a lot more valuable than a link from a DA90+ website for American home improvement. Target local businesses and websites with guest-posts, backlink opportunities and sponsorships.
So that’s my pretty simple yet rather effective guide on how to perform local search engine optimisation in 2020. Do you have a local business? Blue Whale Media can help your website rank for local and competitive terms to increase your website traffic and drive conversions online. Find out more about our local SEO services.