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How to use local SEO to give your business a boost

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How to use local SEO to give your business a boost

If you are running a small business, it can sometimes feel like an impossible challenge to compete with larger brands online.

After all, established brands are not only already well known, they often have huge budgets and large teams of Content and SEO experts helping their websites to rank for key search terms.

However, with the right strategy in place, as well as the right tools and know-how, you can still improve your local SEO performance, without needing a big brand budget.

What exactly is local SEO?

Local SEO refers to the optimisation of a business’s website for search queries which are location specific.

Search engines such as Google can use a searcher’s location to determine which results to show them.

This means that when someone searches for a business such as a ‘beauty therapist’, Google will show results nearest to their current location.

Local search is especially important for small businesses, not least because as many as 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information (source: Hubspot).

As many as 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information.

The benefits of local search results

Local search results offer two opportunities for local businesses.

The first of these is in the organic search results and this is where your website will appear.

The second of these is the ‘Google My Business’ listing, a listing provided by Google, where you can manually add specific details about your business.

When we talk about local SEO, we are talking about optimising both your website and your Google My Business listing for local search queries.

When we talk about local SEO, we are talking about optimising both your website and your Google My Business listing for local search queries.

7 steps to leverage local SEO to your advantage

Here are some steps you can take to leverage local SEO, improve your search rankings, and grow your business:

1.      Manage Google My Business

First things first. Your Google My Business listing can often be the first impression that people get of your business.

It can also affect your visibility on Google Maps and organic rankings.

Your Google listing will show up on the right-hand side of the page (on desktop) and at the top of the page on mobile. It is totally free to set up and offers a great opportunity to drive awareness of your business.

It will show up for both your business name and the type of business you offer.

If you have not yet created or verified your Google My Business listing, then it is easy to do.

Simply head to Google My Business and follow the instructions to set up your free profile.

Once your profile is ready, be sure to keep checking back periodically, to make sure that it is kept up to date.

You can also post updates on here, just like on your social media channels, so don’t forget to make use of this if, for example, you have an event or a sale.

2.      Identify and optimise all your online business listings

It is important to find all your online business listings and make sure that you have access to them.

This can be time consuming if you have not done it before, but it is well worth it in the long run.

For a starter for 10, try Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Apple Maps, Yahoo and Bing Places.

Often, these listings are created by customers and so the information on them may not be accurate.

Once you have access and ownership of these listings, check all the information contained within them and ensure that it is accurate.

There may also be other opportunities to add more sales-focussed copy and information.

It is important to ensure that all the facts about your business are accurate and consistent across all sources, as this helps both search engines and consumers to trust the listings. And trust can eventually lead to higher rankings and more sales.

3.      Respond to reviews

Word of mouth and recommendations  are important marketing tools for small businesses – and this is no different online.

Business listings such as Facebook and Google My Business give customers a valuable opportunity to leave a review for your business.

Be sure to respond to all reviews in as constructive and positive a manner as possible, so that potential customers can see how you handle them.

Even negative reviews can work in your favour if you respond to them appropriately.

4.      Create local content for local people

If your business solely serves a local area then be sure to narrow your focus, to specifically target this segment.

Write about local news on your blog to attract a local audience.

Think of your blog as top of the funnel content which goes beyond just what your business offers.

Helpful resources will attract the kind of customers you need.

For example, a coffee shop located in Sheffield may write a post entitled “How to spend a day in Sheffield” and include suggestions for sightseeing and shopping, as well as visiting the coffee shop.

5.      Optimise your website for mobile

Let’s be honest, you should have done this already.

If you haven’t, then be sure to bump this step to the top of your list.

Almost 60% of searches are now done on mobile (source: Hitwise) and this is even higher for local searches, as these are often done on the go.

Google indexes websites mobile-first, so ensuring that your website works on mobile will also help your SEO rankings.

Be sure that your pages load quickly, make sure your site is responsive to mobile screens and ensure that your site is easy to navigate.

You can find out more information about Google’s mobile-first index here.

6.      Build links

Just as with any other website, you should look to build links to your own website from reputable sources.

Try approaching local news outlets with news about your business. Or create guest blog posts for other, related websites or other local businesses which you work with.

If you partner with other businesses, you could create a partners page on your website, link to them, and ask them to do the same in return.

You could even invite local influencers to try your services or products and ask them to post a review on their website.

You may also get social media coverage out of this, which will help you to build your brand amongst a local audience.

7.      Add location pages to your website

If you have more than one physical location for your business (for example, a chain of cafes or hotels) then you should create location pages on your website.

Each location page could include the business name, address, phone number, opening hours, descriptions, promotions and reviews from customers.

Just make sure that you avoid creating any duplicate content when you do this.

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