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Local SEO refers to an SEO strategy that is designed to improve the visibility of your business in local search results on Google. If your business has a brick and mortar location or specifically serves a target geographic area, then local SEO is for you – with 46% of searches on Google seeking local information and 97% of people learning more about local businesses online than anywhere else, you can’t afford to miss it.

This blog post will break down what Local SEO is, why it matters, and what you can do to help optimise your website and online presence for Local SEO.

Why does Local SEO matter?

As Google has evolved, it has come to realise that some searches are really looking for results in close geographic proximity – if you search “MOT Garage” and you’re in Sheffield, the chances are that search results showing mechanics in South Wales won’t be of much use. In fact, 72% of consumers will visit a store within 5 miles of them after a local search, and nearly 20% of mobile local searches result in an offline purchase the very same day.

This is why Google’s algorithm takes your geographic location into account when trying to find matches for searches made with local intent. Excitingly, Google uses two separate algorithms for the main search results page and their “map pack” results, giving your business the opportunity to appear on both simultaneously and maximise visibility when matched with a query.

What are the Benefits of Local SEO?

There are many benefits to a well optimised local search presence, specifically if you want to drive traffic to visit your business in person or want to improve upon your local reputation and boost awareness of your business.

Local SEO gives you Reach & Conversions

Through improving your visibility to potential customers you can drive traffic to your website, as well as encourage phone/email/live-chat conversations and in-person visits to your local business.

Simply put, Local SEO gives you more visibility and precious screen “real estate”, it also enables a user to find your website, contact details and address without leaving their search.

Showcase your Reputation

How often do you check out Google Reviews before making a purchase online or booking a table with a local restaurant you’ve never tried before? Having a great online reputation on your Google Business profile is proven to assist in conversions, whether that be an online purchase or a phone-call to book your services. 

Regular reviews are also seen by Google to be a ranking factor; we’ve discussed the importance of reputation in a blog on Google Business profiles you can read here.

How can you improve your Local SEO?

There are a variety of ways that you could improve your local SEO, here are some potential quick wins:

Optimising your Google Business Profile

Ensuring your Google Business Profile is full of useful, accurate information, reviews and stunning pictures goes a long way to helping visitors engage with your profile. 

More information on developing a great Google Business Profile can be found here.

Optimise your website

There are a variety ways to optimise your website for Local search, but here’s a short list of key points to check out for your business. 

Consider content & Keywords

To start with, your business name, address and contact details need to be 100% accurate and also match your Google Business Profile exactly. If we were called “WilkesWood Agency” on our Google Business Profile but “Wilkes Wood” on our website, Google may deem these as two seperate identities and punish our rankings accordingly.

Good practice is to ensure that all contact information matches across all touchpoints online, and your website footer has a clean and defined section set aside to have your address and contact number easily accessible – take a look below for an example from Valley Landscapes.

Better your Meta

Does your on-page content actually say what you do? Does it say where you do it? Is it all in one huge block of inaccessible text?

Optimising your on-page content can work wonders for helping your Local SEO rankings. To put it very simply, if lots of site visitors hit your website and then immediately leave, there’s a good chance that Google will see this as a negative and your rankings could plummet.

By ensuring the content on your landing page is optimised with valuable content that is presented in a digestible and easily navigable way, you’re giving a genuinely good experience to site visitors that will likely be reflected in their behaviour online.

There has to be a balancing act between content and keywords . You need enough of the latter to rank and appear for relevant search queries – keywords that demonstrate your location and business type help Google understand what you do and what areas you serve/are located at.

However, beware of straying into the world of keyword stuffing, i.e wedging in keywords for the sake of it, as your content will inevitably suffer and so will your rankings!

If you want to find out more about this, please get in touch and we can discuss how to optimise your site content.

Landing pages based on location

Meta-data is very important when trying to optimise your website for Local SEO. Ensuring your meta descriptions and title tags feature the right keywords can help searchers understand how relevant you are to their initial search query.

Look at the following example of searching for “Hairdressers on Ecclesall Road”. This is a search query that has keywords relating to the service the searcher requires information about as well as a geographical marker.

You can see that the meta description and title tags of the top result relate directly to this search query and it is therefore very easy for Google, as well as the searcher themselves, to see that this result is highly relevant.

Make sure it matches

Let’s imagine you run a cleaning company that operates across South Yorkshire. That means your service is available to a few different cities and towns across the region: Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

It may seem very hard to optimise for a broad location like this, but through optimising specific landing pages for each location, you can build a separate page for each area and rank accordingly.

Through researching effective keywords and ensuring your geographical keywords are accurate and present in your on-page copy, as well as the meta-data discussed above and the url/page-name, you can create the perfect page for each of the areas you service.

There are plenty of business directories and listings that businesses can approach to get their information on – ranging from sites like Yell to more locally focused directories like the South Yorkshire Business Directory. The below search result from Yell shows up on the front page when searching for Wilkes Wood.

This is effective for two main reasons – firstly, it gives Google and other search engines even more information about your business, and secondly you have another “backlink” to your website that has the potential to drive traffic and boost your rankings.

What Else?

There are plenty more ways to optimise for Local Search, including site media optimisation, developing your UX, and auditing the behaviour of your competitors. 

We find that with many of our clients the best place to start is by fully optimising their Google Business Profile. For more information on anything discussed in this blog, or to find out how we can help your business perform better with Local SEO, get in touch today.

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