Local SEO – The Ultimate Guide to Ranking Your Business

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the process of optimising on-line properties to improve the visability of your organisation in organic search results. By utilising the strategies outlined in this guide, you can ensure that potential customers find your business when they perform relevant searches with commercial intent.

When does Google show Localized Search Results?

Google recognises that location plays a significant role in search result relevance, and relies heavily on location data to return the most relevant results. Google can acquire location data through device settings, GPS, and even your IP address. If you search for a locksmith or pizza delivery company, the first result you see is very likely to be a local business. Localized results can also be returned for search phrases that contain a geo-modifier, eg: “Local SEO Leeds”.

What Areas of Google Search are Primarily Affected by Local SEO?

The snack pack is a box containing 3 local businesses that are relevant to the user’s search query. Also known as the “Google 3 Pack”, “Map Pack”, or “Local 3 Pack”, this box appears on page one of mobile and desktop search results. The snack pack is positioned below adverts, but above organic search results. This presents small local businesses with a great opportunity to outrank bigger competitors in localized results.

Local SEO Map Pack

Google Map search can help potential customers to find your physical location. Users are able to click on your Google Maps listing to reveal additional information about your business, including reviews, phone numbers, opening hours, street address, and website.

Map Search

Google’s knowledge graph is used to enrich search results with a variety of information collected from different sources. The knowledge graph is essentially a database powered by an inference engine which applies logic based rules in order to ascertain connections between people, places, objects, and entities with a high degree of accuracy.

It is now possible to claim your knowledge graph panel, and then suggest changes to information it contains.

Local SEO Knowledge Graph

Which Ranking Factors Affect Local Rankings?

Moz recently carried out a survey involving SEO professionals across the globe. The survey asked participants to assign a percentage to known ranking factors, indicating the extent to which it affects local search rankings. The results were as follows:

Google My Business Page

Proximity of bricks and mortar premises to search location, page optimisation factors, page categories, etc

Inbound Links

Inbound link factors, including total linking domains, anchor text, trust and authority of linking domains, OBL count, etc.

Reviews

Velocity of business reviews recieved, quantity of total reviews, review platform diversity, responding to reviews.

On-page Optimisation

Name, address and phone number present on-page,  keyword relevance of page content, page importance as determined by site structure and inbound links, etc.

NAP Citations

Consitency of NAP Citations across local directories, industry specific directories, data aggregators, and the web. Total volume of NAP Citations.

Engagement Signals

Google my business post interactions, click-through rate, click-to-call interations etc.

SERP Personalization

Google tracks our search behavior and uses this data to personalize our search results based on how we interact with different products and services across different devices.

Social Media Engagement

Audience engagement across various social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

Which Ranking Factors Affect Localized Organic Rankings?

Localized organic search rankings (displayed underneath the snack pack) are affected by slightly different ranking factors:

Inbound Links

Inbound link factors, including total linking domains, anchor text, trust and authority of linking domains, OBL count, etc.

On-page Optimisation

Name, address and phone number present on-page,  keyword relevance of page content, page importance as determined by site structure and inbound links, etc.

Engagement Signals

Behavioral interactions including click-through rate and click-to-call.

SERP Personalization

Google tracks our search behavior and uses this data to personalize our search results based on how we interact with different products and services across different devices.

NAP Citations

Consitency of NAP Citations across local directories, industry specific directories, data aggregators, and the web. Total number of NAP Citations.

Google My Business Page

Proximity of bricks and mortar premises to search location, page optimisation factors, page categories, etc

Reviews

Velocity of business reviews recieved, quantity of total reviews, review platform diversity, responding to reviews.

Social Media Engagement

Audience engagement across various social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

How to Optimise your Google My Business Page

Having a Google My Business page is essential for any business that is serious about local SEO. To create a page simply go to Google My Business and sign in with your Google account. If there are no locations registered via your Google account, you will immediately be presented with the signup form:

Google My Business Signup

If you already have other My Business pages, simply click on “Manage Locations”, then add a new location. Make sure that the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)  you enter are correct, and match the information displayed on your website.

Choosing the correct categories for your My Business page is imperative. A great way to determine the most effective categories for your business is by performing searches on Google maps using geo-modified keywords like “Local SEO Leeds”, and then look at which categories your main competitors are listed under. Business category information will be shown directly beneath the reviews stars on each listing (or beneath the business name where no reviews are present). Google allows you to select a maximum of 10 categories.

After completing the 5-step signup form, you will need to verify your business listing before you can make any further changes. Listings can be verified by telephone call, text message, phone call, or post card. If you signed up with the same email address that you use for Google search console, you may also have an option to verify by email.

Google My Business Verification

Once your listing is verified make sure you add more information to your page. Fill in all applicable fields in the the sections labelled “Info” and “Services”, and upload your logo along with any photographs of your business. Try to include important keywords within the contextual flow of your business description.

If you need to add more categories, you can do so by clicking the pencil icon next to your primary on the “Info” page.

On the dashboard homepage, you can create a branded short name your business page, this will generate a custom review form URL that you can send to your customers.

How to Acquire Inbound Links

One of the most effective ways to acquire inbound links is by performing a link intersection, this involves analysing competitor link profiles to find out which websites are linking to them. The premise is simple, if a site already links to one of your competitors, there is a good chance that they will also link to you.

Performing a link intersection is a simple 3-step process with SEO Spyglass:

  1. Create a new project for your website, and allow the software to gather backlink data.
  2. Click on “Domain Comparison” then add your leading competitor URLs.
  3. Click on “Link Intersection” to view the merged backlink data.
Local SEO Competitor Analysis

Now that we have our link intersection data, we need to export the websites that link to our competitors, and then import the data into Link Assistant, our outreach and link prospect management tool.

Local SEO Link Acquisition

Work through the list opening each website in an external browser. Try to figure out how your competitor got that link and if you can replicate the process to get a link of your own. You won’t be able to get every link, but you should be able to replicate a good percentage of them.

To find local links, enter your town, city, or region in the Link Assistant filter box.

Top tip: Be selective, skip any potential links that look spammy or have low relevance to your vertical. Install Moz toolbar and skip any potential link partners that have a high spam score.

Reviews

Reviews of any kind are incredibly beneficial. Negative reviews allow you to identify areas where your business is failing to meet customer expectations, and adapt your process to improve customer experience. By responding to negative reviews your business can demonstrate it’s commitment to providing excellent customer service. Positive reviews provide valuable testimonials for your products or services, in fact 92% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service after reading a positive review. Reviews are also an important ranking factor that can help boost your local SEO.

The best way to acquire reviews is to actively seek them. Google My Business allows you to create a branded link to your GMB review form, email this link to your previous customers and ask them to leave a review for you, or include it on your delivery slips.

Consider printing “Thank you for your business” cards that include a scannable QR code linked to your GMB review form.

Local SEO QR Review Code

Google my business is not the only review platform, customers may have already left reviews that you are not aware of. To find reviews search Google with following advanced search operators: “business name” +”reviews”.

Sign up and claim your business on any review platforms that your customers are using, this will allow you to respond to the feedback left. You may also want to claim your business on popular platforms like uk.trustpilot.com, yell.com, and reviews.co.uk. If you operate a hotel, restaurant, or accomodation business, you can add tripadvisor.co.uk to the list.

On-page Optimisation

1. Geo-targetted Landing Pages

If your business serves towns or cities where you do not have a physical location, you can create geo-targetted landing pages for each additional town or city to gain visibility in organic search. Be sure to include the town or city in your landing page title and URL:

https://www.bluewidgets.com/leeds
https://www.bluewidgets.com/bradford
https://www.bluewidgets.com/dewsbury

Each of these pages should have it’s own unique content.

2. Optimise page Content

Ensure that your keywords and location are mentioned in important page elements like page title, meta desription, header tags, and page content.

3. Prominent Contact Details

Make it as easy as possible for potential customers to contact you by displaying your your phone number in your page header. Your contact page should also include your address, opening hours, and an embedded google map.

4. Structured Data

Use Schema markup to make important data easier for search engines to understand. You can use Google’s structured data markup helper to tag your logo, business name, phone number, email, and opening hours. JSON-LD is the recommended method.
Mark up each page seperately, tagging every element that is present on that page. If your website is based on WordPress, you can use the Per Page Head plugin to add different JSON-LD Schema markup to each page.

Schema Markup

5. Build Trust and Encourage Conversions

Build trust by displaying testimonials on your website and encourage conversions with effective calls to action that tell your visitors what to do next. Common calls to action include “Call Now” and “Request a Quote”.

6. Gain a Small Ranking Boost with SSL

Google gives secure websites a small ranking boost, so if your website is not secure, you could gain an easy win by installing an SSL certificate. Remember to 301 redirect http to https after installing the certificate and update any hardcoded links within your website to avoid insecure data problems.

7. Reduce page load Times

Perform a GTmetrix speed test to identify any problems that could be causing your pages to load slowly. In many cases considerable page speed improvements are possible by fixing issues such as render blocking Javascript and incorrectly sized images, leveraging browser caching, minifying CSS & Javascript, and enabling gzip compression. Google have confirmed that page load speed is a ranking factor.

8.Make sure your site is Mobile Friendly

Ensure that your website is mobile friendly by performing a mobile friendly test.

Mobile Friendly

How to Perform a Citation Audit

Before we start building NAP citations, we need to perform a thorough audit of your existing NAP citations to make sure they are all correct and consistent. This is because inconsistant NAP citations can have a severely detrimental effect on Local SEO.

To audit your existing NAP citations, we need to create a list of:

Any previous business names your company has traded under.
Any previous addresses your business has had.
Any previous phone numbers your business has had (including mobile numbers, national numbers, freephone, etc).

The next step is to create a list that includes all possible permutations of business names, addresses (building number and street name only), and phone numbers. You can do this manually, but if you are familiar with Scrapebox’s keyword merge tool, this could help speed up the process if you have a lot of possible permutations.

You can now use Moz Local to check every NAP permutation in the list and identify any inconsistant citations your business has.

Citation Audit

Most directories allow you to log in and edit your listing, but if this is not possible you may need to contact the website via email to request a change. After you finish working through the list and correcting any inconsistant citations, it’s a good idea to check Google to see if there are any citations that Moz Local did not know about. To do this we simply modify our list to include advanced search operators, eg: “Blog Shack” +”116 Grovehall” +”0113 328 0386″, and then repeat the process.

How to Build NAP Citations

Citation sources generally fall into one of four categories:

To find local directories, you can use the following search queries:

[city] business directory
[city] business listings
[city] directory

To find industry specific directories, use:

[industry] business directory [city]
[industry] business listings [city]
[industry] directory [city]

After submitting your business to Central Index (data aggregator) and high authority generic directories, focus on local and industry specific directories. Remember to make each profile as complete as possible, and include your name, address, and phone number exactly as it is displayed on your website.

To find local directories, you can use the following search queries:

Summary

You now have the knowledge you need to rank your local business. However, persistance is the key to success, so if you find that you don’t have time to build new links and citations on a regular basis, get in touch. Our Local SEO services start from just £150 per month.

If you have any SEO related questions, thoughts, or feedback, please let us know in the comments below.

By |2019-10-30T18:32:15+00:00August 10th, 2019|Local SEO|0 Comments

About the Author:

Nick has over ten years experience in the SEO industry and is also a qualified Google Ads professional. He is the founder of Blog Shack.

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