Published: 07 February 2016
Any business that rely on local customers should be concerned where they appear in the local search results. These are typically searches on a keywords accompanied by a place-name. A report from Search Engine Watch found that 59% of consumers regularly use Google to find local businesses. The local search results offer local businesses a real opportunity, where you can take on the big national companies and win in the search engine positions game.
There are two places where you can appear in the local search results, in the organic search results and in the local search box 3-pack. In the figure below you can see the search results for ‘plumber Norwich’.
Even on a large monitor the organic search results are below the fold, the viewer has to scroll down the page to see them. However, the local search results are displayed much more prominently, in their own box and with a handy map showing the locations of the businesses. The local search box shows the top 3 results for the area, to see more local business the user would have to click on the map. Obviously you’ll want to rank in the top 3 if possible, the rest of this guide if focused on getting you there.
Before you start optimising your website for local search you’ll have to take care of the SEO basics. I won’t go into detail here as this topic is well covered elsewhere, but I’ll offer this list as a short summary of what needs to be done.
There are a few simple tricks to let google know that your website is a local business and where you are.
If you’d rather get a professional to take care of your websites SEO please get in touch. We provide a full range of services, from audits and keyword research through to website SEO updates.
Once you’ve tackled the site wide SEO you can start looking at individual pages.
Google loves original content, if you copy content from other websites google will ignore it.
Now that your on-site content is optimised its time to start looking at off site optimisation. Start with registering your business with Google’s My Business service. This is key to getting your business in the local 3 pack and on google maps. To add your business sign in with your google account and make sure the ‘locations’ tab is selected. Click on the plus sign in the bottom right corner and select ‘add a location’ from the pop-up options. Follow the steps to add your business and verify it. Add as much detail as you can, including a good description of your business and some photos of your work and workplace.
Local citations are referring to directory listings for your business. Google takes notices of some of the larger directories and uses their data to help filter the search results. You can add you business manually to the different directories, but make sure you use consistent NAP data for all listings. A great tool for tracking the important citations is Moz Local. You can use their free tool to track and analyze your listings in the most important directories, or pay a small fee and they’ll do all the hard word for you.
Social media activity is a signal used by google when its algorithms are deciding where your business belongs in the listings. If you want to rank well an active social media presence though not essential, will certainly help.
Customer reviews of your products or services send strong trust signals to Google. Start collecting reviews on your Google+ local page as soon as you can, once you have a few consider other popular sites as well. Facebook reviews and Yelp reviews are also trusted by Google, through Yelp doesn’t like you asking customers to leave reviews.
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