Tuesday, 12 November 2019

7 local SEO tips from the experts

Local search engine optimization is simple in theory. It’s how businesses improve their online presence specifically for local target audiences.
In practice, this isn’t as complex as you might think, partly because Google is refreshingly clear about local SEO ranking factors (more on that later).
But to help bring even more clarity to this subject and guide your future SEO efforts, we’ve compiled what is possibly the most useful list of local SEO tips to date along with detailed explanations for each.

These are our 7 local SEO tips:

  1. Prioritize and optimize GMB.
  2. Update all NAP(+W) listings.
  3. Solicit and respond to customer reviews.
  4. Focus on ongoing optimization.
  5. Be proactive with your Q&As.
  6. Keep technical SEO top of mind.
  7. Pay attention to the competition.

Why local SEO is so important

Nearly half of all Google searches are local queries. People search Google for what products or services are near them, and you want your company’s website to be on Page 1 of the list of results. That requires geo-targeted web content.
For instance, there’s a big difference between asking Google how to install a lightbulb and where in Boston’s North End you can buy a lightbulb. For the latter query, Google needs to know:
  1. That your company is in the North End (proximity).
  2. That you sell light bulbs (relevance).
  3. That you’re the best at selling light bulbs (prominence).
Local search engine engine optimization is about giving Google the information it needs to determine that your business is the most proximate, relevant and prominent product or service.
An embarrassment of riches lies in wait if you succeed. Just consider the influence local search has on bringing in new business:
  • 82% of smartphone shoppers conduct searches using the words “near me.”
  • 72% of consumers who conduct a local search visit a store within 5 miles.
  • 50% of mobile users who conduct local searches visit the store within one day.

The top ranking signals

The top ranking factors for organic local SEO, according to Moz, are:
  1. Link signals: 27.94%
  2. On-page signals: 26.03%
  3. Behavioral signals: 11.5%
  4. GMB signals: 8.85%
  5. Citation signals: 8.41%
  6. Personalization: 7.32%
  7. Review signals: 6.47%
  8. Social signals: 3.47%
Note that these are types of signals, and not the specific signals themselves.
Also, I promise that these will make more sense as we go on. But at a basic level, all you need to understand right now is that, if your local SEO strategy nails all of these, you greatly increase your website’s chance of landing on Page 1 of local searches that are relevant to your brand.
With that in mind, there is one thing better than being on the first page, and that’s being in Google’s Local Pack (aka, the 3-Pack, or the Map Pack). This refers to the top-three businesses that appear on a local search:
Conveniently, Local Pack uses the same combination of key ranking factors as organic local SEO, just in a different order:

A note on mobility

By default, Google uses the mobile version of a webpage as the primary version. This is reason enough to create a mobile-friendly website, but the stakes are even higher as far as local SEO is concerned. According to Moz, “Mobile-friendly/Responsive Website” is the fifth most important ranking signal.
As we pointed out earlier – the overwhelming majority of smartphone users conduct “near me” searches. What’s more, 82% of searchers use their mobile devices to help them make in-store purchasing decisions.
It’s worth adding that local SEO is surprisingly important in voice search: 75% of smart-speaker owners search for local businesses at least once a week. This isn’t necessarily actionable information (although you can learn more about voice search ranking factors here if you want) – but it will be worth keeping in mind if and when voice search becomes more popular.

Local SEO tips from the experts

Now that you’re familiar with some of the basics of local SEO, let’s dive into tips:
7 local SEO tips from the experts

1. Prioritize and optimize GMB

GMB stands for “Google My Business” and it is the tool for getting your business listing on Google. Think of it as a one-stop shop where you can:
  • Claim an existing listing for your business (say, if a customer created a listing for your business to leave a review).
  • Create a new listing for your business (keep in mind that you can create multiple local listings if you’re a multi-location business)
  • Manage reviews, Questions and Answers.
  • Add name, address, phone number and website (NAP+W), as well as operating hours, photos, videos and Google Posts.
“Claiming” each of your locations’ GMB profiles and making sure all of the basic business listing information (NAP, business description, map location, etc.) is correct is just the beginning,” Krystal Taing, Local Product Strategy at Rio SEO, advised. “Don’t stop with the basics! Google now enables businesses to include menus, define service areas, create different types of Posts, and more inside each GMB dashboard.”
By “Posts” Taing is referring to “Google Posts.” These are essentially micro-blog posts that you can add to your business listing. Event promotions, deals, coupons, company updates, recent brand news and links to a booking site are examples of Google Posts. According to Moz, quantity of Google Posts is actually a local SEO ranking factor – No. 21, to be precise. They’re a great way to get content on the first page of SERPs for queries that include your business’s name.
The bottom line: Take Taing’s advice, and optimize your GMB listings with up-to-date information, but also useful content that will help retain searchers’ attention.

2. Update all NAP(+W) listings

NAP(+W) stands for name, address and phone number plus website. Local customers need this information to learn more about your business, get directions through Google Maps or perform click-to-call via a mobile device.
Mobile click-to-call is a search signal.
Every time another website or business directory lists your NAP(+W), your business earns a citation. Generally speaking, more citations are better, which is why you should list your company in as many relevant online directories as possible.
Top online directories to list your business for local SEO:
  • Better Business Bureau.
  • Yelp.
  • Facebook.
  • Foursquare.
  • Yellow Pages.
  • Apple Maps.
  • Yahoo!.

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