So you are a local service provider and you have heard of local SEO but you’re still unsure what it all means. Let’s set the scene… Bright local have provided some compelling stats on consumer search habits in the US – and Australian’s are not much different.
Here are some interesting facts and stats:
97% of consumers used the internet to find a local business
97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day
85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
Search engine optimisation strategies for local businesses have some distinct strategies that are more important than those for national or e-commerce sites. With the statistics mentioned above, it’s imperative that your business ranks higher for a multitude of search queries than those of your competitors.
According to a Google study, 50% of mobile users who search for a local business, visit that store on the same day. As a result, it is important that your website is not only local SEO optimised, but make sure it is also mobile friendly and focuses on local and regionally relevant content.
I’ve compiled a local SEO guide with my top 5 optimisations you need to succeed in local search engine optimisation and business in general.
Google My Business (and don’t forget Bing)
Google my business is technically a directory, but it’s also a whole lot more, so make sure you claim it and optimise it for your business. Those businesses who have verified and claimed their business and that have strong reviews are more likely to appear within the top organic local search engine results.
Some suggestions to get your Google My Business account set up correctly are to
- Use high quality (yet compressed) visually appealing images and photos
- Ensure you have a local phone number for people to contact you via landline or via mobile
- Don’t keyword stuff. People and Google can see what you are trying to do
- Lastly in Australia, Bing had a 8.82% search engine market share in December of 2017. For that reason, it’s definitely worth claiming and verifying your free business listing with Bing.
Make Mobile Friendly Your New Marta
Its safe to say a large majority of Australians over the age of 18 own a smartphone. If you are a local business, a restaurant, dentist, osteopath, nail or hair salon, you’ll find that many of your customers use mobile phones or tablets to find the best local businesses while they’re on the go.
Therefore ensuring your website is mobile responsive and optimised for mobile searches is imperative. Infact, in Jan 18, Google who has been pushing ‘mobile first’ for some time now announced mobile site speed will now become a ranking factor.
Location Pages and “near me” searches
Think about your own habits and how many times you have searched “near me”. Doctor near me, doggy day care near me, podiatrist near me. These can be quite a lucrative SEO niche if optimized the correct way.
Those volumes are worth optimizing for. A strong locational and surrounding area content strategy could aid you here.
Online Reviews Help Your SEO
Online reviews are a must for any business, but more so for local SEO. Remember the stats, 85% of consumers trust online reviews and it’s common knowledge that word of mouth and referrals are major components for creating a successful business. Therefore, its vital for you to increase your online reputation with trusted customer reviews. Whether its on Google my business, social media channels such as Facebook or third party review sites such as trust pilot-a positive review can attract many more clients.
Don’t be fearful of negative reviews. Respond to them with a positive attitude and a resolution. Showing potential customers that you will resolve issues if they arise, highlights your business is different then others by offering outstanding customer service. Use it to your advantage. All customers need to feel as through their opinion matters, because it does.
And don’t forget to schema markup your ratings so that they appear with the little gold stars in the search engine results page and it helps to make them stand out.
Local Structured Data Markup
Google prefers sites that use structured data markup. What are they? Structured data is a little bit of code in the HTML of your site that aids search engines to not only to crawl your site but to truly understand what that page is about.
Many websites are still not using mark ups, therefore there is a great opportunity to utilise mark ups as a competitive advantage. Your local business could stand out in locational search queries and possibly rank higher if structured data markups are added for the businesses location, opening hours, telephone numbers and even departments eg: mens hair and womens hair.
My goal is not to turn every small business owner into a digital marketer, but to guide small businesses with the overall knowledge to help them succeed at digital marketing efforts. These 5 factors when implemented correctly will aid with online visibility and more in store visits resulting from online searches.
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