Illustration of a magnifying glass over a location pointer image
Guides & Advice

The importance of local SEO in your online profile

By Scott Bradley / October 31st 2018

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When we speak to clients, there tends to be a focus on a wider SEO strategy to get themselves noticed on a national or international scale. However, it is important that you don’t ignore SEO on a local level.

We aim to investigate why people disregard such a fantastic way to gain immediate traffic, and build a solid foundation for future success. We’ve always valued the importance of local SEO, and, as Google becomes more focused on the intent and localisation of search, your local marketing strategy is only going to become more and more important.

But before we get into everything, let’s start with the basics:

What is local SEO?

Local search engine optimisation is an industry term referring to the strategies which improve your business’s visibility in searches that are based on location, or that would indicate a user would like to find a local result, like a business or service.

A lot of the work you do to help your local SEO is similar to the tactics you employ for your overall search strategy. However, there is a completely different approach in making sure that your business ranks well for a specific search term in a specific location, compared with your main keyword focus on a national or international scale.

But why is it important?

Local SEO has always been important, but it is becoming increasingly valuable to a company’s online profile, due to the rise in mobile device users, and an emphasis on Google semantic updates. These are Google’s updates which focus on providing accurate results regarding the searcher’s intent, due to factors such as where the user is searching from or a location specified in the search query.

Illustration of a person sat on a location pointer using their mobile

A mobile phone will almost always tend to have location turned on. As a result, a Google search is more likely to provide local results closer to the person’s location. For example, a user searching for ‘music shop’ in Hull, doesn’t want to see music shops in Edinburgh, Bristol or Manchester.

Studies have shown that 90% of mobile users perform local searches, and, when they see a result, 60% of these users will either visit a local business website, or give them a call. With percentages so high, it is clear to see why getting your local SEO up to scratch is vital.

How do I improve my local SEO?

The end goal from working on your SEO is to ensure that when someone searches either from a local area, or specifying a location, that your business will rank in the ‘Local 3-pack’ on Google search results. These are the three results that Google thinks are the best or most relevant to a local search.

For example, the below screenshot shows the results a user sees when searching for “seo agency preston”. We appear top in this local 3-pack due to the work we’ve done on every1’s local SEO profile, as well as the location the user searches from. It’s worth bearing in mind that the three results might change for each user, based on their search history, exact location, or to what level they specify the location they are looking for.

Screenshot of search results for SEO agency preston

The following screenshots show the difference between searching for a music shop from a location where it shows results in that area, compared with searching for a company and including the location in the search query. You should ensure that your local SEO can work well with both types of searches.

Screenshot of Local SEO 3-Pack – Searching FROM a location:

Screenshot of search results for music shop

Screenshot of Local SEO 3-Pack – Searching FOR a location:

Screenshot of search results for music shop manchester

Studies have shown that when someone performs a search showing a local pack on Google, almost 50% of users will click a result in the Local 3-pack, rather than look at organic results – results below the local 3-pack. So ensuring you appear in this 3-pack really does boost your chances of creating a solid foundation for your online marketing success.

Local SEO strategies

There are two main aspects to working on your local SEO:

  1. Off-page strategy – to ensure that searches from local areas are being optimised for
  2. On-page strategy – to ensure that people searching for a product or service in a particular location can see your web pages

Off-page local SEO strategy

The first thing you should do is make a note of your NAP details. This is your business name, business address, and business phone number. It’s important to have a note of exactly what you want to use for your address and name to ensure that, wherever this is placed online, you keep it consistent.

Keeping your business details consistent across websites, such as directories and social channels, provides Google with a reason to offer you much more trust than other businesses.

The most important starting place for your off-page strategy is ‘Google My Business’.

Google My Business is the home for what Google knows about your website straight off the bat, and what it can show to users. For example, your location on Google Maps, your business name, address and phone number – as well as other extras, such as email, business opening times, types of payments you take from customers, and more.

Google My Business, however, isn’t only used for your business information listings. You can also upload photos of your business, products, the location and logo. Customers are also able to upload photos for other users to see, as well as write reviews on your business.

You should also look at citations, ensuring Google can see consistent NAP details across different websites. Citations are effectively directories and websites where you list your business – whether this be Bing, Facebook, Yell, or other similar websites. It is important to get your site listed across these channels, while ensuring that your NAP details stay exactly the same on each one.

Providing Google with as much information as possible gives your business listing a strong foundation going forward – the more the search engine knows, the more it can trust you.

On-page local SEO strategy

Of course, there are times when someone is going to search for a specific service or product in a specific location, that isn’t the location they are currently in. For example, a user who is moving to university might search ‘Furniture shop in Cambridge’, if they wish to look at getting furniture when they get there. Or, perhaps, someone is searching for places to visit and things to do when visiting a new town.

To ensure you not only rely on the local 3-pack results, but also lead the way in organic results, it is important to ensure that your company’s on-page strategy considers the locations you wish to push the most.

Illustration of search results with the backdrop of a landscape

For example, when looking at writing meta titles and descriptions for your pages, you should include a location you’re pushing for, or where your business is located. At every1, we specify as an agency based in Preston, Lancashire.

You may also want to look at adding some structured data to your website. We wrote a blog recently about what is structured data and why is it important – and this is another time that it comes into play. Getting your location mentioned by using structured data across every page maintains the consistency of your NAP details, and this can really help push location-based searches for your site.

How will this benefit your business?

Local SEO is a fantastic base for the rest of your online marketing strategy. If you can be a leader in your region for your industry, it makes moving to a national search scale much easier – you’ll have built up a rapport and trust with Google that a lot of other companies will lack.

Local SEO itself will enable potential customers in and around the area that your business is located in to discover you – increasing both brand awareness and potential sales.

We’d love to explore how our SEO strategies could boost your sales and deliver results for your business. To arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team, call 08447 550 350 or get in touch to find out more.