Web designers often talk about ‘SEO’, or search engine optimisation which is essentially giving the best chance to your website of appearing higher in the search engine results. A huge part of that is Local SEO. Local SEO is a search engine optimisation strategy that helps your business be more visible in local searches on Google.
Any business that has a physical location, or serves a particular area will benefit from working on their local SEO. Why? If you do a search on Google, for example “website designer Aberystwyth”, you’ll notice a map will pop up with 3 listings that appear beneath it – these are local results, where Google has used your location to show you the ‘nearest’ results. The listings that will usually show here, are ones that have worked on their SEO, especially local SEO well.
How does Google rank search results?
Google uses a huge variety of variables to rank the millions of websites that are on the web, and it uses lots of different processes to do this – these are known as algorithms. So when you do a search on Google, an algorithm checks the index and will return a whole list of results that match your search. These results are chosen and ranked based on those variables, which include relevance, prominence and also popularity.
How do the algorithms work?
Well, if only I knew! The actual algorithms are top secret, and even within Google, one department doesn’t know what the other is doing. As digital marketers, we have a good idea as to what the algorithms are doing, but they do frequently tweak and change, so it’s an ever evolving ‘game’.
What we do know is that algorithms look at various on-site and off-site factors to rank your website, and then rank these by relevance first and then prominence. With this in mind, improving your SEO will influence both the relevancy of your website, and the prominence.
Note: SEO is a huge part of having your website, and I’m only touching on a very particular aspect of it, there’s a lot more to it! Other important aspects include site speed, security, quality content, navigation and more.
Let’s talk about Local SEO
According to “ahrefsblog”, 46% of all Google searches are local – that’s almost half of all searches made on the search engine. I.e., almost half of the searches made on Google have a ‘local’ aspect – when people search for something, they are looking for a ‘local’ something, like a local web designer in our example above.
Local SEO takes into account your ‘proximity’, which is your location, when you search for a local keyword (e.g. vegan café in Aberystwyth). If you have your location switched on, you won’t even need to add the location in the search, Google will pick this up and assume you want to see the results for your local area first.
How to improve your Local SEO
First thing first, you must claim your Google My Business listing – this is the most important element of improving your local SEO. If you’re not sure what Google My Business is then head over to the July 2020 EGO where I talked about it!
Secondly, keyword research. This is super important, and what you basically want to do is pre-empt your customers questions. Let’s say for example you are the Tollgate Vegan Café in Aberystwyth, here are some questions your potential customers might be looking for in Google:
- Vegan café near me
- Tollgate café
- Tollgate vegan café
- What time does the Tollgate close
- What time does the Tollgate open
- Tollgate phone number
- Vegan café in Aberystwyth
- Vegan café in Ceredigion
- Vegan food Aberystwyth
And so on – brainstorm these keywords and phrases, and then make sure your website is optimised for them. One tip is to start typing your keywords/phrases into Google and see what ‘suggestions’ come from that! For example, start typing in “web design” and Google will auto-populate some suggestions based off ‘top’ searches!
Finally (for today), you should look at your local citations as a way to help improve your local SEO. What are Local Citations? These are basically any links on the web that link back to your website. Citations are actually one of the top local ranking factors, and it’s really important to make sure that the information mentioned about you online is consistent (especially business name, address, phone number). If you’ve moved location or got a new phone number, spend some time tracking down all of the mentions of your site online and make sure each listing is up to date – otherwise, it can be damaging. Further on from that, work on building more relevant citations too – can you ask to be listed on the local tourism site for example.
SEO is a super important aspect of your website – it’s never a case of launching a new site and leaving it be for years. You have to nurture it, to give it and you the best shot at climbing those rankings in Google. If you are a business with a physical location or service a particular area, then Local SEO is a great place to focus your energy to begin with!