Google makes heavy updates to its algorithms at least couple of times a year. Minor updates are always rolling out from the search giant, but it is the major updates that worry SEO professionals the most.
The last major update from Google was Penguin 4.0 with two big changes:
1) It treats every page of the website separately
2) Penguin now evaluates websites while it crawls their content.
In addition to this, Google also made a huge change in its Local algorithm just before the last quarter of 2016 started.
However, soon it was realized that the competition with regular SEO was unbelievably tough. You could safely say that it was impossible for small and medium-sized businesses to compete with larger businesses not only from their area, but businesses from other parts of the world. That’s when the importance of local SEO was realized and efforts were made to make this aspect of online marketing stronger.
So, what is local SEO?
Local SEO Defined
When you make efforts to rank better on search engines against local businesses, it’s called local SEO. In simple words, with local SEO you are competing for a position on a search engine’s first couple of pages with other local businesses. The idea of local keeps changing depending on the size of your business. If you are located all over the US, you will optimize your website’s content for US audience and/or each individual location. Going deeper, you will optimize your website specifically for areas, regions, counties, and cities where your business is located. Names of local areas, events, places etc. are used with keywords in order to help make them local.
How Important Is Local SEO?
Here’s where to start:
- Half of all customers who searched for a local business on their smartphones visited the location they searched within one day of the search.
- Local searches that people would do on their mobile phones are so productive that 18% of those customers will end up buying something the same day.
- Local searches on mobile phones have an overwhelming offline sales record with 78% of these customers buying something from the stores they have searches on their phones.
These statistics clearly prove how important local SEO is for businesses in the modern times. Not only are these visitors looking for information about local businesses but also they are also potential customers. Businesses are more about conversion rates than they are about website traffic. With these statistics, you should know you are targeting a potential audience already. Here are some more facts about local SEO to show you how big local SEO has become now.
- Out of all the customers surveyed, 94% said they have visited local online businesses for shopping. (Source)
- 76% of the people who perform local search will finally make a call to the searched businesses. (Source)
There is direct relation between local searches and mobile device users. Keep in mind that people who own mobile devices are generally searchers who are regularly looking for a local business. You can see from how active people currently are on mobile, that with time even more people will become mobile users and searchers. Soon things will be like the HostGator CEO, Adam Farra, stated, with the growing use of mobile, the importance of local SEO will keep increasing in the future.
Just think about it, people from the other side of the world aren’t looking for a plumber in the US. But, people in your area will look for a restaurant nearby when they want to go to one. They aren’t going to be interested in searching for a restaurant in India unless they’re planning to go to India in the near future.
It is on you to make your website optimized for your area and appear in the search results when someone searches for businesses in your area. Of course, you have to follow a strong local SEO strategy in order to be visible to these potential customers. You will have to compete with other local businesses, but you will not be competing against thousands of businesses around the world like you do with regular SEO.
Here’s how you can perfect your local SEO strategy and beat fellow competitors.
How to Conquer Local SEO
The first step that any business has to take for a strong local SEO strategy is to claim its local listings first. Make sure you are listed on local business listing websites that are the most popular among people in your region. Local directories are websites that list businesses in a particular area, review them, take feedback from customers and rate them based on customer feedback.
Why take the time to do this? Because 68% of the people looking to buy something from a business will look at online reviews in order to shortlist the businesses they will purchase from. These reviews are generally listed on local directory websites like Yelp.
What this means is that you will have to first claim your local listings and then make sure to get positive reviews and feedback from customers. It’s best if you personally interact and respond to the concerns that customers raise in their online reviews.
Claim Your Local Listing
As for claiming your listing, you are in control of the content posted about your business once you have claimed your listing. You also want to make sure that your address, location and other contact details appear on local listings exactly as they appear on your website. This consistency is greatly appreciated by Google and will pay it forward by ranking websites with consistent NAP information higher in local searches.
The first place to start from is Google’s local business listing. Once you have claimed that space your website’s ad will appear with its Google map, exact address, opening and closing hours, phone number, rating etc. in search results. This has a direct impact on people’s decision when they are looking to buy a product from local businesses or use their services. An important aspect of claiming your Google local listing is updating the information as frequently as possible. The more updated the information is the more your customers and Google will like you.
Optimize Content For Local Searches
In addition to claiming local listings, you need to optimize the content of your website for local searches. This is done by including the name of your area, city, county or state with the keywords that are closely related to your business industry. Your SEO firm will have to do some research to know the most competitive yet productive local search keywords and then incorporate them on your website to optimize your website for local searches. You will also have to keep up-to-date with local events in order to attract local audience during those days.
If you are a business operating in multiple countries and regions, you would want to benefit from translation services. Have your website translated in the language of the people you are targeting. This makes a huge difference. Even your ads can be translated to make a stronger and direct connection with the people who don’t understand English. Not to surprise you but there are more people on earth who can’t understand English than there are who can.
Backlinks Are Your Friend
Last but not the least, partner with local businesses to earn backlinks to your website. Talk to local reviewers, YouTubers, event planners and businesses to link to your website using their content. Do the same with them and give them backlinks. The best way to do it is through blog posts, press releases etc. If they are writing a piece where there is opportunity for your business to be mentioned, you should openly ask for that favor. Most importantly, don’t forget to connect with your local audience through social media.