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Local SEO: A Simple Guide for Small Businesses in 2021

Local SEO

Did you know that 46% of all search queries on Google have a local search intention? According to Google, every second local search leads to a store visit.

So, the local search has a lot of potentials, but also some unique aspects. This article will teach you what makes local search unique and how you can optimise your website for it.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the part of search engine optimisation that focuses on improving the ranking of websites in local search engine results. Since Google has the largest market share in the United Kingdom, we will focus on Google.

Why is Local SEO different?

Google does not evaluate local search results according to complete the same factors. Furthermore, some special features are only present in local search:

#1. The Local Pack

The 3 Pack, also called Local Pack, is a box in the local search results that displays three companies plus a map with their locations. In 2015, there were seven results displayed here, but since then, the number has been reduced.

#2 Organic search results

Unlike the regular search results, the local search often finds directories in the top positions.

#3 Competition

The competition in local search is less than in regular search. The reason for this is apparent – not every company has a branch in your city. Therefore, although the number of searches is usually lower, you are only competing against companies from the immediate vicinity.

Who is Local SEO interesting for?

Local SEO is interesting for everyone who has a physical address, especially for small and medium-sized companies. Local SEO can be an excellent tool to promote their goods and services in the surrounding area.

What are the ranking factors?

As with regular search engine optimisation, several factors can play a role in improving rankings. However, Google is very reluctant to disclose individual ranking factors. But, according to the Google My Business help page, relevance, distance, awareness, and importance are the decisive ranking factors in local SEO.

If you take these 10 factors into account, you have a good chance of getting to the top Google positions with your website and generating more sales for your business.

#1 – Google My Business (GMB) Listing: The basis for Local SEO is a GMB entry, which gives Google the necessary information to assign you as a stationery company in a specific region. According to the latest study by the search engine experts at MOZ, a Google My Business listing is an essential factor for the Local Pack.

#2 – Positive reviews correlate with a good local ranking. Therefore, never forget to ask your customers for a review.

#3 – Backlinks: External links are also crucial in SEO. Note that in Local SEO, local backlinks have a higher value. For example, you can get local links from local online media, a local directory, or a cooperation partner.

Other ways to get backlinks are:

  • Co-financing an event in your region – in return, you can ask for a link.
  • Publishing guest articles.
  • Local Citations: These are local mentions in business directories, such as Yelp or Yell. Since directories usually rank well in the local search results themselves, generate relevant traffic to your site.

#4 – Proximity: The shorter the distance between the store and the user’s location, the better the ranking prospects. Therefore, stores in the city centre have a particular advantage, but the most important thing is to be close to the target group.

On-Page SEO Factors

#5 – Onpage Factors: Onpage optimisation is also important in Local SEO. Place appropriate keywords representing your business in the title tag, meta-description, H1 headline and text, if necessary. The use of keywords with regional reference (e.g. “plumber London”) is usually the most promising.

Further on-page factors are, for example, mobile optimisation and page speed.

#6 – NAP: Your website, Google My Business, business directories, etc., should always have the correct NAP. What does NAP mean? Name, Address, Phone Number. If you have multiple business locations, you should have separate pages for each NAP. The NAP should always be the same across all platforms. Otherwise, Google will not know which data is the correct one. Inconsistencies can also harm your ranking.

#7 – Structured Data: Structured data can help Google to understand the website better. Structured data is usually marked up using the markups from schema.org. In addition, the formats Microdata RDFa and JSON-LD are available for embedding.

#8 – Local phone number: A local number does not only seem trustworthy to the user, but it can also strengthen the trust of Google in the web presence.

#9 – User behaviour: User signals, such as a high click rate or mobile calls directly from the search results, are also a decisive factor in local rankings. You can improve the click rate in the result pages of search engines by optimising the title tags and meta-descriptions and, if necessary, by using rich snippets (structured data).

#10 – Social Signals: Social Signals may also play a limited role as a ranking factor. It is recommended to have at least one profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn to find potential customers. Citations and links to social media are also sometimes considered ranking criteria in local SEO.

How do you register your company on Google My Business?

Register your company for free in 6 easy steps on Google My Business:

  • Click on “Start now” on the Google My Business page.
  • Log in with your Google Account or create a new one.
  • Enter your company address. You may have to move a pin on a map.
  • If you select the option “I provide goods and services at the customer’s location”, you can indicate the distance to your location where you offer your services and products.
  • By activating this option, you also can hide your location.
  • Select a suitable category for your company. For example, the category is decisive for which search query your company is shown under in the 3 Pack section. Depending on the category, you can also specify attributes that further highlight your company’s offer.
  • Enter your company phone number and/or your website URL.
  • Confirm your company. Usually, the confirmation is done via a postcard sent to you. In some cases, other verification methods are available, such as confirmation via phone call or SMS.

Tips for Google My Business optimisation

  • Always keep your data up-to-date and accurate. Google prefers well-maintained entries.
  • Write a short, objective description to provide users with additional information about your company. Make sure that your description contains the most important information and keywords.
  • Add pictures and videos.
  • Use attributes: Select all applicable attributes from the list available for your category. For example, for a restaurant, an attribute could be “outdoor seating”.
  • Respond to positive or negative ratings—users and Google like it when you are active.
  • Write reviews for Google My Business. These are displayed to the right of the actual search results in the so-called “Knowledge Graph” under “company information”. This way, you can create more attention and trust for your company.

Combined with Google Ads, Local SEO can increase the visibility of your business in the Google search results. But are Google Ads worth it for small business? Click the link to find out more.

Published inDigital Marketing