SEO Agencies Near Me: How to improve your local SEO
Local SEO has never been as important for brick and mortar businesses here in New Zealand. As we enter Alert Level 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand businesses are returning to a new ‘normal’.
For many businesses, that is going to mean a focus on local markets. With international visitors unlikely for at least 6 months, those businesses that previously relied heavily on international tourism are going to need to focus on the domestic market and that means local SEO is more important than ever before.
Why is local SEO so important?
It’s about appearing in the all-important map pack within the search results. The kind of results that delivers a highly relevant results straight to your mobile (or desktop search).
These results most typically sit at the very top of a Google search results page (SERP) and provide users with a number of options to answer their search query.
From here you can see on the map the proximity of the businesses, the review scores, hours of business and more. Appearing in the map pack can also help to drive valuable visits to your website as many people won’t scroll past the map results to view the traditional ‘blue links’ in the organic results.
Whilst there is an option to click to see more local listings, the majority of clicks will go to those businesses found in the top three results. According to research carried out by Moz, the Map Pack top three receives 44% of clicks compared to 29% for organic results and 19% for paid results.
How can you improve your local SEO and appear in the map pack?
Whilst most businesses understand it’s important to rank well for local search queries that return a map pack listing in the SERPs, knowing how to achieve this is a more tricky question to answer.
Local SEO is a specialism within broader SEO practices and whilst it follows some of the general best practice tactics deployed in order to rank better in the organic search results, there are a few areas that you need to focus on if you want your site to have a better chance of ranking in the top three map results.
Google My Business
This is an absolute must for any brick and mortar business but also for businesses that deliver a service with no physical premises.
If you haven’t already, go out and claim your business account right now.
As a starting point, you will at least control the map pack listing for anyone carrying out a branded search for your business, enabling you to tailor your content for your audience.
Once you have claimed your business, there are a few important areas to focus on. These are the key elements you need to fill out within your GMB profile:
- Business Name
- Business Address
- Telephone Number
These are commonly referred to as NAP and it is crucial that the way you display your business name, address and phone number on your website is matched exactly on your GMB listing and any other directory listings you set up (see below). These are the three most crucial elements of your GMB listing and can make or break your ability to rank in the map pack so make sure you get this part right.
In addition, there are elements you should add in order to enhance your listing:
- Service Areas (list all the areas which you serve)
- Opening Hours
- Website Link
- Products/Services (include any services you offer to customers)
- Extended business description (this is a great place to talk about your business and include important keywords)
These are the next most important elements to update and will help your customers to find out more about your business. Finally, in order to help with the visuals, include the following:
- Company logo
- Photos of your business (internal and external)
- Team photos – put a face to a name and make it personal
Once you have got all this set up, make sure you verify your listing (you will need to send a postcard to the address or arrange for a phone call verification with Google) and you’re good to go!
Once your GMB listing is set up and verified, it’s time to start making it work harder for your business.
The first place to start is reviews.
When was the last time you made a purchase without researching what other people have had to say about the product or service? Not very often right?
Reviews are a great way to get feedback about your products, services and business as a whole. They have also been proven to be one of the most influential aspects inside of the SERPs.
In a report by Bright Local in December 2019, they found that 82% of consumers were reading online reviews for local businesses, and the purchase likelihood for a product went up 270% if there were 5 reviews vs. none.
Reviews can also help with your organic listings too. As well as displaying in the map pack results, if you use Schema.org markup on your website, you can also have those same review scores pull through in the organic listing, helping to boost your CTR and drive more traffic to your website.
You should be actively seeking more reviews from all of your customers. There are lots of ways to do this – email following a purchase, in-store prize draw on the back of receipts, phone follow ups, social media and more.
One thing you need to ensure is that you are using GMB to monitor the reviews you get and try to respond to every single one that comes in – good or bad. By responding, prospective customers can see you are a business that engages and that will make them more likely to convert.
Keyword research and targeting
As simple as it sounds, you need to ensure you are targeting keywords that have a local intent when you are creating content on your website.
Whether that’s bringing a local element to your products and services pages, creating dedicated location landing pages for areas that you service, or simply creating locally-focussed content as part of your content strategy – it’s important to make sure you are targeting the right keywords.
Let’s say we’re a dog rooming business located in Albany. Whilst we would typically want to rank for terms like ‘cafes’ and ‘coffee shops’, these sort of keywords tend to have a much higher level of competition and are typically much harder to rank for in the local map pack results.
Instead of targeting the generic search query, make sure you include a location modifier in your optimisation work so instead, you target terms like ‘cafes albany’ and ‘coffee shops albany’.
Whilst the search volume for these queries will be lower than the generic ‘head terms’, they have a much higher user intent and the fact that you are optimising for the location modifier as well as having a location in that destination will give you a much stronger chance of ranking in the top three map results.
To support your main location landing pages, creating supporting blog content that includes these keywords and make sure you link back to the location landing page with relevant anchor linking copy.
We’ve already talked about the importance of NAP – name, address and phone number information and the necessity to ensure that it is consistent wherever it is displayed.
This also applies to external directory listings.
Directories are an important part of your Local SEO strategy. Acquiring directory listings, especially the major directories, is a crucial part of building up the authority of your website in the local space.
The information you use in these directories should be exactly the same as the information on your website and on your GMB listing.
Whilst you can identify directories that are specific to your niche, it is important to focus on the major directories first and ensure you are listed on these. The main ones to focus on are:
- Google My Business
- Bing Places
- Yellow Pages
- Chamber of Commerce
- Super Pages
Start with these and then identify directories that are relevant to your niche to improve your opportunities to rank in the local space.
Local SEO has never been as important for businesses around the world. Focussing on your local markets and identifying the most relevant keywords with a local focus are crucial if you want to appear in more map pack results.
If you’re looking for help with your local SEO strategy, drop us a line – we’d be happy to jump on a Zoom call or even grab a coffee now we can under Alert Level 2.
Make sure you check out our supporting post – Why local SEO is more important than ever [and how you can be better]