What's in this guide
According to Google, 4 out of 5 consumers use search to find local information.
Some of the most popular searches are related to restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, clothes and hair and beauty salons.
Focus on optimising your business for local search
Optimising your business for local search (also known as Local SEO), helps businesses promote their products and services to customers and prospects nearby.
Typical local search queries might include:
“hairdresser near me”
“coffee shop chester”
“greek restaurant liverpool”
How does google know how to present the best results for the search term “hairdresser near me”?
Search engines rely on signals such as website content, citations from online directories and social media profiles, to present the most relevant results to the user.
The bottom line is, optimising your business for local search is vital to stay relevant, otherwise you could be missing out on 80% of your potential customers.
Get set up on Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a feature which enables businesses to create and manage a free business listing.
This lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps.
It’s completely free to use but your business must have some face to face interaction with your customers.
It’s not suitable for businesses who operate 100% online.
Google held over 96% of market share for mobile search in Jan 2020 (Statista), so getting listed on Google is more important than ever.
What can be included in a listing?
- Business name, address, phone number and website address
- Business description , type of business and services you provide
- Service areas – what locations your businesses provide services or deliveries
- Opening hours and special hours such as bank holidays
- Products that you sell
- Logo and photos – showcase your business, products or offerings for customers to see
- Posts – post updates directly on your listing and keep your customers updated
- Reviews – collect and reply to reviews to let your customers know you are listening
- Messaging and appointment booking – let customer message you directly
To get started:
- Create an account and claim your business
- Verify your business (usually by postcard or phone)
- Optimise the listing and add as much detailed information as possible
- Continue to post updates, offers and photos to show that your business is active.
- The ultimate goal is to get listed in the Google 3-Pack.
The 3-Pack is displayed before organic search results across all desktop and mobile devices.
For a local business, there is no better place where you would rather rank.
Make sure your website is optimised for mobile
What do we mean by optimised for mobile?
Put simply, it means that your website resizes depending on the device it is being viewed on.
Your website needs to look great and be easy to navigate across phones, tablets, desktop computers and laptops.
This can be achieved using responsive design.
This technique ensures that there is only one version of the website and each page uses the same URL.
A user will access the same website no matter what device they are using.
It takes about 0.05 seconds (Sweor) for users to form an opinion about your website.
If faced with a poor user experience, internet users are likely to leave your site and go elsewhere.
Without a mobile friendly website, users will have to zoom in to read the text and scroll from side to side to read your content.
In July 2019 Google rolled out mobile-first indexing.
This means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the website content for indexing and ranking.
This shift happened because the majority of users now access Google Search via a mobile device rather than a desktop computer.
What about speed?
According to Google, mobile page speed has been a ranking factor since 2018.
There are lots of websites where you can check your website speed.
These services also provide recommendations on what your developer can do to improve the loading times.
Speed checking tools include:
You will probably find that using these sites will return inconsistent results.
This is because the results will depend on the environment in which the test is carried out and there are lots of factors that will be different.
Try not to get too hung up on the results.
If the speed is looking consistently bad across a couple of the speed test tools, speak to your developer to see what optimisation can be done to improve the load times.
This will ensure your visitors stick around to browse your website rather than go elsewhere.
Optimise your content – do some keyword research
Let’s say you are a plumber in Chester – how do you think people will search for your services?
They’ll probably open up their browser and type something like:
- “plumber near me”
- “plumber in chester”
- “plumbers in chester”
- “plumbing in chester”
- “affordable plumbing”
- “best plumber in chester”
- “find plumber in chester”
- “plumbing companies in chester”
- “bathroom plumber in chester”
Make a list of all the services you offer and the locations you serve and then combine them to create a number of potential key phrases.
You will need to use these key phrases to optimise the content across your website.
It’s important that these phrases relate to what people are actually searching for and not what you think they are searching for.
To help with this, there are lots of tools online that you can use to help with keyword research.
Head over to “Answer the public” to find popular key phrases and questions related to your business area.
Optimise your website URL, title tags, headers, meta description and content
Optimise every page across your website for local search terms.
Your content needs to read well, be authoritative and flow naturally for Google to like it.
As a guide you’ll want to try and do the following without ‘stuffing’ your content full of keywords.
- Include the keyword in the H1 tag
- Include the keyword in title tag
- Include the keyword in the page URL
- Keep your URLs short and sweet
- Create an enticing meta description to encourage users to click
- through to your website
If you serve multiple areas or cities and want to rank in each of these locations, consider setting up local landing pages. For example:
Make sure each page is populated with unique content and it’s optimised for the local area you are targeting.
Local citations and link building
First, there was the Yellow Pages, but now internet users are searching online for businesses, products and services.
Think of a citation as an online business listing. Google My Business is an example.
As a minimum it will include your name, address and phone number. This is also knows as a NAP citation.
Often, there is the ability to add more information including a short description of your business, a link to your website and details of the products and services you offer.
Citations can be found on business directories, websites and social platforms.
These listings and links give positive signals to Google about your business.
We offer a citation listing service where we manually set you up on high quality business directories to increase backlinks to your website and boost your local SEO.