When you open a business or begin building a brand, you automatically start building a reputation. Now, we know there’s a lot to learn and a lot to do when you’re starting out. That’s natural. But if you put in groundwork, you can help your name spread like wildfire.
The best way to bring maximum visibility to your business is by levelling up your local SEO rankings. By this, we mean how high you appear on search engines for local queries.
For example, if you’ve just opened a men’s designer clothes shop in Northampton, you’ll want to make sure you’re ticking Google’s boxes to top the rankings.
If you didn’t know, SEO is your mission to appear higher on search engine result pages (that’s SERP’s for short).
SEO is all about understanding your audience. Who are the brains behind the searches – and how do they think? There are four patterns of thought you need to think about:
If you’re craving a more comprehensive breakdown of SEO, visit our primer here.
Standard SEO is usually known as organic SEO. Whilst organicSEO usually thinks about global domination, local SEO is all about becoming the hometown hero based on your business’s geographic location.
The aim of local SEO is to get your business appearing in local search engine results. Google’s local packs and maps, Apple maps, local review platforms and so on.
For example, if you’re a bakery based in Northampton, you’ll want to rank high on SERP’s when somebody searches something like:
That’s the million-dollar question, right there. And it all comes down to those screen-swiping, keyboard-writing customers of yours.
Did you know that 46% of all Google searches have ‘local intent’ (Social Media Today, 2019) – this means they’re looking for a personal, localised result. If Google approximately registers 5.6 billion searches a day (Hubspot, 2021), local ones take up 2.5 billion.
If that’s not enough to persuade you, 76% of people that search for something local – like a car wash in Northamptonshire – visit that store the very same day. And 18% of local searches result in a purchase within24 hours (Backlinko, 2020).
Do you want your ecommerce brand to rank first for your town? Of course you do. It’s a no-brainer. Read our guide to local SEO for all you need to know to get started, and if you want to talk long-term SEO strategies with us, get in touch.
When you’re building a brand, starting a business, or taking your store to the next level; there’s a lot to do and learn. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and simplified the building blocks of local SEO into three key factors you need to focus on.
The guidelines for representing your business on Google is your local SEO bible. Find them here. Read it. Then again. And again. Don’t put them down until you know them off by heart.
If your business either has a physical location that customers can visit, or travels to customers where your customers are, you can create a Business Profile on Google. For example, if you’re that Northamptonshire bakery, you might be based in a shop at Sixfields or travel to markets in Blisworth.
The most important part of the guidelines is understanding the ones for eligibility for inclusion on Google My Business. It’s a simple one, too: you must make in-person contact with customers during your stated hours.
So, if you’re not serving people face-to-face during opening hours, you’re not eligible – so you won’t be listed, and you won’t be able to conduct local search marketing campaigns.
When you’re using the internet to advertise your business,you’ve got to work with data to do it.
Set up a spreadsheet and list out each of your store’s locations. You’ll need to add its name, address, contact details (that’s mobile, email, and fax – hey, a lot of businesses still use fax, okay?), your business description, opening hours, and the kind of payment forms you accept.
Whilst this step is more for you than it is Google at this stage, you might run into trouble as your business grows and you’ll need to use Google’s bulk upload services.
Google’s guidelines for representing your business have unique requirements and opportunities depending on your business model. And they’re always changing. So, brush up on them regularly.
Of course, it’s important to understand what kind of business model you’re operating within Google’s categories. For example, our Northamptonshire bakery might serve customers face-to-face and deliver packs of cookies, so it would be a ‘Hybrid’ model whereas a car wash in Duston would be a ‘Mobile Business.’
Algorithms. Who let them out of the classroom, right? Whilst you might have a few flashbacks to mathematics, understanding Google’s algorithms for local SEO is critical.
Google’s local packs, local finders and maps are always updating and always unique to the user. This means that its algorithm for local SEO breaks the mould made by organic SEO.
Like with organic SEO, there’s hundreds of ranking factors.But don’t worry about counting them all. There’s just three you need to focus on:
We apologise if this next bit feels a little too much like 1984, but Google is always watching. It knows the postcode a user’s computer is in. It can even pinpoint exact geocoordinates of mobile searchers.
That’s why when we search ‘bakeries near me’ and we’re in NN3, you’ll get options like Deliciously Divine Cake Design and Brooklyn Brownie Co. because they’re in the same postcode.
Remember: local SEO hinges on a clear understanding of user-to-business proximity. You can’t control where in the world somebody’s searching. However, this does offer up opportunities to meet more regular customers through localised searches.
Prominence is all about trust. It’s about being the brand the locals can get behind. If you were a Northamptonshire pub, you’d want those living in the streets near you to flock in their droves on a Tuesday night for the pub quiz – not go halfway across town in a taxi.
Google measures prominence by a bunch of different factors such as:
If you want to be a local SEO hero, you’ll need to nail prominence. Your goal is to influence Google’s trust in your brand as an authoritative answer to a user’s query. ‘Good pubs near me Northampton’ – you want to be right at the top.
Google has a reputation to uphold. That’s why relevance is a key factor for local SEO. Because they don’t want to throw out suggestions for search queries that don’t help the user. And that would just make your life difficult too – you’ll end up with confused customers looking for something else.
Relevance is measured a lot like prominence. Google thinks about your website’s content, your on-page SEO (you can find more on that here), your reviews and the content of them, the text of Google posts and so on.
When it comes to relevance for local SEO, it’s simple: you want to be the brand Google believes is the most appropriate answer to a query.
Sometimes in life, it’s easier to see local SEO like a gameshow. There are prizes to be won for ticking off your tasks. And those prizes will bolster your business by bringing you new customers and creating more awareness around your brand.
The prizes are local SERP features. Here’s a whistle-stop tour of them all and what to look out for:
Being a brand is about more than painting a picture. It’s about being better at local customer service. When it comes to local SEO, you’ll want to top the scoreboard for customer service so that you fit Google’s rankings.
To do this, you need to build your authority up. This is where your content comes in. Local businesses living in roomy markets – like a Northampton high street filled with hairdressers and barbers all next to each other – need content that stands out from the crowd.
You’ll want to ask yourself questions like these:
If you’re answering no to any of these, you’ll need to switch up what you’re doing. And it’s easy enough to begin. You’ll want to use E-A-T to do it.
E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. In layman’s terms: if you’re one of those Northampton high street hairdressers, does your content position you as the number one hairdresser that can talk the talk and walk the walk?
You have one aim with E-A-T for levelling up your local SEO: possess the ultimate level of expertise. You’ll need to use the following to achieve it:
It’s not about being a viral sensation. You’re not trying to take over the world. Just your town. To really dominate local SEO, you want consistent, meaningful communication that keeps your customers engaged. That way, Google will know you’re the real deal and not a robot.
Before we forget, there’s a few other things you can do for building authority. Think of these as golden tickets to Google’s local SEO factory.
The more of those you earn, the better your chances are of Google pushing your business as a popular, trusted resource in their results. Just remember, you’ll want to avoid buying links or seeking links from websites that make no sense to your own. It’s just bad for business.
So that’s local SEO in a nutshell. It’s not everything there is to know, but it’s a bitesize blitz of what you need to know to get you off the ground.
If you’re serious about sharpening your local SEO rankings and levelling up your business, we can help. We don’t just do SEO, our digital marketing experts can help you craft a robust, local digital marketing strategy. Become the brand your business deserves, get in touch today.