Local SEO is a system of tasks that are implemented into your website and your wider web presence that will affect the visibility of a local business (one that serves a specific geographic area) on a search engine results page for when people are searching for relevant local services.
SEO is an ever-growing practice but there are some basic distinctions that exist between SEO local and Organic SEO. While there is a lot of overlap between general search engine optimisation and local SEO; for example website optimisation and backlinks are important for both disciplines—local SEO has a secondary focus that tends to put more emphasis on tactics that only apply to local businesses.
When implemented with success, local SEO campaigns will result in dual visibility in the organic section of the results page and the local “snack pack” too. Local business internet marketing holds a geographical aspect to it that organic SEO doesn’t. So a UK local SEO expert will spend more time building signals of relevance around a brick-and-mortar business.
Organic SEO can be of use to improve rankings and increase traffic for brick-and-mortar sites as well as any other business online. Later we will look at the various techniques that are unique to local SEO vs SEO but for now let’s just stop and take a look at a typical Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for search with local intent.
We see that a searcher is looking for a plumber in the town of Woking. The results page returns numerous results that generally speaking can be broken into 3 compartments.
The highest are the paid advertising spots where businesses are forced to bid against their competition to be placed in the top spots where hopefully that immediate visibility will result in a click to their website. Whilst Pay Per Click is absolutely an essential part of any strong search engine marketing strategy, as a standalone, whilst it guarantees immediate traffic to your website, it is not without its weaknesses.
It can be very expensive to rent those spots, and when you stop paying you vanish altogether. It also fails to demonstrate to the searcher any level of trust or quality just in its appearance alone. This inability to prove any inherent value from the get go translates into relatively small market access. Often times you will be lucky to get 2% of the people searching that actually click on your site.
The SEO departments beneath are far more rewarding in their potential.
Underneath the paid spots is the area of the SERP that is known as the “Local Pack” or “map listings”. To rank in these very desirable spots, you dont have to pay Google for very low lick through rates, this is earned visibility. Naturally you need to be a local business who is based in or near the area that is desired and offer the services. Proximity isn’t enough to succeed here, there is a long list of requirements but two of the strongest are your reputation and your backlink profile that is heavily weighted towards being listed in local directories with a consistent set of identifying info.
The section underneath the map is the traditional organic spots which is usually known as SEO. Whilst the results will also likely be shaped around the local businesses that can help the searcher, the factors that wll determine your ability to rank in the organic spots are similar but not the same as the local pack above.
In this example you will note that none of the results in the local pack match the top organic results. In many industries, the organic pack will always be dominated by big brand aggregators like Checkatrade or Yelp etc because of their reputation and authority.
They will never have the luxury of ranking in the maps and so as a local business you have to work towards both but focus on the best opportunity.
As a local business owner, your visibility online will play a very large role in determining the amount of customers that walk through your doors. If local people need local services they tend to use search engines to find them and if you want to your business to visible when they look, then you need to Local SEO strategies implemented on your website. Queries such as “family dentist near me” or “pizza restaurant open now” would be good examples as would “garage door repair in Houston”. The reward for finding success is huge! It does wonders for your brand and demonstrates trust to your customers as they believe that if Google believes in you then why shouldn’t they? The same rationale cannot be extended to the Paid Spots as all you need is money to play that game – and lots of it.
– The highest CTR on a click for click comparison at a lower long term cost.
– More Real Estate on the SERP = More Chance For Your Conversion and Less For Your Competitors
– Makes You Treat Your Reputation With Additional Attention Which Only Hs Good Outcomes
– Requires that you offer your expertise to demonstrate that you are the local King of your castle
– Offers Access To Different Stages of the Buying Funnel That You Wouldn’t Target With PPC
– Requires You To Focus on Wider Web Presence Which Can Lead To Referral Traffic and More Conversions
With local SEO, the narrative baked into your content on your website needs to clearly demonstrate a connection to the local area so that Google can align your expertise with a locality of relevance. Local landing pages that mention keywords and cities is paramount to ranking for those terms. Away from your website, whilst backlinks of all kinds are important to both Local SEO and general SEO, there is a heavy reliance on generating citations in local directories for local SEO efforts. In general a citation is simply a reference references to your company’s existence that carries your business information, in the form of your NAP which is a name, address and phone number. Ensuring consistency in this information across all local directories may seem simple enough but it is as important in local SEO as receiving accreditations from high authority domains are in organic SEO. After a brief introduction to the two categories of SEO we will look closer at each element.
On-page SEO is all about controlling the controllable. Broadly speaking, on page SEO relates to the content that you write, the experience that your site offers its consumption and the ability for search engines to navigate through its back end structure.
It’s imperative that your on page is floor less so that every ounce of value in your content or links are valued on merit and not diluted by sloppy technical structures.
Off-Page SEO is where the value is formed. Again, broadly speaking its about the signals that are pointing to your site from third parties that are giving search engines clues as to how relevant you are to people who are searching.
The quality, the quantity, the diversity and the message in your backlinks are the considerations that will determine so much of your local SEO outcomes.
On Page SEO will be the area of SEO that most business owners will understand. As the name suggests, it is focused on making sure that your website is offering a wonderful experience to its visitors and that it is providing high quality, unique and relevant content that is written by experts. There are many levels to on page SEO and we will highlight them below but if you would like a deeper dive into the strategies and caveats that shapes on-page SEO for local businesses then head over to our On-Page SEO breakdown.
Secure and Accessible Website
Anchor Text Optimisation
Title tags & Meta Descriptions
If there was one area of SEO that was seen as more impactful in determining success than the others, it is Off-Page SEO. In our opinion, which is one shared by the majority of Top SEO’s, it is the the only ranking category that offers the ability for some businesses to differentiate themselves from their competition.
Why? On-Page SEO has more of a formula to it. Any website errors can be identified and resolved quickly and then it just comes down to a tried and tested formula of writing content. That said, for some local industries thats services are based in science and repetition themselves, it’s very difficult to create any website copy that is actually unique anyore. No dentist can write blogs that are offering real unique value and that has not been written before and as such then your only avenue to standing out is to focus on Off-Page SEO.
SEO is more of a murky world with rules that are contradictory in themselves and an ever moving game of cat and mouse with people trying to shortcut the system to see results.
Our SEO strategies will earn your site a higher ranking in search results because we perform ninja level on page SEO that is bettered by nobody and then align it with our expertise at the value generating backlink category of SEO. It’s what we excel at.
For local SEO, you need to ensure that your business is listed on all relevant local directories with accurate and consistent information.
Like it or not, your past efforts are more influential and impactful than ever on your future opportunities. Embrace peoples opinions of you and seek to improve every day.
Still the most important differentiator in SEO. Associations from high authority sites to your own is Googles best method of understanding your relevance.
Citations are the foundation of a successful Local Search campaign. If you’re opening a new location, a proper citation building campaign can speed up the discovery process for search engines and help establish local search traffic. If you have an established location, a recurring citation build can help boost both local and organic link signals to help you stay on page 1.
As a local business owner; whether you offer services or products, it is often very difficult to draw attention to your company: The competition has never been this fierce and customers can be, and are very selective. When evaluating this situation, rating and reviews are playing an important role for your business, as more and more people pre-select their favourites online and of course, choose a company that has as many positive reviews as possible.
Poor reputation is only marginally worse than no reputation online. Despite the topic being fraught with fraud and fake reviews, it is as influential as ever both to your customers and to Googles selection policy.
This is far too big a topic to discuss in any depth here. For a larger breakdown of the challenges with and desire for backlink assets in both SEO and Local SEO, please refer to our Off-Page SEO breakdown here.
Types of backlinks that you need for a healthy diversified profile are:
Slide Sharing Backlinks
Social Media Profiles
Niche Editorial Backlinks