Search engine optimisation is an essential practice for any business with an online presence, but for businesses with a more confined and local customer base, SEO can be especially useful for finding new customers and improving online visibility. Search engines like Google are constantly updating their algorithms to provide users with intelligent and useful search results, and it is important to understand these systems to ensure that your business is being shown to the right people who are looking for the right things.
Here at Brain Online we’ve compiled ten of the best tips for improving your local SEO and getting listed in Google Local.
Use geo-specific keywords
Instead of using generic keywords which relate to the services or products which your company offers, you should instead use location-specific keywords and phrases. For example, if you generally deal with local clients, you could focus on a phrase like “Accountants W1” or “Web Designers London” instead of simply “accountants” or “web designers”. Google’s intelligent search algorithms will use location data and other information to display listings close to a user’s location providing you have prepared for it and keep sticking to Google’s ever changing SEO rules, so it is essential to use some geographical keywords within your website text if you’re looking to attract local custom.
Utilise local listings from Google, Yahoo and Bing
Google+ Places, Bing places and Yahoo Local are all essential tools for local SEO. Make sure that your small business is featured on all three, complete with photographs, a description, opening times and contact details. It is these local listings which are used to source the local businesses which are often displayed, complete with contact information and a map, at the top of Google searches.
Use keywords in the right places
Instead of simply bombarding your web pages with relevant keywords, use them carefully and in context within your copy. You should also include your keywords in areas of particular interest, such as the page title, the website URL and any on-page headings. It is also advisable to include keywords in the first and last sentences of your web copy. These not only attract the attention of readers, but are also an integral aspect of search engine algorithms.
Encourage online reviews
When a customer is satisfied with your product or service, why not ask them to leave an online review of your business? You could hand out business cards or send emails to your existing customers, asking them to leave an honest review on the likes of Google+ Places and other local business directories. The likelihood of a customer leaving a review is far greater if it is easy for them to find and access the review website in question, so be sure to clearly display the details.
Upload unique content
Unique content is an effective way to boost search engine optimisation for businesses of all shapes and sizes, from the local start-up to the multinational corporations. Keyword rich content will do wonders for your SEO rankings, and can be shared over social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You’ll also benefit from the organic backlinks and increased page viewing times which are associated with engaging content. Focus on issues and stories relating to your line of business and the local community to attract more attention from your local community.
Optimise for mobile devices
The latest research from Google has found that smartphone users are far more likely to convert their research into a physical purchase. This is perhaps unsurprising when we consider the familiar situation of pulling out a phone and searching for the nearest restaurant or attraction in an unfamiliar city. When users are searching for a local business, they are unlikely to visit a website which is slow or unreadable on a smartphone.
Display clear and consistent contact information
Ensure that your name, address and phone number is consistent across your main website and any other local directories or review websites. A high level of consistency will not only improve your visibility from an SEO perspective, but it will also increase the likelihood of Google associating your business with any searches which are performed in the local area, or include the names of nearby towns and cities.
Keep loading times down
Pages which take a long time to load can be particularly disadvantageous to smaller, local businesses. A long loading time will directly affect your ranking with search engines like Google, but the increased chance of multiple visitors exiting your website after only seconds can also hamper your search engine ranking. Use optimised images and the best web development practices to avoid this.
Stay up to date
Search engines like Google will often replace or upgrade their search algorithms, often without any major announcement. For example, Google’s latest Hummingbird update had been implemented for some months before the search engine giants formally revealed the technology. It is essential to maintain and adjust your online presence with the latest search engine optimisation practices, although this is often easier said than done. For local businesses looking to improve their SEO and get listed in Google Local and keeping you there, the best practice is often to use the help of a specialist company like Brain Online. Despite an initial investment and a small ongoing retainer, local search engine optimisation can be an effective way of boosting both company visibility and successful sales. Digital agencies like Brain Online can implement all of the above for your business, while remaining on top of the latest trends and updates in the world of SEO.
Today’s fast-paced digital environment can mean that what’s important today may be redundant tomorrow, and by the time you read this article some of the above could potentially be invalid. Why not stay ahead of the competition by contacting us for an informal meeting.