Local Search Engine Optimisation is but another set of SEO principles that we haven’t even touched on yet. It has its own set of rules, functions and purposes – none of which are to be ignored for much longer. In this article, we will be looking into what Local SEO is, what it encompasses, and how to get the most out of it in a cost-effective way.
Defining Local SEO
In short, Local SEO is quite straight forward. It is the Search Engine Optimisation rules set by Google et al. to help index and display information about businesses close to a user’s geographical location. The idea here is to iron out some of the problems that have plagued other similar forms of media.
We are all familiar with the Yellow Pages Books that were widely distributed. These contained the names, addresses, and contact information for businesses in your local area. This worked just fine in the past but today’s irony is that information is everywhere, but has become increasingly difficult to collect and verify. This has resulted in many a disgruntled customer and loss of revenue for businesses.
Some companies seem to have found a solution to this problem, with some juicy rewards to sweeten the deal. Using Google as an example: businesses that confirm their information in particular ways are in line to receive an SEO Ranking boost. That’s right, it is now a Ranking Factor to have your business’s contact info readily available.
How it Works
Google is treating a business’s contact information accuracy as a Ranking Factor. The more widely available it is via accessible channels, while being accurate and consistent – the better. The onus is on the business owner or whomever is in charge of the business’s marketing to ensure that this information is maintained.
This is also not only relevant to the information displayed on the official website or Google Maps. It is safe to assume that Google is using third-party platforms like Yelp to compare to their own information. If anything is out of order, or it doesn’t match up somehow, that will have negative SEO consequences.
What you need to know about
When it comes to Local SEO, it is always helpful to have something to guide you. Below, we look at the different elements within Local SEO, what they encompass and how to make the most of them. It is worth keeping in mind that each business is different, as such, it would be best for anyone reading this to judge what would be considered relevant for their business model.
The Old Way of Local Marketing
In the past, businesses could make use of certain channels to get their information out there. There was not much need for small to medium businesses to have online presences, it was also not affordable. Internet access 25 years ago was not a common thing for either business nor customer. They instead made use of local newspapers and notice boards, the Yellow Pages, and sometimes even radio or television to market themselves.
Today is a different story, what with most people having regular access to digital information in some form. Most businesses also make constant use of the internet, whether it is for marketing, supply/shipping, or as the main means of communicating between staff. With the internet being a staple today, it stands to reason that the old forms of media would soon follow or be replaced.
Today, Search Engines are the kings of distributing information as users request it.
An acronym that stands for “Number, Address, and Phone Number” referring to the basic contact information about a business. In the case of Local SEO, this is the most important set of information to have available and accessible to customers.
If any of this information is proving to be unhelpful, it will be treated quite seriously by Search Engines. If you or your business could stand to gain from the use of Local SEO, then this should be treated as a staple.
According to this article by Moz, Citations are;
“any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms.”
They are important because each platform that your business is listed on is another place to find potential customers. Think of it as a kind of passive Social Media, you create your profile and sit back while the customers come to you. Moreover, you get an SEO boost for doing it too – sounds too good to be true, right?
While having a large presence in your market could lead to higher profits, keep the following in mind. The larger your presence, the more platforms you need to be on. Each platform is another profile to manage. In this world where Time = Money, this can be a blurry line to walk. It will be up to you to decide how much is enough to satisfy your business needs.
Considered to be one of the most influential Local SEO Ranking Factors. Customer Reviews can have an enormous impact on the SEO performance of a business, especially locally. Search Engines take these indicators very seriously, as the Search Engine is the one who directed the user to your business. If you did a bad job, the Search Engine also looks bad for having recommended you.
Managing Customer Reviews is crucial – you will need every skill at your disposal. Firstly, it is important to make it easy for customers to review your business in the first place. Having a review or testimonial system on your website is a good start – but this is not the only channel.
Keep in mind that your business is likely represented on multiple platforms, sometimes without your knowledge. Some listing platforms like Google Maps and Yelp would pick up on a number of similar reviews for a business name or location and record them. This can be done without the business in question being aware of it. If this is the case, it means that you have customers making use of this platform, and you need to join them.
Once on the platform, you can manage the reviews coming your way. You will not be able to delete them, but you will be able to respond to them and offer resolution to any negative reviews. Be careful what you offer though, for both positive and negative reviews. Most platforms have strict rules dictating how reviews can be obtained – we recommend you familiarize yourself thoroughly with those that apply to you.
In terms of SEO, Reviews can rock the boat quite hard – in both good and bad ways. Search Engines will continue to take them very seriously so it is in your own best interest to manage them.
While Local SEO seems like a nice juicy cut of online steak, there are some things to remember. Yes, it is a powerful way to get out there among your community. We feel that every business that ever looks a customer in the eye should be practicing this at one level or another. One thing we want to make clear is that Local SEO does not, in any way, replace the SEO you may be practicing for your website in general. Local SEO should form part of your overall SEO effort, running alongside what you do for your website.
Local SEO has a lot of potential. This shift in community-oriented Search results means that it is going to continue to grow in significance. For businesses, they will start you feel the pressures to respond to customers, to take up the challenge and wade into the murky waters of online. It will be an interesting time to see how the classic business model will need to change in order to survive. Rest assured that if one does not surf this wave, it will surely swallow you up. If you don’t think so, look at the state of Print Media globally.