The internet offers unbelievable reach for your business. From your store in Newcastle, you can sell your product to customers in Perth, Hong Kong or London. Although there has never been more choice for customers, many are choosing to spend their money locally and are turning to the internet to find local businesses to serve them. Local SEO is the process we use to improve the rank of a business in Google or other search engines for local searches.
You can use Local SEO to help you get more customers for your bricks-and-mortar business. Using Local SEO, you can improve your search listing to appeal to local customers who you service. This is particularly useful if you’re offering a service which is only available in your local area. Take Maxx Electrical for example, as an electrician based in Newcastle it was important that they appeared high when customers from Newcastle, Port Stephens or the Hunter searched for an electrician. A search from Sydney or Perth was no good for them.
Local SEO is about knowing your market and their needs and being able to position your digital presence to be as relevant as possible for these people.
In this article, we’ve listed 8 easy things you can do to help improve your website’s local rank. Dedicating a small amount of time to each of these will help local customers find your business.
1) Research your Keyword
Keyword research in one of the most common things we find overlooked when we take on new clients.
Finding the right takes time and a bit of effort and means searching beyond what you think is right. If you have a restaurant on Darby St, Newcastle then appearing high for the search term ‘Restaurant in Newcastle’ is a priority. Of course, if the majority of people who frequent Darby St search for ‘Restaurant Darby St’ instead of ‘Restaurant Newcastle’ then you will want to target what gives you the most reach.
Remember the importance of long-tail keywords. They are keywords that are 3 or 4 or more phrases long which are very specific to the page, industry, business, product or service you are promoting. Instead of targeting the keyword ‘Plumber Newcastle’ for your Plumbing business that specialises in commercial plumbing try using ‘Commercial Plumbing Newcastle.’
Also be sure to match the language your customer would use when searching for you. It’s an extreme example, but you wouldn’t want to target ‘Top Grub Newcastle’ for a fine dining restaurant. Make sure your language is relevant and responds to what your customers are searching for.
Focusing on long-tail keywords, the language your customer uses and checking keyword traffic data for search terms are all ways you can research your keywords. We recommend putting your ideas in a spreadsheet and inputting the data you gather in your research to determine the most appropriate keyword for your business.
2) Optimise your Above-the-Fold Content
This is more a step to increase conversions but it also helps with your Local SEO.
Optimising your above-the-fold content will mean customers know exactly who you are, what you do, where you are and how to contact you.
Above-the-fold is the content that is positioned in the upper part of a web page and so visible without scrolling down the page. It is what the user sees when they first click on the page and is therefore very important to get right.
Above the fold your website should have the following information;
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- Where are you?
- How do I contact you?
- Where am I on the site?
Optimising this content will send the right signals to your customer and search engines. Adding relevant information, especially location information, above the fold will improve bounce rates and your local SEO.
3) Claim Your Listings
As your business’s presence grows it will accumulate all sorts of listings on various websites. Directories, Google Maps, True Local, Yellow Pages, Facebook etc will all have listings that have been set up for your business, but, the information in these listing will often be incomplete and many times full of errors.
It’s important to claim your listings and make sure that all your business details match across all your profiles. Add relevant information that your target customer will find useful and make sure it is consistent with what is on your website. Try and find other local directories or forums to add your business but make sure it isn’t SPAMmy. These won’t help you with links (please don’t SPAM forums and directories as part of a link-building campaign) but will help you with cementing your location.
4) Be Consistent
We refer to it as the NAP. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. These are details you will have on your website and across your listings. These must be consistent and match with your business name.
It is also worthwhile making sure the details are all laid out and displayed the same way. Google is a smart cookie and will be able to tell the area you’re trying to target using these details. It can even detect locations in phone numbers, like the ’02 4926′ for Cooks Hill in Newcastle, the ’02 6884′ for Dubbo and ’02 96′ for Sydney.
Make sure that your business’s Google My Business page is properly configured and all the information is 100% consistent. For Google, besides your website, this is the key to how (and where) you will appear in search.
5) Get Social!
Social signals are a factor in determining where your website will appear on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). So get social and start a conversation with your customers.
A quality social media strategy will help customers find your business and help legitimise it. Many customers will research a business before using it for the first time so having real reviews and a regularly updated, quality presence is important. You need to make sure your followers are engaged with your social media presence. A page that doesn’t have good engagement won’t contribute to your Local SEO as well as one which does, if at all.
Ultimately, the more excitement you can build around your brand, product or service will help you attract more customers and improve your SEO.
Making sure your Social Media presence is optimised and working well takes a lot of time and doing it right takes a bit of know-how. While we track, monitor and report on Social Media for our SEO and Digital Marketing clients, we recommend using a specialist for Social Media management. Newcastle’s finest Social Media manager that we’ve dealt with is Emily from Rumble Social. We recommend Emily to all our clients who want to grow and improve their Social Media presence.
6) Add a Locations Page to your Website.
If your business has multiple locations, service areas, branches or stores, it is important to create a unique page for each. Make sure you fill the page with relevant content about the business’s presence in that location and make sure it is optimised for the area.
An example of this done well is Maxx Electrical’s website. You can see on their Nelson Bay location page (https://www.maxxelectrical.com.au/maxx-electrical-nelson-bay/) that it features a large picture of the bay and the content is optimised for that area. The page shows their service area map and information relating to the general area, like satellite suburbs Anna Bay and Soldiers Point.
If your business services customers in a specific area, you should create a page for each area. We’ve got specific pages for Brothers Digital Dubbo, Maitland and Newcastle and encourage other businesses to do the same.
Keep it legitimate, though. Make sure you have a presence in that and are not trying to fool anyone. Again, Google is a smart cookie and can see through that. There are businesses (especially in our industry) who will set up pages and entire websites dedicated to a location without ever having worked there or without having a single client there. When these types of pages are found out, their entire web presence can be punished. Don’t risk this for your business. Keep it honest online.
7) Add a Map
Add a map to your website which clearly points to your locations and, if it suits your business, boundaries for your services.
It’s easy to add a map to your website. Google offer free embed code to your custom maps so all you need to do is copy the code to your website. This step by step is provided by Google – https://support.google.com/maps/answer/144361?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
- Open Google Maps.
- Make sure the map, Street View image, or directions you’d like to embed shows up on the map.
- In the top left corner, click the Menu .
- Click Share or Embed map.
- At the top of the box that appears, choose Embed map.
- Choose the size you want, then copy the HTML embed code and paste it into the source code of your website or blog.
Having a map on your website, especially one that is complete will help customers find you easier and send a signal regarding your location to Google. It is a powerful tool for Local SEO that isn’t used enough and businesses are missing out on leads because of it.
If you need to add a map to your website and aren’t sure how to do it, we will do it for you for $85. For that, we will optimise the map with your location, create the code and embed it on your homepage and contact page. This offer is for content managed sites (websites that use WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc) but we can still help with HTML sites. Unfortunately, if your site is built on Flash, you have more problems to worry about than just a map.
8) Get Reviews.
Opening your business up to criticism is daunting. When business owners get a bad review or bad feedback about their business it is like someone is picking on their child. However, keep in mind that Google and other search engines give a search ranking boost to businesses that get more reviews.
It’s a signal of the authority of your business and builds trust in your brand. Customers will look for businesses with reviews before contacting them to make they are not wasting their time. Asking customers for reviews will help new customers find your business by making your business look more legitimate and trustworthy, while also improving your Local SEO.
There’s no silver bullet for asking for reviews. We find it’s best to provide a link to your profiles on your invoices and customer notifications helps and makes it easy for customers to review you. After all, it has to be easy otherwise many customers won’t bother.
One thing we have noticed which Google hasn’t confirmed or denied is that businesses with lots of perfect reviews don’t get the same lift in rankings that businesses with a 4-star rating will get. It might have something to do with the authenticity of the reviews and to make sure they aren’t doctored but it stands to reason that a few bad reviews are not going to hurt you in the eyes of Google.
Also, having groups of perfect reviews from people in a similar area may hurt your business more than it helps. I’m talking specifically about buying positive reviews. Having your business in Sydney, which hasn’t received a review in 12 months, reviewed 18 times in 3 weeks by people in Delhi doesn’t seem authentic and may harm your ranking and your standing in the eyes of your customers. You’d be surprised how easy it is to spot paid reviews. As a simple rule, don’t pay for reviews. Wait for real customers to leave real reviews, your business and your search presence will be much better off for it.
Getting local SEO right is a powerful marketing tool for small businesses. It’s a challenge, definitely, but when done right can open up new opportunities and markets for your business. There are examples of poor local optimisation practices all over the web and there is a chance that you’ve been using them without even knowing it. Keeping up-to-date with the latest guidelines to help improve your Local SEO is critical for a high performing web presence.
With any SEO strategy, it is important to look long term. Short-term reactionary thinking will only give you a tiny little boost, the best SEO campaigns that deliver the best results run for years and the results improve exponentially over time.
Most small businesses that are successful at Local SEO focus on building a website with authority and reputation as their first priority, supported by lots of quality content.
Start optimising your website for Local SEO today by using our PDF checklist available for download below.
To speak to us about managing your Local SEO or to find out about some of our successes please call us on 1300 67 57 93 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more information about our Local SEO service on our page here – https://brothers.digital/seo/local-seo/