If you want your business to succeed, it is vital that you establish and nurture a local client base. 20 years ago the easiest method of ensuring that locals could find you was to list your services in the Yellow Pages.
However, the digital age has changed how people search for and make contact with local businesses. Nowadays, if your business does not appear on the first page of local Google search results, you are leaving money on the table.
Of course, getting your business listed in the Yellow Pages was as simple as asking for it. By contrast, there isn’t a “one-step option” to guarantee that your business will get to the first page of Google’s search results. In order to reach the first page of Google’s rankings, you need to focus on your local SEO, which, unfortunately, is easier said than done.
Most small to medium businesses offer their services in specific locations. If you’re a New York-based wedding planner, for example, you don’t want to sift through emails from London, Perth, Cape Town, or other regions where you do not operate.
Additionally, being convenient to find when someone is looking for your services is critical to your ongoing success. Considering that 46% of Google searches are for local businesses, incorporating local SEO strategies into your marketing plan is not an optional extra. Local SEO is as relevant today as having a Facebook business page was a few years ago.
In 2015 there was a surge in people Googling phrases which contained “near me”. In 2018 there was a 150% decrease in the number of searches which contain “near me”. The cause for the decrease is not that people are no longer looking for local service providers; it’s that local SEO has become such an integral part of Google’s algorithm that the “near me” phrase is now implied.
That means that if you search for a plumber, Google uses various geolocation tools to identify where you are and will serve you results based on your area.
So, what is local SEO, and how does Google determine what businesses are near you?
Location relevant content
When talking about location-relevant content, there are two elements you need to consider. First and foremost your website needs to list your business’s physical address and contact details.
If you claim to be the best plumber in Kazakhstan, but your physical address is in Berlin, you are less likely to appear in search results relevant to Kazakhstan. It is also imperative that you use the same address everywhere; from your Google+ Business page to your social media accounts and any third party directory sites you are a member of.
The second part of location relevant content is writing high-quality, original content that is relevant to your region. If you’re a florist in Cape Town, for example, writing articles like “Ten of the best gardens in the Mother City” is a great way to ensure that Google sees your website as a local authority.
Of course, you can’t repackage the same blog post a hundred times and expect to get to the top of the SEO rankings.
You need fresh, original content, on a variety of topics, if you are serious about getting your site to rank well.
A fast-loading, mobile friendly website
According to a report published in 2018, the total number of internet users around the world has grown to over 4 billion daily users, which is more than half of the world’s population!
What makes this statistic even more impressive is that of the 250 million people who used the internet for the first time in 2017, millions have never even used a computer. The primary reason why so many people can connect to the internet nowadays is due to the proliferation of affordable smartphones and data plans.
The use of smartphones to browse the internet is so ubiquitous that Google prioritises mobile-friendly web pages over desktop web pages. Even if you have the best content in the world, if your website does not offer your users a world-class user experience, Google is less likely to show your content. If your mobile performance is not up to spec, you are losing potential customers.
Listing your site on location-based 3rd party platforms
Once you’ve got your content and technical SEO sorted out, your next step is to list your business on glocal industry-specific third party platforms like Airbnb, TripAdvisor, or any number of free and paid websites.
The advantage of listing your business on a third party platform is that the platform will have an experienced team of content writers and SEO specialists whose primary focus is to ensure that companies like yours get found in local search results.
If you were to Google something like guest house Langebaan, it is almost guaranteed that a travel industry specific platform will appear on page one of the search results.
A small guest house, with a limited advertising budget, has almost no chance of outranking a high traffic platform like TripAdvisor. But, by listing your small business on TripAdvisor, you can rest assured that their SEO team is doing everything in their power to make your business profile on their site appears in the top spot of Google’s search results page.
88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, if you aren’t already implementing a way for people to review your business, you need to start running campaigns to collect reviews.
When you search for a service provider, if two or more relevant options come up, you are more likely to book the service provider with the highest number of favourable ratings.
Reviews don’t just influence your customers; they also affect your rankings and click-through rates in local search results.
If two companies are tied, with each one scoring 5-stars, you are more likely to book the company with the highest number of reviews. In other words, a chef with tens of 4 and 5-star reviews is more likely to be hired than one with only three or four 4 and 5-star reviews.
If your Local SEO is not up to date, there is a good chance that people will not find you when they search online. With a few simple tweaks, you can ensure that more people will find you online.
Not sure how to start with Local SEO? Contact us for a free SEO Audit.