Local SEO makes up for a large percentage of small business SEO and in turn a lot of local traffic. Whether you’re a bricks and mortar business or a trades person who provides services within a local are, having a strong Local SEO presence can make all the difference.
13 Ways to Improve your Local SEO for 2021 and Onwards
We’ve created this guide for 2021 and hope it will help Irish SMEs in their pursuit of customers and more business in the coming year and onwards.
Creating a Google My Business (GMB) Listing Helps Local SEO
The first thing you need to get started with if you want to rank in local searches is setting up your GMB listing. It is important to have a GMB listing because it is the same as being listed on the yellow pages in the past.
The second reason why you need to do this is that it helps in ranking. There are many factors that are considered by Google when ranking local SEO.
The process of setting it up is not that hard. It is important to make sure you have filled out the profile correctly and in full. Google is going to provide you with visuals that show you how complete the profile is. Make sure you get it to 100% by filling all those fields.
You also need to list your services, products, and secondary business category. Google is going to give you a list to choose from when choosing the main category. Once you do this, you can choose a secondary category. This is something many people fail to do despite being important in giving more context to your services.
Leveraging the subcategories is also a good idea because you are going to improve your rankings on Google Maps.
Once you are done with the listing, another tip you can use is the Google Posts feature. This lets you create mini-posts for clients and also lets Google know that you are managing your listing. Share the post on social media to take the feature even further.
Google is putting more weight on social media presence. Google is going to like your Google Posts page when there is traffic because it shows that the content and updates you are posting are valuable.
Engaging on social media and post to Google My Business
Google is putting a lot of weight on content that has been shared on social media.
Now that you have created your Google My Business page, share it on your social media platforms so that you can align search and social.
Auditing Your Listings
- You need to audit your listing from time to time to identify;
- Auto-updates to your operating status (“Closed temporarily”).
- Suggested or pending changes to attributes
- Suggested or pending changes in operating hours
- Suggested or pending changes to business details
- Any other indicators of suggested or pending updates.
- Disable listings
Making sure your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) is consistent online
It is important to make things easier for search engines and people to find out. If you want to do this, then make sure you set up your NAP. The phone number should have the area code. You need to include crawlable HTML text on your website.
You shouldn’t do the mistake of including the NAP in an image – search engines cannot find content on an image, it can crawl on HTML text on your website. The best place to have it is in the header or footer of the site.
Optimizing online directories and citations
For Irish companies, the four map aggregators provide a lot of map data for Bing, Apple, Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.
- Yellow Pages
- Brown Pages
- Big Directory
You have to be consistent; make sure that your citations are complete and consistent across these four data aggregators.
Discrepancies such as misspellings, lack of suite number, abbreviations, or wrong phone number can be bad.
If Google isn’t able to determine the correct information about your business, it can decide not to show it in search results.
You also have to remove any duplicate listings. You can emphasize a Chambers of Commerce membership in your community because it helps. This is because you are going to get an external inbound link.
Check out our link building guide.
Performing a Local SEO audit
Once you are done with the fundamentals, you might be tempted to slow things down. Keep in mind SEO is not something you do once and move on to the next thing. It is an ongoing and intuitive process. You shouldn’t stop there or make changes then see what sticks. Try performing a comprehensive audit to see where your site stands. You will know what to work on to achieve your goals. A local SEO audit can include;
- Google My Business Audit – How is my page appearing on the search engine results page? Is that information accurate?
- Google Search Console Audit – Can search engines crawl your page? Are there any errors that can hinder indexing?
- On-page SEO audit – Is the site accommodating all the SEO elements that help with the ranking?
- Citation Audit – are the citations correct and accurate?
- Competitor analysis – how is your website matching up to your competitor’s? are there gaps you need to close? How are you matching up in terms of content, inbound links, positioning, and design?
- Website Audit – How is the site performing?
Improving your internal linking structure
Although it is ideal to have external links pointing to the site, you can boost your SEO rankings by adjusting your internal linking structure.
Why is internal linking important? It is important because it;
- Helps supporting site navigation
- Helps with website hierarchy and information architecture
- Distributes ranking power among pages and page authority
- If you are interested in improving the internal linking structure but don’t know where to get started, then consider researching because there are many guides that will help you out.
Optimizing URL, headers, title tags, content, and meta description
Every blog post is a new indexed page for the site. This is your chance to make it easy to be found on the search engine results page. This is a new page on which you can pick and target a geographic search phrase.
When you create new content for your page, it is important to optimize it for search engines by choosing high-volume keywords in the header, title, URL, body, and meta description. If are finding it hard to come up with geo-targeted content, they try to highlight customer success stories and case studies.
Check out our on page guide here.
Adding location pages to your site to Improve Local SEO
For businesses with more than one brick-and-mortar location, they should create location pages. These location pages are going to provide the name, address, phone number, unique store description, store hours, promotions, parking/transit information, and testimonials.
It is also important to avoid duplication of content across the different pages. If it is a single-location business, make sure you have a locally descriptive About Us page. You can even make it better by adding Google Map to your site on the respective location page(s).
Creating Local Content
Local content is important, and there is no SEO guide today that would miss this section.
If you see most of the content marketing strategies out there, most focus on non-local content. While you will get higher traffic levels and a wider audience, if you are a local business, you are not going to benefit from this. You need to create local content if you want to get the most out o your content marketing efforts and lead generation.
There are many topics you can create local content around. Using local keywords allows you to relate local content. If you are a plumber, you can have a blog post about finding the best plumber in your area. This way, you can easily incorporate local keywords into your content.
You can also create content around local events and news in your industry.
Mobile-friendliness and Local SEO
Mobile has become important because 61% of all Google searches are performed from a mobile device.
People will use their phones to check out reviews, search for contact information, and find directions to your locations. Since 2017, “near me” searches have increased by 250%.
Make your site mobile-friendly so that customers and prospects have an easier time finding you.
Getting inbound links with authority and relevance
Inbound links are powerful when it comes to boosting your local SEO – this is because inbound links tell Google you are a legitimate company. They also help in raising your domain authority. Below are some ways of getting inbound links
- Sponsorship or Partnership
- Guest Blog Posting
- Start with your personal network, which may include business improvement districts, the Chambers of Commerce, trade associations, licensing bureaus, vendors, resellers, manufacturers, and other affiliates.
Sponsor a webinar or meet-up, promote something local you love, host a community event, and build relationships with influencers and prominent people. Consider learning to feel comfortable reaching out to partners to see whether you can be featured on their partner directory.
You can also attract links by being a guest blogger. Positively talk to and about other people in your industry and be seen as a resource provider by the community. If you are active in the community, there is going to be buzz forming and it will come in the form of media coverage, social media growth, and inbound links.
Participating in your local community
When you participate in your local community, you receive more digital PR. If you partner with a nonprofit on a campaign, have volunteer day in your organization, sponsor an event, or appear in the local media are some good ways of earning press, inbound links, and brand awareness.
.edu links are great when it comes to domain authority and you should find ways of taking advantage of that. One of the ways you can earn some links is by providing a scholarship in your geographical region. Make sure it is relevant to your industry. You are going to benefit from this apart from feeling good because you have done something good for your community.
Connecting With Customer through Always-on Messaging
It is important to download the Google My Business app then turn on messaging because it is going to make it easier for customers to reach you.
If it is after business hours or you are not available by phone, messaging is going to help customers with the support needed.
You should have an automatic welcome message that is going to let customers know the status of the business.
You should closely monitor Google Trends so that you can know shifts in behavior and search interest around the topics and keywords for your industry and brand.
Analyze keywords relevant to your business and see how searches for those items are trending.
You also need to monitor the performance of your website because that is how you get to understand how users are converting during this time and updating reporting and forecasting to factor in the impact of the pandemic.
There are many tools you can use when doing this. Using the information above will go a long way in helping you with your Local SEO efforts.