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Monday, June 21, 2021

How to Optimise Your Website for Local Search

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When was the last time you searched online for a restaurant or a retail store “near you”? And what did you do when you found one? Well chances are you visited them. Google has made finding local businesses so easy for users that 46% of all Google searches are now local queries.

To make the most out of this local search trend, you need to know how to optimise your site for local search, which can be tricky. But we have some tips and tricks to help.

What is Local SEO?

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While ecommerce has exploded in the past couple of decades, the majority of businesses are still bricks-and-mortar stores. Local SEO helps to improve the online visibility of these stores among a pool of nearby users with a high purchase intent.

There are a number of signals that search engines use to provide users with the most accurate local information. These signals include location-based content, links, social profile pages, and citations. With better visibility and position over the local search results, businesses can boost their sales in the local market.

Why is Local Search Important?

If half of the Google queries are local searches and if Google is prioritising local results over everything else, then it must be important. The search engine giant reported a 900% increase in searches with local search phrases such as “near me.” in the last two years.

  • 80% of local searches performed on mobile devices result in sales.
  • 72% of users visit a store within 5 miles after searching for it on Google.
  • Qualified search traffic based on intent & proximity.
  • 86% of users rely on the internet to find a local business.

All these stats add to the fact that local search is important. And if your business is close to the user searching for products or services, you’re more likely to get a customer with a website optimised for local search.

Tips on How to Optimise Your Website for Local SEO

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Search engines rely on various factors to determine local search rankings but local searches are all about instant solutions. Someone who would rather pay a little extra than waiting for Amazon to ship their next smartphone will search for ‘gadget shops nearby’. Or someone who is looking for a restaurant is likely to get a meal within an hour. In fact, 64% of local restaurant searches convert “within one hour” or “immediately”.

Once you streamline your services and are ready to provide instant solutions to user queries, here are some useful tips to optimise your website for local SEO.

Setting Up Google My Business

Ever since its launch, GMB or Google My Business has become the epicentre of local SEO. If you don’t have a Google My Business page for your business, stop everything else and create one. GMB allows businesses to directly feed information about their services and products to Google Maps and Google Search.

  1. Create a GMB page (that also requires verification)
  2. Start using Google Posts
  3. Encourage customers to share reviews on GMB
  4. Reply to reviews authentically after specifying the location.

After verification, Google provides you with a coveted sidebar space in local search results. The more you work on your GMB, the more likely users will find you.

Creating Local Content

Google is constantly evolving its algorithms by making it more about the users and less about the search engines. With that in mind, it’s high time that content creators write for users rather than search engines. Covering general topics might attract a wide audience, but creating content about local or industry news attracts local audiences and helps with local SEO.

If you can successfully deliver and promote local industry information such as gatherings, latest updates and other useful content through a blog or your website, you can be the local authority voice for your industry.

Adding Location Pages

Bricks-and-mortar businesses generally tend to service a broad area. Location pages provide users with useful information about your business such as a unique store description, your address, phone number, parking or transit information, store hours, testimonials, and promotions. These pages should be unique and customised to target specific areas.

When creating location pages, you want to beware of duplicate content. While you may be offering the same products and service across multiple locations, you should not put the same content on every page since it won’t make any difference in your local rankings. When it comes to creating single locations, create a descriptive page with all the necessary information. Your local rankings can also get a good boost if you add Google Map to your website and mark every area where you serve.

Optimise Metadata

Search engines index every new page of your website including new blogs. Every time you create a new page, it’s an opportunity to target a geographic search phrase. It’s an opportunity to rank on search engine results pages, even if it’s only for a while due to fresh content.

This shows us why optimising every new page is imperative, not only for local search but for SEO in general. You can include high-volume keywords in its meta title, description, and even URL. Moreover, you can optimise the entire page including the metadata, title, header, and body. If you are unable to curate geo-targeted content, consider mentioning and optimising customer success stories and case studies.

Get Reviews from Local Customers

94% of online customers admit that a negative review has stopped them from engaging with a business. In fact, 63% of consumers check Google reviews before visiting a local business. Your ranking on Google’s local search results is heavily affected by reviews, with Google preferring positive customer feedback over everything else. Connecting with the local community can help you with word-of-mouth marketing by providing reviews across different local directories.

Actively responding to negative reviews results in a 44% increase in the likelihood of a customer visiting your business. While for most parts you need reviews from customers on different third-party websites, you can also leverage reviews for boosting sales. Showing customer reviews on your website can increase the conversion rate by 270%.

Optimising for Mobile

Mobile search and local SEO go hand in hand. 61% of all searches on Google are performed on mobile devices. There has also been a significant spike in searches ending with “near me”. Google reported that “near me” searches have increased by 250% on mobile devices since 2017.

This is why making your website mobile-friendly and responsive is vital to optimising for local search. Focus on getting the basics of on-page SEO right by ensuring a 90+ website speed on mobile devices. No one wants to pinch in or zoom out when visiting a website on their mobile. Since the bounce rate is another imperative factor in determining local rankings, Google also analyses whether a website is user-friendly, easy-to-navigate, and mobile-friendly or not.

Online Directories

Online directories or listings serve as a bridge between existing or potential clients and a business. There are a lot of map data aggregators that provide map data to Google, Bing, Apple, Trip Advisor, and others.

The key to succeeding with online directories is consistency. Make sure that your citations are verified and provide complete business information or at least complete contact information. Issues in online directories such as misspellings, lack of or incorrect phone numbers, and incorrect abbreviations can hurt your local search rankings. Google avoids showing businesses in search results if it’s not sure about what business information is accurate and what isn’t.

Social Media

Over 3.6 billion people are already on social media and the number is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025. Internet users are spending on average more than 2 hours every day on social networks.

Google is all about what users want and if the content shared on social media can bring you relevant traffic, you should align search and share to maximise benefits. Claim your social profiles and make sure all your profile pages across different networks have identical information. Setting these profiles will allow you to benefit from the biggest pool of potential customers from your area as well as from other nearby places.

Add Schema

Scheme.org came as a common language for all major search engines including Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

While there are many ways to feed your business information to search engines, schema helps them understand the website thoroughly. An appropriate Scheme markup will help Google understand that you own a local business and not a big brand. This will not only boost your local rankings but also help you get more relevant website traffic. Ensure your schema markup is working fine by testing it on Google’s structured data testing tool.

With increasing online competition, businesses are finding it hard to climb the SERPs. Small businesses usually operate on limited resources and often don’t have the time or money to invest in local SEO. However, prioritising local search is vital for increasing the visibility of your business among a local audience with strong purchase intent and potential for repeat business.

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