If you’ve ever watched The League of Gentlemen, you’ll get the reference.
If you haven’t, watch it (not now, you’re probably supposed to be working).
It’s a BBC comedy series with a sketch about two sinister and psychotic shop owners, Tubbs and Edward Tattysyrup, who don’t approve of outsiders.
To quote Tubbs; “This is a local shop for local people. There’s nothing for you here!”
What’s this got to do with local SEO?
Well, when it comes to online search, keeping things local can be a pretty successful marketing tactic.
What is local SEO?
It’s a type of SEO focussed on improving a website’s ranking in local search results.
These results are shown when a person’s search intent is about finding a place, product or service nearby. Searches such as; “X near me”, or “X in town/city/region”.
Technology and the internet have made business truly global, and it’s possible to sell to, and work with, people on the other side of the world.
Nevertheless, there are lots of reasons why people still want to engage with local businesses. In fact, 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information.
What makes the local version different from SEO in general is, unsurprisingly, location.
You’ll still want to get the basics right.
Why is local SEO important?
We already know that a lot of people are searching for local results.
If you’re running a small business, this gives you a great opportunity to compete with more illustrious competitors in the digital space.
It’s doubly important if your business has a physical location you want clients and customers to visit, or a service that covers specific areas.
In this case, you’ll often be competing with other local businesses instead.
As well as the normal organic listing, you’ll want to be in what’s known as the “local pack”:
I’m not hungry, I’ve just had a bacon butty (or “cob” if you’re a local), but it illustrates my point.
The local pack appears above the organic results, so being in it will increase your visibility.
This means more visitors to your website or premises, more phone calls, emails and enquiries.
How to improve your local SEO
I’ll repeat – you need to make sure your overall SEO strategy is right first. Getting the fundamentals sorted is only going to help you with local results.
If you’ve got that covered, here are 5 things you can do improve your local ranking:
1. Claim and optimise your Google My Business listing
Claiming it is really part of the basics (instructions here), so I’ll move on to the optimising bit.
Add as much relevant information as you can:
- NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number).
- Website URL.
- Business hours.
- What you do.
- Optimised images and video.
- Reviews – don’t be afraid to ask for them.
You can add details about products, services and special offers, and even create posts to let people know what you’re up to.
You can also do the same for Bing Places. Ok, more people use Google, but it’s the default search engine in Edge (Microsoft’s browser) and worth the time.
Following on from Google, you’ll want to create listings, or citations, in as many directories as possible.
This sends search engines signals that you’re the right company to show in local results.
The most important thing here is that you are accurate with the NAP information you provide. If you’re not, it’ll hamper your efforts.
Example of places you might create citations are:
You get the idea. Local newspapers often have online directories too.
Not all citations will have a link to your website, and if they do, they’ll probably be nofollow links.
SEO experts have questioned their worth, and we know they aren’t as valuable as a dofollow link, but at the very least they can bring traffic to your site.
3. On-page optimisation
This bit follows the same principles as general SEO. Do your keyword research and include these local search terms in the usual places.
For example, instead of just focussing on ranking for digital marketing consultant, I’d want to optimise my site for digital marketing consultant Derby.
You should use your local keywords in:
- Page titles and H-tags.
- In your website copy.
- Image alt text.
- External and internal links.
I bet your website has an “About” page. This is a pretty obvious place to start.
If you serve multiple locations, you could even create specific landing pages optimised for them.
A word of warning here though – copy/pasting content and changing the location is not a good way to do this.
4. Local link building
Slightly different to citations, because we’re looking for those dofollow links. When link building in general, the most valuable ones are from sites with high domain authority (DA).
High DA is still desirable for local SEO, but the priority will be relevance to your location.
To get these links, you’ll need to reach out to your local community:
- Business groups.
- News outlets.
- Sponsorship and events.
It can be difficult to know where to start and how to approach link building in general, let alone the local sort.
Thankfully, Bright Local have surveyed a bunch of experts to see how they approach things and what makes a good local link.
5. Schema mark-up
Buckle up, it’s about to get a bit technical.
Schema mark-up is code you put in your website to give search engines a helping hand. It’s what gives you rich results like this:
Basically, it can give you more than just the standard list of blue organic links and meta descriptions.
Instead, you get nicely presented cards and extra snippets of relevant info.
For local search, mark-up can include things like:
- Opening hours
- Areas covered
- Payment types accepted
If you know a bit of code, it’s not too difficult, but otherwise I’d recommend getting a developer to help you with it.
For the more adventurous, you can find examples of mark-up code at https://schema.org/.
Once you’re done, you can test it using Google’s tool.
Even if you’re not an SEO whizz, there are quite a few simple steps to stack things in your favour for local search.
I know this works, because most enquiries I get through my website are from businesses within a 30-mile radius.
When I started out, I knew ranking for local keywords could be achieved much quicker than more general and competitive ones.
If you’re a small business owner, why not see if it can work for you too?
Digital Marketing Consultant - Derby | Nottingham | Sheffield
Just like Tubbs and Edward, I enjoy working with local people.
I also work with clients in different countries.
Maybe I can help you too. There’s only one way to find out, so give me a shout.