Who knew that lockdown would last this long and when it will end? What we do know is that the world has changed around us and that many have found new ways to work and do business. However, with so many digital marketing strategies to consider, local SEO should be at the top of your list.
Statistics show that 4 out of 5 customers use Google search to find local information, which means if your business isn’t optimized for local search, you are most probably missing out, especially now when many are practising social distancing and working from home and using the internet more. If you run a local business (a physical business with a fixed location or a business that serves a geographic area), then local-SEO is critical for your business.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that helps your business become more visible within local search results of Google.
To give you a practical example, let’s imagine that you’re moving houses and are in need of a packing service company. A company that will pack the contents of your home, transport it to its new location and unpack the contents for you. In most cases you would head to Google search and type in the search term “packing services company near me“.
What usually pops up are your Google ad listings, followed by a list of businesses within Google maps, followed by organically listings of companies.
So you’d also like your business to appear on Page 1 of Google within the Google Maps and organic listings. Here’s the minimum requirements that your business needs for local SEO.
What does your business need for local SEO?
In order to be found within Google and to rank for local SEO, your business requires the following:
- Google My Business profile
- A local SEO strategy
1.1 Your Website
In this digital age that we find ourselves in, having a website is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Your website is your online place of business or storefront. If your potential customer is looking for you, they will be able to find you, your products / services including contact details. However, just having a website is not enough. Google will boost the visibility of your website to your customers for free if it meets over 200 ranking factors, which includes:
- Is your website responsive to mobile (looks good on tablet and mobile devices)
- performs well (doesn’t take too long to download)
- offers easy navigation and a good user-experience
- is optimized to educate Google about the contents of your website in relation to the search intent of the user.
1.2 Google My Business
Referring to the “packaging services companies” above, businesses who are registered with Google My Business have the opportunity to appear within Google Maps. As you set up your business profile, you can list your business location along with important information about your business, including the opening/closing times, contact phone number, links to your website which will allow you to show up in local SEO results. You won’t automatically appear at the top of Google map listing when your potential customer searches for your business, however, will need a strategy to optimize both your website and Google My Business listing to build trust and credibility to move up the ranking within Google maps.
1.3 A local SEO Strategy
Just because you have a website and a listing on Google My business does not mean that you can sit back and business will come streaming in. Your business needs to build its reputation with Google in order for it to offer it to your potential customers. It is therefore important to understand how Google and Google Search works in order to implement a local SEO strategy so that you can increase the visibility of your business within Google.
How Google Works
To put it very simply:
a) Google’s bots, also known as spiders, crawl the web by visiting website pages.
b) Once crawled, they add correctly optimized pages to their index and catalogue them.
c) When people search, Google determines which website is the best based on the search term that they are using.
How Google Search Works
a) When someone searches for information on products or services they use keywords, therefore Google search is keyword driven.
b) Google determines which is the best website to offer the visitor based on 200 factors, which include quality of information that matches user search intent; website performance indicators (page speed, mobile optimization and others); website reputation and trustworthiness; and finally user interaction and engagement on the respective websites.
As you can see, a local SEO strategy will require educating Google about your business so that as it can take what has been indexed by its bots and offer your website as a solution to the search enquiry of your customer. These strategies may include:
- Keyword Research and optimization
- Content marketing and blogging
- On-page optimization for local SEO
- Reputation building and more.
Unsure of where to go from here?
Is your local SEO up-to-date? Ignite Media is a digital marketing agency in Cape Town offering local SEO services and more. We can help you with a free evaluation, through to developing and implementing local and broad-based SEO strategies. Get in touch today.