The 4 core competencies for local SEO (2018 Guide)
By Donovan Rucastle
Local SEO is the first step businesses can take towards improving their rankings and visibility in their local community. The great thing about local SEO is that you are not necessarily competing with the big international guys, only your local superstars. Whilst big companies can still affect your local ranking, it is much easier to progress and become visible within your community niche.
So how do we begin?
Well, there are 4 main competencies we believe to be important when considering local SEO, but we will get to those in a second. Firstly we want to discuss why local SEO is important. Many of you know that SEO is important when ranking on Google searches but not many businesses understand that even if you are an online store, many clients will come from your own community. This is especially true for New Zealanders who are incredibly proud of their 100% Kiwi products and services.
When you rank up your local SEO, it not only lets people find you on Google easier but also creates opportunities for your name to come up in conversation. It is well known that word of mouth is essential for businesses nowadays! So having good local SEO practices will help you tremendously both online and offline.
Now that you understand the value of everything, what are some local SEO competencies that you need to be aware of? Let’s check them out!
1) Google Your Business
If you want to rank highly on Google’s search pages, it only makes sense to know what people are seeing! If you are just getting into SEO, you might notice that when you search your name, you will be lacking a Google business listing. This is a big red flag when customers are searching locally! We cannot stress the importance of creating and claiming your own Google Business Listing.
Claiming your business listing is easy, just head over to Google My Business and complete the process. Google will send you a letter confirming your address and that is about it! After that is done you can include all the relevant information people need to know about your business. This is not very important when pushing you up the ranks in Google’s searching algorithm but it will earn some trust from your potential customers. Make sure to get some of your previous clients to go and review the business so that it has a few 5-star reviews under its belt. Google has hinted in the past that well-reviewed businesses might see a ranking boost.
The best thing about listing your business is that it is completely free! Not only that but you also secure your business listing before competitors can get it. We recommend you add a phone number as well as an email address for people to contact your business on. Too many customers are turned off from a product or service if it is a challenge for them to get in touch with you!
The effect on your SEO is not direct, whilst the listing might improve your SEO, it will be very marginal as the listing is considered a directory link which doesn’t improve your ranks much. The main benefit as we have mentioned is claiming your spot. That way people know when, where and how to reach you. You get to be in control of searches with your Brand Name! That is definitely an important benefit for any local business.
2) Care about your tags
This is where we get into the more gritty part of SEO. Editing your tags is an important part of any SEO strategy and more certainly an important part of any local SEO strategy. When we speak about tags, we are mainly referring to your title and description tags with your title tag being the more important variable. These items/tags will determine how your link looks when popping up in a google search. Keep in mind that edits to these may take a little while to show up on Google.
Many companies try to structure their tags to either get as many clicks as they can to their site or to appeal to very select questions users might be searching for. Whilst these are definitely effective ways to optimise your tags, we are talking about local SEO and optimising tags for local searches looks a bit different.
Consider your title tag to be your main attracting sentence! You need to fill your title tag with the most important information so that users can quickly glance over your link and know exactly what you offer.
A good title tag would look something like this:
Website Development Agency Auckland, NZ | Rucastle Media
This title gives the reader a lot of information very quickly. It allows them to see the name of your business, the service or product you are offering, the type of industry you are in, as well as the most important factor, the fact that you are local! Especially in countries which are proud of their businesses, promoting that you are a local business can sway a person’s mind on choosing you over an international competitor. This not only increases your chances of getting picked when presented amongst competitors, but it also tells Google that you are local. Because you have included your location, Google knows who you are trying to target and also recognises the location keywords as rankable tags. All of a sudden your potential to rank for searches which include your service/product + “NZ” or “Auckland” have drastically increased!
3) Focus on Reviews
Getting reviews might sound like some trivial generalised nonsense but in fact, they can actually help you rank higher in local search results. Google ranks on several factors, one of the big factors is prominence. Think of prominence as being the popularity of the business. The more well-known the business is to the local community, the more confident Google is in ranking the business’s listing higher.
Now how do reviews affect this? Google has struggled in the past to judge how popular/well-known a business is offline. As much as possible, Google would like to reflect the true popularity of a business in their online search results and a great way to do so is via reviews. Reviews not only tell Google what people think about your business, they also tell Google how often people are buying from you, how happy they are with your service/product as well as which areas your customers are from. This is a lot of information which Google can use to boost your ranking.
If you send out an email to recent customers asking them to rate you online after their purchase, it could lead to a constant flow of reviews. As long as your product is good enough, your reviews will almost always be positive, meaning now Google can see just how popular you are in the community and push you up the ranks.
Little secret: Even if you are not the most popular business in your industry within your local community you can still make Google think you are by getting lots of reviews online. If your competitors are not focusing on their reviews, you will find that it is quite easy to build a better online reputation and thus win over customers!
We should mention that you should respond to most reviews left for your business! That means both the good and the bad ones… Responding to reviews in a calm understanding/appreciative nature will show customers that you, as a business, care about your customers and listen to their concerns. It is likely that this will not help you with your local SEO but will help you when trying to acquire new customers.
4) Think about your content
There is a saying that says if you are going to do something, do it right! We believe the same goes for creating content for your business. As tempting as it is, publishing content such as blog posts, guides & advertisements with the least amount of effort needed is not a good idea. Not only will you be showing the kind of work ethic your business is willing to put into itself, but you are also going to make your life difficult when trying to share the content.
If you are given an old stone, no matter how much you clean it, it is still a stone. If you are going to give yourself content that is average, no matter how hard your market it, it is still average content. That is why you need to think about your content! Focus on the quality of it… think about the audience you are trying to reach and what the content says about your business!
The main focus point from a local SEO aspect is focusing on including local keywords and concepts. The keywords will help Google recognise the kind of audience the content is suited for and the local concepts will help reassure readers/viewers that the content applies to them! Focusing your content on a local community is a lot easier and you can get better results than you would in an international market. Not only that but local individuals, such as buyers in New Zealand (see how we just applied our own rule?) are much more likely to buy from you than individuals who live further away or overseas.
Our advice is to create content that you know will resonate with your audience. Especially content which you know can be shared by local influencers such as bloggers, vloggers,