Did you know that 97% of people search online to find a local business? Did you know that 88% of those consumers either call or visit a store after making a local business search online?
92% of prospects only select businesses that are on the first page of search results. 67.70% select the first 5 searches on Google. This means that if your website is not in the top 5 positions, you are losing out on a majority of your business!
As the world turns more and more digital by the day, the importance of local SEO for businesses becomes a key factor in their online marketing strategy.
Today, I’m going to walk you through some of the most basic and often ignored elements of local SEO optimisation that will help your website jump up the ranks on search engines.
What is Local Search Engine Optimisation?
Let’s start with local SEO 101. Say you are an electrician in Hamilton, and you provide your services in Hamilton and the greater Waikato. When someone is searching for, let’s say “Electrician in Hamilton” or “best electricians in Hamilton”, you along with the 50 other electrical companies in Hamilton are competing to show up. So how does Google decide which businesses to show on their search results, and in which order?
Every time a person searches for something online, Google runs thousands of algorithms in the background, and matches the search with the best matched results, based on relevancy, quality, trustworthiness and proximity. Optimising these elements is precisely what local SEO stands for.
36% of SEO experts think the headline is the most important SEO element. Needless to say, you need to have a locally optimised H1 tag on your website.
The heading or the “H1 tag” is the main heading on your website’s home page and this tag should include important search terms or “keywords” that people type into Google when they are looking for products or services that you provide.
So, for example, if you offer security and automation services in Hamilton, then “automation” and “Hamilton” will be the most common terms people type in when looking for you. So, you want to include this in your title tag.
Here is an example of a strong, well optimised H1 tag.
The second most important element of local SEO is your page title or “title tag”, i.e., the title displayed by Google on the search results page, when showing your website to potential customers. Here is a screenshot of what a page title looks like on Google.
As you can see, I searched for “SEO Hamilton” on Google, and the result that came up had the phrase I searched for in the page title. While it is important to have search phrases or keywords in your page title, you also need to make sure that it is relevant and not spammy.
Page titles should ideally be within the character limit recommended by Google, which is 60 characters.
Having an optimised page title can be very powerful for local SEO.
The meta description is what you see below the page title on Google search results.
Here is an example:
Your meta description should be descriptive and relevant to the page and should highlight your USPs. A good meta description helps with the click-through-rate, so the better your description is, the more likely it is to catch the consumer’s eye and land you a click to your website.
Google My Business listing
If you have a local business, I cannot stress enough on the importance of having a Google My Business listing. If I search for “best restaurants in Hamilton”, Google comes up with a list of restaurants that have a rating of 4.0 or more.
The way to get on this list is to have a Google My Business listing. When creating your listing, you need to make sure to add in all the relevant information about your business such as the products and services that you offer, your business address, contact details, website URL and more.
Customer reviews are crucial to having a well optimised listing, so if you have a customer who is very satisfied with your product or service, don’t shy away from requesting them to leave you a good review on Google. You can make this easier for them with an email that has your Google My Business details.
Local Directory Submissions
The internet is filled with online directories, which are city specific, region specific, New Zealand specific and international. Make sure to sign up with these directories and get your business listed with them. Many directories are free, so it will only cost you 5 minutes of your time per listing.
Make sure to add in all the relevant information about your business, along with a good description and a link to your website. The more directory listings you have, the better it is for your local SEO rankings.
Patience is key when it comes to SEO….
SEO optimisation can be overwhelming and confusing with thousands of different articles, blogs and opinions out there, which is why I recommend starting out with the basics and getting them right. You can then move up the ladder with exploring some of the more complex and technical aspects of local SEO optimisation.
SEO optimisation is not a quick fix. It’s a long-term investment, which requires meticulous ongoing work to reach the top positions and more importantly, STAY in the top positions.