A how-to guide on optimising your business to appear in local searches
First Things First
To ensure that your business has a chance of ranking locally, you must first claim your business listing. In Google this is done using Google My Business, while in Bing this is achieved using Bing Places. Both Google My Business and Bing Places require you to verify your business listing, which is either done by entering a PIN code received through a letter in the post, or where available, by entering the PIN received via an automated phone call. Regardless of what method is used, verified businesses confirm to the respective search engines that your business is legitimate.
Local SEO Explained
Local SEO concerns the methods involved in optimising your business online to ensure maximum exposure for search engine queries that are most valuable to you. It should be noted that Local SEO isn’t just limited to Google and Bing. Depending on your industry, people may also search for businesses in sites such as Yellow Pages and Yelp, along with other niche-oriented ones such as Trip Advisor, Zomato and many more. Despite all the options and alternatives however, Google claims a dominant market position, so it pays to have your site optimised for Google.
Understanding Google’s Local Pack
If ever you search for something in Google that is location specific, such as ‘home builders in [location]’, you’ll notice an area of the page that displays the contact details of 3 businesses that meet your search criteria. This is extremely lucrative, as it gives your business the opportunity to appear in the local 3 pack, as well as organic search (ordinary non-paid search results).
It’s important to note however, that the Google 3 pack may not necessarily be a blessing for all businesses, particularly for those with substandard ratings, as you can see below. Such poor ratings will immediately deter people from visiting your site or contacting your business.
What’s the best way to optimise your business for Google’s Local Listings?
1) Ensure your business address is displayed throughout your site
What better way to let Google know where your business is located, than by having it displayed throughout the site. Business contact details including the address are commonly displayed at the bottom of the page, in the footer section. It’s also a good idea to include a Google map on your contact page as well, that clearly identifies your location.
2) Verify your Google My Business and Bing Places listings
As mentioned at the very beginning of this guide, if you wish to improve your chances of featuring more prominently in the Google 3 pack and in location specific searches, then you must claim and verify your business listing.
3) Optimise your site for your business location and surrounding areas
If you’re a home builder that is headquartered in Perth, then it’s wise to optimise each page of your site for Perth, as well. This includes all basic elements such as meta titles and descriptions, headings, image alt text and all onsite content. In many cases, ranking well in organic search will improve the chances of your business appearing in the local 3 pack as well.
4) Create a business page on Facebook
While some may question the importance of having a Facebook page, where ranking in Google local search is concerned, it shouldn’t be dismissed. There are a number of factors that Google could use to help determine if your business is worthy of featuring more prominently in local searches, such as the number of followers your pages has, the frequency in which posts are made to your page and the engagement that each post receives from others. A Facebook page that does well in all of these categories may very well see improved recognition from Google and therefore better rankings in local listings.
5) Acquire citations from trustworthy directories
Having your business listed in authoritative directories is an effective way to further increase your chances of ranking in Google local search, even more so if they happen be directories that are dedicated to your business location and/or your particular industry. Avoid seeking citations from disreputable directories as these can potentially harm your rankings and may ultimately lead to a penalty.
6) Set about obtaining more customer reviews for your business
Whilst having a high volume of reviews on your Google listing most likely doesn’t affect its ability to rank in Google Local (given the fact that it’s very easy to create fraudulent ones), simply having them there can most definitely have a positive impact on CTRs (Click Through Rates) for businesses that are fortunate enough to feature in the Google 3 pack. A large number of reviews with a favourable aggregate rating will tell prospective customers that your business is both popular (high number of reviews) and trustworthy (high aggregate rating).
Aside from just Google reviews, accumulating a number of reviews for your listings on other highly regarded sites such as Yelp and other important sector-specific may also improve your chances of ranking in local search as well.
7) Ensure your business info is consistent
Another important factor to be mindful of is consistency. The key components of your business information, that is, your business name, address and phone number need to be identical wherever your business appears online. If your business has since relocated to a new address, then it must be updated on all major listings. Likewise, if your phone number has changed. Failure to update this information will lead to confusion as to where your business is actually located, harming your chances of ranking at your current location.
Be found in Local Searches Today
Over the years, we’ve helped countless SEO clients strengthen their online visibility and achieve outstanding results for all of the search terms that matter to them most. If you want your business to appear at the top of search results for keyword phrases that are relevant to your business, then your business must be properly optimised for Local SEO.
To find out how we can greatly improve your prospects for success, contact us now on 07 5641 0224 or use the form below.