What are the basics of local SEO?

Now some of you may be lucky enough to have hired a guru who is fluent in digital marketing, in which case, this article may just confirm a job well done, but for those who don’t – we’re trying to help you translate the technical jargon so you can better navigate the online marketing terrain.

“So where do we start?” you ask. By making sure you’re ‘Search Engine Optimized’ (also known as SEO), and in particular, local SEO. We know for most small businesses, SEO seems like a daunting task, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – and it’s local SEO. Much easier for the novices of this world to succeed at.

So to start… “What is SEO?”

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation (or Optimization for our American friends), and basically means, finding ways to make sure you’re doing all you can to be found on the likes of Google and Yahoo, appearing as high up the list of results as possible. We’re all aiming for that number one spot, including us!

“How is local SEO different?”

Local SEO is a type of SEO, but it’s focused on providing search results that are relevant based on the person’s current location. For those of you who aren’t part of a big franchise, local SEO is extremely important because the majority of your customers are searching for activities in the area, not your particular company name. So you’re more likely to be found under searches for “Bungee Jump” then you are under “BounceDownQT” for example.

Where should you begin?

Search engines rely on signals including local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user. So firstly, make sure you’ve optimised your Google My Business account. If you’re not sure what this is, then stop here, and read our article: Are you optimizing your ‘Google My Business’ account?

Make sure you’re mobile optimised.

50% of mobile searchers are looking for business information, like address and contact number. With 76% of local searches resulting in a phone call, and 18% of local mobile searches leading to a sale within one day. You need to make sure your website is offering the best mobile experience possible. Make sure the customer can easily find where you are, when they can go and how they can book.

Be Social.

We’ll be writing more on how to improve your Social Media presence in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled (figuratively, not literally!). But for now we’ve listed some of the basics you should be thinking about:

1. Make sure you’re spending energy on the correct Social Platforms, you can’t win them all. If your company has a lot of awesome video footage, then YouTube is a good choice. If you have lots of great customer success stories then you might want to consider Google+ and focus on here. For local SEO we recommend that your business category is set to “Local Business” to appear on Facebook’s “Nearby Places”.

2. The Hashtag. Think of hashtags as keywords that describe your business with a # sign in front. They’re necessary when sharing on social platforms to help you appear in the results, but don’t go overboard. 

3. Whenever you post on Facebook and Instagram make sure to select the same GeoTag (i.e. address) every time! Unfortunately, you can’t control the location people use when they post about your company, but make sure you are always using the correct option; ‘BounceDownQT, Camp Street, Queenstown’ Vs ‘BouncedownQT, New Zealand’. 

4. Partnerships are great. Cross promoting with other local businesses will widen both of your audiences. They boast about you, you gush about them.

5. Reviews. Whether negative or positive, be sure to respond! Create a conversation with your audience. Obviously we’re all aiming for positive reviews, so consider offering a contest/reward program to encourage people to create content about you, most importantly…a great customer review! (68% of consumers go to social networking sites to read product reviews).


Your website.

1. Make sure your Name, Address and Phone (NAP) are consistent everywhere. Sounds simple, but make sure you use the exact same format everywhere you show your NAP; various directories, Facebook, Trip Advisor, your website…everywhere. The difference between ‘Street’ and ‘St’ makes a difference to how reliable you appear to Google. Want to go one step further, consider embedding a google map on your website ‘find us’ page (and don’t make your address an image, as this can’t be searched by the “GoogleBots”).

2. If you’re part of a franchise, make sure you have a business page/listing per location. 

3. Links. Internal linking to content within your own site is a great indicator to search engines that your site has value. Inbound links from other sites make you appear more ‘legitimate’ to Google, so the higher they’ll rank you. 

4. Make sure you have fast loading pages (try to avoid big images), mobile users want instant feedback, so you want to get your information across as quickly as possible, before they move on to the next result.

5. Optimize your URLs, users are more likely to click: blog.wherewolf.com/google-my-business vs blog.wherewolf.com/making%20%the%20%most%20%of%google%20%business (DO NOT edit your URL’s unless you know how to properly do a 301 redirect or your page will result in a ‘404 Error – Page Not Found.)

6. Title, Tags, Headers, Meta Description. All content should have a high volume of keywords. Don’t forget the 65 character rule for your title to stop truncation in the results (SERP = Search Engine Result Page). Metadata of the article should aim to be under 300 characters, with keywords as near to the front as possible.

Feel like you have more time to invest in local SEO?

  • Create local content. Blog posts about the local area. Not just selling your product. Just being a voice on things potential clients my find helpful. For example, if you’re an app company selling to the travel tourism industry. Why not right helpful articles on how they can be found amongst other tourism industries in the area?
  • Keep updating, frequently. The more recent your content, the more relevant it will seem to the likes of Google and Yahoo.
  • Get local inbound links by asking (or paying) companies to mention you. Get them to link to your website, you social accounts. Reach out to other loyal audiences.

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