Small businesses that want more exposure, improve online ranking and more customers in a local area need to implement local SEO (search engine optimisation) as part of an overall SEO strategy because local SEO helps your business be more visible in local search results on Google.

What does that mean?

It means that when someone searches in Google for a product or service in your area, you want your website to show up and you want it to show up higher than your competitors.

Who is local SEO for?

If you run a business that has a physical location or you provide a service in a particular geographic area,  you can most certainly benefit from local SEO.  This is because there are people in your area searching for the very product or service you have. So, if you don’t give signals to Google where you are and what you sell, how can they show your website to those searching for what you have to offer?

Given that 46% of Google searches are for a local business you’ll want to improve your online ranking with local SEO.  Not sure how?  Read on for 5 local SEO tips to boost your visibility.

Related: 3 Ways to Check Your Website Position on Google For Free

1. Google My Business

Imagine you own a cupcake shop.  Your window display is breathtaking and those walking by can’t resist walking in.

In an office block a few streets away, Mary has just been told she has an hour to organise a birthday party for her boss.  Although she’s located less than half a mile away, she has never walked past your shop.   Mary does a Google search for  “cupcakes” and up pops three of your competitors in Google’s map pack.

You know those shops well, but you know that their cupcakes aren’t nearly as good as yours.  Your cupcake shop didn’t show up in Mary’s search results so she has no idea you exist.   Although Mary doesn’t know it, Mary will just have to settle for less-than-satisfactory cupcakes. Not only that, you’ve just missed out on an order for 100 people.  Yep, that bites!

Why didn’t your business pop up in the map pack? It’s because you either don’t have a Google My Business listing or it’s so old you can hear the wind whistling through the outdated pictures and old reviews.   Either way, you’re losing customers to your competitors.

So, come on! Help people in your local area find you.

Before I hear protests from those with home-based businesses who don’t want their address on display for all to see, you can still have a Google My Business listing without displaying your full address.   Google will know where you are, but it won’t be visible to visitors to your profile.

Check if you have a GMB listing

It might have been a while since you set up your listing or maybe someone did it on your behalf, so the first thing you’ll want to do is to check if you have a listing.  Go to Google Maps and put in your business name.   If your listing appears, you are already ahead of the game.  If you don’t have a listing, create an account and fill in your address.  While you are waiting for the verification code that Google will send you in the post you can optimise your business listing.

Once you’ve verified your listing using the code on the postcard or via the Google My Business app, your listing will be visible.

Read:  5 Reasons SEO for Eco-Friendly Brands Is Crucial

2.   Bing Places For Business

Following on from the last local SEO tip to create or update your Google My Business listing, it makes sense to create a Bing Places listing. This isn’t going to take long – about as long as it takes to drink your cup of coffee.

First, go to Bing Places and create an account. The great news is that Bing allows you to import your information directly from Google My Business so you don’t have to enter in all the information again.  However, if the business you’re trying to get listed on Bing doesn’t have a verified Google My Business listing you will have to add the information manually. You’ll then be sent a card in the post to verify your listing, or you can verify it with the Bing app.

3. Check your NAP

NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. NAP is critical for businesses wishing to rank well in the local organic search results because search engines like Google take the data into account when determining which companies to show for geo-targeted searches.

Why should you care? Simple. Because consistent and plentiful mentions of your NAP tell Google that you’re trustworthy and established. The more trust Google has in your business, the higher your position in the map listings will be.

NAP format

You may think that the way your address and phone number appear doesn’t really matter.  To you, Hyde Ave is the same as Hyde Avenue.  But according to Google, this isn’t the case.  For example, 234 Green Rd is NOT the same as 234 Green Road. Equally,  +44 7345 222333 is NOT the same as 07345 222333. Whichever format you choose, ensure you use the same one for your website and for your local listings.

NAP management

What if you’ve changed your business address or phone number recently or if your business is already listed in dozens of directories? You need an easy way to check which listings you do have and a way to manage them.  Whitespark and BrightLocal provide great tools to check and manage your listings which can save you a considerable amount of time by not doing it yourself.

Read: 10 SEO Mistakes.  Why Your Website Isn’t Showing Up

4.  Page title

Writing good page titles is essential because it’s the first thing a user sees in search results and it’s also one of the most important factors that Google uses to determine the topic of a page.

There are comprehensive articles on how to write SEO titles but here are a few tips to get you started.

Firstly, you’ve got to think about which format you’ll use because this needs to be consistent across all of your pages. You’ll see a lot of titles with the following format: primary keyword and secondary keyword | brand name. There are then those with the format: brand name | primary keyword and secondary keyword. There are others who do not even include the brand name at all.

There are a lot of opinions about whether you should put your brand name in the title.  So, ask yourself this. Will including the brand name going to make a difference? If people see your brand name are they going to be tempted to click on the link? If the answer to this question is yes, then include it.  If not, then don’t.

SEO Title on search results

Secondly, keep within the character limit which is between 60-65, otherwise the title will run off the page, which is the case in the example above.

Thirdly, add your best primary keyword as close to the beginning of the title.   So, a better version of the SEO title above might be Freelance Copywriter London | Content Writer

5.  Meta descriptions

A meta description is a text in black you see under the page title.  As is the case with page titles,  if the description isn’t present, Google will use something else from the page in the search results and that’s not necessarily going to be the information you want users to see.

So, before you start writing your descriptions it’s important to check out your competitors because that can give you a lot of useful information.  Type the keyword you want that page to rank for into Google and analyse the listings on page one.

Here’s an example of a great description.  It’s within the character limit and therefore not running off the page. It informs the visitor who they provide services for, where they are based and what sets them apart from other decorating companies.

meta description of a listing on google search results

Here’s what to ask yourself when reviewing your meta descriptions:

  • Do they contain important keywords that are relevant for your business and have a high search volume?
  • Are all of your meta descriptions unique? Are you using the same description on another web page? If so, then change it, because each page of your website should be optimised for a different keyword.
  • Would the description encourage a visitor to click on the listing?
  • Is the description running off the page?

The great thing is, your SEO plugin will help you craft your titles and descriptions and alert you if the description is too long or if it doesn’t contain the keyword.

Want more local SEO tips? Drop me a line!