Technical SEO, SEO business profiles, local SEO and local content … these are all terms you may have heard, but do you really know what they mean?
In this article, we’ll aim to provide you with a comprehensive guide to local SEO in 2022, including how to decide whether local SEO efforts are right for you, how to produce local content and link building (with a local intent) that will target and appeal to your local customers, what a Google SERP is, how it can influence your local business SEO techniques, the ranking factors you need to consider and much, much more.
We’ll even provide advice on SEO best practices when implementing location based initiatives, how your business listing and business directories play an integral role in being found via Google Maps and other local citations, as well as a comprehensive FAQ section to answer all your lingering concerns.
What is Local SEO: A Definition
While the aim of this article is to provide you with a comprehensive guide to local SEO in 2022, it’s important to start with the basics before getting into the nitty-gritty of local SEO strategy and how they may apply to you and your business.
Let’s rewind a little, with a brief definition of what local SEO is and how small business like yours can take advantages of all it offers when making the transition online, or improving your local ranking.
Whether you’re solely online or a brick and mortar store, if you’re in business, it’s likely that you will want to generate business from local customers. A worthwhile place to start is with local searchers and localised content to let customers (and potential competitors) know you’re in the game and ready for business.
Local searches help small businesses: 46% of searchers search in their area. If a website is not optimized for ecommerce, chances of losing potential customers in the area are low. Search Engine Optimisation is crucial in the context of a business. We have created an extensive guide that covers SEO tips from across the city. By reading this guide you will understand how to maximize your business to target consumers using local searches to decide which product and services to purchase.
How does local SEO work?
Local SEO works by tapping into a number of local SEO strategies and techniques that have proved successful when attracting customers to your website. And contrary to popular opinion, it’s not all about the keywords and dedicated keyword research, though that too is important.
Some of the things local SEO for small businesses is affected by are:
As we’re on the topic, we may as well talk about keyword research and how it affects your local search results. Just like your standard SEO, keyword research uses key terms and phrases users might implement when searching for products and services like yours.
But there’s one big difference. Because local SEO and ranking factors are local, so too does the local search results. By adding in geographic locators to your keywords (like “SEO Brisbane” or “Brisbane local SEO“), you are really honing in on that target market other small businesses might ignore.
Of course, local social media optimisation and SEO techniques or parameters are forever changing. It’s a fluid concept, and you need to stay on top of it so it’s important to consider whether intensive keyword research is something you have the time and patience for before starting the process and hunting those elusive search engine results using localised SEO.
What is a map pack? When searching for local products and services, or even to reference directions, you’ve probably visited an online map business directory, and at least seen a map pack even if you’re not overly familiar with the term.
A map pack is far more straightforward than you might initially think. When you search for something simple, say, “restaurants in North Lakes” using an online map tool (like Google Maps or Where Is, for instance), you will no doubt be presented with a map of the local area, their names and contact details, distance and such.
This cluster is what’s known to local SEO experts as a map pack. And the higher the search results ranking according to Google and other search engines in terms or organic search results, the more improved and accurate your map pack is going to be.
For local businesses to be successful on a local scale, not to mention nationally or even internationally, you need to be on the map. This is why you need to set up your other SEO tools (like Google My Business and Google Business Profile); the more comprehensive your profile and Google My Business tool, the better off you are in terms of ranking factors, pack results and your overall business profile.
Data aggregators are platforms on which you can submit your data and business information for distribution to a wide range of directories. They are incredibly helpful if you’re looking to streamline your information across a range of websites.
You will need to periodically check your listings through these tools, however, as incorrect information can negatively impact on your local citations. This, in turn, may impact your local search rankings and render your local SEO strategy ineffective.
Some examples of local data aggregators are:
- Express Update
- Data Axle
- Neustar Localeze
To find out more about which data aggregators would be helpful for you and your business, contact one of our local SEO experts.
Testimonials & Customer Reviews
One of the reasons a lot of small businesses find success with Google My Business is through testimonials and encouraging customers to leave reviews. That’s because research suggests that approximately 63 percent of local searchers refer to Google reviews when researching the products and services they require. The more customers leave reviews (especially good reviews), the more you will see your data improve and Google will recognise you’re an authoritative business name worth promoting.
Customer reviews are one sure way to improve local rankings, solidify domain authority and get the word out about your business online through organic results. What is also very helpful in terms of reviews is not only those that are connected with your business information and reviews page, but those that are more organic and come from external pages like Yelp.
It’s these kind of automatically generated reviews that appear on an online map that can really assist with local link building and help sway customers to leave a review or choose you over a similar service or business.
Page Speed & Mobile Friendliness
Whether you’re looking to implement local SEO or more traditional strategies for your business online, how fast your website page loads and functions is incredibly important. If your pages will not load properly, or are too slow to load, your potential customers may find the solutions they’re after on a competitor’s website, no matter how good your reviews.
High Quality Images
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this is no more true than in the online space. Huge blocks of uninterrupted text is difficult to read on a screen and may bore the reader. By breaking up the page with high quality images, you’re creating more engaging content worthy of your customer’s time.
With the right images (and accompanying alt text to help those with disabilities have a good user experience), you’re also helping your customers see the people behind your business, and into the inner workings of your day-to-day practices.
We’ve spoken before about the importance of backlinks and local citations in terms of traditional SEO. The same is true when you adopt local SEO for your website. The more quality, authoritative backlinks you can get directing to and from your website, the better as it will let your potential customers know you mean business and are someone they should work with when in need of the products or services you offer.
Business Name & Domain Name or Domain Authority
Local SEO is about building an effective local, online community you can draw on when you are searching for new customers to leave reviews, building a new customer base, expanding your reach, engaging with other local sites or simply wanting to promote new products or services.
One way small businesses can easily cement their place in the local community is by choosing a local business name. Let’s use a name I made up: Brisbane Hair Studio Tingalpa. Brisbane Hair Studio Tingalpa is on the corner of Brisbane Street and Tingalpa Boulevard. They love their local customers and are always looking for ways to connect more with the community and spread the word.
Their website even has their business name in it (brisbanehairstudiotingalpa.au) so they are easily found online. The owner, Kitty, even provides low cost local hair cuts and provides beauty advice for the online local magazine, further solidifying their place as a local business and providing them with verifiable domain authority (with regular backlinks to boot).
In a multicultural society such as Australia, you can’t guarantee your customers use English as their first language, and to assume so may mean your ignoring a large segment of them. By having multilingual capabilities or translation tools available for your business’s online content, you can be certain that they will not turn to your competitor when searching for what they need.
If you’re trying to sell products or services online, you need to tell your potential customers about them.
Whether it’s using tools like Google Business Profile (which we’ll discuss later on), other business listings or featuring a spiel on your website or reviews page, if you don’t provide your target audience with the information they need (especially when you’re trying to tap into specific location searches as with local SEO and combining organic results), you may be missing out on a ton of interaction and sales.
Google loves a featured snippet. So the more you can make your products or written content succinct, shareable and marketable, the better. If chosen as a featured snippet, even something as simple as a product description will rank highly in Google’s search results and be seen by much of your audience, as well as those you didn’t even know you were targeting.
One of the best ways you can indirectly influence your local SEO search results is by building your community profile. The more local content and place-based information you have to solidify your place as an authority in the area you want to target, the more successful you will be.
What is a Google SERP?
We said we’d talk about it and now’s the time: what is a Google SERP? Google SERP is basically the fancy acronym provided to the page of search results that appears after you type your search into Google (or any other search engine for that matter).
Occasionally, the SERP will feature a map pack, particularly if you’re performing a local search, so your customers can determine how far they have to travel to engage your services or buy your products.
Just as with traditional SEO, businesses that have been verified as operating with SEO best practices and keyword research will rank higher than those that do not implement those techniques.
In terms of local SEO and using the right local keyword, it’s likely that if you’re looking for “hairdressers Brisbane”, hairdressers in Sydney or other parts of Australia will not appear in Google’s local search as those businesses will not adhere to the local pack of Google Maps or have the local intent a more community-minded brand would have.
How Can You Improve Your Own Localised SEO as Evidenced in the Above Case Study?
There are any number of things you can easily do yourself to help improve your business profile and local intent. Some of these include taking advantage of a guest blog post or regularly posting on community outlets and forums like:
- Local publications and websites
- Industry publications and media
- Community business directories and indexes
- Local community blogs
- Local community event pages and engaging actively with social media
If this is something you want to look into yourself, a quick Google will reveal any number of opportunities available through Google search; it doesn’t matter if you’re online or a real-life brick and mortar store open for customers to browse.
Remember, when looking to engage a business, local searchers are a lot more likely to choose a business that has employed local search efforts than one that has not, simply because they rank higher in pack results and have invested in their local intent.
The more you try to centralise your content and focus on those local customers by proving your a community-minded business, the more likely your target audience is likely to come to you when looking for authorised products and services.
Why is local SEO important?
Local SEO is important because of the statistics. Did you know that 47 percent of Google searches are conducted with local intention? And 75 percent of local customers search for online products and services through Google, which is why having a presence on Google and Google My Business is paramount if you want to be successful in the localised SEO sphere.
How does local SEO help small businesses grow?
Local search engine optimisation is the most beneficial tool for small businesses. It could get you on Google for keywords which you might never have been ranking for. These keywords are the terms your potential customers use when searching for your product or services. The more you are able to rank highly among your competitors (through the strategic use of the techniques and tools we will discuss in this article as part of your best practices for localised SEO strategy), the more you are able to solidify your place as a business worthy of your customer’s time, money and loyalty.
NAPs are HUGE
If you’ve started your research on localised SEO, you might have come across the term “NAP citations” or local citations. This is basically how Google determines your business is authentic and you do what you say you do. As we’ve inferred before, it’s the basic things you include in all your business listings that are the same across all your business profiles and directories (as well as what you feature on your own web page and map listing. Things such as:
- Business name
- Address and phone number
- Domain name and valid web address
- Links for customers to leave reviews or read existing testimonials of your products and reviews, and how you can help them achieve their objective.
The more consistent you are with these NAPs and local citations, the more weight Google is going to place on your authority. This means your chances of being promoted above other businesses who have not invested in local SEO will be improved, and you’ll be more likely to appear in the local search results you need to secure customers.
Location Pages & Local SEO – Why You Should Include Them in Your Local SEO Strategy
In order to improve your local pack rankings, you need relevance via on-page SEO techniques. This means including locations and references to the surrounding suburbs you service to further enhance your localised SEO and chances of being found through a local search.
That said, you cannot be ranked in a location or suburb in which you do not have a central location. For instance, if you are a plumber based or located in Murrumba Downs, you can only have a map pack that showcases this, rather than including the surrounding suburbs from which you might source potential customers.
So how do you get around this? Through your on-page SEO. Using geo-located keywords and local search techniques to create pages focused on the areas in which you provide products or services, your local ranking factors have the potential to increase as your map pack and reach gets wider.
You can find examples of how to incorporate these techniques into your strategy and website by researching the SEO techniques local businesses like yours have used to their advantage. Alternatively, you can talk to a localised seo expert about which options would be right for you.
Benefits of Local SEO
There are a number of benefits businesses receive when implementing localised SEO techniques – and it’s not just all about keywords. Some of the most common benefits our clients have seen include improvement on:
- Customer engagement enquiries (including sales leads and bookings)
- Customer service quality
- Brand awareness
- How well you know your customers
- Word of mouth referrals and testimonials
- Local community relationships and authority
- B2B relationships and publicity
- Search rankings (especially local search ranking factors)
How Have Local Voice Searches Changed the Parameters?
Have you thought about how technology like Google Home and Alexa has changed the local search ranking factors and things you need to consider? Well, this is your reminder to do so. According to our research, google searches are not always completed using devices like a desktop computer, smart phone or tablet.
These days, approximately 80 percent of local searchers are asking their home devices to complete the searches for them, narrowing search results and taking the hard work out of finding small businesses who supply the product or service they’re after.
Before you worry about adding yet another task to your ever-growing to-do list, wait! If you’re already implementing local SEO strategy into your marketing plan (including SEO best practices to encourage customers to leave reviews and providing them with irrefutable reasons why they should use your local businesses, you’re a step ahead of the game.
This is because a lot of the things you need to focus on when optimising your website for local SEO are exactly the same as what you need to target when optimising for local voice search. Consider things like:
- Improving domain authority and user experience
- Optimising on-page content with a focus on local intent and how your customers can benefit from whatever it is that you supply
- Sourcing reviews and testimonials
- Claiming business profiles and business listings
- Verifying content to ensure organic search results receive correct data
- Using data aggregators to their full extent
You will also want to make sure your content is “snippet-ready” and you’ve really got those keywords down pat and mobile-ready.
Local SEO Tools
There are several local SEO tools you can use when implementing local SEO strategy into your digital marketing plan or strategy. This is the case whether you are a new business establishing your profile and brand, or an existing business wanting to expand your reach and attract customers to your business.
1. Google Business Profiles
According to research, 56 percent of businesses on the internet have yet to claim their Google my business listing. Don’t let your company be another statistic.
Google My Business is now known as Google Business Profile. This tool is one of the first points of call you should look to when establishing your business online, or if you want to improve your local rankings online.
Google Business Profiles (or Bing Webmaster Tools depending on your preferences for search engines and search results) is where it all starts when setting up local small businesses, particularly if your aim in doing so is to target local customers.
On Google Business Profile, you should make sure all your content is optimised, much in the same way you would for your direct website or ecommerce space.
Start with the basics you were taught in school when writing a story – because that’s what you’re doing, telling your business’s story.
Who – Who Are You?
What – What Do You Do?
When – When Were You Established? When can customers reach you? Are you a 24/7 enterprise, or only open from 9am – 5pm on weekdays? Be sure to provide detailed contact details including a current trading name, address and phone number (NAP for those familiar with SEO business), postal addresses, web addresses and domain names related to your page or business, email address details and anything else you as a local customer would require when searching other business listings
Where – Where Are You? This is a big one when it comes to localised SEO tips, as if Google can’t recognise where you are, your Google profile or business directories will not be found. They won’t appear when Google provides local search results on terms such as “local SEO Brisbane” (or whatever products and services you may provide)
Why – Why should customers contact you?
The more accurate, detailed information you can provide when setting up your search engine optimisation for local results, the better. Another one of the SEO tips we’d like you to remember comes with choosing your categories. While most businesses only fill in their primary category when completing this form, it’ll also best practice to provide secondary information.
So, if you’re a hairdresser, you might want to have your main category as “hairdressing” or “hair styling”. Your second category could be as easy as including other services you feature on your page so you can be found by organic results. Examples of this (using our case study of hairdressing) include:
- Formal styles and make up tutorials
- Colour correction and styling
- Men’s cuts
- Women’s styling
- Shampooing and blow-drying
- Seniors’ cuts
- Perming and curly hair specialists
As long as the information you provide is detailed, and accurate, it will go a long way to helping improve your search engine optimisation from a local stand point. And don’t forget to include the keywords you’ve found your target audience is using when optimising your profile. This too will also help increase your ranking, or at the very least help Google manage your local citations and determine credibility.
2. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a great starter SEO tool for local businesses wanting to hone in on local searches. It provides you with an overview of where you’re at and how you can improve.
3. Google Keyword Planner
If writing is not your thing, you have no professional marketing skills or you simply don’t have the time to dedicate to developing local content and copy for your website, then you may want to skip this one and contact the local SEO experts at Rise SEO for assistance.
But if you want to try improving your local search rankings yourself by developing local content that contains verifiable keyword research, this is a good place to begin.
4. Surfer’s Rank Checker
Surfer has an online tool (and a couple of free online tools and suggestions) where you can easily check how your business listings are performing in local rankings, and how to improve your domain authority. It can even direct you in terms of how to work with data aggregators and SEO professionals in enhancing your page performance.
How much should a small business pay for local SEO?
Now for the big question – the one everyone wants to know the answer to, regardless of whether they ask it. While it is a tricky question to answer, it would be remiss of us to ignore it entirely, especially with all the free tools on the market guaranteeing legitimate local citations, improved local rankings and engagements.
You know the saying you get what you pay for and the same is true when implementing SEO strategy and best practices for local SEO.
Factors depending on the type of local SEO tools you’re looking for, how you want to use it, where you want to target and a number of other things all influence what you can expect to pay when hiring a local SEO professional to ensure your SEO strategy is up to scratch.
For an obligation-free quote on how we can help improve your local search ranking, contact the team today.
Local SEO and the Power of Suggestion
When it comes to SEO (and local SEO tips in particular), there is perhaps nothing as important as suggestion, or tools like Google and Yelp Suggest. It’s like when you find a product you’ve been searching for online.
Once you add it to your cart and the brand has encouraged customers to leave reviews of the service they provided in the delivery of your product, the more likely Google’s algorithm is likely to suggest your business profile to others and include them in its local search ranking.
This is another reason why having FAQ sections and “snippet-ready” content is so important for local SEO and getting the results you’re after when it comes to improving your ranking factors.
How Long Before You See Results with Local SEO Strategy?
As local SEO experts, one of the questions we’re asked most frequently is how long local SEO strategy takes to be effective.
Just like normal or traditional SEO tips and tricks, local SEO is an investment and takes anywhere from 4 weeks to 14 months to get the results you’re after. You need to be aware of this before implementing this into your strategy. If you’re looking for a quick fix, you may want to consult a professional for advice before you begin, or even consider other options like Google Ads or PPC.
Is Local SEO for Everyone?
Like everything, local SEO is subjective and isn’t always the best option for all businesses – even small businesses. For instance, if you don’t rely on local businesses and local customers for the crux of your sales of products and services, you may not benefit from localised SEO tips. Some industries that enjoy the most success from productive local SEO strategies include:
- Home improvements and renovation specialists
- Hospitality, tourism and attractions
- Real estate and house building or construction
- Medical professionals or hospitals and services
- Residential plumbers or electricians
The Role of Social Media
Does social media play a role in local SEO and search results? Indirectly, social media does play a role. While you can’t necessarily implement SEO tools into content as well as you can via a website, it is all relevant.
Your social media accounts are a reflection of you and your business profile, how you want to be seen and how you communicate or engage with your customers. If you are not consistent across all platforms in terms of attitude and brand, it will harm your organic rankings, which is where it ties in with your local SEO strategy.
Should I hire a local SEO agency?
If you’re a local business wanting to target a local audience, then yes, we would highly recommend you choose a local SEO agency. And, if you’re in or around the Brisbane area, there’s no better local SEO agency than Rise SEO.
Combined, our experts have decades of experience in the local SEO industry and can provide you with information on why local SEO is important for your particular needs, how to go about taking advantage of local SEO tools and options.
In addition to a wealth of free tools, stellar reviews and knowledge that can’t be surpassed, we are the data aggregators you need on your side to take advantage of location-specific search engine optimisation and get ahead of the competition.
Ready to get started with local SEO and get your business listings really working for you? Contact the team today to find out how we can help you reach those local customers and improve sales.
Frequently Asked Questions for Those Wanting To Improve their SEO
Local SEO can be tricky, we know, particularly if you’re a small business or don’t have someone on staff dedicated to marketing and promotion.
That’s why we have compiled this list of questions asked frequently by our clients and others, to help clarify what these search engine optimisation techniques are, how to improve Google’s local search with targeted local SEO strategy and where to go for assistance.
Online Reviews and testimonials are important for a small business, but how do I get them?
Online reviews and testimonials are fantastic for encouraging people to visit your business, buy your products or work with you on whatever service they require. This is where the power of suggestion comes into play.
The best way to secure the specific type of local content is to gently encourage customers to leave reviews on your business profile telling others about their experiences with you, and what great work you do.
There is a function on your Google Business Profile that is customisable and provides a direct link where customers can leave feedback after engaging your service. This will also assist with local link building, improve your ranking in the Google SERP and be seen by others searching for what you offer.
How important are organic rankings in local SEO strategy?
Organic rankings are incredibly important when you’re looking to optimise your page. When you use organic – or traditional SEO tips – in conjunction with local SEO strategy, your ranking has a better chance of increasing. This further increases your chances of being seen by your customer base and getting those sales or customer contact you need to be successful.
Can I reward reviewers?
The purpose of reviews and testimonials is to get those organic results and help improve your pack results when compared to local competition. Therefore, while it may seem tempting to reward reviewers, it’s not ethical practice.
We do, however, strongly recommend you reply to every single review left on your profile as this will let search engines like Google and Bing know that you’re an active business, which in turn will give you the credibility you need to be successful as a small business.
What are local data aggregators?
Local data aggregators are like centralised databases. You can list your information (name, address and phone number, website) on there and it will populate to a number of different business directories.
How important is it to rank highly in Google SERP?
Ranking highly in Google SERP is the name of the game when it comes to both traditional and local SEO. Did you know that 0.83 percent of businesses are found if listed on the second page of Google’s search results? That’s why using our local SEO tips and tricks to improve how local searchers find your business is so important if you want to be successful.
Do I need a website to implement local SEO successfully?
Technically, you don’t necessarily need a website to implement local SEO, but you probably won’t get the results you are after if you don’t have one.
Producing local content and having local keywords you can include in existing content, as well as a verifiable online presence through which your customers can contact you (and where you can encourage customers to leave reviews) goes a long way to improving brand awareness.
It also helps with optimising your Google My Business (Google Business Profile), which will aid Google’s local search rankings and suggestions.
What do I do about bad reviews?
Bad reviews, while not ideal, are all part and parcel of running a small business online and offline. Unfortunately, you cannot always please everyone, and that’s sometimes just the way things are.
What matters when you get a bad review is how you engage with the customer. As we’ve said, we recommend replying to every review, good and bad. By acknowledging your customer’s bad experience, it gives you an opportunity to improve your business and learn from past mistakes.
It also shows your other customers that you are reasonable and professional, which can go a long way if you’re looking to capitalise on return business.
Remember, good business professionals can usually make the most of what they have and turn a bad experience into a positive one, even if it’s just as a learning opportunity for you and your team.
Can I do local SEO myself?
Technically, it is possible to to implement local SEO tips and techniques yourself, but it is very time consuming. Most small businesses and small business owners don’t have the time or patience to devote to local SEO strategy that actually works.
How do you know local SEO has been done right?
You see the proof of local SEO working through the results you receive. If you see sales start to go up a couple of months after implementing your strategies and you can directly relate that to changes you’ve made to your website or Google Business Profile, there’s a good chance it’s because your SEO is working.
But, at the end of the day, the only way you can be certain your local SEO has been implemented correctly is to work with a local SEO professional who knows your business almost as well as you do.
Is local SEO a set-and-forget solution?
It’s a common misconception that SEO and local SEO is a set-and-forget solution. But the opposite is actually true.
Local SEO takes time and constant monitoring to keep up with the rolling changes Google makes to it’s algorithm, especially when it comes to keyword research.
The goal posts are constantly changing, which is why a lot of local businesses see an investment in local SEO strategies completed by an SEO professional as a worthwhile investment.
Do I still need local SEO even if I don’t sell products online?
Local SEO has proved very beneficial even if you don’t sell products online. No matter what you do, if you’re local and in an industry that would benefit from these strategies, we can make it happen for you.
If I’m a small business, where do I go for assistance with local SEO efforts?
If you need assistance with starting local SEO, or you’ve done everything right and have yet to see the results you were hoping for, don’t worry.
Our team at Rise SEO has decades of combined experience in the industry and are adept at keeping ahead of the game. Together, we’ll help you implement successful strategies backed by location-based techniques that will improve your business and help you been seen online.
From keywords, keyword research, website marketing and social media, local SEO and design and everything else involved with place-based search engine optimisation, our experts have you covered.
So if I hire Rise SEO’s team, I don’t have to do anything?
That’s the beauty of getting a professional to implement and develop your local SEO. You can focus your time where it needs to be: on your business. Our team are fully qualified and have access to the latest local tools and techniques to help you get ahead of the competition.
How do I find out more about Rise SEO’s services?
Finding out more about the local SEO services we offer couldn’t be easier. Our team are on-hand and ready to talk to you whenever you are. Pick up the phone, chat to us or get in touch via our online form today.
Need help with your local SEO techniques? The team at Rise SEO is here to help with all your localised SEO requirements. Together, we’ll provide the effective solution for you to be found in any search engine.