Article

Shariq Toor
Shariq Toor 7 September 2018
Categories Search Marketing

5 Overlooked Components of Local SEO

Local is SEO if often overlooked by small businesses but it can have the best ROI. Make sure your local business has done the essentials.

Have you cracked the local SEO code?

SEO is constantly evolving (thanks, Google algorithm updates), which means the best techniques, tips, and practices also see their fair share of changes.

But SEO experts know the value of keeping their finger on the Google pulse, especially when it comes to the local factor. A whopping 46% of all online searches are for local products, and over half of local searchers visit a location that same day.

Have you optimized yourself for local SEO? Here are five of the most overlooked components of local SEO that you can start to fix today.

#1 - Claim Your Google My Business Listing

Google My Business isn't new. It's a free listing tool that pops up on an online search when people are searching for a business or service in a specific area.

It's a fairly common practice, yet 56% of retailers haven't even claimed theirs.

The Google My Business listing is powerful local SEO juice for many reasons. For starters, it tells Google your business exists so that it can display you in local search results. It also gives your searchers an easy way to learn more about your business, whether it's by ratings and reviews or clicking through to your website.

Getting set up with a Google My Business listing is completely free, so there's no excuse not to take advantage of it. While you're at it, consider setting up the Bing equivalent, Bing Places for Business. It's also free and caters specifically to Bing users.

#2 - Leverage Google Maps

Yes, even Google Maps uses SEO to return search results. Your Google Maps ranking is determined by two things: proximity and rank.

Proximity isn't something you can control. In many cases, results will be returned to the user based on their current physical location. So if they're searching for coffee shops in St. Petersburg and you're five miles away, you likely won't be the first one to pop up.

The other factor is rank. Google may look at a number of things, such as your star rating and reviews on your GMB listing, local keywords, and how well you've optimized your GMB listing. This means filling out the information completely, including photos and store hours. The more complete and the better your reviews, the better chance you have of earning a coveted spot in Google's 3-pack.

Don't focus on what you can't control - focus on what you can control.

When you do everything else right, the factors out of your hands won't matter as much.

#3 - Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Since many local searches take place on a mobile device, it doesn't do you any favors if your website isn't mobile responsive. In fact, 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to reach out to a business with a mobile-responsive website.

Mobile responsive websites are fairly new territory for businesses that have well-established websites. When smartphones first emerged, it used to be common practice to have a regular website and a website designed with the mobile user in mind. Today, this practice is overly complicated and becoming obsolete, thanks largely to mobile responsive designs.

Now, instead of maintaining two websites, businesses can have a single website that automatically shifts its appearance based on how the user is accessing the website. Now you don't have to pick and choose which content to add to your mobile website versus traditional website. You don't have to scale down your offerings on mobile to make it user-friendly. You maintain one website and collect all the SEO benefits, regardless of how your audience visits you.

It's 2018, and you should have a website that looks and functions well across devices. If you haven't yet invested in a mobile-responsive design, add it to your priority list now. This simple tweak can be powerful in increasing your SEO, especially when it comes to local audiences.

#4 - Use Local Schema

Local schema markup is arguably one of the most effective yet underused local SEO tools in existence. You've probably seen schema at work, but aren't sure how those websites crafted such magic.

Schema is a unique code that displays rich information in search results. It looks like this:

Schema is used to help search engines better understand your website's content. Including local schema can help you fare better in local searches because search engines have a better idea of the area you serve and what you do.

You can visit schema.org to get started for free.

#5 - Audit Your Citations

"Citation Audit" sounds scarier than it it. Basically, this is a process of making sure all of your NAP (business Name, Address, Phone number) citations appear the same. Discrepancies or incomplete citations can send bad vibes to Google and cause you to rank lower.

Moz offers citation checks that will let you know if any of your NAP listings are inconsistent. The key word here is consistent, not correct. You might have multiple phone numbers, for example, but for consistency's sake, you should choose a single way to display your NAP to avoid damage to your rankings.

You can give yourself an extra boost here by building citations. In addition to Bing and Google, you can list your business on other (reputable) directories, such as Apple Maps, Manta, and Yelp. If you're in a specific industry, you could list yourself on niche websites, such as Findlaw.com for lawyers or Healthgrades.com for physicians.

Just keep in mind that some directory sites may do you more harm than good. These are the ones that are built specifically for NAP's sake, rather than providing value to searchers. Stick to the reputable ones to see the most benefit.

What Can Local SEO Do for Your Business?

Restaurants and retailers aren't the only ones that benefit from local SEO. Anyone that depends on foot traffic or local customers, from plumbers and electricians to rental agencies and hotels, can experience the benefits of a strong local digital footprint.

Remember, more than half of retailers haven't even taken advantage of a Google My Business listing, so chances are they haven't done much else in terms of marketing. There's plenty of room for you to succeed in local SEO - and it's never too late to get started.

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