If you are a small business owner that services the city you are located in, you likely depend on a lot of foot traffic to generate revenue. Local SEO can greatly impact the success of your business by bringing in more traffic and leads.
It’s a good idea to start realizing that local SEO is an important strategy for small local businesses to generate leads and converting those leads into sales. Thinking about implementing local SEO into your marketing strategy would be a great first step.
By implementing the right local SEO strategy, there are a number of desirable results that can be achieved.
Potential customers are already looking for your local services online. If you fail to grab the attention of these local searches, your business is missing out on lots of potential revenue.
Even if you are unclear on how to manage your local SEO strategy, this guide will help you acquire a better understanding of local SEO.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO or local search engine optimization is optimizing your website and citations to rank better in search engines for a local audience. If your target audience is in a city where your business is located, local SEO is a marketing initiative you should look into.
If you own a small local business, it is ideal to optimize your website to make sure people can find your business and its information. Optimization needs to be done to target the audience located in the same geographical area as your business.
In essence, local SEO is an online strategy that’s emphasis is on optimization for local brick-and-mortar companies. These efforts include link building and on-page optimizations with a localized intent.
Why Local SEO is Important to Your Business?
Local SEO is an extremely effective way for local businesses with websites to promote their services and products to local customers at the exact time they are looking for them online.
Google and other search engines such as Bing are being used by millions of people each day, who are looking for services from businesses in their city. Local SEO helps you get in front of these potential customers, which in turn, generates more qualified traffic to your website.
Traditional SEO and Local SEO share the same benefits and you can learn more about those benefits here.
What is Local Search?
According to Go Gulf, 46% of all searches on Google are looking for local information whereas 97% of search engine users searched online to find a local business.
Examples of local search terms:
- roofers near me
- painters near me
- roofers in [city name]
- painters in [city name]
Search queries like these help search engines understand that the searcher is looking for company suggestions based on their location. That’s exactly what is offered up in the local search engine results pages (SERPS). This is why local SEO is worth investing in and implementing into your marketing strategy.
What Influences Local SEO
There are many factors that influence local SEO in terms of organically ranking in search engines such as Google.
Local Snack Pack vs. Organic Results
To improve website and foot traffic, it is beneficial for local companies to be found on Google’s 3-pack’ or ‘snack pack.’ These are the top three business listings below the map in the search results of Google when there is local intent.
These differ from organic results because they can also contain ratings, reviews, opening times and even pictures of the business.
Google does not get this information from your website but from your Google My Business profile. This is an imperative part of local SEO in improving your organic ranking.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is your business profile on Google. It provides information to different places like Google Maps and the local search results.
Your GMB profile can include information such as contact details, category, services you offer, business description, and opening times.
Keep in mind that some features such as the Q and A, Google Reviews and others are created by customers who’ve had experience with your business.
To give your business a better chance of appearing in the local snack pack, optimizing your GMB profile to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible is important. GMB is an example of what’s known as a ‘citation,’ and a very powerful one.
What are Citations?
Any place your company information appears online, usually in a directory or on a business listing site, is called a citation. It most often includes your company NAPW (name, address, phone number and website URL).
You are likely to get passed up for your competitors if you don’t appear in places where people are looking for businesses like yours. These citations are very important for local SEO as it gives you more exposure to relevant search traffic.
By creating and claiming your business on relevant business directories, you increase the exposure of your online presence locally.
There are two types of citations: structured and unstructured.
Unstructured citations are not in a structured format. They usually are the result of social media or a press release where your NAPW is visible on a website. An example of this could be a local news story about your business.
It’s extremely important to make citations a part of your local SEO plan, especially when they are coming from local or relevant websites.
It’s also crucial to make sure that you keep track of all your listings and ensure they have all have accurate information about your company. You don’t want to lose potential customers because one listing had the wrong information.
How to Rank Well in Local Search
You are probably wondering how you can be successful with local SEO for your business now that you are familiar with it. You should now familiarize yourself with the three key factors of local search ranking:
Proximity: How close is the person searching for your business?
Relevance: How relevant are your services or products to the search query?
Prominence: What are people saying about your services and products?
The very first step you should make, while taking into consideration the above factors, is keyword research. As a business owner, you should know which keywords or phrases drive the most qualified traffic for your type of business.
Brainstorm Your Service Locations
Local keyword research is not difficult and for most businesses, finding the primary keywords to target will be easy to find.
For instance, if you are a roofer in Toronto and you want people to find your business, what do you think people will do to find your services?
They’ll most likely go to a search engine such as Google and type in the search bar:
- “roofer in toronto”;
- “emergency roofer in toronto”;
- “roofing companies in toronto”
This is format is called service in location. You create a list of all the services your business offers and the locations you serve and then you just put them together. Now you have created a variety of potential keywords to target.
You can also use Google Autocomplete to create more search suggestions. All you need to do is enter your primary keyword into the Google search bar and take a look at the suggested searches.
For example, let’s use “roofers toronto”
Make note of any keywords that seem relevant to your business. You can repeat this process for other locations you serve.
Analyze Keywords Your Competitors Rank For
According to Ahrefs, the average #1 ranking page will rank in the top 10 for almost 1,000 other relevant keywords. This is because Google has a good understanding of user search intent.
Let’s take a look at the organic keywords a local Toronto roofer’s website ranks for using Ubersuggest. You can see that they rank in the top 10 for many relevant keywords.
By analyzing your competitors’ keywords, you will discover a variety of other relevant long-tail and related keywords that may work for you.
Best Practices for Local SEO Strategies
Local SEO can be very time consuming, thanks to the ever-evolving nature of Google and other search engines. It’s constantly changing and can take both effort and time to produce good results.
Like SEO, local SEO is the process of increasing a website’s visibility on SERPs. Many small business owners are looking for high visibility in local searches and listings in business directories to generate more leads and foot traffic to their business.
Here is an overview of best practices for local SEO that can help you achieve success in the local search engine results.
Claiming your Google My Business Listing
A very important step to appearing in the local pack and Google Maps is to claim your Google My Business page. The first directory online you claim should be GMB as well as the Microsoft equivalent, Bing Places for Business.
The accuracy and completeness of your GMB listing directly correlate to the status of your rankings in Google Maps.
Google wants to display to searchers as much information about a company as possible. The more information Google has on your business, the more they can give to online searchers. This will give Google a reason to rank your website higher in the search results.
Consistency is crucial here. I would create a spreadsheet and include all the information about your business. This will ensure that your Google My Business profile is correct and consistent with the information on your website (and other business listings you may have).
To set up your GMB listing, click here. You can follow the steps below on how to claim or create a GMB listing.
Step 1: Enter Your Business Name
First, you’ll need to take when claiming your GMB listing is entering your business name.
You have two options:
1. Create a new business
2. Claim an existing business
Let’s use the local Toronto roofer, Cando Pro Roofing & House Repairs, as an example to claim an existing business.
Start by typing in the name of your business and Google will search for it in their system.
Then you will see if Google has your business in its system, but if they don’t, you have the option to “create a business with this name”.
Step 2: Enter Your Business Address
Next, Google will require your business address.
Since we are claiming a business that Google already has in their system, this will be pre-filled. If you are creating a new business listing, you will need to enter your address.
This is easy if you operate a brick-and-mortar business with a storefront because you just need to enter your business address.
There may be some confusion on what to enter here if: you work from home, have other business partners that work from home (multiple addresses), your business is mobile (e.g., mobile car detailing), you have a virtual office with no real physical location, or you serve clients at a physical location and remotely.
If any of the above is true for your business, here are some tips:
- Do you have a real physical location for your office? Use that address.
- If you have other business partners that work from home, use the home address that is closest to the area that your business primarily serves.
- Do not use the address of a virtual office unless it is “staffed during business hours.” This will be against Google My Business Guidelines. Your home address will have to do.
Once you enter your address, Google will ask if you serve customers outside of the location you entered. Typically, you should check this box if you actually deliver goods and services to your customers alongside serving customers at your physical location.
If you choose “Yes, I also serve them outside my location”, you can enter the cities your business serves.
Step 3: Choose a Category
The next step is to choose the category that best fits your business. Google only allows one category when setting up your GMB listing.
If you’re having trouble choosing a category, Google provides advice on how to choose the most appropriate category here.
An easy way to choose the right category is to think about what your business IS rather than what your business HAS. In this example, the local Toronto roofing company IS a “Roofing Service”.
Step 4: Enter Your Phone Number and Website
The next step is to enter your phone number and website. This is optional, but if you are a local business, it’s probably wise to do this. Google provides advice for this section as well.
Make sure that this information is consistent.
Step 5: Verify Your Listing
You will need to verify your listing before your GMB listing goes live.
Verifying your listing can be done via phone or postcard. Simply just follow the instructions from Google to verify it.
Step 6: Optimize Your Listing
Now that your listing is verified, continue to optimize it further. You can do this by:
- Listing and keeping your business hours up-to-date;
- Having an optimized listing description;
- Listing the service you offer;
- Categorizing your business properly (add more if necessary);
- Adding pictures to your listings
- Getting quality reviews from loyal customers
Google will help walk you through the completion of your new Google My Business listing.
Local Citation Building
Get your website listed in business directories and citation sites. These will contain your company name, street address, phone number and website URL and will help customers find your business. You may also be able to add extra information to these directories to improve your rankings in the search results.
Why Are NAPW Citations Important?
There are a couple of reasons why the accuracy and consistency of NAPW citations are important.
The first reason is that people are not only using Google to search for businesses. People have a variety of ways to find a business online such as Facebook and business directories. Ensuring that you have an accurate NAPW listed on those sites helps potential customers to find your business online.
In addition, Moz finds that citations signals are amongst the top of local ranking factors. In their report, this finding is true for both Google’s local snack pack and organic results. Having consistent NAPW information across the internet help’s Google verify the data they have on your business. On the other hand, if there are inconsistencies with your NAPW information, this will lead to confusion for both customers and Google alike. Ultimately, this results in poor user experience.
In other words, it is important to make sure that all existing citations are accurate and consistent. It is also a good idea to continue to build more citations.
Many businesses will already have existing citations. But sometimes, there will be discrepancies with incorrect or missing information on some citations.
For example, some citations may have different business names listed or incorrect phone number. One way you can check for inconsistencies in your NAP information is using Moz Local.
Simply fill, out the information that Moz requires for the audit and click “check now”. In this example, we used the same local Toronto roofing company that was used to show how to claim a GMB profile.
In the example above, it looks like the address and phone number are inconsistent. Based on the results shown, you can make the changes on each citation to have the correct information.
Build More Citations
Once you have found and fixed your existing citations, continue to build even more for your business.
A good place to start is visiting Whitespark. You can find the best citations by category in countries such as Canada, United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.
For instance, we can use Whitespark to find the best citations for roofing contractors in Canada:
Manage Reviews and Ratings
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing strategy, but it can only go so far. Managing your business reviews and ratings online can provide the same amount of trust for potential customers.
91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendationsLocal Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal.
Attract hundreds of potential new customers by increasing your business’s online reputation by asking trusted customers to leave a positive review online. This will help make you a more credible and trustworthy business.
Important factors for local search results are the quality of the reviews, the number of reviews you have and the authority of the review sites.
‘Localizing’ means naturally including your city, county or region throughout your website. If your business has multiple locations, this could mean creating different pages for each location or content hubs.
Here’s how I would structure pages for different locations:
Another strategy could be to feature articles and information on your site by getting involved with local community events.
Backlinks that are obtained naturally from trusted sites help boost the authority of your website. This helps search engines recognize your website as a trusted source.
You can do this by building links from business associations, citations, and bloggers. Having a backlink strategy can help boost your visibility in local search.
On Page SEO: Use Your Site for Higher Rankings on Google
Your website should follow the best practices listed above to help increase your local online presence. Let’s go a step further and continue with optimizing your website with on-page SEO to improve your website’s organic search rankings.
Create a Responsive Website
Google will always rank its results to give the best experience to its users. According to HubSpot, 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site.
Having a mobile-friendly website is one Google’s most important ranking factor and if your website is not mobile responsive, your rankings will be lower. Make it a priority for your website to function properly across any screen size or device.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool can check if your website is mobile friendly.
Use Local Keywords
The important pages of your site should be optimized for searches that are location-based.
4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.Understanding consumers’ local search behaviour by Google.
You should place keywords that are modified geographically into the headers, titles, body, URLs, and image tags.
Let’s use another roofing company that services Toronto as an example.
Be sure to also optimize your meta title and description. These are the title and description Google shows on organic search results.
This will help to increase your website’s relevance locally, which can lead to a steady ranking increase.
Embed Google Maps on Your Site
Another way to help you rank higher is to embed a Google Map on your site for your business location. Most companies will place this map on their contact page.
By embedding a Map on your website, you are letting Google know that your business is located at the same place your listing says it is. Always use the exact same address you have on your listing at Google My Business for any Map or citation.
Search for your business name in Maps to embed a Google Map on your site. Click on share in the listing and then select the tab, embed a map. Copy and paste the code onto your website’s contact page.
Why You Can Attract New Customers with Local SEO
More and more customers are going online to find local businesses on both mobile and desktop.
Here are some important local SEO statistics to know:
- 96% of desktop computer owners conduct local searches (Search Engine Land)
- 46% of all searches on Google are local (Business 2 Community)
- 76%of local searches result in a phone call (Business 2 Community)
- 50% of consumers who use a smartphone to do a local search will visit a local store within a day (Business 2 Community)
- 78% of local searches on mobile result in a purchase offline (Search Engine Land)
Local Search Marketing is Very Targeted
The biggest reason why people are performing searches locally is to find a company nearby. To find a service or product is the second most common reason.
Many local searchers don’t have a particular business in mind when they start their search, but many are looking for a specific service or product.
By learning and implementing local SEO into your marketing strategy, you can promote your products/services to local customers. This will put you in a better position in the SERPs when people search for your type of business. You will be in front of searchers eyes at the moment they are looking for your products/services.
Local Search Has the Highest Conversion Rates Vs. All Other Advertising Channels
If you’re still wondering why local SEO is so important, this would be it. As you have just learned, online directories display a business’s information such as name, address, phone number and sometimes even a description.
Many first page local search results are dominated by these local directories.
Marketing in local directories has a better conversion rate than other traditional options for advertising – as high as 50% for some directories. That means you may be able to convert 1 in 2 leads by getting your company listed accurately in as many high-quality directory sites as you can.
Local Mobile Marketing
These days, an increasing number of customers are using tablets and mobile phones to find the best local businesses.
49% of all web traffic worldwide originated from mobile phones.Source: Statista
In fact, people are now on mobile devices more often than desktop computers. You will never miss a potential customer as local SEO covers both mobile and desktop searchers.
Local SEO Results in a Higher ROI
There is little wasted exposure with local SEO unlike traditional methods of advertising (such as direct mail, local newspapers, flyers, etc.).
You can reach would-be customers when they need you and not when they don’t. This is what makes SEO both cost-effective and efficient for local business SEO.
On top that, local SEO can be tracked and measured, whereas traditional marketing is difficult to track results.
Many companies have not claimed a Google My Business profile
Nearly every business can get a free listing in Google My Business by creating a profile. By doing so, this can increase the odds of showing up in the top spot of the local search results on Google.
Only 44% of companies have claimed a Google My Business profileSource: Local Marketing Institute
In addition, many local companies have not yet realized the importance of online marketing. This gives you a competitive advantage over companies who offer the same service as you to get a head-start before they do.
Many great local SEO opportunities are still free
You can get free promotion for your company because it’s free to claim a listing on Bing Places for Business, Google My Business and hundreds of online directories for businesses.
Not only are these business listings free, but so is the website traffic you will be receiving from SEO efforts.
In addition, your organic ranking can benefit from this and help you rank higher on Google and other search engines.
Local customers rely on search engines to get information about your business
People are now depending on the internet for information on services or products and some are even using voice search to find local companies.
You will no doubt miss out on new customers if your business isn’t in the local search results. By using various local SEO strategies, your business can rank higher and show up on Google Maps for potential customers to see.
What does the future hold for local SEO?
According to data trends and current statistics, local SEO is heading toward a pattern shift in significantly improved understanding and context.
The popularity of devices such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, tablets and smartphones suggests the trend will go towards creating devices that have a more conversation-like approach that will be equivalent or exceed human understanding.
It may also mean that these devices trigger algorithms to be improved overall with higher-quality and faster results to serve the searcher.
Google is always updating and adjusting their algorithms. One thing we can count on is the improvement of its search algorithm in regards to relevancy and trustworthiness of the businesses it shows in its results.
Now we have gone over the most important aspects of making a business more successful by using local SEO. If you apply these practices into your business, your rankings will get better over time.
No matter how you look at it, being at the top of the search engines for local searches is what running a successful business is all about.
Local SEO can oftentimes be overlooked which causes many small businesses to stop growing. You can now pull ahead of your competitors with the right strategy and plan for your local online market and take advantage of it now.
Next Steps: Use Local SEO Services to Grow Your Business
Take a leap ahead of your competitors and use local SEO to your advantage to boost your online presence for your business.
Get started today and improve your business by increasing revenue through local SEO. Whether you are a contractor, chiropractor, or dentist, all local businesses can benefit and generate more revenue.
Find out more about Lazaro Lifestyle Media’s Toronto SEO Services.