A Guide To Local Search Engine Optimization
Ariane Alyerunga

Ariane Alyerunga

May 6, 2020

Local search engine optimization is arguably the most effective, reliable, and sustainable approach to achieve brand exposure. Appearing on the first page of a Google search result in a particular town, region, or city will dramatically increase website traffic and general brand credibility and visibility. Combined with compelling content and a strategic digital marketing strategy, it will also improve consultation request rates, newsletter sign-ups, phone calls and event attendance.

Unfortunately, small business owners have been the last to adopt digital marketing and online branding. This is largely a result of regulatory limitations, budgetary constraints, and a lack of awareness and information. While large companies took to SEO years ago, small business owners are just starting to understand that it is an opportunity to create awareness for their brands.

Currently, over 90% of online experiences start with a search engine query. And since a low number of large enterprise marketers have considered implementing local business marketing strategies, small businesses have a unique opportunity to gain first page rankings even in some of the most competitive cities.

This window of opportunity, however, is narrowing. Competing enterprises are investing more resources and time into local SEO strategy. It is, therefore, important to take quick action; it is less expensive and more convenient to protect a first-page ranking that has already been established than to dislodge an established rival.

 

Why local search engine optimization

It is measurable

Business owners want measurable gains from every dollar they spend on marketing, and local SEO is entirely measurable. With analytics platforms such as the Google search console, Moz, and Yoast, marketers can conveniently evaluate their performance with regard to targeted keywords, Google maps visibility, Domain authority, organic search engine traffic volumes, and other important performance indicators, as well as how they compare to their competitors. With an appropriate customer management system, marketers can also study which online leads come from Google search and other search engines.

It offers long term benefits

Direct response marketing through Facebook ads has gained a sharp rise in popularity, at a possibly faster rate than search engine optimization and other marketing techniques. However, although the approach produces valuable leads, they are lost the moment the ads stop running. On the other hand, SEO will generate web traffic long after the initial investment has been made.

 

Local SEO tips

Backlinks and website optimization

Gaining backlinks from high-authority websites will improve your search rankings because they improve domain authority. Backlinks create a bridge from external websites to yours, and if they are relevant, they convince search engines to view your website as a viable authority, which then leads to a higher ranking.

  • Domain authority: You should also assess your domain authority and backlink quality. Your domain authority is inherently connected to the number and quality of backlinks pointing to your website. You may use free tools like Ahrefs to evaluate the authority of your domain and number of backlinks to your sites. Furthermore, you may assess your competitors as well, to see how they are doing.
  • Optimization: To improve your local rankings even further, you could optimize your website for mobile viewing and review its load time. These actions will help improve the average length of user sessions and the chances of return visits. A low page load speed will undoubtedly ruin visitor experiences, which is why search engines consider it a ranking factor. Google offers a free tool known as page speed insights that measure site performance, including solutions to the identified problems. Implementing these strategies greatly improve user experience, draw more web traffic and enhance your website’s ranking.
  • Crawl errors: Google’s search console can find crawl errors like broken links (404 page not found) and other problems that negatively affect user experience and search engine page results.

Google my business

Create an active Google my business listing for your business. Getting your enterprise onto Google is essential as it is required to appear in Google’s local listings, local finder, Google maps and local rankings.  Since 46% of all Google searches are targeted at local information, the platform’s local listings are critical to search visibility. Ignoring this exposure would significantly limit your business’s online presence. You should also keep your listing active by routinely uploading new photos, announcements and events. Review your website’s performance and load time.

Content optimization

Incorporate local keywords into your home page and subpages. Go through your page titles, website copy, and metadata to ensure the local keywords relevant to your city or state are neatly woven into your content. This tells Google that your content is relevant to the geographical area in which it is located.

N.A.P uniformity

N.A.P is a commonly used acronym for name, address and phone number. These three items of information comprise the essence of your business listing in the sphere of local searches. You may also see this referred to as N.A.P+W, with the W representing the website’s URL. For search engines and crawlers to trust the data they find across the internet concerning your enterprise, it must be consistent. You must ensure that the details listed on your website match the entries on all third party directories where your business is mentioned or listed. N.A.P inconsistencies can confuse customers, costing you leads and earnings. Moreover, when website crawlers find conflicting information about an enterprise, they become suspicious of all the data there is about a company, which then leads to a lower search engine ranking. To prevent such inconsistencies, it is prudent that you routinely audit all the platforms on which your business is listed to rectify variations in the data.

Relevance

Above all else, it is important to understand that Google values relevance and that websites tend to lose relevance over time. When users query their search engines, they expect the most relevant answers to appear first, and this is what Google’s search algorithms are meant to offer.

A while ago, marketers could trick Google, or any other search engine into believing their websites were relevant, but that is hardly possible now, and even when it works, such behavior often leads to penalties, some as severe as de-indexing. Whether it’s for local or global SEO, you need to stay relevant to rank on Google. This requires an effective content marketing and public relations strategy that also adheres to Google’s search engine best practices.

As you have learned, local search engine optimization seeks to engage customers in a particular geographic area. It requires consistent effort, as your competitors will always strive to improve their own strategies. While this article lays out some of the most crucial aspects of Local SEO, it is important to remember that initial implementation and optimization require both resources and time. The amount you’ll need to invest depends on your locality and the nature of your industry.