How can local SEO help your business in 2021?

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, finding ways to stand against your competitors is by no means an easy feat. With the slowdown of physical operations during the COVID-19 global pandemic, many local businesses who once relied on in-store foot traffic, are now having to rethink their digital strategy in order to stay afloat.

It’s in these times of uncertainty that digital marketing strategies like local SEO can be used to strengthen a business’s profile and connect with local customers in the area.

If you’re interested in learning more about Local SEO and how it can help your business in 2021, then we’ve got you covered. Today we will look at: 

  1. What is local SEO?
  2. How does it work?
  3. Ways to make your business successful with local SEO

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is one of the best SEO practices used to optimise a website for local search. It’s typically used by brick-and-mortar stores to increase brand visibility and traffic from the search engines’ natural listings, as well as maps and local directories.

For small businesses, local SEO can help you compete against larger, more established brands in the market, by targeting the users who’re looking to purchase in your local area. 

In fact, data from a recent survey suggests that oday 8 out of 10 businesses follow the local SEO strategy to promote their products and services to communities and customers located nearby.

How does it work?

While the local SEO results can look similar to the standard Google search results, there are some factors that make it unique. The first point of differentiation is the Google Local Pack, which sits at the top of the search engine results page and consists of the three most relevant businesses to a user’s query and location. 

In Google search, Google checks the patterns of various website signals and suggests the websites that match the user search query. In local SEO, Google identifies the behavior of local users to find out, and serve the best search results within a specific area. For that, Google uses the user location information.

This ‘local search intent’ will have a city, town, suburb or the phrase – ‘near me’, alongside a specific search query. For example, if a user is searching for a restaurant to visit in their local area, they would most likely search for ‘restaurants near me’ or ‘restaurants in Sydney CBD’. 

Your success with local SEO 

When it comes to Local SEO, there are a number of steps you need to take before you can start building your business profile online. The steps are as follows:

1. Create a Google My Business account

Your Google My Business (GMB) profile is designed to promote your important business information on Google, such as store opening hours, website, contact details and any other additional services. 

Optimising your Google listing and GMB profile  is one of the best ways to increase the chances to see your business on Google Maps. This can bring several benefits to your business. For instance, you can gain new customers, turn local customers into repeat purchasers and increase brand awareness in your local area.

By following these steps, you can set up your Google My Business listing.

  • First, you need to create a Google My Business account
  • Then proceed to verify the ownership. This is mandatory because you cannot access it until you verify that you are the owner of the account
  • Then fill out the accurate information regarding your business
  • Update the profile with your logo, working hours, a valid contact number, and also add a description of the service(s) that you provide
  • It is also strongly advised to add photos to your Google business listing
  • Finally, invite your recent (and old) customers to review your business on Google

Pro tip: after you have set up your business in Google My Business, it’s important to maintain an up-to-date profile by publishing the content of the upcoming events, promotions and sales. Fresh content and updates will keep your old and new customers engaged with your business.

Setting up the profile is unlikely to be enough. To make the most of this powerful free tool you should commit to answer the questions, collect and respond to reviews, set up messaging, and always engage with your customers.

2. Optimise your website for mobile

Following Google’s 2018 announcement of the switch to mobile-first indexing, mobile has become the preferred channel of choice for product research and purchase. 

According to a 2018 study from Stone Temple, mobile visits to websites had increased from 57% in 2016 to 63% already in 2017. So for any business, be it a physical store or eCommerce, it’s extremely important to optimize your website for mobile to increase the visibility of your business in Google.

Here are some tips to follow:

  • Make sure your website renders quickly. If it takes more than a few seconds to load, there’s a high chance of losing the customer
  • Make it user friendly. Use a clear font, image sizes, colors, and have only the essential information
  • Ensure the UI is intuitive for great UX and increased conversion rate

3. Publish local news stories and events

Another strategy to grab the attention of local customers is to publish locally relevant content.

The content should relate to the specific area your business is located in. For example, if you own an automotive service, you can post content related to upcoming deals, promotions, and news stories on your blog, website, and social media pages. Therefore, potential local customers can get to know about your business and reach out when they are ready to convert.

4. Use local keywords

Keywords still are one of the most crucial factors in SEO. If you include relevant keywords searched by the local customers, the possibility to show your content on the search result is higher. The Google Keyword Planner is where you can find out the most used and searched terms in your local area. Therefore, you can add several keywords to your website to target, and aim to get it ranked on the search result for those terms.

5. Add location to your website

If your business has more than one location, it is vital to create location pages. The location pages must contain the name, address, contact information, store hours, parking information, promotions, and testimonials from happy customers. Also, consider adding a map to the website to show your location.

6. Optimize for voice search

As the ways we use search continue to evolve, there can be a big bonus optimizing your website and content for  devices with voice search features like the Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa.

But be mindful that with voice search, your customers will use longer keywords and more natural phrases than they type in the regular search box. Let’s say you have a coffee shop.  So, you need to optimise for phrases like ‘Hey Google, find a coffee shop near me that is open at 10pm’, or ‘Where is the closest pharmacy’.

Over to you

Now it’s time to set your own goals. Create your winning digital marketing plan for your business, and put local SEO at the centre of it, to take your business to the next level!