In today’s digital world, people search for local businesses using various search engines such as Google, Bing, Yelp, Google & Apple Maps, etc. However, Google has an estimated ~87% market share, which means that most people are using Google to search for local businesses. These can be brick-and-mortar businesses with physical locations, like a grocery store or dentist's office, or service-area businesses that operate throughout a certain geographic area, like an electrician or house cleaning company.
Local SEO is all about increasing search visibility for businesses that serve their communities face-to-face. Local SEO refers to the process of optimising a business’s online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. These searches take place on Google and other search engines.
Optimizing local SEO means more website traffic, leads, and conversions since the strategy is more relevant to a company’s base of local customers. By focusing on specific local-SEO to-dos, one can neutralise the advantage of bigger brands that routinely optimise for broader keywords and rely on brand recognition, instead of value propositions, to bring in traffic. This includes everything from claiming a business listing to ensuring a franchise location appears in a local search on Google. It also extends to managing online ratings and reviews, local-centric social media engagement, and beyond.
Social Media Engagement:
It’s advised to use social media strategically to get a better search ranking. The social profiles need to be optimised to funnel followers directly to the website or physical stores. Social media provides endless opportunities to generate backlinks.
Facebook: With the largest and most active user-base across social media, Facebook is a top priority when it comes to local SEO. Facebook often acts as a replacement for traditional small business sites. The platform allows a small business to promote their services and accept bookings directly. It’s also a treasure trove of potential traffic and SERP appearances, given that the profile is properly optimised.
Instagram: Instagram can really help local businesses flourish. While the platform might seem limited in terms of SEO, Instagram can be used to boost a business’s online presence. Rather than including a generic homepage link, Instagram drives traffic to a specific promotion or mobile-friendly landing pages. Making sure that the business tracks the link clicks and traffic from Instagram will allow it to better understand how the platform is performing for their site.
Twitter: Twitter is a fantastic content distribution channel to get business links in front of customers and other industry players. Coupled with hashtags, expanding the reach of online promotions is always a good idea and Twitter can make it happen.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a must-have network for anyone in the B2B space, especially considering that the platform is responsible for around 80% of B2B leads. LinkedIn allows businesses to elaborate on what the company has to offer, in their ‘About’ section. Additionally, the ‘Specialties’ field allows the businesses to hit on specific services, similar to Facebook’s ‘Services’ tab.
Google Maps Marketing:
Google Maps marketing is the process of optimizing the online presence of an offline brand in Google Maps, with the goal of increasing that brand’s online visibility. any business that is serious about getting found in today’s online trend needs to utilise the power behind Google Maps marketing.
Google’s local algorithm analyses many factors and ranks listings based on the following three areas:
Proximity: How close is the business to the searcher?
Prominence: How popular or authoritative is the business in the area?
Relevance: How closely does the listing match the searcher’s query?
Some of the major functions that a local business can find in Google maps are:
Show the best suitable store to visit.
Help shoppers find a business on Google maps.
Keep visitors on the business’s site.
Save time and money with accurate addresses.
Understand customers better.
Benefits of Optimising Google Maps Listings:
Ensuring an optimised listing on Google Maps, will give a business the following benefits:
The best chance of being found by people who are using search engines to find local products, whether it is via typing in search queries or using the ‘near me’ function.
Another outlet to share blog/event listing content, which extends the reach of the content far beyond the business’s website.
A reputable place to encourage and store reviews about customer experiences, where people are looking for 3rd party recommendations.
An additional outlet to gather product reviews, which will influence ranking in the map listing in search results.
A distribution promotion point for online retailers who sell products online.
A very healthy and relevant backlink to business website which improves the website’s authority & authenticity in search engine results.
For a business to be able to list itself on Google Maps, it is essential to have a Google My Business account.
Google My Business:
With a Google My Business Account, one can get more than a business listing. Free Business Profile lets a business to easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps. Google My Business is an incredibly valuable and easy tool to use that helps a business to:
Control, index, and display relevant business information.
Interact with potential customers and manage online review.
Curate customer photos, videos, and other user-generated content.
Gather insights regarding how the customers are arriving on a business’s website/ physical stores.
Essential Optimisations on Google My Business to rank higher in local searches:
Claim the Business Profile.
Complete every section of the Google My Business account.
Be meticulous with contact information.
Select primary and secondary categories.
Mark off applicable attributes.
Write a complete “from the business” description.
Publish Google posts weekly.
Upload new photos weekly.
Collect and respond to reviews.
Add products and/or services.
Set up messaging.
Regularly update the Business Profile.
Setting up Google My Business Account:
Log into the Google Account associated with your business or create a Google Account if you don’t already have one
Go to google.com/business and select “Start now” in the top right-hand corner.
Enter the business name.
Enter the business address.
Select your Delivery area.
Choose the business category. Try to choose the most accurate category possible.
Choose a verification option. If you’re not ready to verify your business yet, click “Try a different method” and then click on “Later.”
Verifying a business on Google:
Sign in to Google My Business.
Click on Verify now.
Choose a way to verify:
By mails/ postcards
By phone/ email
Adding Multiple businesses on Google maps:
From your Google My Business dashboard, click Manage locations in the left hand menu.
Click the blue Add location button on the right.
Type in your business name and click Create a new business with this name.
Fill in the information and request verification.
Select the preferred mode of verification: By postcards/ phone/ emails.