Google’s 2014 ‘Pigeon’ update significantly changed its algorithm, improving the rankings of local listings in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). In addition, 2015 saw the number of mobile searches overtake the number of desktop searches for the first time and, according to research from Mediative Labs, 53 percent of all mobile searches now have local intent.
All of this means that local SEO is now more important than ever for the average business or search marketing agency; especially when people in the nearby area make up the bulk of the customer base. With that being said, it is important to understand that the power of local SEO tactics is not limited to local businesses. In actual fact, even online only businesses, or those who attract customers from all over the world, can harness local SEO to improve online visibility and increase conversions.
Businesses With a Local Focus
For companies that have a physical location for customers to visit and which specifically target local customers, the benefits of local SEO practices are more obvious. After all, simply setting up a Google My Business page with accurate business details can increase visibility through Google Maps.
Targeting keywords that have local authority and adding them to your website’s on-page content and meta data can help your business to show up when people search for those terms. Similarly, a local link building strategy, or a review facilitating strategy can increase your domain authority, improving your overall rankings.
Therefore, if someone in the local area searches for your type of business, either on their mobile or computer, your chances of showing up improve if your marketing is locally optimised. The primary benefit for a business with a local focus is attracting direct traffic, such as in-store visits or telephone orders, from those nearby.
Online Only or International Businesses
For companies with a larger customer base, who perhaps do not have physical stores, the benefits of employing local SEO techniques are less immediately obvious. Nevertheless, it can still pay to harness the power of local SEO.
One of the main things Google’s ‘Pigeon’ update did was give a major boost to small and local businesses and by taking advantage of local SEO techniques like link building, online only companies can share the spoils. In addition, for businesses who operate an online only model, local SEO also provides an opportunity to gain links that your main competitors won’t get, because they are not likely to be based in the same place.
“Competition is increasing, so business owners will be forced to find smaller target niches in order to achieve relevant visibility,” says Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, writing for Entrepreneur.com. “One of the most efficient ways to do this is to optimise locally.”
Local SEO Techniques to Employ
Almost any SEO expert you speak to will tell you the priority with local SEO is getting business listings written in a standard format and kept up-to-date. Whether it is on your Google My Business page, your Google+ account, or your own website, your business name, contact phone number and address should be listed in the same format everywhere. This advice can help any business, regardless of whether they rely on local customers.
Moreover, you should try to source some local back links to your website via outreaching high quality content with local value, whether you rely heavily on local customers or not. Local links are a great “trust signal” for Google, according to research from Moz, and that can be especially useful when you are trying to attract international customers, who may be sceptical about your business.
So what is the best way to source valuable local links?
“Do a search for a business name…any of your competitors or anyone in the region,” suggests Rand Fishkin from Moz. Alternatively, search for two or three nearby businesses in the same query. Ignore their own websites and pay attention to where they are being mentioned, as these are all potentially useful link partners.
Christelle Macri is the founder of Ebizpromotion, a leading seo agency in Berkshire, with a no-nonsense and ethical approach to digital marketing. She is also SEO consultant with over 17 years’ experience in the internet advertising industry. Having worked for a major search engine and pioneering pay for performance advertising networks, she is an expert at turning her clients’ websites into consistent revenue streams, using a variety of digital channels. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter.