Given that the UK has the biggest internet economy in the world, this seems extremely counter-productive when it comes to making the most of business resources, so I’ve come up with some tips to help those local businesses along the way.
Why Use Local SEO and the Internet
Even the government are guilty of underestimating the value of going digital when it comes to business in the UK. Not only is the internet economy in the UK large, but ‘digital companies’ thrive, with most growing faster than the average, traditional company, and employ, on average, three more people.
So if you have a company website, but don’t really use it, or use it to its full potential, then you’re missing out. Every business that has premises needs local SEO in order to make the most of a variety of things such as:
- Google maps
- Mobile webs and apps
- Local business directories and listings
How Does Local SEO Differ?
Local is almost the same as national SEO, or even international come to that. However, it differs in that you need to claim your local listing with search engines such as Google and Bing, to name a few. This enables your business to show up on search when people enter a search near you. Not only will the name of the business show up, but contact details and a map.
Above: Search for pet supplies, Falmouth returned results with address details, phone numbers and maps, ideal for those who are out and about looking for a specific type of business on their smartphone.
No we’re not talking making footnotes like you did in school. In this case a citation is any online place that lists your company details, which are known as NAP (name, address and phone number) in the same manner as Google Places do for your local listing.
This means that when entering details onto an online directory such as Yelp, it should follow the same format and have exactly the same details as your Google listing. For local SEO it’s an important factor to keep all of your company details uniform across the web.
It’s not difficult to do this, just ensure that you keep a record of your Google listing and then duplicate it everywhere else you appear. This means that you should always use the same format for phone numbers – so, if you use +44(0)845 for example, don’t then list on another site as 0845.
Once you have your Google Places account set up (and any others that are relevant here), then it’s time to get reviews. Ask your customers, friends and family to help get you started. Give out flyers appealing to the surrounding sense of community; this is of course easier in some places than others, depending on size. It will also depend on the type of business you are – people are more likely to review restaurants than solicitors.
They can do this by simply clicking on the ‘Review’ button underneath the map that is generated once you’ve claimed your Google Places listing.
Obviously, the more reviews you get, the more likely people are to use your business above the competition. However, people aren’t stupid and will see that some types of business don’t tend to get the same reviews as others. Try to get as many as you can regardless, these are very important to Google local ranking factors. If you have an email list filled with local people – utilize it and ask them to review you, keeping a sharp eye on community spirit when you write that campaign up.
On-site Optimisation for Local SEO
Again, make double-sure that your NAP details appear in exactly the same way as they will on Google Places. Ideally, put your details in the footer of your site and make sure that your Meta information uses local details. This can include the town and county and should appear where possible in title and description tags, as well as in the website copy itself.
You can also use Schema markup for local business to really boost your presence and ensure that you include as much information as possible on your site to make absolutely sure that your business looks attractive to those searching for it. It’s also important to include details of products and services so that people will know what you stock/do before they set out.
Don’t Set it Up then Forget Local SEO
Whilst the majority of local SEO work is in the setting up, it should never be assumed that it’s not ongoing. Like every type of optimization or advertising, it needs to be maintained and updated to reflect any changes to the business.
Further to this, chasing those citations and reviews is an ongoing job – the more you get, and the most recent – the better your business will rank locally. Do use social media too and make sure that you use the maps that accompany the, as well as opening hours and so on. Again, ensure that you list everything in the same format as your Google Places listing.
Talking of Social
Social media is ideal for local businesses and you should get yourself out there, follow as many local companies as possible and enter into conversation with both them and potential customers. Getting involved with other local businesses is valuable in terms of physical networking too, but don’t neglect the Internet aspect to it.
If done well, it means that you can get other companies to review yours (and return the favor of course) and share each other’s promotions, news and so on. This will help when it comes to that community spirit again and people that feel they ‘know’ your business through social are much more likely to visit when they are passing by – or buy from you.
Local SEO is a valuable tool for modern companies, even those that don’t believe they have a need for it. It’s not difficult, or costly, to implement and can really boost sales both online and off.