Local SEO (search engine optimisation) is an important strategy for all businesses, especially small to medium sized businesses which somewhat rely on their locality to serve customers (think your local pharmacy, local Italian restaurant, or local mechanic).
One of the first tactics we always suggest to business owners wanting to improve their local search ranking is to take advantage of the free Google Business tool. In this article we look at why local search is important and how you can turn the thousands of local searches performed every day into paying customers.
Google’s “near me” autocomplete
If you type “pharmacy” into Google, on mobile or desktop, chances are that Google will try to autocomplete your search with “pharmacy near me”. This is just one way that Google is placing importance on the customer journey at the local level. In fact, 50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day. Therefore, a strong local SEO strategy can be a key way to drive more people to your store.
How to improve your local ranking
Local results in Google are based primarily on a combination of relevance, distance and prominence.
Start by claiming your free Google Business listing at www.google.com/business. You will then need to verify your local business by following the steps in this article.
It is then important that you add all your business information to your listing so that your profile is complete and accurate. This includes things like:
- Physical address
- Phone number
- Business category
- Business description
- Opening hours
Google uses the information you provide, along with information from other sources such as your website, user generated information and third party sources, to determine the best results to show in local searches and to provide a complete picture of your business for consumers to make informed decisions. These results can show in Google Search and Maps, leading customers to your door.
Another very important factor in determining your local ranking is online reviews. You can improve your chances of getting to the top of local search results by encouraging customers to post reviews to your Google Business page. It is also important that you respond to these reviews. You can read our top tips for collecting positive reviews and how to respond to good and bad reviews in this article.
You may also find this Google help article about local ranking useful. Ultimately, your website and/or online store is one of the most powerful SEO tools at your disposal. If your website is a source of useful, relevant and up-to-date information, and your marketing efforts are resulting in consumers taking the time to visit and engage with you via your website, you’re well on your way to building a successful local business, both in the online and offline worlds.