The Complete Guide to Local SEO for Businesses

Growing your business works better when you reach the right people. With the web, your target audience is always at your fingertips, but reaching it can be a struggle. Local SEO is a great technique for businesses to employ when trying to connect with their customers, but how does it work?

As a business in Bristol with SEO services, we’d like to think we’re in the right place to tell you. We’re Squarebird, a full-stack digital agency with expertise in web design, development, copywriting, and marketing, and in this article we’re going to discuss the ins, outs, and best practices for local SEO.

If you’re in immediate need of SEO services, get in touch. Otherwise, read on to find out more!

“Local SEO should be treated just as importantly as general SEO. With all things SEO, it is the foundation for other digital avenues. Putting these core principles in first means your website has the support needed to grow with your business.” – Will Shelton, SEO Executive

What is Local SEO?

Local search engine optimisation (local SEO) is about improving your website visibility in a specified area. Now, this doesn’t have to be local to you, but it can be good not to stray too far from the nest. This is because Google’s key principle is about making content relevant for users and their searches, so using local SEO to make it think you’re somewhere you’re not will give you poor results.

It’s all about using specific locations in your headings, telling both users and Google where you’re based, the area you cover, and what services you supply. For example, you could say you’re in Bristol when you’re based in Nailsea since they cover the same general area, but saying you were in London or Manchester in the same scenario would be misinformation which may be penalized by Google.

 

What is the Impact of Local SEO on Businesses?

Local SEO helps you get in front of users who are local to you. These kinds of customers are great; in fact, in June 2017, Google recorded a 150% increase in searches containing the phrase “near me”. This has only increased since the pandemic.

Focusing on your local area for SEO results in more reliable conversions of people searching for your business as it will be more relevant to their interests, especially for high-street businesses that require people to visit them in-person to receive the service.

It makes your marketing efforts more cost-effective, reducing the number of users clicking on your ads that would be unable to benefit from your service. It also improves the quality of your site in the eyes of your user, making you more specific and trustworthy.

Local SEO lets you get seen more and boosts your ranking. With it, you’ll soon be flying high above competitors in your local area.

 

What is the Difference Between Local SEO and General SEO?

Whereas local SEO focuses on your local area, general SEO covers all the other aspects of your attempts to optimise your web content for search engines. They aren’t mutually exclusive – most often, doing one means you’re doing the other as well.

General SEO is important for improving your business’s reach. Even with other marketing measures like PPC, social media, and more, SEO should not be forgotten. Every time you share a link to a search engine, it will send a bot to crawl your website. Making sure your site is easy to understand is a key role of SEO, and involves building your site’s headings, structure, and keywords in a calculated fashion.

You can help make sure your site is optimised by contacting our SEO experts for a free consultation.

SEO is the foundation for all digital avenues going forward. But local SEO is also a key part of that, especially if you specialise in a competitive area. Local SEO can help you compete and boost your services.

For example, if you’re a solicitor, advertising just your service term is going to make it difficult to grow in the ranking of due to high competition. Attaching a local term like “Bristol” or “London” or wherever you happen to be based will help refine your offering and make your site easier to understand for Google and users alike.

Even if they’re not looking for “near me”, Google does usually have access to location of a site and changes weighting of searches based on that. You can further this with active efforts in local SEO such as setting up location specific landing pages for each of your locations, signposting the user towards your broader service offering.

SEO gives insight into what keywords are good for you, and local SEO gives search engines a better understanding of your offering to attract the right users.

Find out how to assess and improve your SEO with our article on SEO audits >

Tactics to Optimise Your Local SEO

Optimising your local SEO can drastically improve the reach of your business when it comes to ideal customers in your local area. There are two main routes to doing this:

  1. The conventional website route, building your site’s copy, structure, etc, with your location in mind.
  2. Creating a Google Business Profile to increase your visibility in maps and general searches.

As the former is a more recognisable strategy based around general SEO, we’re going to talk a little more on the latter point of Google Business Profiles (GBPs) and offer you some additional tactics that can enhance your local SEO efforts.

 

Google Business Profile Optimisation

Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free tool from Google that enables you to set up a storefront window, helping you give users up-to-date information. Basically, it’s the informational window that shows up when you search something on maps that gives the user all the extra information, helping them along their customer journey.

Your GBP is often shown above a website in search results. This is because Google wants to show the most relevant info to a given search, and a website isn’t always the best result. Sometimes, you’ll be a shown a maps section first that displays local businesses of a given type. Being higher up in the search results means a higher likelihood of conversion; you know what they say about early birds.

GBP Optimisation is as it sounds – just like optimising website content, this process involves giving Google and users more information so they can easily understand what your business is.

The information you provide Google can include:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Type of business
  • Opening hours
  • Reviews
  • Products
  • Updates to opening times e.g. over Christmas

Updating your GBP whenever something changes and keeping everything relevant is also vital to your local SEO. Keep on adding relevant, accurate information, taking a similar stance to the SEO on your site.

 

Keyword Mapping

Sometimes, there’ll be a popular phrase that you’d never rank for nationally. Other sites like government websites, Wikipedia, or large competitors may have a monopoly over a certain term, and ranking above them, if even possible, would be a waste of time and effort.

In these cases, you can use trend analysis to show what terms people are looking for locally. You can then assess these local searches and see if they relate to you. Depending on your content strategy, you can include these keywords on your site.

This can involve breaking your site down into locations, then sending users on to your services, or a mixed method with both service and location pages that funnel people into the services from locational landing pages. Different times and sites call for different things, so speak to our team to find out which option’s best and build a strategy that revolves around what is currently working.

Off-Page SEO and Local Backlinks

Off-page SEO. This is anything you do that isn’t on your website to help improve your search engine optimisation. Think backlinks, meta details, your GBP, and Google reviews.

To improve your off-page SEO, it’s important to make sure you’re putting yourself in local listings and directories, and that your GBP is up to date.

Likewise, good quality reviews are also really important. Many of the aspects of EEAT, especially trust, are shown to search engines in reviews, and a strong foundation of user recommendations really helps to foster trust in users as well.

What is EEAT? Check out our blog to find out more > 

Local backlinks. These are just like regular backlinks, being a link on a site other than your own that sends a user to your site. However, local backlinks are specifically those on local directories, council sites, and other local websites that have good authority.

Getting backlinks from relevant sources shows that you are local, and it helps to transfer authority from important local organisations. Not only does this increase your legitimacy, but local directories also help to expand the scope of your local SEO and connect your business with the right audience.

Local SEO Services in Bristol from Squarebird

With local SEO, you can go as granular as you wish. You shouldn’t feel restricted by too specific of an area – as long as there is a relevant search term that people are clearly looking for, you can go for it.

Once you’ve done with your initial efforts into local SEO, it doesn’t mean you’re finished. Reviewing, updating, and tweaking your content is also important. A website is like a baby bird – it needs to be fed to help it grow.

Boost your website’s performance with local SEO from the expert team at Squarebird. We have local SEO services for Bristol and beyond, and can help you to increase your reach and confidently evolve your business. Get in touch today to find out more, or read on with some related articles below.

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