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Beginner’s Guide to Local SEO: 5 Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings

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Article Overview

Are you keen to attract more local business? Are you wondering why your competition is killing it while you're struggling to find new customers? Well, the answer is local SEO! This article will outline ways to improve your local online presence and show you how to kick the hell out of your completion on Google.

Beginner’s Guide to Local SEO: 5 Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings

Competition is crazy, especially when it comes to attracting local business in the local area.

One of the most significant marketing challenges facing small business is how to rank on Google in their local area.

According to Hubspot, when someone is searching for a local electrician or a nearby medical centre, 88% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit or call a store within a day? Nearly 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information

These stats are HUGE, and for local business, it’s a matter of survival to be ranking on Google to secure a nice slice of that local pie.

In this beginners guide to local SEO, I will clearly show you the necessary steps to launch you to the top of the local rankings. 

But let’s first take a closer look at why local SEO is crucial.

4 reasons local businesses should have a local SEO gameplan

1. Google is the New Yellow Pages: Most of you reading this will not remember the Yellow Pages and how it was a powerful marketing tool for small business. Times have changed, and the baton has passed onto Google. It’s now the predominant search engine for people Australia wide looking for a product or service. So, for small businesses, the buck stops at Google. Either you are ranking on it locally, or you are losing potential customers – simple as that!

2. Google is free: To rank locally, you can take advantage of the free traffic passing through the site. If you have a local business and can rank your site, there will be high volumes of free local searches coming your way. It’s a massive bonanza for companies that can achieve local rankings and use it to their advantage.

3. Level Playing Field: If you are a legitimate small local business, you can easily compete online locally with the more prominent brand names and local franchises. It quickly levels the playing field, and it’s not uncommon to be outranking these larger companies in a couple of months with the right local campaign in place.

4.Multiple suburban rankings: Why settle for just one suburban area when you can rank locally for multiple suburbs that you can service. It’s a very nifty way to capture a broader local market in a short period.

So how do you get your business there? Here’s a step-by-step guide to improving local SEO

  1. Create a contact page – this should be obvious, but many businesses will not have a contact page and add a Google map.
  2. Make phone numbers clickable on mobile devices – this is to help the user experience and make it easier for customers to contact you.
  3. Add a map to your website – to your contact page.
  4. Include testimonials on your website – this adds a level of the local trust.
  5. Use schema on your site
  6. Claim Google My Business profile (and optimise). Click on this Googe My Business Page.
  7. Claim social profiles on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
  8. Create locally targeted content that is specific to the area you work
  9. Make sure you get more customer reviews.
  10. Create business profiles on local search engines, local blog sites, and well-known local directories.

I’ll cover each step in a bit more detail, so don’t freak out if this sounds too hard.

Optimise Your Website for Local SEO

First things first, you have to optimise your website for local rankings. Without it, you won’t rank.

Check your websites SEO health here – and you can see where it needs improving.

In addition to the standard web practices you should be following in 2021, you should be implementing the following for better local rankings.

Create a dedicated contact page

On your contact page, make sure you have your NAP -name, address and phone number.

Include All of Your Business Addresses

Include each one in your website’s footer ( for less than 10 addresses ). Check what Moz has to say on the subject: Match Your Local SEO to Your Business Type with the Local SEO Checklist.

Make Phone Numbers Clickable on Mobile Phones

Phone always have the prefix – so for Sydney, add an ( 02 ), and make sure the mobile number is clickable. So it’s super-important to optimise your website for all mobile devices as over 70% of all local searches results in a phone call!

I would also add an email address so people can shoot you a quick email. Even better, why not have a contact form on this page.

The idea is to make the user experience as easy as possible for the local buyer to call or find your shop or business location.

If you’re unclear on making your number clickable on a mobile phone, Google has some helpful tips.

Add a Map of your Location

The reason you’re doing local SEO is to make it easier for people to find you – yep??

Hubspot explains that 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles. This is Australia, so we are using km’s, but this stat proves that it’s essential to have a map to find you easy for mobile consumers.

Add Testimonials

Google recognises testimonials as a huge trust signal – so it’s essential to get as many local testimonials as you can. People read these testimonials as they drive to your shop to buy a bike, surfboard or t-shirt. Or they’ll read what customers have to say about your plumbing or electrical service. The more authentic and accurate it reads, the more it will lead to a sale, which is why Curtis Associates has a whole page dedicated to testimonials

cutis assocaites testimonials page exampl
You can see how Curtis Associates has a dedicated testimonials page

If you want to get lots of trust from the locals, testimonials are a powerful tool at your disposal. 

Add Schema

Schema is designed to create a common language between the search engines, Yahoo, Google and Bing. Schema makes it easier to understand your website’s intent. By adding Schema to your local website, you tell these search engines that you are a local business and not some big company. The Schema will positively affect your rankings – get your web design agency to do this for you.

Once you’ve optimised your website for local SEO, you’ll start to see a marked improvement in local business inquiries.

Claim Your Online Social Media Profiles – Especially Google My Business

You need to be listed on these platforms at a minimum.

Google My Business – this profile allows you to manage your presence on Google’s local search for your business name. By filling out your profile entirely and collecting reviews over time, you’ll improve your ranking.

Facebook

Make sure the information is consistent among these profiles—same phone number, address etc.

Don’t forget local review sites that will boost your local online profile.

Google Maps will also show searchers a detailed profile of your business, just like Annandale Apartments.

annandale apartments local SEO
You want to have your listing on Google My Business with all the right information

Create local content

You have to blog as this helps SEO – creating content is vital for the search engines to crawl and index your site. This is huge. So huge I wrote an entire post on Is quality content good for SEO rankings?

You have to create a blog on your website and start writing content. It’s that simple. For some local business owners, this may be too hard as writing is not their forte. If that’s the case, then hire a content marketing agency to do this for you. If people like what you have to say in your blog, they will link to it, which is the best way to obtain links naturally. You’ll soon see rankings improve. 

When writing local posts, try to have local suburban names included. Not everyone will write the precise suburb, so try to include other suburban areas and perhaps some slang words, such as Parra for Parramatta or Paddo for Paddington. Check this odd for suburban slang names.

Also include local events, news that the local community can relate to.

Go one step better and sponsor local events, sports teams, or organisations, and write about them on the blog.

It’s a win-win as your blogs and main web pages increase in rankings.

Build Quality Links

Building quality relationships with other businesses in your local area is a great way to establish your website and get links back to your blog. For example, you may comment on the local florist’s websites blog, which may, in turn, link to one of your blog posts as a reference. 

Also, see what your local competition is doing with their backlinks. Use this excellent backlink checker tool. You can see which inbound links your competition has and try to reach out to the same websites to see if you can also have a link. It is a common practice among many SEO agencies, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t give this a go yourself. 

Local SEO Boost from Customer Reviews

84 Percent of People Trust Online Reviews As Much As Friends, according to INC, which means that you have to get as many positive reviews for your business as possible.

So, it’s essential to check the state of your online reviews and make sure that you respond to any negative reviews politely! If you have never asked a client for a review, now’s the time to do it! 

A lack of reviews may not instil trust and confidence in your brand or business, as people now expect to see at least a couple of reviews. Acquiring reviews from clients is a never-ending process and one I’m afraid you’ll have to be doing as long as you want local rankings.

You can create a shareable Google review link with your customers to leave reviews here.

customer review link from google
Fill this Google form out and email the link to your customers. Photo Credit: Google

An SEO Sydney Experts tip: If you think you can write your fake reviews – DON “T! Google will pick this up, and you may hinder future local rankings. Make sure to have your local customers leave reviews using their phones or desktops and under their Google accounts. It is tempting to find mates or family members to leave reviews, BUT wouldn’t it be better to get genuine reviews from happy customers?

Build Citations for Local SEO

Citations are mentions in local directories or blogs with your NAP + W or name, address, phone number and website URL ( that links back to your website).

Citations are essential to your local SEO campaign as it makes up over 10% of your ranking factors. It is important to note ( and people ask me if they can do this all the time), but always use a physical address and never a PO Box or virtual office.

If you own a franchise or have a multinational business, you can build citations for each office location. 

Make sure that the information you provide ( MAP + W ) is the same for each citation. Variations send mixed messages to the search engines. If you stuff this up, expect to suffer in the local SEO rankings. The rule of thumb here is consistency.

Local Search Engines

Google likes to crawl the web for local citations to validate or update the information of your business. Get listed in as many web directories as you can to help this process, such as YelpYellow Pages & Hotfrog.

Local Blogs

Local blogs are one of the best tools to boost your local SEO rankings. These blogs get indexed by search engines and will have a remarkable effect on your rankings. Find a couple of local bloggers and have them publish content relevant to your site or talk about your site with a dedicated backlink. The more local backlinks you get, the more Google will trust your authority as a local business. 

It will give your business a HUGE lift – try it and see for yourself.

To find local bloggers search the keywords in Google:

[your target location] [niche/industry] blog

So for compensation lawyers in Sydney, you would type in:

Sydney, compensation lawyers, blog

Local Directories

Local directories send strong geographic local ranking signals to Google. Try to add your listing to directories that actual people edit. The automated listings will have less of an impact.

Conclusion

Having a solid local presence can be challenging if you don’t know what you’re doing. Many small businesses in Sydney might have a crack at it, and if they can’t see immediate results, they will put it on the back burner.

Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach for local SEO. You have to be at it the whole time. Yes, it can be time-consuming, and yes, you probably have better things to do, but when it comes to beating the local competition, you have to put in the hard yards.

You have to focus on building the best online presence you can locally, and you will also have to incorporate SEO and content marketing. In some cases, you can take a DIY approach to this, but more often than not, you will need professionals’ help.

 

steven waldberg - ceo seo sydney experts

About the author

Steven Waldberg

Steven is the director of SEO Sydney Experts and is one of the founding members ( that’s over 15 years ago). He has one of the longest careers in the SEO and content marketing industry and has written for many prestigious websites, including B & T and AdNews. If you’re serious about working with someone who will dedicate 100% of himself to your business; Steven is your SEO Expert.

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