Do you know the most crucial element of making sales? It’s being found. If you aren’t being discovered, especially on the web, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and losing a major competitive advantage. We know that sometimes SEO takes a backseat in marketing strategies, but one thing often overlooked even more is Local SEO, that is targeting your campaign so that you rank highly in SERPs for companies or services in specific geographic locations.

The sad truth is that many small businesses, particularly if they’re independent, don’t see the benefit of using the internet and SEO to increase revenue. For small-to-medium sized businesses with a physical presence and who cater to a local audience, optimising your website for SEO is key. But that doesn’t mean that larger companies that cater to a national – or even international – audience can’t benefit from Local SEO.

Local SEO for multiple locations

We briefly touched on the fact that Local SEO can be hugely beneficial even for large companies with a presence in multiple locations. By creating a separate page for each location, optimised with relevant and targeted title tags, you’ll rank for more search terms and increase the credibility of your root URL. Adding new listings often means getting a host of backlinks to your website which can give you an organic boost. It’s important when doing this to monitor what content you’re placing across your different URL’s. Customising your copy will prevent Google from penalising you for duplicate content.

Use citations

Citations are key to ranking high in local search results. These are mentions of your company’s information, including the name, address and phone number on the internet. Commonly referred to as NAP citations, the more you obtain, the better results you will see from your Local SEO efforts. However, consistency is key, as any slight variation will have an impact on your ranking. If consumers see your information is cited in various databases on the web, you will appear more credible and engender trust, which we know is key to obtaining conversions. If you list your phone number with a +44 extension, ensure that you maintain it (rather than replace it with a zero half way through your SEO campaign).

Gain customer reviews

Reviews are one of the easiest ways to grow your business, as users are much more likely to buy from a company with a solid reputation. When it comes to investing our money into a product or a service, we want to feel confident in our purchase. Consider the last time you were torn between two competitors and were swayed by the company with the better reviews. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. The benefit of targeting local customers is that you can utilise word of mouth to gain recommendations in tandem with online reviews to maximise your outreach.

Yelp Directory

Get in touch with your existing customer base and utilise all your channels – from physical promotion to your social media networks. If you run an email marketing campaign, ask for a review in exchange for a discount code. If you don’t have an email marketing strategy, why not?

Use Schema markup

Schema markup is an easy way to ensure search engines can display your company information correctly. While it’s important to optimise your landing page for consumers, using the Schema markup will display opening hours and contact information in search results, making it easy for users to find you when they’re in the area. This can be achieved by following this guide on Search Engine Journal, or including the following code on your website:

<div itemscope itemtype="">
<p itemprop="name">COMPANY NAME</p>
<p itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="">
<p itemprop="streetAddress">ADDRESS LINE 1</p>
<p itemprop="addressLocality">CITY</p>,
<p itemprop="addressRegion">REGION</p>
<p itemprop="postalCode">POSTCODE/ZIP</p.
<p itemprop="telephone">PHONE NUMBER</p>
<meta itemprop="latitude" content="LATITUDE" />
<meta itemprop="longitude" content="LONGITUDE" />

This is just one way of using Schema to display information, though it’s capable of much more, including showing reviews and upcoming local events.

Google Maps

Don’t abandon Local SEO

SEO is an ever-changing game – and it’s one you need to keep on top of. Even if you find yourself ranking at the top of local search results, don’t assume your work’s done. This is especially important given that Google have suggested that they may begin to unverify listings who neglect their My Business account. Continue petitioning your customers for reviews as this will make you appear more credible, both to search engines and users. The key to consumer loyalty is proving you can consistently deliver to your customers, and reviews will help demonstrate this so you can get that all important first conversion.

Earn powerful links

Just because you want to rank high for local searches doesn’t mean you should neglect traditional SEO tactics. Gaining natural backlinks is still the best technique to improve your rank. While not all citations allow links back to your website, simply having the correct information listed will increase your web presence. However, you should still target the opportunity to gain powerful link juice. The internet is rife with blogs and forums where people are discussing solutions that could involve your services. If you sell cars, for example, there could be a discussion taking place right now about the best car dealerships in your region. If you find yourself mentioned, you’ll gain more exposure. While gaining high authority links obviously won’t hurt your Local SEO campaign, you should also focus on earning links from local websites relevant to you. When it comes to gaining conversions – the ultimate goal – a link from a local website could go a long way, as they’re more likely to be a reliable authority on services in your locale and whose audience will be people living in the area.

Optimise your landing page

Nifty Marketing did some interesting research on what makes an optimal local landing page. They found that 67% of the 100+ listings they investigated had a relevant keyword in the title tag. The same was found for listings with the location in the title tag. By providing a map and relevant information about your location and the services you provide, as well as making it easy for users to view your testimonials (consider linking to review sites), you’ll have a successful landing page that will help you gain conversions.

Optimal Landing Page

The future of Local SEO

Just as the landscape of SEO is constantly evolving, so too will Local SEO. The upcoming Google Panda algorithm update could mean that machine learning will play a greater role in SEO strategy. This might mean that Google will use semantics to provide even more relevant results to its users using variables such as location and search history. The benefit of Local SEO is that it is already quite specific, but if SEO evolves in this direction, it may become less necessary to optimise for specific locations as Google will be able to adapt and learn to provide the best results based on what it already knows.

The benefits of Local SEO can’t be ignored. With 50% of consumers who performed a local search on their smartphone visiting a store within a day, even if your focus is on generating more on-foot traffic, you shouldn’t neglect the power of the internet. The great thing about Local SEO is that your potential customers are more than likely searching for a local solution because they’re ready to buy. This takes out some of the work of having to convert leads with fancy CTA’s. Instead, just focus on becoming visible and let your reviews do the talking. With so much competition for your services, Local SEO plays a more crucial role than ever, and utilising it could see not only an increase in traffic to your website, but also conversions.