A strong focus on local SEO will get your small or medium-sized business on the map.  Literally.

People are getting smarter and more specific when they’re looking online for a business, product, service or solution and they’ll often include a suburb location in their search.  So if you have a small or medium-sized business which could do with some enhanced local visibility – including getting found on Google Maps and a higher ranking in the search engine pages – you’ll be interested in these pro tips for local SEO.

First of all, let’s look at how local SEO differs from conventional SEO.  The concept is the same, except that local SEO emphasises the geographical component.   In other words, local SEO makes it as easy as possible for potential customers to find your business when they’re searching online.

Let’s say you’re a yoga instructor in the Perth suburb of Subiaco.  What would be the point of ranking highly for ‘yoga classes Perth’ when your target demographic is geographically specific?   It would be far better to rank highly for ‘yoga classes Subiaco’ so that your target market can find you quickly and easily. 

And that’s why you need local SEO.  You need to make sure that you’re staying relevant to your market and driving targeted traffic to your business.

Check out these key actions to discover more about local SEO and how to climb the local rankings.

Make sure your website has SEO best practices

Before you dive head-first into local SEO, you’ve got to make sure your website gets a big tick for organic SEO.   It’s got to have a good SEO foundation with relevant title tags and meta name descriptions, be mobile-friendly, responsive and fast-loading and have plenty of good quality, engaging and original content.  Then you can start optimising for a specific geographical location.    

Optimise your Google My Business Account

If you don’t have one already, get your Google My Business account set-up and verified, Google My Business is open to all businesses that have either a storefront presence or service customers in person. Once you have set-up up your Google My Business account, make you fill out all relevant fields with as much information as possible. 

Encourage more reviews on Google My Business

A well-optimised Google My Business profile is probably the most powerful tool you have for local SEO and getting the jump on your competitors. 

OK, once your listing has been set up and you’ve made sure that all your business information is accurate and consistent, you should get going with posting fresh content on your GMB profile on a regular basis.   Photos, videos, news, posts and announcements when there are changes to trading hours, updated payment methods etc are all great ways of keeping things current and relevant to your local market. 

But when it comes to local SEO, your best asset on your GMB profile is customer reviews.  These really work well if they’re done properly, so you need to establish a comprehensive strategy for acquiring customer feedback.  And once it’s up and running, you need to keep working at it to stay ahead of your competitors. 

Remember these key points when it comes to your GMB review strategy:

  • Reviews should be authentic from genuine customers (fake reviews can harm your listing)
  • Respond to every review, both positive and negative
  • Respond sincerely and professionally.  Be soft on the people and hard on the facts
  • Don’t offer any incentives as a sweetener to acquire more reviews
  • Keep up a sustained effort to acquire reviews

Boost your local citations

You can also increase your chances of local SEO success by pursuing quality local citations.  This is when other websites mention your business, and will often link back to your website. Make sure you add your information in a consistent manner (see the next section)

Take advantage of online business directories such as Yelp, Hipages and YellowPages.  By adding your business details to as many of these as possible (especially local ones), you increase your visibility and boost your local SEO. Here is a list of sites we recommend you submit your business to.

Your NAP must be up-to-date and consistent  

Local SEO loves consistency, so it’s really important to make sure that your NAP (your business name, address and phone number) is the same across all your online platforms.

It’s a good idea to keep a spreadsheet of all the places where your NAP appears (including all relevant pages of your website, homepage URL, Google My Business, social media profiles, directory listings etc) so when it comes to making changes to your contact information, you won’t miss anything out.   

Build backlinks

Backlinks are important for SEO but you can start local and actively pursue backlinks from websites that are pertinent to your geographical location.  Try doing a search for your local council plus the word Business directory and you are likely to pick up some local business directories this way, eg. “City of Stirling Business Directory”. 

Use structured data to your advantage

Adding structured data (also known as schema markup) to your website can give your SEO a significant boost and increase your rankings. 

Structured data are basically little bits of code on your website which help the search engines to analyse your content more easily and make it easier for them to crawl, organise, and display your content. They’re like clues for Google!

 ‘With Local Business structured data, you can tell Google about your business hours, different departments within a business, reviews for your business, and more’ (Google)

Where to go from here

Once the scaffolding is in place, it’s super important that you keep working hard at all your local SEO elements to maintain momentum and stay ahead of your competitors. 

If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time’ (Steve Jobs)