5 Best Practices for Local Business SEO

As search engine optimisation (SEO) has matured, it has created more opportunities for smaller businesses to get their websites noticed. Geo-based searches are an essential channel as more people use their mobile devices to hunt for what they want in their neighbourhood. SEO isn’t about ranking as high as possible for broad keyphrases – reaching locals is far more valuable in today’s congested digital space.

1. The key elements are still the same

Optimising your site for local search traffic still needs to have the basics done right. Titles, headings and meta descriptions are all still important. These HTML elements are simple to customise and ensure that the content of your website is accurately represented. Meta descriptions and titles are particularly important as these are displayed in search results. Your meta description and title are mini advertisements in themselves and should highlight key elements to convince users that your business is right for them.

2. Learn what your competitors are doing

Competitor research is as important, if not more so, for local than general SEO. When your business is operating in a smaller, more defined area, understanding how and why certain companies are dominating the search results is important. Knowing the competitiveness of certain keyphrases can help you plan your approach more clearly, whether that means implementing a higher budget PPC strategy or looking for content gaps your competition has left in the market. You might find that a big box brand dominates a large number of keywords, which might lead to your business not bothering to aim for those at all or you might spot a niche that they’ve missed.

There are many paid tools that can help you see what these other businesses are ranking for and how you compare. These include:

There are also free tools, including Google’s Keyword Planner, which offer a less precise overview but can point you in the right direction.

3. Claim your Google business listing

Google My Business is vital for local search. When people search for businesses, whether in the standard search engine or on Google Maps, Google shows those that match the search query, plus it highlights them on a map of the area.

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To set it up, you first need to verify your website as local and authentic. Usually, Google sends a postcard with a unique code that proves your business address is in the suburb you claim and that’s pretty much all there is to it. From there you should add as much detail as possible, such as your business category, opening hours, description, prices and products, images, and posts.

4. Write local content

Google loves content and it loves it, even more, when it is targeted and ultra-relevant. Writing about your industry and products in a general sense will always be valuable but to truly harness the power of local SEO, your content should be focussed on areas closer to home. If your local audience is your primary target, then piggybacking local news stories and events can be a powerful way of showcasing your business. Write about events happening in the neighbourhood, talk about local parks, streets and landmarks, and demonstrate that you are a local authority and a part of the community. Writing a blog about the importance of your industry is great but making it relevant to the people who live in your neighbourhood is even better.

5. List your business on local directories

Another important part of local SEO is one of the simplest. Listing your business on local directories is a good way to take advantage of a larger site’s SEO power and get valuable backlinks to enhance your own. In addition, these directories can help build consistency of your Business Name, Address and Phone Number on the web which is an important local ranking factor.

A few local directories and good places to start are:

•    Hotfrog

•    True Local

•    Yelp

•    Yellow Pages

•    Startlocal

There is a wide range of free and paid options for local business, plus other directories are specifically aimed at certain industries, like Zomato for hospitality.

Prefer to listen?

Check out Cathy Smith’s interview with David Pagotto on the Small Business Talk Podcast – Episode 17.

Author Bio

David Pagotto is the Founder and Managing Director of SIXGUN. He has been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years, helping organisations get more customers, more reach, and more impact.

SIXGUN focuses on scaling organisational growth and building sustainable results for the long-term, with a data-driven approach to developing strategy. As a Melbourne based digital marketing agency, SIXGUN focuses on Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing.

David is passionate about seeing organisations grow while working on his mission to support meaningful causes.