Step up your Local Search
approx 9 minute read
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is just like regular-fit SEO but with a focus on a local geographical area.
Often your local area. Although you could be searching for results in another town or country, of course.
So for example, “Bouncy Castle Hire Castleford”
Or “Bouncy Castle Hire Near Me”
The ‘O’ in SEO is for ‘Ohhh, THAT’S how you get found on Google.’
Just kidding. It’s ‘Optimisation‘.
And that’s all about making ongoing tests, upgrades and tweaks to help you appear in the amongst the most prominent positions on the page.
In this case, we’re talking about the Local Pack. Or Map Pack as it’s sometimes called.
It’s the section that has a map, and a few businesses highlighted just below.
Anatomy of the Local Pack
The Local Pack is a set of results that nestles right in (usually) below the ads and above the organic listings.
It features a search title, a small Google map, and typically 3 business listings.
Each business listing shows the
You might also be lucky enough to see a concoction of other informational tit-bits, such as
- Opening hours
- Products and more
There may also be links to
- Call them
- Visit their website
- Or get directions
So your Google Business Profile is a hotbed of useful data snippets alongside an interactive map. Ooooooohh.
What more do we need?
Why would you want to appear here?
Hmmm, ok… Is this a trick question?
Only, I think you’re here because you know it’s useful to be here.
You already know people are searching for businesses just like you in your local area.
And if you want stats to prove it, there are copious amounts doing the rounds.
But, while we’re on the subject let’s highlight just one.
“Near me” or “close by” type searches grew by more than 900% over two years. Source.
And that, my friends, was in 2018. Can you imagine how popular it is now?
Google’s local listings appear above the organic ones. The unpaid pinnacle of the page. This stuff matters to people.
And so, as business owners and marketers, we want to make sure it matters to us.
How do I boost my local ranking performance?
Well, good wholesome on-page SEO is a stupendous place to start.
We have tonnes of content to help you with that side of things. Although, what does content actually weigh anyway?
You can’t beat the basics done well.
BUT WAIT, you cry, this is a guide about LOCAL listings.
No, you’re right. Soooo, you’ll be pleased to hear there are also some local-specific strategies you can deploy.
We’ll get into those later. But at the very least, do make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
84% of local searches are made on mobile devices, so you need to be expecting them.
For now, let’s take look at some of the moves you can make to optimise specifically for inclusion in the local pack.
Google says it bases local results on relevance, distance and prominence.
In fact, distance is such an important signal that results can vary from one street to another in the same town.
So your local pack ranking can vary dramatically across a relatively small geographical area.
All this makes sense, of course. When you’re looking for coffee shops, tube stations, or public toilets, metres matter.
But the same considerations are in place when you’re searching for a timber merchant or trampoline park.
So location is clearly mahoosive. And sadly, it might be the only one you can’t do much about.
Because, to rank in the map pack, you will need a bonafide physical location there.
Maybe that’s realistic, maybe it’s not.
But you can still build location-specific landing pages to help you rank in the organic listings.
Just be sure to include unique, location-specific content to justify the page.
Don’t just duplicate identical service landing pages, bang a town name on the end and find and replace the town. This is bad.
- Copy about what you offer in the area and how
- Mention some of the things that make the area unique
- Photos from the area
- Case studies from the area
- Testimonials from the area
- Smaller locations served within the area
OK, Let’s look at some of the things you can do to help your business appear in the local map pack. Starting with Google My Business. Or, as it has been recently renamed, Google Business Profile
#2 Google Business Profile
If you want to appear in the map pack, you’ll need a Google Business listing just to get in the game.
No Google Business Profile listing, no existing.
The good news is it’s really simple.
If you’re already on the radar, you can claim and verify your Google Business Profile directly in Google Search and Google Maps. Just find your business and click ‘Own this business?’
If you’re an undiscovered newbie to the scene then you may need to create your free Business Profile.
Some things to note…
Complete as much information as possible.
Google gives you brownie points based on how complete your profile is.
Include your contact details. Obviously. But pay attention to how this appears.
You’ll want it to appear the same way across the entire interwebs. More on this in a second.
But also include website, opening hours, photos, category information, secondary category information, products, services, menus… E V E R Y T H I N G.
It’s your shop window.
And as a result, do make a habit of keeping this info up to date.
A shop window with Halloween decor just looks sad in spring. But this is even more important than window dressing.
People will check here to see if you’re open or not. Not your website. Not your Facebook. Here.
So dated info is a lost sale or irritated customer. Be on your game.
Check out our article for an in-depth look at optimising your Google Business Profile.
No, no siestas sorry. NAP stands for
- Phone Number
Remember when we mentioned you want consistency across your contact details?
Well, despite how sophisticated Google is, turns out they have a bit of OCD for NAP.
It’s all about consistency. It has to match, or they get triggered.
Even the smallest detail, such as whether you write St. or Street, can be enough to rattle the algorithm.
So can you imagine how unsettled the search overlord would become if you sported a different BUSINESS NAME?
Let alone an old ADDRESS somewhere. That’s some serious drama.
We can run reports to find all mentions of your business listing across the entire cyberverse.
There are often hundreds. Even thousands. And so typically, it’s common to find anomalies.
Of course, sometimes the listings are obscure.
But we’ve seen plenty of instances where the NAP on a company’s website doesn’t even match their Google Business listing.
Oh, you need to amend the obscure ones too. Sorry.
OK, let’s get to some of the real juicy bits.
Now, this may not be groundbreaking. But it is quite possibly your single biggest opportunity to improve your local pack performance.
We’ve all known for some time that reviews are a good thing.
And that local businesses with a number of good reviews tend to perform better than those with none.
200+ 5 star reviews, or none and done. Which you picking?
So it should come as no surprise that Google rewards businesses with plenty of positive reviews.
But did you know it goes way deeper than that? Google also reads the reviews. And your replies.
Imagine how influential your reviews become when they are being scored for the following:
- Number of reviews
- Star rating awarded
- Sentiment of comment
- Keywords in comment
- Whether or not you reply
- Sentiment of replies
- Keywords in reply
If you’re not getting good reviews then there is an argument to suggest that’s where the focus should be for now.
However, we know you’re here because you care. So it’s probably the case you just want more.
(It’s ok, Oliver. You can always have more!)
One way to encourage customers to leave a review is to send them an email with a direct link.
Creating a link is easy. Log into your Google Business Profile Manager and find the ‘get more reviews’ card on the homepage.
Click ’Share review form’ and in return, you get a nice little short url to share.
Copy the link or share directly on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or email.
One word of caution though.
Maybe don’t send too many requests at once.
If you’ve had none for ages, and then all of a sudden there’s an avalanche of love. Then ghosted again. It can put Google off a bit. So be organic about it. Channel your natural.
Are you in the hospitality industry? One effective little idea is to put a card on the table, or with the bill, saying the following:
Happy with your visit?
No – Oh no, sorry to have not wow’d you on this occasion.
Please speak to a member of the team or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can try to make things right.
Yes – Hurrah! That makes us fuzzy. Please do spread the word by leaving a Google review. It means a lot to a local business like ours.
This helps send the negative feedback back to the right team and the positive feedback to the masses.
#5 Local Links and Citations
What’s the difference?
A link is a hyperlink to your website from another website. You click it, it takes you there.
A citation is a mention of your website or company. So sometimes they can be both.
Again, this isn’t uncharted territory in the world of search engine optimisation.
It’s just that you can get more ROI for your efforts when we’re talking local.
With traditional high level SEO, while links have always been important, it’s more about quality over quantity.
One really high quality non-paid backlink from a well trusted educational or media website can smash 1000 meaningless ones from questionable domains.
But with local, the ‘localness’ of their operation adds value. Quality street.
So if that website or directory mentioning you has an affiliation with the area, super.
Plus, you’ll probably find the opportunities easier to grab.
You’ll naturally have more in common with local businesses in your region.
No doubt you’ll already have close relationships with a lot of businesses and groups.
People tend to be happy to recommend a list of preferred suppliers.
There’ll be local events you can attend.
Workshops you can present at.
Universities you can be a guest speaker for.
And overall, you’ll find sponsorship opportunities more affordable.
All of these things make your contribution to the local ecosystem all the greater.
And Google will notice.
(It has spies everywhere)
This still seems like a lot
Yes, it can be. It’s a simple process but it still takes work.
If you need a hand with any of it, just let us know.
We have clever software to help do the heavy lifting on the listings.
Affordable packages to keep everything up to date.
And if you just need help to get your Google Business Profile off the ground, we have friendly real-life humans people ready to guide you through it over a coffee.
Find your local Nettl studio by clicking the button below.
Or hey, just Google it!