Lisa Coghlan identifies the key ways to drive local business online, from mobile optimisation to using Google My Business and schema markup.
After the launch of the Google Pigeon algorithm, the way that search terms could be targeted using content specific to towns or regions changed the way that brands can compete. Local SEO has become a growing challenge for businesses, but it doesn’t have to be an uphill climb. Follow our guide to local content below to make sure you’re taking advantage of local SEO opportunities you may not have considered pre-Pigeon.
80% of all adults now own a smartphone and 50% of smartphone users are more likely to go to a local store after conducting their search. The opportunity to make a sale at this point is huge but if your site is not responsive or mobile friendly, your customer is likely to find the information they’re looking for elsewhere. At this point, you’ve instantly missed out on a sale.
By creating local content and ensuring it’s accessible to mobile users, you are tapping into a growing local search trend that is not likely to disappear any time soon. By ensuring your site is mobile-friendly, you’re well on your way to enticing customers into your store, as one out of every three searches conducted on mobile happens directly before a user visits a store.
The Google keyword planner tool is your best companion when it comes to unveiling local content opportunities. Make sure you set your location within the tool to the country you’re targeting, and begin by adding in some suggestions for the keyword planner to start with. Perhaps you own a bridal shop in Manchester? Or a car garage in Birmingham? These are the terms that people will search with when starting out on their buyer journey. By identifying these keyword opportunities and building content that is catered specifically to a location, you have helped the user along in their buyer journey. And if you’ve created a well-designed local landing page, optimised with highly relevant keywords, you’re well on your way to converting a local customer.
Have you thought about how many locations you provide your service or product to? If you cater to a specific location and you haven’t created a landing page for that location you could be missing out on an opportunity to increase traffic to your site and visitors to your local branches. Armed with the keywords you’ve uncovered and a responsive site, all you need to do now is create local landing pages that convert or direct users to your local branches. Of course, creating unique content for each of your location pages can be a stretch. So here are a few suggestions of what you can showcase on each of your location pages:
Creating and maintaining a Google My Business account is important when building on a local content strategy. And as Google My Business is free and will give your business great visibility and increased rankings on local keyword terms, you’d be crazy not to invest some time in a Google My Business account.
In order to appear on Google Maps and make directions to your local branches easier for customers, you must firstly submit your local listings information to your Google My Business account. This may include the address, phone numbers, email contact and opening hours. Once this has been done you will need to verify this listing by postcard, after which your Google My Business listing will be created.
In order to have a clear and consistent picture of the location of your business you should also consider where else your business’ address details are on the web and how consistent they are. This is where NAP consistency also becomes extremely important to your business and your online presence.
Using schema markup on your website could help Google to provide your users with more information about your local offering before they even make it onto your site. One effective way of using schema markup is by incorporating review ratings. You could also consider adding opening hours, a contact number, and address. Websites that feature schema markup are not only proven to rank higher than those without, but also see a higher impact on click through rate, proving that a little more insight into your local offering can really add to your local strategy.
Now your local content strategy is well underway, this is a great time to report on the results that you’ve found. Has your implementation of a responsive site caused a lift in mobile traffic to your optimised location pages? Has your use of schema markup increased click through rate to your landing pages? Have you seen increased rankings on local search terms? If you have seen good results, now is the time to build momentum on your local strategy. And if you haven’t seen the results you were looking for, now is the time to tweak your strategy.
Consider local competitions on social media to improve engagement with your customers, and fresh content on your blog targeting long tail local keywords. Whatever stage you are at with your local strategy, there will always be elements that need to be tweaked, but as the power of local search grows, so does the necessity to refine your local strategy.