Local SEO in 2018 is dead, then it’s not, then it is then it’s not! As a business owner who serves customers in a geographic area, it is confusing and difficult to know who to believe. To be upfront, I have never agreed with the naysayers, I believe it is more important than ever to optimise your website for search.
I say this for two main reasons, firstly, new websites are getting published every day and secondly, because Google is constantly refining the way it decides which order to place websites.
So, if you have been asking yourself if your business needs local SEO in 2018?
The answer is YES – in fact, I’d argue that it’s more important now than ever before. Here’s why.
Let’s start by reviewing some local SEO facts. The main facts you need to know:
These stats are proof that local SEO still vital for local businesses.
If you’re not convinced. After all, optimising your site for local search can be confusing, time-consuming and expensive, especially if you need to hire a Local SEO expert to audit and implement any changes.
Without going all doomsday scenario on you the worst thing that’s likely to happen is that your competitors are found instead of you. Now, if you have no competition then that may not be a concern but let’s face it, most of us business owners have at least a few competitors.
Another interesting local search fact is that the higher up the list for a search term the more clicks you will get. Now that may sound obvious! But what is surprising is just how much more clicks the higher positions get when compared to the lower ranking sites. Here is some data on click-through rates (CTR) for the first page of Google. As you’ll see the first 3 positions attract nearly half of all the clicks.
I’m going to list out 5 tactics you can use to improve your visibility in the Google search engine. These tips will also help your rankings on the other search engines too. You can do these yourself if you know your way around making changes to your website and your Google My Business account. If you’re not happy about doing this then call in a Local SEO consultant like Kensington SEO to help.
This is really important. Every time your business name and address appear online, the information must be both correct and identical as Google isn’t clever enough yet to compare different variations and assume they are the same.
Google tracks all the mentions of your business name, address and the phone number the more mentions and the more trustworthy the sites it finds you on the higher it is likely to place you in the search engine.
For example, Google may have your address at 1 High St but you use 1 High Street whenever you add your business listing online. Even this slight difference is likely to dilute your presence and can affect your rank. So, check your Yelp, TripAdvisor, Yell pages etc. for any discrepancies.
So many websites miss out this step. Yet the URL, Page Title and H1 tags have a massive impact on search.
Pro Tip: don’t rely on your web designer to do this, optimising for search and building websites are two different disciplines.
Title tags and meta descriptions play a key role in telling Google what a particular page is about and subsequently what search queries to show your website for.
It is essential to add your town, city or service area and what you do to these tags. E.g. Dog Walker in Kettering.
When your business appears on Google’s search engine results page (SERP), searchers see your title and meta description.
To make the best use of this tip, place the local information as close to the beginning of your tag and description as possible, it is best to keep the title tag to less than 60 characters so it doesn’t get truncated by Google.
More searches are done on a mobile device than on a desktop/laptop these days so your website must be easy to use on a small device. This means it must load fast and be easy to read.
Here are some mobile optimisation tips:
Make sure the content is responsive to the changing screen size, a single column is usually best for a mobile device.
Use small images so they load quickly.
Make buttons easy to use so clicking is easy.
Mobile users account for over 50% of visits and they will click away if your website is a pain to use on a smartphone.
Google My Business is free and it is your way of telling Google exactly what you do, where and when you do it. This has a massive impact on your local SEO.
Get started by clicking the link above and verify your business. To make sure that only genuine businesses get listed they will verify your address the old-fashioned way – by sending you a postcard with a code on it. It usually comes within a week and when you get it go back to your Google My Business listing and enter the code to verify it. Once done, you’ll be able to update your information such as opening and closing times, add photos and videos and a detailed business description. The more information you include the higher you will tend to rank.
My last tip in this article is the most technical of the lot, but it can make a dramatic difference to your search engine visibility.
Schema markup is the code you add to your website. Imagine Google spoke in a different language, schema markup code is Google own language. This makes it really easy for Google to understand exactly what your business is all about so it can show you for relevant search queries. Here are some examples of information you can add in markup code. Maps
There are hundreds of different elements you can add to the code. You can find a list here. The more code you use the better Google will understand your business.
If you have local customers looking for your products or services, you must optimise your website and online profiles for local SEO correctly or you’ll miss out on sales. Perhaps worse than that you’ll find your competitors business growing at the expense of yours and who wants that?