Local SEO Basics

Local SEO Basics

Melbourne has a thriving local economy and if you’re a local business keen to tap into the wealth of opportunities the city presents, local SEO is one of the most essential ingredients to gaining significant presence online and converting website traffic into customers. If you haven’t got a clue how to leverage the most effective local SEO techniques, this article is for you. You’ll learn precisely what local SEO is, why it is important and how to use it to your advantage.

What is Local SEO?

When we talk about generic SEO, we are typically talking about search engine rankings under broader terms which are not location specific. Local SEO on the other hand is most definitely location specific, with the objective of targeting potential customers within a certain radius who are looking for local businesses for products or services.  The aim is to optimize brick and mortar businesses for any location-based searches by those searching online e.g. “hairdresser Melbourne”. The optimization process also involves tweaks to a business’ online profiles, for example Google My Business.

Why is Local SEO Important?

Location. Location. Location. Local SEO is HUGE for local businesses. Why? Consider the following statistics.

28% of the  searches by the 76% of customers conducting local searches on their smartphone, will result in a purchase.

Location-based Google searches

46% of all Google searches have local intent

You can gain serious visibility with local SEO. Below you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to unlock your business’ potential.

What is ‘The Map Pack’?

The Map Pack (also known as ‘The Local Pack’) is a set of 3 local business results placed in a prominent position in search engines, featuring a map of their locations sourced from Google Maps. Regular search engine results pages (SERPs) then appear beneath it. This feature has a unique algorithm to master.

The Map Pack has its own algorithm with its own set of rules and a business’ name, address and phone number (NAP) is an essential requirement for a local business to appear in local organic search results as popular search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo! take this information into account when providing geo-targeted search results to those browsing the web. Any time that a search engine such as Google sees value in providing you with local search results, the Map Pack will appear, irrespective of whether your search contains a geographic reference or not.

How To: Tracking Map Pack Rankings

As we noted in the first article in this series on basic SEO, one of the first steps for successful SEO is to assess the quality of your website’s positioning in SERPs. In particular, you will need to identify where you rank in The Map Pack and monitor this over time.  Notably, Map Pack results can change significantly in accordance with minor changes in the geographical location of someone browsing the Internet.

Therefore, it is important to track your local rankings from multiple locations within the Melbourne area for the most reliable and accurate results. If you’re willing to invest in a product specifically for this product, consider which enables you to monitor your website’s performance more effectively.

Once you have set up a Google My Business profile, you can go ahead and enter your business name in the Local Falcon search box which pulls data directly from Google Maps.

You can then play around with different keywords in order to establish how well your SEO is being received by search engine spiders and assess your performance relative to your competitors. Don’t forget that a mere search for “store + city” results will not enable you to gain much insight into your ranking as such searches make up but a fraction of all local searches. Ideally, you should use other relevant search terms such as “X near me” and set the target location in Local Falcon, or whichever other rank monitoring tool you decide to adopt.

Local Falcon enables you to set the search radius. The software will provide you with an aesthetically pleasing interactive map which reveals your search engine rankings in any given geographical location. More than likely you will notice that the further out of the centre your search, the better your ranking, whereas the further into the centre you move, the weaker it is.

Often, this is simply because the search engine felt that the person was a more ideal choice for offerings in that particular location, perhaps because they are more centrally-located for example. You can simply click on that result in order to identify the business(es) outranking you.

Local Organic Rankings

Regular local results are also of great importance, despite appearing beneath the Map Pack. Working to secure a prime position on the first page of a search engine’s local SERPs is definitely in your best interests and one of the easiest ways of achieving this is to ensure that your title tag contains your keyword. You can learn more about traditional on-page SEO techniques such as link-building here

How to Find Effective Local SEO Keywords

Generally, you just need to draw up a core set of relevant keywords which people will use to find your local business. This is a one-time job for the most part.

Yelp Suggest

Open up Yelp and type in a keyword someone in your area is likely to use if trying to locate a business like yours. The Yelp algorithm is great at generating related search keywords which are relevant despite not containing words in the search term(s) you typed in.


Google Suggest

Another worthwhile source of keywords for local searches, is Google Suggest. If you try to play around sufficiently with the subject you may stumble across a gold mine of keyword suggestions.

Local Voice Searches

Google statistics indicate that a whopping 20% of all Google searches conducted on mobile phones are voice searches! Voice keyword searches often replicate natural speech patterns. For example, a local keyword search such as “hairdresser in Melbourne”, might be constructed as “hairdresser in Melbourne area that is open now” in a local voice search. Bookmark this page so you’ll be the first to know once a quality tool for optimising voice-based searches appears on the market. Watch this space.

20% of all Google searches conducted on mobile phones are voice searches!

Google Keyword Planner

It is probably pretty clear by now just how important using keywords within your content from an SEO perspective. This is truly the most effective way to help people to find your webpage. It is an INCREDIBLY powerful tool which generates completely unique keyword ideas, even within specific geographic areas.

The power of name, address and phone number citations (NAPs)

NAP citations play a significant role in enhancing your credibility on the world wide web. What counts as a citation for SEO purposes is any content displaying your (business) name, address and phone number.

This is how search engines such as Google confirm that all of your business information is correct. The more frequently NAP citations appear for your business on reputable websites, the more confident the search engine is that the details are correct.

Online Reviews

Review signals also enhance your visibility in search engines as they are one indicator of how much consumers trust your business. However, poor reviews will harm your search engine ranking, whether on your Google My Business (GMB) profile or third-party websites such as Yelp.

Organic Ranking

Focus on improving your search engine positioning as this will also enhance your Map Pack ranking. Therefore, there is no such thing as wasted time when it comes to creating awe-inspiring, captivating and informative articles with SEO in mind for local rankings, particularly for competitive industries such as the legal industry or dentistry.

Google My Business (GMB)

Consistency is absolutely key with regards to your GMB profile. Ensure that absolutely EVERYTHING matches both your website and your NAP citations around the web. Inconsistencies in the address your business is listed under across the web serve as a red flag to Google, for example. Therefore, make a note of all the places where your business details are listed – including any local business directories – and be sure to update them whenever any of those details change. Also, ensure that your address is organised in precisely the same format (for example, ‘road’ on one page should remain ‘road’ on another and should not become ‘Rd’ as it confuses search engines.

Should you wish to rank for competitive keywords, you should aim to provide all of the details that Google requests as they grant you a score based on the percentage that you complete. The category selection section is perhaps one of the most overlooked boxes. It is highly important to select a top-level category which is fitting for your business. In addition, confirming which services and/or products you sell and ensuring that business opening and closing hours (including during any holidays) are accurate will enhance your business’ SEO ranking in a more indirect manner. There is absolutely nothing worse than turning up to a business only to discover that it isn’t open at the time the Map Pack suggested it would be open. It is only a matter of time before an angry customer will take to Yelp and Google to write negative reviews about your business.

You should DEFINITELY take the time to reply to every.single.review. Seriously. It’s what separates businesses trying to make a quick buck from businesses who care at a deeper level about their customer base and the customer experience. Also, be sure to encourage customers to leave reviews by sending them an e-mail with a review link. You can easily obtain short URLs which you can send to clients to encourage reviews from GMB.

On-page SEO for Local Businesses

For the best results when implementing on-site SEO strategies, you should focus on pumping out unique content for every page on your site.

But what you may not know is that, as long as you avoid duplicate content, you can create these sorts of landing pages for cities that you’re not physically based in.

As you need a GMB profile to rank in the Map Pack for locations that your business is not physically based in, this won’t help you with Map Pack rankings. However, you can rank in the local organic results for a variety of local keywords. Provided that you can cater to a client-base in that location, SEO will help you to convert traffic.

Make Use of Title Tag Cliff-hangers

Facebook Ad guru Nicholas Kusmich is the guy behind this SEO strategy which is highly effective for local business sites. A title tag is the HTML coding which provides the title of a webpage.

<title>50 SEO tips that will boost sales TODAY</title>

Don’t get them confused with H1 tags – they are completely different! It is your title tag that is visible in SERPs and not your H1 tag which only appears on the webpage itself(!) Title tags provide visitors and search engines with an indication of the page’s content. Given that this is one of the first things that a visitor will see, it is important to get the title right and make clicking that link irresistible for search engine visitors. Create a title that goes beyond Google’s title tag limit (at present this is around 500-600 pixels or 50 characters), as this allows you to take advantage of a loophole which generates more clicks for your webpage.

Become a sponsor for a local event

To secure more links for your local business, consider sponsoring local events as this is a sure-fire way to get a traffic (and in turn, profit)-generating link on the web page set up to advertise the event.

User Experience Considerations

When a visitor to a search engine is looking for a local business, they will want to know within seconds of landing on your page that your serve their local area. The best way to take advantage of this is by…making it as obvious as possible and mentioning the areas you’re local to in your headline!

So…

As you can see, there are so many possibilities when it comes to SEO marketing and hopefully this article demystifies the process a little. If you follow these tricks to a T you should start to see the type of traffic increases you have been hoping to see within a matter of weeks.