Billions of users go online every single day. Over 5 billion searches occur each month for restaurants, 3 billion for hotels, 1 billion for clothing shops, 600 million for hair and beauty salons, and 5 million for coffee shops on Google alone.
Searchers are potential clients who scour the internet for the best deals on various products and services that can address their specific needs. As a business owner, you should always be up to speed when it comes to the ways that could help lead a good percentage of your target market to your company’s website. This is where search engine optimisation (SEO) comes in as a major solution.
Advancements in SEO
These days, SEO is not just about having the right keywords. Though keywords are still at the core, advancements in technology have enabled more specificity when it comes to vital information, of which location is a crucial factor in Google search.
When a user searches for products, services, beverages, facts, or anything in between, their location to the source is taken into account in the search result. For example, if a person searches for “hair salon,” the nearest hair salons in his or her area should come up in the search results if the location is indicated or the device’s location service is on. Sometimes, Google even offers it in the suggested searches box.
This smart, artificial intelligence (AI) technology of recognising patterns in speech, as well as location, presents key differences to how businesses advertise and market their wares from past to present. Users are becoming more and more independent at DIYs or self-service solutions. This is why your business can benefit from producing relevant, SEO-optimized content that will address their needs, as well as improve your local SEO ranking.
Let us define local SEO before digging into strategies that can boost its applications.
Differences Between Local and Global SEO
What are these two SEO branches, and what sets them apart from one another?
Local SEO involves website optimisation that appears in local search results. This is SEO that is geared towards supporting local businesses with physical branches.
In local SEO, content is optimised with different link building techniques that are laser-focused on garnering localised results. Some of the most used terms in local SEO searches include “(insert Business category: coffee shops, Italian restaurants, sports shops, etc.) near me; or “(insert Business category: coffee shops, Italian restaurants, sports shops, etc.) in (city name).
The use of search terms like “near me” or “close by” have reportedly grown to over 900% in the last two years. Local SEO is fueled by location-specific searches that help people discover businesses near them, so they can pick one and address their need ASAP. It’s about companies being part of local listings that are search-relevant.
Large companies may ignore local SEO altogether if they opt-out of local ranking races and let local businesses compete in targeting audiences on their respective regions. This means that there is less competition, making optimisation relatively easier compared to Global SEO.
Global SEO, meanwhile, enables users to search using broader keywords on a worldwide scale. Link building strategies include identifying target audiences, knowing their problems, matching these problems with keyword queries that can be used in creating relevant content, having internal and external links, and using meta-tags that will show how your content will appear on search engines.
This gives you the opportunity as a small- or medium-sized enterprise operating in a specific locality to drive business by being seen as a thought leader in the industry. It also means that competition in the ranking is fiercer, especially since there are only ten spots on Google’s first page results. It means competing against 25–50 companies with the same unique selling propositions (USPs) and metrics as yours on a worldwide-level. This will be tough for your website in terms of creating high-quality backlinks.
The algorithm is taken into account and must consistently be adjusted to optimise it for end-users. The latest major SEO update is the September 2019 Core Update, as tweeted via the Google SearchLiaison Twitter account (Twitter: @searchliaison) on September 24, 2019.
Since competition is tight and the race to win your target audiences’ business is of utmost importance, marketers and entrepreneurs must be able to navigate the ever-changing SEO landscape. You can do this by being up-to-date with SEO trends and strategies, as well as applying the ones that make the most sense to your current set-up.
The Google Snack Pack
Location-based search results are given higher value by Google, which makes Google snack pack optimisation a game-changer when it comes to companies’ SEO strategies. This refers to the top three business listings box displayed in select results for organic Google searches. The first search engine results page (SERP) has the Google Snack Pack, arranged in order of locality, with numbers and letters representing the ranking.
If you operate locally, inserting yourself in the local 3-pack is the best digital marketing tactic you can employ. Inquiries will soar as you get higher quality leads, and customers will pour in. According to a study by seoClarity, Snack Pack is ranked as the number one factor in 93% of searches in Google.
Being in the top three businesses displayed locally in the first page tells users that you are highly relevant. Searchers base their judgments on whether they can find your company or through reviews of past or current clients, or both. The Snack Pack is not just for ranking’s sake; it can also directly affect buying decisions, so you better make every digital asset and content count.
Moz revealed that the Google Snack Pack gets the lion’s share of actual clicks on the SERPs, with a click-through rate of over 44%. Paid search results using tools like Google Ads usually have low ROI because the average cost per click is expensive, and even steadily increasing per year. Some popular keyword clicks can incur a deficit of over $50 and above on your digital marketing budget.
The study also indicates how end users favour the Google Snack Pack. Searchers click on the company name itself instead of the website links or directions to the physical location. Excellent ratings, which are judged based on the number of stars you have, also help boost your business’ image.
Five-star reviews are highly valuable, as evidenced by the earned attention rate of over 69%, compared to four star-rated ones that had a share of 59% in terms of attention, as well as three star-reviews that received 44%. Number and quality of reviewers are also vital to earning client trust, and businesses that have reviews ranging from 11 and up will get the attention of over 13% of shoppers.
Ranking on Snack Pack
When it comes to local listings, your local SERPs ranking can be combined with eight different factors that have unique functions, which are all dependent on percentage. Ranking in the Google Snack Pack is affected by changes in business signals, review signals, social signals, personalisation on-page signals, external location signals, behavioural and mobile signals, as well as personalisation settings.
Sending the right business signal to your target market ensures that your company is listed in the proper category on various business listings or yellow pages. Services offered will also ideally be included in the name, such as “Nissy’s Hair Salon” or “Jimmy’s Plumbing Services.” Accuracy is essential, so make sure that your listed address and service area are correct.
Review signals account for over 8.4% of local search rankings and involve the number and quality of diversified reviews. Dominating this scene requires the apparent need to increase your number of reviews by requesting customer feedback. You can do this in several ways:
- Factors like Facebook fan page likes, post likes, Twitter followers, Instagram comments or likes, and LinkedIn connections, among others, fall under the social signals category. You can increase the influence of your social signals by maintaining an active presence on social media that exudes an approachable and authentic spirit.
- Positivity goes a long way, and facilitating giveaways or little contests is a way to attract a significant number of followers. There are different strategies for growing each social media channel your business is in, but make sure you only have accounts on those platforms that can truly bring value to your company’s bottom line.
Over 20.3% of local search is earned through the visibility of your company name, accurate contact information, address, and the keywords on your business’s webpage. These are all essential factors for accurately personalised on-page signals. To do this, descriptive and relevant title tags need to be optimised so that it could be set apart from other sections of your website and other domains.
External location signals refer to citations and consistent listings of details like names, addresses, and contact numbers across all online business directories. Timely distribution of your business information is also crucial. You can achieve that by organically distributing your data through syndication services that help you speed up the process of being included in hundreds of online yellow pages.
Some of the most useful websites to be listed in include Google My Business (GMB), bbb.org, citysearch.com, facebook.com, Zomato, Yahoo Local, Yelp, and Apple Maps, among others.
Behavioural and mobile signals involve factoring in the average click rates of your listing, mobile click calls, location check-ins, and others when users use their mobile smart devices. Increase brand interactions between end-users and your company by creating mobile-responsive websites and apps. Google promotes brands that people are actively engaged in thanks to its more intelligent algorithm.
Personalisation accounts for over 8.5% of local SERP rankings. This refers to your company’s and business’s USPs. This is where good marketing skills in copywriting (web content, blogs, AVP scripts, etc.), great digital assets thanks to a killer graphic design team, and a balanced web design budget can elevate your brand versus other local competitors.
The Benefits of Local SEO
Local SEO is vital because 50% of locals who did a local search on their mobile device actually visited the brick-and-mortar store within a single day. Here are some of local SEO’s concrete benefits to your brand:
- More online visibility
Better visibility in terms of search rankings is the first and most obvious benefit of enhancing your local SEO and Google snack pack strategies. When users see your business and all the necessary information with a single search, you can reel them in with relevant content that speaks to their needs and wants.
- Better website traffic
Being ranked as a top business in search results has great website traffic-driving potential because users will trust what they found through their very own searches. Using Google Ads is good and all, but it’s still significantly better to aim for the local 3-pack results.
Ads click-through rates are just at a low rate of 2%. Conversion on average is only at 2–4% with Ads, which translates to necessitating approximately 100 clicks before you get anywhere between 2 to 3 phone inquiries.
- Higher sales
Having higher website traffic also increases your chances of making more sales. The more people see you online, the more they will be inclined to think of purchasing from you. Google-backed research found that approximately 76% of people who make local searches contacted businesses within 24 short hours, and over 28% of those mentioned queries resulted in sales.
- Increased brand engagement
Users searching for specific terms who end up on your website are more likely to also interact with your brand if they see keywords that match their queries. These interactions range from personal messages, contact forms on your website or other platforms, email, phone calls, or any existing communication channel you open up.
How to Effectively Rank in Local SEO
Here’s how you can effectively rank for local SEO.
- Sign up for a Google My Business account
Signing up for a Google My Business (GMB) is vital to a winning local SEO strategy. This is the first step to ensure that your company appears on local map listings in SERPs. You can start your GMB journey by following these steps:
- Go to www.google.com/business
- Click “Start Now”
- You will be redirected to Google Maps where you can search for your business and verify its ownership. You can do this manually if none of the results matches.
- Complete your company information (name, address, and phone number, or NAP). Be consistent so that you will have seamless citations.
- Verify your address. Google will send mail in the post with a discreet pin.
- Upload all pertinent data such as photos, operating hours, modes of payment, and others
- Access GMB’s advanced features by claiming the business listing through a final verification stage.
- Ensure to have your NAP information on your website
The accuracy and consistency of your NAP in all online channels is paramount so that potential clients will know how to reach you. Complete and accurate NAP information also boosts local SEO rankings.
- Acquire good local reviews
Having excellent local reviews from real users can be done in several ways:
- By sending a direct email to your client and asking them for feedback, or directly requesting for feedback on your offerings
- By adding widgets to your company website or other blog platforms, where customers can have an easy way to leave your business a review
The good reviews you collect from all your clients should be cross-promoted and shared in all your social media platforms so that its impact may be amplified.
- Optimise your online platforms and websites for mobile use
HubSpot Marketing Statistics indicates that approximately 61% of mobile users are more likely to get in touch with local companies if their website is mobile-friendly. Google-backed research showed that over 18% of local mobile-enabled searches result in a sale within one day, and just 7% of non-local queries led to a purchase.
Encouraging sales in these platforms involves creating powerful promotional campaigns, as well as having excellent digital content that’s mobile-optimised. Top-notch content like informational or educational blogs, resources, videos, and other digital assets will also give you the chance of ranking better in the search results.
Remember that over 97% of users learn more about a local business through online searches more than any other way. For this reason, one of the primary steps you can take to secure your company’s brand presence and nurture relationships is to invest in Local SEO tactics. Start by evaluating your needs and capacity, so you can fine-tune your strategies to rise above the competition.
SEO UK can help you reach your local ranking goals. Hit the ground running with a winning local search engine optimisation strategy provided by our team of experts.