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Local SEO

Local SEO is a set of practices aimed at increasing the visibility and traffic of local businesses through digital channels.

Just as in the case of traditional SEO, local SEO is based on website optimization and the business’ online presence.

Consumer habits have evolved, and it is crucial they can find your business on Google and other search engines.

Who is Local SEO for?

If your business has a physical location, you really should invest in local SEO. This is one of the best choices you can make to increase its visibility.

Nowadays, many businesses use local SEO to improve their online presence on the web. This is the case for:

  • Restaurants and bars
  • Stores, small shops, and small businesses
  • Hotels and other accommodations
  • Professionals (lawyers, dentists, architects, etc.)
  • Any other business.

Just as with SEO, local SEO is based on the same three pillars: 

  • On-site SEO
  • On-page SEO
  • Off-site SEO

Tips for on-site local SEO

From a local SEO perspective, you need to evaluate some key factors regarding search engines and user experience.

Authority

Search engines give each website evaluation of its authority. The higher this value, the more the search engine will trust the website and will give it a better positioning within the SERP.

The most important authority indicators are domain authority and page authority.

If an older domain hosts a website frequently updated with quality content, it will likely have very high domain authority. 

The same goes for websites of local businesses. To reach high Authority values, you will have to put user’s needs as a number one priority.

Speed

Loading speed is a very important factor in SEO for two reasons:

  • It affects your website positioning.
  • A slow-loading website may make your visitors leave the page.

In local SEO, the second aspect is critical: users want a local business to meet their urgent needs.

Mobile-Friendly

How many times have you been searching for your smartphone for information about places in your area?

Restaurants, shops, gyms: if we want to learn more about the businesses near us, the first thing we do is to take our phone and look for them on Google.

It has been years now that the number of mobile searches has exceeded those from the desktop. And the trend is not going to change.

Google’s algorithm, after the Mobile-First Indexing update, began to give more importance to mobile versions of websites, scanning them first than the desktop ones. 

For this reason, the website of your local business must be mobile-friendly and responsive (it must adapt to every screen and device).

How to do on-page local SEO

We just saw what some of the most important elements of on-site SEO are. Now we need to optimize the individual pages of our websites. 

Your main goal is to place your website for a keyword like:

[business type] + [city name]

For example:

plumbing Milan

Once you have found the main keyword with you want to position a specific page, you will need to optimize the page from the SEO point of view.

Title

The title is the first thing a user sees when she performs a search. For this reason, you should make sure that it is self-explanatory of the useful content she will find by clicking on it.

For example:

Fast intervention plumbing Milan | John Doe

Be sure to put the main keyword inside the title, so that it becomes clear that your content is relevant and responds to the user’s search intent. 

Tips for a local SEO-friendly title: 

  • Put the main keyword inside the title, as leftmost as possible;
  • do not forget to put your brand name inside the title, and put it after a separator (Title | Brand Name);
  • always add the name of the city or area where your business is located.

Meta Description

You have a catchy title. Now you must convince the user to visit your page. 

In this case, you must highlight the need that you want to meet with the service you offer, making the user want to click on the result and receive more information.

For example:

Do you need to fix a leak? First plumbing intervention in Milan and province: contact us immediately.

Tips for local SEO-friendly meta descriptions:

  • Use a call to action that leads the user to click on the result, making her understand that your business fits her needs.
  • What is written in the meta description should be as consistent as possible with the content of the page. Otherwise, you would fail to keep up with the promise you made to the user, increasing the bounce rate.

Headers

Using headers, you will improve the user experience on our page, helping the search engine spider understand its content.

A page must be well-formatted to make the reading smoother for the user and to break the content into specific and ordered topics. 

Besides, headers help the search engine understand the page topic. As a result, you should use them to enter primary and secondary keywords.

Structured data by schema.org 

Structured data helps the search engine better interpret information on our page.

This data belongs to a vocabulary from which you can draw on.

If you’re working on placing your local business within the SERP, implementing structured data can lead to an incredible leap in quality, enriching your snippet.

On schema.org you can find a list of properties you can implement on your page.

On Schema.org, you can find the complete list of properties for local businesses.

URL

When talking about local activity, the ideal URL of the website page should be something like:

www.businessname.com/main-keyword 

  • Make sure that the part after the slash contains the main keyword and that it is easily readable. Then avoid URLs of this kind: www.businessname.com/?P=123
  •  www.businessname.com/category/subcategory1/ subcategory 2/main-keyword

Tips for local SEO-friendly URLs: 

  • Make your main keyword clear, to help the search engine understand the content of the page.
  • Write the URL in a way that makes it as readable as possible for the user, thus improving their experience.

How to do off-site SEO

Off-site SEO, also known as off-page SEO, includes all those techniques intended to improve the positioning of your pages without working on the website.

Of course, in the case of local businesses, doing a good off-site SEO will allow you to gain an advantage on your competitors

Link Building

The main off-page activity consists of link building: receiving backlinks from quality and sites that are relevant to your business will help you climb the tops of the search results page.

To help your local SEO, you should try to build links to and from websites of other local businesses, such as:

  • Local news sites and blogs: You can write guest posts or pay for advertising your business on their websites. This is a grey hat SEO practice, so be careful. If you’re not sure about what you’re doing, ask a professional.
  • Local businesses: you can contact them and propose a link building deal.
  • Associations and local authorities: like for local businesses, you can also offer associations and local government a donation or to sponsor their projects.

Social Media

Nowadays, social media is essential to improve the visibility of local activities.

Creating social profiles related to your business offers several benefits, including: 

  1. To let your target to find you online easily.
  2. Additional traffic channels to your site.
  3. Benefits in terms of social proof.

To know more about the factors that influence local SEO, have a look at our article.

Google My Business

Google My Business (or GMB) is a free Google platform, designed to help local businesses to appear in the SERP and to show the user the most important information about them.

Google My Business has several tools that will allow you to manage your online presence. With it, you can show your products or services and much more.

The benefits of Google My Business

By registering your business on Google My Business, you will improve your brand’s presence within the Google ecosystem. 

When you sign up for Google My Business, your business will appear:

  1. On the Google Information Tab.
  2. Your Google Maps.

Visit Google My Business.

Google Maps

How many times have you searched for directions to a particular place or store? 

Almost always, the answer has been provided to you by Google Maps that brought you there safe and sound. 

Your presence on Google Maps will increase the visibility of your local business; not being there, on the contrary, means to not exist to the potential customers. 

Other platforms for local businesses

Besides Google, there many other platforms designed for local businesses that are used to look for advice about places to go. 

Let’s see some of the most famous:

Trustpilot

Although it does not target only local businesses, many users rely on Trustpilot for feedback about companies. 

There you can also find reviews and ratings of local businesses such as B&Bs and restaurants.

Getting excellent ratings in this portal greatly increases the social proof of your business and encourages potential customers to rely on your services.

Yelp

Yelp has more than 180 million reviews, making it one of the most important portals for local activities. 

Just as with Trustpilot, registering your business on Yelp will improve your visibility and let you have more contacts with your customers, responding to their doubts and criticism.

Tripadvisor

Of course, we cannot forget to mention TripAdvisor. Whether you run a tourist resort, restaurant, or business, you must be on TripAdvisor.

Again, optimizing our presence within it will give an important boost to the authority – at least online – of your business.

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