Reading Time: 8 minutes
Want to Rank Your Business Locally?
Got no idea what the hell Local SEO means?
Is your business failing to appear on Google’s first pages? There’s a saying around Digital Marketing circles “the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google Search”
Need not to worry…
This is the perfect guide for any Melbourne company wanting to increase their visibility on Google SERPS whilst bringing in more traffic, leads and sales.
What Does Local Ranking Mean?
It’s how often you appear to clients in your area.
Most businesses sell their products to local customers. And correctly targeting those customers is key to getting business.
Unfortunately, most businesses do the opposite. They try to increase incoming traffic as much as possible – without aiming for their target market.
Companies routinely reach out to me saying they want to take on the world selling X product. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have ambition. But if you can’t dominate your own small suburb how are you going to take on the world?
On top of that, they seek first page results in super competitive niches. But they don’t pay attention to their “visitor locations” and the possibility of easy conversions.
Your Goal as a Business.
Now that you have worked out what areas you are going to target, lets get onto the strategy..
You need an SEO strategy that ensures you can obtain rankings in your city that has a decent amount of search volume. And this is what we’ll explore today.
We’ll start by explaining how Google determines your local ranking. Following that, we’ll mention 5 tips to help you boost your local presence!
How Google Determines Your Local Ranking.
Google looks at authority, relevance and distance. Those factors make up the bulk of local ranking algorithms.
First – Authority.
It refers to your businesses’ reputation. That is, “how well is your business known online and offline?”
Some places have a prominent offline presence. Google takes that into account, and tries to reflect that authority in its local rankings.
Such businesses include landmark hotels, museums, stores, etc.
But for the most part, Google measures authority based on business’ backlinks. And those backlinks include articles, reviews, and social media shares.
Google review scores (and numbers) are also taken into account. Positive/numerous reviews make you more preferable as a Google search result.
Second – Relevance.
Google won’t show your business to every or any searcher in your city. Your business needs to match what your searcher is looking for.
Are you selling the products that a local customer wants? What about product categories? And what about opening/closing times? Does your website have keywords that people will search for when looking for your product or service?
Your marketing should target customers who want what you offer. You do so by letting Google know every possible detail about the services you offer.
Third – Distance.
Google values proximity. If a business is closer to a customer, it’s more likely to show up in search results.
Note: This applies to search queries that don’t specify location.
Putting those Factors into Practice.
Local SEO is similar to normal SEO. The only difference is in how narrowly you target customers.
Below, we’ll help you with that. We have 5 practices you can apply for better local results.
Those practices include…
Most SEO advice tells you to focus on mid-competition “long-tail keywords.” But the focus is a little different for local optimisation.
You still want long-tail keywords. But those keywords must contain a way to signal locality.
You can choose to by very specific by picking keywords with “near me/close by” additions. Random examples include…
- “Gym near me”.
- “Close by petrol station”.
Or, you can be specific, by adding a clear landmark near your address, such as…
- “Cleaning company (insert street/city name)”.
Traffic (with buying intent) often use those search queries. And that tells Google to find the closest possible matches (in terms of distance).
Giving Google Your Business Info.
How does Google match your business with a potential client? It does so by checking their queries against your business info.
Thus, Google needs your business info. It needs your address, phone number, and business pictures (Visit My Business Listing for an in-depth guide).
For local ranking, Google prefers domains with a location in the URL. This is called an EMD and still does work very well even though Google is starting to crack down on these.
What if my Business Name Lacks an EMD Address?
Then no worries. You never have to change your business name to include an address. You can simply create location pages for example (kingjimbobbaplumbing.com.au/locations/melbourne-emergency-plumber) add the location you are targeting to the URL.
Another Tip: Schema Mark-up.
This is code that you can inject in your contact pages/articles (example). It tells Google more about your business (such as opening hours/exact location, etc.).
Used often, Google will recognise the locality of certain pages. And you stand a better chance of ranking for them!
Another great positive is you can reap the benefits of Schema by marking up reviews and locations which will make your business more prominent on the SERPS.
How to Rank in the Local Map Pack?
When people search on Google, they tend to focus on certain results.
The first result (on the first page) is a common choice. Another is what’s called “the local pack,” which is a piece of Google’s estate that’ll get you many clicks.
What is the Local Pack?
It’s a block that pops up under Google’s maps whenever anyone searches for your industry.
Prior to 2014, there were 7 spots in the local pack. But this has been cut down to 3, making that block a highly competitive marketing spot.
Getting a Local Pack Spot.
The first requirement is to setup a Google Business account. You’ll need to submit your legal business name, address, and phone number.
That’ll be the info issued through search results when someone seeks your services.
It’s preferable if you provide an address/phone number that matches your website’s contact info. It makes you more consistent. And it increases your chances of getting a local pack position.
Second, you need to know how Google picks local pack candidates. And you can do so using Moz’s local search stats (source).
That source shows the top 3 factors as…
- Google My Business Signals (which is the 2nd tip – adding location in URL).
- Backlinks (especially from authority sources).
- Reviews (quantity and frequency seem to matters more than rating).
Writing High-Quality/Long-Form Content.
Now don’t get me wrong, long form articles are great for SEO and getting in front of a very broad audience. They get you more traffic, shares and links internal and external.
With long form content, it’s easier to mention your keyword multiple times. Plus, you get to show off your industry expertise.
However, when it comes to local ranking, those pros can sometimes turn into cons.
To rank locally, you need local keywords. And writing “long local articles” is a little difficult…
Most long articles discuss the benefits of using a product or using the service.
They discuss advancements in research. They’ll give advice related to your service. And sometimes, they’ll provide stories. But they’ll rarely discuss the location you operate in.
Don’t try to force long local articles. Try make your local articles of high quality but condensed. By doing so you can also increase the frequency of your posts.
Make sure you write highly relevant content. Local articles need to be relevant to the audience you are targeting, where they’ll act as a “newsfeed” to your followers and people searching you.
For ideas, you can write about the following…
- Events, seminars, and meet-ups in your area.
- Hot trends/news in your city.
- Nationwide changes that affect your business (and customers).
Try position yourself as an expert and the go to person in your niche.
#5 – Make Your Site Mobile Friendly.
Mobile devices represent a large share of internet users. Approximately 1/2 your customers are on phone. Plus, Google and most social media sites prefer phone.
Google provides higher rankings to sites that are mobile optimised. And social media sites (like FB) cater their ads to mobile users.
Some Stats to Note.
According to a 2013 Google Insight survey, 55% of smartphone users like to make purchases within 1 hour of research.
The “1 hour mark” aside – 93% of mobile research ends up in a complete transaction (source, page 3).
Overall, mobile research has higher conversion rates than computer research. So it’s best if you optimize your presence for smartphones!
You don’t need to create a separate site. You simply need to optimise your website for better user experience.
You want people to navigate your website with ease. There shouldn’t be bugs, loading issues, and bad aesthetics.
The following list should give you an idea on how to approach this job…
- Start by picking a responsive design. Your design should adapt to both mobile and computer.
- Use mobile-specific keywords. Those tend to be shorter and with lazier grammar.
After every edit, let Google judge your mobile SEO. Google has a tool that checks mobile friendliness (source).
You can use that after each website edit. You can use it to test various pages (static pages, content, and checkout pages).
Now that you have your Local SEO setup, don’t stop there..
Mobile Ad Targeting & Re-Targeting
The best mobile advertising platform is Facebook. We recommend establishing a business page there.
Also, 94% of FB’s revenue comes from mobile marketing (source). So naturally, it has to focus on optimising the mobile advertiser’s experience. And that’s what their platform does.
Their “Facebook Ads Manager” lets you customise your advertising on many levels. You can target your market by age group, education, relationship status, and much more.
Location is included in those choices. So you can effectively distribute mobile ads by address! We have had great success by creating a small radius around the Businesses location.
Make sure you have your Facebook Pixel installed and tracking your potential customers every move. This will be extremely helpful in converting customers that have searched all the competitors in your niche and in your area.
One great retargeting campaign would be to offer a discount or something of value to the person that hasn’t yet converted into purchasing your product or hiring your service.
Many businesses fear the concept of local marketing. They assume that localisation means less traffic and customers.
Now, the traffic portion may be true. You might end up with less visits to your website. But, your conversion rates will skyrocket.
You’ll end up accurately targeting your market. And the majority visiting your website have a higher chance of becoming customers.
With the SEO tips above, you can easily optimise for locality. Follow each step, and watch your business become a local authority!