by Ari Pournaras
First things first, what is Local SEO? Let’s cut the jargon. Local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is basically using online tactics and channels to influence where your brand appears on Google for local search terms, like ‘digital marketing ayrshire’, where you’ll find us – Big Pond Digital – positioned visibly and intentionally. There are impactful free ways to get up there on Page 1 for your own business niche and to drive more local leads.
GOOGLE BUSINESS PROFILE
When you search for something, say ‘solicitors near me’ or ‘restaurants in Prestwick’, have you ever wondered where the Map Pack results come from? This is thanks to Google Business profiles.
For Local SEO, the importance of making the most of this free tool cannot be overstated. Setting up a profile, following the steps to verify it, and filling out the different sections should all be your first port of call. Your Google Business profile ties in all of your other channels like your website and social media profiles, and helps users to find you via your address and contact you.
As concisely as possible, you want to make clear what you offer through your Business Description and ‘Primary’ and ‘Additional’ Service Categories, including relevant keywords with your location attached. You can even upload a range of your individual products/services to your profile.
As well as your logo, upload clear, high quality imagery of your brand, and utilise their ‘Add update’ positing feature for social-media-style posts.
To help create a positive image, it’s vital to harness the power of ‘Reviews’. Encourage any clients or customers to leave a 5-Star Rating and review by sharing the link with them via the ‘Get more reviews’ button. Interact with these and leave a reply – all of this tells Google and users that you’re an active and engaging brand.
Although you’ll find the vast majority of people on Google, we can’t forget about the Bing users. ‘Bing Places’ is essentially their own version, and you can sync it with your Google Business profile to save set-up time.
Creating free listings or ‘citations’ helps users and Google understand who you are and your core business details. Citations primarily feature your Name, Address and Phone Number, and can be created on sites like Yelp, Yell, VisitScotland, Cylex, and Central-Index-run newspaper directories.
A BrightLocal study found that 63% of consumers would be put off shopping somewhere that has wrong information online. We’ve all been there, annoyingly, right? This is a compelling case for making sure your information is accurate, up-to-date, and consistent. Importantly, your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number should match across all of your citations and reflect those on your Google Business profile.
Where to start: Google your brand name. Whatever citations are appearing on the first few results pages, focus on updating these initially. Then start building new ones.
Another quick win is to gain links from key players in your industry. Identify any suppliers or distributors or partners you’ve collaborated with. Ask them nicely to include a dofollow link on their website pointing to yours. This backlink acts as a vote of confidence in Google’s eyes and helps your rankings.
There you have it – a well-filled-out Google Business profile, consistent local citations, and relevant external site links will jumpstart your local online presence.