If you’re a business with any kind of local presence or operating in a specific geographical area, having an effective (and relevant) local SEO strategy can make a huge difference to attracting customers or clients.
It might be that you have a local audience in one location, have several branches in different parts of the country, or cover a specific region of the UK with your products or services. Targeting any kind of location with a carefully planned local SEO strategy can boost brand awareness with potential customers living in the area, drive highly relevant organic traffic to your website and help drive footfall to physical stores or places of business.
In this article, we’ve pulled together a checklist to help you develop a strategy designed to effectively boost local SEO performance for your website.
Optimise your Google Business Profile
Formerly called ‘Google My Business’, your organisation’s listing is now named Google Business Profile, and you can have a separate listing for each location that your company has a physical address for. So, if you have a small business in one location, you can have a single profile that covers your regional area. If you have several branches, offices or stores, you can have a Google Business Profile for each that is targeted to searchers in that specific area.
There are multiple ways to optimise your listing, so we’ve developed a detailed guide to Google Business Profile for local SEO here.
Develop a local keyword strategy
Incorporating local knowledge into your keyword strategy is a great way to add substance to your local SEO efforts. You could be forgiven for thinking that a local keyword strategy is simply adding the name of a town, city or region to your ‘normal’ keywords.
However, simply leaving things there and not delving into search terms further could be a missed opportunity (and potentially get you into trouble). Aiming for the same highly competitive terms as your local competitors is also unlikely to bring results quickly. A different approach might be needed.
One of the great things about the UK is that despite being a comparatively small country, we have a wealth of different local terminology and colloquialisms, which can sometimes feed into your local keyword strategy, depending on their relevance to what you do.
There might not be a huge number of average monthly searches for some of these terms that can be picked up by keyword research tools, but that doesn’t mean that your potential customers won’t be using them to find products or services online. Long-tail keywords might be more niche, but the people they do send to your website are usually much more likely to convert.
Obviously, you’ll want to focus on the keywords that have the best chance of sending someone relevant at the right point in their journey to your website, so simply Googling terms and seeing what the results are can be a good way to find out if there are related local questions you can answer on your website already with a ‘People Also Ask’ result or a featured snippet. This will look different for different businesses and industries, but understanding how your potential customers or clients search is always key to developing an effective local keyword strategy.
You might also be interested in our guide to keyword research for ecommerce brands.
On-page local optimisation
Local SEO for small businesses might mean that their entire website is focused on driving local traffic in one region, but for those who have a local aspect but a national audience too, or have several locations they are targeting, creating new location-specific pages for the website is often a good way to strengthen local SEO.
Ensuring that these pages have all of the right elements to appeal and communicate to search engines as well as your target audience is essential and is a great way to incorporate the local keywords already identified.
The areas to optimise with the location and/or local search terms include:
- The URL itself – e.g. lawfirmwebsite.com/services/family-law/family-law-solicitor-birmingham
- The page title
- The page meta description
- The body content of the page (including using keywords in headings and subheadings when possible)
- Internal links to and from relevant other pages on the website
Use local schema to give search engines more information about your local business/branches
Ensuring that any location-specific pages on your website have correctly implemented schema markup can make a big difference to how search engines see and understand your local pages. It can make your appearance on search results look far richer and more attractive, helping increase clicks through from SERPs.
Take a look at this brilliant guide by Search Engine Journal for implementing local SEO schema.
Regionally relevant content creation
As well as your location-specific page(s), another way to reinforce the local aspects with both search engines and people searching for your products or services is to create content with regionally relevant themes that resonate with your target audience.
For example, if you’re an outdoor clothing retailer with a physical store location in Liverpool, creating blog content around the most scenic walks in Merseyside provides potential customers with useful information related to their location, along with product promotion in the piece and potential for attracting links from other websites for the piece. It also gives you more regional content to use as part of your internal linking strategy to boost local SEO authority for your site over time.
Using your own unique images or other visuals including local landmarks as part of this content can also be a great way to gain more traffic and links when you optimise your visual content effectively, as people love to see places they recognise or get to know more about somewhere before they visit.
Submit your location-specific pages to quality local business directories
Submitting your website to as many online business directories as possible, regardless of quality or location, just to get as many links as you could, used to be a dubious SEO technique from yesteryear. Thankfully those days are long gone! However, submitting your local pages to relevant and reputable business directories now can benefit your local SEO performance.
Most regions or cities have local business directories that will list and link to business websites so that people can find out who offers specific services that they might be looking for. These directories might be run by media titles e.g. https://directory.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/ or could be a national site with regional categories, such as Yell. There are also local independent directories in most cities or larger areas, many of which offer free listings to businesses in that area.
The key here is to only submit your website to directories that are likely to be used by people, and that have a decent reputation. Any directory website that essentially exists purely for SEO purposes should not be used.
Gain positive local reviews
It’s no secret that reviews and review ratings can play a major role in the trust that a potential customer or client has in a brand, even if subconsciously. Gaining reviews from customers in a certain region can also be a powerful trust signal, and potentially (especially Google Reviews) could help your local SEO efforts.
A quick search for fencing companies in Manchester shows a great example of the kind of prominent search listing this could result in:
Regional digital PR for SEO local link building
A great way to boost local SEO that can often be overlooked is building regional backlinks to relevant location-specific pages through digital PR campaigns. This added layer of context can help to reinforce page authority because of the ‘votes of confidence’ from reputable websites in the same region as the targeted location.
These links can also benefit the SEO performance of the website as a whole, not just the specific pages being linked to. There are other plus points to digital PR coverage of course, including increased brand awareness with a relevant local readership and potentially referral traffic that results in online conversions.
While these tactics are all specific to local SEO, there are many other areas that can benefit your website as a whole when it comes to organic visibility, such as mobile-friendliness and other SEO fundamentals.
If you’d like help with any element of your SEO strategy, we’d love to chat about how we can support you. Get in touch using the form below.