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What is local SEO and how can it help your business?

Posted on 12th January, 2017 by Michael Banks

Search Engine Optimisation

Local SEO is the term used to describe optimising a business’s website to appear in local search results such as map listings as well as search engine’s local pack listings. At one time big multi-national businesses dominated the local search results but all this has been changing with Google’s Possum update in September 2016 putting more focus on local businesses.

The key strategy in SEO is to help users find local businesses that match what they’re searching for e.g. If I was to do a search for “Manchester Coffee Shops” I would see the following results:

google-local-pack

As you can see this listing is pretty prominent and takes up the whole above the fold content on Google’s results so making sure your business shows up in local results is vital to your business.

How to appear for multiple office locations

One of the best strategies for businesses that have multiple office locations is to use Schema.org markup on their website. Simply put this is a way of identifying key information on your website such as business addresses, opening hours and contact numbers so that this information can be displayed in the search results.

Ideally businesses should create a separate location page for each office location which can then be specifically targeted at that local area. As well as adding location pages to your website you should also setup a Google My Business profile as well as a Bing Places business listing. Because Bing powers voice search on Siri and Amazon’s Alexa now is the ideal time to make sure your business features well on Bing Places.

Business citations

Another great way of making sure that you come up for relevant searches in the local area is to make sure that your business citations are consistent and have the right information. There are many data aggregators that are used by the search engines to gather information so making sure your business information is correct in these will help your business get to the top. Some examples of the key data aggregators in the UK include: thomsonlocal, scoot, touchlocal, The Mirror, The Sun and Bing so make sure you check these and ensure they are up to date.

You should also be looking to create new business citations for your company and some good sources for these include: Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local as well as looking at industry relevant directories and community websites such as Chambers of Commerce and local council websites.

Voice search

With the meteoric rise of the smartphone virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa have opened up a whole new way for users to find what they want. And because most of these searches are happening on mobile and on the go, users are more focused on finding a local business to match their needs.

From adding natural language on your website and creating pages like Q&A pages that use conversational language to the use of structured markup, there are plenty of ways to help get your website noticed in voice search. Giving the search engines as much information as possible about your pages will help them find and index your pages correctly and ensure local customers can find you ahead of your competitors.

Tools to use

There are many tools available to help make your job easier when looking at Local SEO and here we give you some of the best that are currently available for free.

Schema Generator

Save development time with this free and easy to use schema generator to help you markup your webpages with valid Schema.org markup to help make sure your business’s details are picked up correctly by the search engines.

Google My Business Category Tool

This handy tool will help you navigate the minefield that can be Google’s business category taxonomy and help you find the most relevant categories to list your business.

Moz Local

Doing a search on Moz Local is free and will give you a good idea of how your website is listed locally, there is also the option to pay a monthly fee to manage your listings directly through Moz. If you’re looking to save time then this may be a great option for your business.

SEO ebook

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