Why Local SEO Matters
Local SEO might mean something different to each person, but in its essence, it means something quite specific. I want to show you what I mean by way of a thought experiment.
Let’s say you are walking down Brick Lane, in London, and suddenly you remember you need new trousers.
So you take out your phone and type “men’s clothing store”.
Google will take your geolocation and send you highly targeted results. The contents of the SERP might include a map with pinpoint locations, a list of shops with hours of operation, a responsive image carousel of pant design and price options, and more. These are what Google calls “rich results”, and they are a representation of the display optimization done by local men’s clothing stores in the area.
You will check out the results and make a quick decision where to visit, based on some combination of proximity, price, and the user experience on the different sites (if you even look that much into it). The shop you decide on might be in Brixton, thus taking you across town, past countless other shops selling men’s trousers that lack a convincing local search strategy.
This whole experience, in a nutshell, describes the importance of local search engine optimization. Billions of people make location-specific queries every single day, whether it’s in London, Hong Kong, or Essex. The businesses that optimize their local search features better than competitors will reap the revenue rewards because local search queries are often late-stage queries ie. from people who are ready to buy. Getting local search optimization right is important because it can catapult the number of store visits and sales you make just by targeting the right keywords and audiences.
Optimizing for Local SEO
Now that I’ve laid out what local search looks like on a regular basis, I want to explore some ways to optimize for it in an online marketing strategy.
Google My Business. The first place to start is with your business profile in Google. Setting up your My Business profile is quick and easy, and should be packed with as much relevant information as possible. Google recommends integrating images and reviews to your profile, and I couldn't agree more.
Optimize for Rich Snippets. Part of optimizing a My Business profile is getting rich snippets right. A rich snippet is essentially a more dynamic display of your content in search results. If you have product pages with dimensions or key product information, you want this information to be displayed in the search engine results page, right? The only way to make that happen is by incorporating rich snippets into your site.
The connection with your My Business account is for businesses with a physical location. If you want to have reviews displayed on your business profile in search results for example, you need to use Schema.org to put it in. Getting this right could mean huge improvements to your online visibility for a specific range of products!
Local Content. The third arm of your local SEO strategy should be content. You want to build a range of content around local keywords that does more than just offer information about your products and services. Don’t get me wrong – you should optimize product pages for local search and traffic performance; but when it comes to content marketing, you want to think about the informational material you can provide. I’m talking about local surveys that you can publish on your blog, a glossary of local business or resources, or something similar. The idea is to create content based on local keywords that also links out to local sites in your community. If the content is meaningful, these other local businesses will take notice and begin linking back to you!
Connecting with late stage buyers in your area is the big incentive to owning local search engine optimization. Some businesses rely exclusively on local search and see great returns on their online content strategy. Is it the right approach for your business?