Local Business Guide: Get Started with SEO

local search engine optimisation-company

Organic & Local Google Business Search Results

If you own or are running a local business, then you most definitely need to be doing local SEO. This blog post will take you through the basics of local SEO and offer you some pointers so that you can start doing some of your own SEO, even if you think you may not be tech-savvy enough.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the optimisation of your business website (on-page SEO) as well as some things away from your website (off-page SEO) so that your website pages rank better in the search engines when people are searching locally for your products and/or services.

It doesn’t matter if you are a local hairdresser, plumber, gym or a local professional services provider, the people that really matter to your business are people searching within your local town or city, and for that reason, you need to optimise your website on a local level, where it can make a real difference for your business.

Local Search Results

Google displays three sets of search results when people submit a Google search. The paid or sponsored ads show up at the top of the Google search results page, then you generally see (depending on your actual search query) the local three pack results and finally the organic search results.

When searching ‘Swindon Carpet Cleaner’, the local Google business search results only lists local carpet cleaning businesses that have registered with Google (i will expand on this later), whereas the organic search results lists the most relevant search results for any particular query in Google. This includes business directories such as yell.com, review sites like checkatrade.com as well as other local businesses.

In a perfect world, you would have your website optimised for the organic search results as well as the Google local pack so that you have more results on any particular search page.

Listing your business on some of the best business listing and citation websites will help with your local SEO efforts but you also need to make sure your website pages are optimised for their relevant search terms. Before you optimise for search terms, make sure you do your keyword research to understand which keyword search terms are the most relevant for your business and have a decent amount of monthly search volume in Google.

There are literally hundreds of reasons why other businesses rank above your business in the search engines. Follow the points below to give your business a better chance of appearing in the Google local pack in the search results pages.

Getting it Right From the Start

As I mentioned above, the Google local pack search results (above the organic listings and below the paid ads section) only lists businesses that have registered their business with Google. It’s quite astonishing just how many local businesses just haven’t created their Google My Business account and it only takes a little bit of your time to register, and as an added bonus, it doesn’t cost you any money!. Follow the quick guide below on how to set this up.

Search for an Existing Business Listing

Before you go ahead and create a new business listing in Google, you need to first find out if there is already a listing for your business. Sometimes an old listing may have been created by someone in your business or maybe you have created one yourself a few years back and just forgot that you did it.

Simply go to Google.com/business and sign in to your Google account (presuming you have already signed up for a Google account). Enter your business telephone number in the search box.

If your business is already listed you may have to claim it via Google support if you do not have access to it.

Register For Google My Business

Once you have checked for your business and found that it is not already listed in Google you can go ahead and register for ‘Google My Business’.

  • Go to Google.com/business
  • Click the “Start Now” button
  • Either sign in to your Google account or create an account if you don’t already have one
  • Type the name of your business into the search box
  • As you had previously checked and found that your business is not already listed you can go ahead and click the ‘Add your business’ link (see image above)
  • Enter your business details (see the image below)

Once you have entered all your business details click the continue button and Google will send you a postcard containing a PIN number that you will need to verify your location. This generally takes only a few days to get you you by post. As soon as you receive the PIN number by post, enter it in to you ‘Google My Business’ account to confirm your location.

While you are waiting for your verification PIN to arrive by post you can fill out your listing. Make sure you fill out as much as you can and write your own business description (do not copy/paste from your own website, make it original).

By entering as much as you can about your business on your Google business listing, it will help other people and Google understand more about your business.

Here are some best practice pointers when filling out your business profile:

  • Add original images that are pleasing on the eye and portray your business – these show up in the local Google business search results.
  • Be sure to fill out your business hours accurately. Many businesses don’t bother filling this section in and their business ends up showing as being closed in the search results pages when in actual fact it should be open. You can easily be missing out on potential customers if you do not enter your hours of business correctly.
  • Selecting the correct business category for your listing is important. Google uses this information to determine how relevant you are to the Google searcher.
  • Don’t stuff lots of keywords into your business description, make sure you use your most important keywords but you ideally want the business description to be well written and to read naturally.

Increasing Your Local Presence

Once you have let Google know about your business, you can increase your business relevance in the search results pages by using the following strategies.

  • Build Local Citations
  • Add Locality On Your Website
  • Add Schema Markup To Your Website Pages
  • Gather Online Reviews For Your Business

Any Finally…

There are many strategies that you can use to build up your local online presence in the search engines, but the steps above will put you on a firm footing and will get you ahead of most of your competition if done correctly. Don’t put it off, get started today. It is too important not to. If you adapt and follow the steps above it will help you increase business on a local level by putting your business right in front of Internet searchers.

If you would like help with any of the above or you just don’t have time to do it yourself, get in touch with us at Blue Rock Digital and we will help you increase your local search presence. Telephone us on 01793 677 344 or fill out our contact form here.