Local SEO: a complete guide

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local seo the complete guide

Every day, millions of location-related searches are entered into Google. “Best brunch Amsterdam”, “Hotel Barcelona”, “Gas stations near me”… you likely have some variations of these in your search history, too. If your business has a physical store, or if you offer your services to clients in a particular area, ranking highly in local search queries should be a very important part of your SEO strategy.

If this sounds daunting to you, don’t worry. Local SEO mechanics work very similarly to regular SEO. However, there are some extra details that you should factor in. In this article, we discuss the key points to pay attention to if you want your business to rank highly in local SEO results.

NAP consistency

The acronym NAP stands for “Name, Address, Phone”. NAP consistency means that your business name, address and phone numbers are consistently the same across different pages on the Internet. This includes your website, your social media accounts, your Google and Trustpilot accounts, local business directories and any other websites that have written about or mentioned your business. The more places that mention your correct business name, address and phone number, the better it is for your local SEO results.

There are a few steps you can take to achieve optimal NAP consistency. Make sure to claim any automatic accounts that are created for your business on local directories, and adjust your business information here, if necessary. Duplicate entries affect your ranking in a negative way, so make sure to remove duplicates as soon as you spot them. Lastly, if you are changing your name, address or phone number, updating all listings of your business on the Internet accordingly is crucial for your NAP consistency. Don’t let a mistake slip through the cracks!

Use relevant, localized keyphrases

Keyphrases for local SEO stand apart from regular ones because they include a particular place. Usually, they will look something like the following:

  • [business type/product/service] in Amsterdam (or wherever your business is based).
  • [business type/product/service] Amsterdam.
  • Amsterdam [business type/product/service].
  • Best [business type/product/service] in Amsterdam.

Be sure to stick to the basics when picking the localized keyphrases you want to rank for. Try to describe your business, product or service as clearly and succinctly as you can manage. Don’t try to rank for keyphrases that may be “easy” to achieve but do not have a strong link with your business and what you are offering – this will not lead to valuable traffic. If you find it hard to come up with keyphrases, you can also use a service like UberSuggest in order to generate relevant ones for you. Tools like that will allow you to also see how popular each keyphrase is, helping you decide if it is worth the effort.

When creating localized content, the same rules apply as for regular content. Content that search engines perceive as “valuable” ranks higher than content that is not perceived as such. Therefore, you should create engaging and informative content that people will actually find helpful. You should refrain from copying long stretches of text from other websites, duplicating your content on each of your website’s pages, spamming your keywords, and making errors related to spelling and grammar.

Create a profile on Google My Business

If you have not created a Google My Business profile yet, now is the time to do so. Even for fully online businesses, a Google My Business profile creates merit – but for local businesses and services, having this set up well is particularly vital. With your Google My Business profile enabled, a special block will immediately pop up on the right side of the page when people enter your business name into Google. It shows a lot of important information about your business in just a small space. Optimizing this profile to the best of your abilities is therefore an important step to attract your local customers to your business.

There is a lot of important information you can add here. The more you add, the better it is for your local SEO results. Be sure to add your company address, your opening hours (including special hours for weekends and holidays), your phone number, website and social media accounts. Double-check to verify that everything is correct. On top of this, officially verifying your location with Google is an important step to take that will give people confidence in your business.

After you have the basics covered, don’t forget to add a company bio. Through this short piece of text, your customers can get a quick overview of the particular products and services that you offer. As a business owner, you also have the opportunity to periodically add updates about new products or special offers to your profile. Regularly adding updates shows your customers that your business is currently active and always looking to innovate. Add some images as well, in order to provide your customers a full overview of your offer.

Reviews

Positive reviews make up an important pull factor for local customers to engage with your business. If the customer has never interacted with you before, reviews are one of the only ways for them to evaluate the potential quality of your services. People can leave reviews through a variety of mediums, Google and Trustpilot being two of the most used ones.

Google reviews are connected to your Google My Business account, through which you can manage them and reply to them. Trustpilot works a little differently. Anyone can decide to leave a review about your business through this platform, even if you do not have a Trustpilot account. If there is no account for your business, Trustpilot will auto-generate one as soon as someone leaves a review about you. You will have to claim your Trustpilot account in order to be able to respond to these reviews.

Businesses with many positive reviews rank higher in search engines, and having a good amount of reviews also increases feelings of trust in your customers. You can encourage customers to leave reviews by linking directly to your Google and Trustpilot accounts from your website, or by sending an automated email to all customers who completed their purchase with the question to leave a review.

Be sure to respond in a timely manner to the reviews you receive, especially to constructive or negative ones. This gives your (prospective) customers an important message that you care. Offer a tangible solution to people who leave negative reviews, unless a review is completely unfounded. Telling people to simply send a message to your customer service does not paint the image of a company that truly centers their customers.

Use your social media accounts

Social media activity does not directly influence your local SEO ranking, but indirectly helps create buzz around your company and helps you reach customers on multiple channels. Many people use social media in order to explore new places to go in their local city or town. Positive mentions of your business on social media, either by friends or by influencers, can work as an important pull factor for people to convert into your customers.

One way to gain more traffic to your social media accounts is therefore to work together with local influencers. Influencers will often mention your business in their posts or stories in exchange for free products. Instagram is a particularly suitable medium for these kinds of posts.

A giveaway that asks participants to mention you on their stories and tag their friends, is another proven way to achieve more traffic to your socials. On top of this, you can optimize the chances of people finding you organically by mentioning your correct NAP information in your bio, tagging your location in each post and by using localized hashtags. 

Create a multilingual website

If you want to attract local customers that speak multiple languages, a multilingual website is a great way to improve your local SEO results. Translating your website and making it fully multilingual is a longer process that involves multiple steps, including registering a new (sub)domain, updating your technical SEO, creating valuable content in both languages, and localizing your prices. If you are interested in taking this route, this guide on multilingual websites contains everything you need to know.

SSL certificates

SSL certificates are almost a requirement for websites these days. On top of giving you and your customers a vital dose of security, search engines also show pages with SSL certificates first – and they may not even show pages that lack them! Depending on your business type, and whether or not you run an e-commerce website or process your customer’s data, you may need a different type of certificate. However, all SSL certificates that are suitable for small and medium businesses are affordable and easy to set up. This guide on SSL certificates explains it all (no technical knowledge needed!).

Learn more

We hope this article has given you some key insights to tackle your website’s local SEO strategy. If you run a small to medium-sized business, we have many other articles at Openprovider that might be useful for you: from picking the best domain name for your website to internet security and organizing your customer service. Check out the articles below:

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