How To Optimise Your SEO for local searches – Local Business Websites
The chances are really quite high that you’re reading this on a mobile device. Depending on the country, mobile traffic accounts for just over 50% of all internet traffic. That’s quite impressive penetration for devices that have only been around for about 15 years! If you’re not reading it on mobile, then the next port of call on our internet connections is the humble laptop, desktop PCs are soooo 2001. And you’re more than likely using that laptop at home.
How do we know? Because information is constantly being gathered by websites. More specifically, websites are being given data about their audiences by the King of data – Google. Because of the way computers are hooking up to form the internet, and the variety of ways they are talking to each, all sorts of information is being generated and noted. This isn’t a negative thing (well, not necessarily a negative thing – we’ll deal with naughty people and data another time). The collection of data is what is helping to create a more effective, user-friendly internet that successfully grows at an exponential rate!
For this blog though, we are focussing on one aspect of the data that is becoming increasingly important. Location data.
Google and Location Data for SEO
Google really wants to know where you are when you log onto the internet. Google is also keen to know the places that you go. It would also quite like to know where you work too. Oh and where you like to stop for a sneaky pint on the way home. And it is getting this information.
‘How is Google getting my location data?’ you ask yourself in a panic. There’s a variety of sources! Ok, so the first and most basic way, is that you may have included your home location when building profiles, perhaps when joining Gmail. Another method is through your IP Address. Every single device connected to the internet is given a numerical name and this label provides all sorts of information, including a fairly precise location. As an example, you can go to the link at the end of the post and see a little of the basic information that your IP address contains.
Do you use Google Maps? Well that builds a timeline each day, recording exactly where you’ve been and for how long. (The longer and more and frequently you attend a place, the more you must like it) You can also set key places in your Google Maps to help you with your Google Assistant – you can set your home address, or work address. You may also drop pins on addresses. It’s not just Google Maps. Many other apps, like weather apps, request your location data so that they can provide more accuracy. Google isn’t just a search engine, it’s part of Alphabet Inc. So Google has many apps that are asking for your location data, all of which feed into the same profile of you.
In fact, Google is so interested in your location information that it is tracking your location information even when you tell Google not to. Briefly, an investigation by the Associated Press revealed that Google apps were logging your locations even when you had selected the basic option of not sharing your location data. Now you have to remember, what saying ‘don’t share my location’ actually means. In terms of the internet it is ‘please forget my location’ because your device’s IP Address delivers your location. Have a watch of the first two minutes of this for a bit more info:
So why does Google want my location?
11 years ago, Google used to have a ‘Local’ tab on their search engine, similar to the images tab. You would click this to look for websites that were closer to where you were at that particular time. These days though Google doesn’t ask when you are using the search engine functions. These days, Google is making all searches localised. If you were to Google now and perform a search you will find that the results on the first page are for companies operating in your area.
In Google’s own words, they use location data to provide ‘more useful search results, more relevant ads, and more tailored suggestions’. Remember, the key to Google’s success over other search engines like Ask Jeeves (remember him?) has been based on the accuracy and usefulness of their results. 46% of Google searches in 2019 were seeking local information, and 97% of those searches were seeking businesses.
Let’s talk Local SEO
So Google is now focussed on locality. That’s fine, you’re probably happy about that. Surely it means that the big G is sending more people your way?
Yes and no.
Yes, it is possible to make it so that Google is using local data to drive more people to you, but no they won’t do this until you fulfil certain criteria. Remember the mantra of useful search results? They are going to be strict to make sure you meet the guidelines. Now bear in mind that 92% of searchers will pick a business from the first page. And also bear in mind that Search beats Social Media by 300% as a source of traffic. This is where Local Search Engine Optimisation comes into play. You want to make sure that you are first up in those all-important ‘near me’ searches.
Stake Your Claim
The very first thing you need to do is set up your Google My Business page. And make sure that all of the information there is current and accurate. The more quality information you have there the better. If you are a Google Maps user you will likely have been asked to answer questions about businesses you’ve been to – this is helping Google to build a better picture about you!
Do you know what good reviews do? They tell people that you’re a safe bet. They tell Google that in your domain you are king. Actively encourage happy clients to write up reviews for you, especially on Google (Trustpilot is great and everything, but Google wants you to use them specifically). If you have a physical store, ask customers to review you on Google. If you are connecting with clients remotely or online, send them a link to your Google Business Page and get them to review. Remember that asking some specific questions for your review will actively encourage them to review you because they have to think less!
Google’s web crawler is actively reading and indexing every word of your site. It is looking for patterns of repetition – these give it keywords linked to your site. In these more locally minded days, threading your location through the content of your site will place a greater significance on where you are. Remember to be careful though – Google can tell if it makes sense so you can’t just type a word 100 times in white on a small section of white on your page.
Schema your site
When Google crawls your website it is creating an index. This helps it to retrieve data more efficiently. It takes all of the information in your site and throws it into a database. If you use the phrase Rush Hour in your website, then you can be returned on a search engine results page (SERP) for that phrase. However, are you referring to the busy time to drive or the incredibly funny kung fu movie?
Schema adds html code (that secret language of the website nerds) in the background of a website which can add tags to the content of your site. Now Google will know that the Schema code isn’t part of your site that users see, instead it is a bit of information telling Google where your content belongs. So instead of coming up in searches about busy times to drive, you can come up in searches related regarding Jackie Chan. If you are a technical bod, Neil Patel discusses Schema here. If you’re not, speak to your site designer to see if they’ve tagged your site correctly.
Local Keywords and Content Matching
With all of the information gathered, you are able to search for the key terms being searched. You may have some idea of them from using Google Ad-Words. That has a tool which will show you searches that Google things will be useful for you to be included in based on your site. You can localise your keyword checking!
Once you establish the key terms important to you, you can weave them into your website’s content. Obviously, we’ve mentioned earlier that you need your business address throughout your site, but making sure you utilise the right terminology is key too.
Being suitable for mobile phone consumption is an important part of all SEO. It becomes especially important for Google though in local searching because of course if someone is looking for your business, they are probably looking on their mobile. Heck, 75% of our website views are through mobiles.
OK, so the Yellow pages really isn’t very important anymore. It has been completely surpassed. However, there are certain listings that boost your rating with Google. Google itself is obviously the key directory you want to be in, but having a presence on Facebook, Yelp, Trustpilot and TripAdvisor are others that you may consider too.
This is nice and simple, make sure you use a standard format for your address and telephone number and make sure that you keep ALL references to your address and contact details accurate and up-to-date. If you use brackets around the area code of your phone number, make sure that is the way it’s done EVERYWHERE.
We do all of this SEO work for you. We’re happy to help and guide you or go through your site to do the work for you. Call or message us today to see how we can help you rank well locally!
Check what’s on your IP Address