I'm sure it's not news to you that Google is continuously changing the search results page landscape and, in many cases, it’s making it harder to rank in the local results organically, especially since the number of results presented reduced from seven to just three listings (a change which also made paid listings more prominent at the top of the page).

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As a result, local SEO has become highly competitive with every business trying to outdo the next in order to capture the available space (now premium digital real estate). So, what to do? There are various strategies you can incorporate into your marketing to help your business rank on local search results. Today, we'll explore:

  • Bing and Google My Business Listings
  • NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
  • Reviews
  • Localised Content
  • Citations

Claim your free Bing and Google My Business listings

Bing and Google search engines offer you a free business listing page. It's a simple step but one that makes a difference. So, make sure you claim yours here:

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By taking advantage of these location pages, you increase your chances of being found in search results by the local consumer. Your business can then show up on any device, and you also get exposure on Google and Bing maps - another search interface with particular prevalence to localised marketing.

To get the most out of your listings ensure you complete them in full and accurately. This includes name, address and phone number, also known as NAP (more on this later). It doesn't end there though. You should also fill in the operating hours, upload pictures of the business and any other items as best as possible. Finally, you will come to a category selection where essentially you will declare what type of business you are, for example, hairdresser, gym, bakery, etc. Be specific, choosing generic categories here won’t help you.

NAP

This is an acronym of name, address and phone [number]. These are essential details that should be available in your website and business listings and it’s really important that this is consistent everywhere. It sounds simple, but it's all too often not maintained or done correctly. Make sure you do not embed your contact details in an image, as search engines will not be able to read this information and therefore it renders useful for your search marketing strategy. Again, ensure you keep NAP data consistent across all platforms, as discrepancies could severely hurt local search visibility. This information could be the difference between a conversion or not.

Reviews

User reviews can have a large impact on your rankings and are key to boosting your visibility within search engines. Not only that but reviews lend authority to your messaging, encouraging a sense of credibility that makes users feel more secure. They can be the instigator to enquiries and the touch point that encourage a visitor to become a customer.  You should look at these reviews as currency for your business.

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The hardest part here is encouraging customers to leave genuine reviews for you, especially positive ones. Consumers have a habit of expending energy on negative reviews but not on sharing positive experiences. Start by contacting existing customers and direct them to your Google My Business listing. Ask them to leave you a review (if you don't ask you don't get). From time to time you may get the odd negative review, but don’t fret. Ensure you address the negativity and try to resolve the customer's issues, openly doing this adds confidence for potential new customers. Because, mistakes happen and nobody is perfect, but the way we respond to our mistakes says a lot about who we are as a business.

Focus on Localised Content

You can only successfully compete locally by creating great local content on your website. For instance, write blogs about local events and if you service several locations, create city-specific pages on your site. When running your business in more than one location, create separate pages with the right address, phone number and other geo-specific information. This will help your audience to find the specific location they need and will also provide you with the opportunity to better rank for each business area.

Manage Citations

A citation, in simple terms, is a mention of your business on other websites, which could simply hold your NAP information and may or may not include a link to your site. Examples of these kind of sites include:

  • Yelp
  • Yell
  • Scoot

Publishing local listings helps to build valuable links and mentions for your website and will support your authority in search. And, better authority equates to better results. From a backlink building perspective, this is possibly the easiest way to acquire reasonable quality links in a short period of time.

These are just a few quick-fire strategies and tactics you can implement into your SEO strategy now to make immediate improvements. Interested in finding out more or need some SEO support? Speak to one of our consultants today and they'll help you to navigate the murky waters of search engine marketing.