How to Optimize Your Website for Local Businesses Searches
What is Local SEO?
There are many moving parts involved in optimizing your website for local searches. One of the most important, ensuring all of your site’s content is optimized for mobile devices. For non-localized SEO, website builders like Wix and Squarespace allow users to edit many of the elements involved in creating ‘good SEO’ such as title tag and meta description.
Today, fifty percent of local searches are performed on mobile devices, with another thirty-four percent of searches performed on a computer or tablet. As a result, Google made mobile responsive websites a part of its ranking factors, which is measured by how much of a ‘good user experience’ your site provides. For this reason, it is important to create a mobile-friendly site. One more piece of the puzzle is to make sure your phone number is clickable so visitors can easily place a call.
A local search is any search query aimed at finding a business or other establishments in a specific area. This could be anything from hotels in Downtown Indianapolis, to Fish and Chips in the greater London area. Think about the days of the Yellow Pages — searching used to be a fairly mundane process. Today, it can be done from the convenience of your smartphone, making the process faster and subject to a more narrow set of results.
Whereas in the Yellow pages, you could see every local listing for ‘cleaning services in Boston,’ now, when you perform a search using Google, you no longer see all of the possible search results. Searchers are only shown the results deemed to be most relevant at the time of the search query.
If someone is looking for a business in a local area, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are performing the search within close proximity of the business they want to locate. The reality is, most actually search for local businesses before they travel to a location. So, merely having an address listed on Google can hurt business. At the bare minimum, it can cause you to lose valuable business.
Think about all of the customers who may be deterred from patronizing your small business because they cannot send an email or speak with someone on the phone. Local competitors have likely already optimized for local search. If they have, and you have not — you may just miss out on valuable business.
Below, you’ll find WebCreate’s Guide to Optimizing for Local Business searches.
What Can You See in a Local Search?
So far, we’ve touched on what local search is and why it is important. Now, let’s explore what we can see in a local search. When a potential customer performs a local search, they are presented with the following information:
- Business name
- Phone number
- Directions via Google Maps
- Hours of operation
- Other similar businesses
These elements help comprise an SEO tool known as Google My Business. The tool helps optimize your website for Google search results and provides the above information to those searching. Small business owners can edit all of the parameters like hours of operation, website, address, phone number and more — giving patrons a good first impression that the business has all of its ducks in a row. The Q&A section is yet another one invaluable section. Here, answer FAQs about your business. The answers later appear in a Google search if someone asks a question and your site’s content is deemed relevant.
If searchers enter a vague query, leaving the search engine ‘scratching its head’ as to what they want to locate, it will display three results, which appear in the middle of the results page.
Google displays up to ten local results when it is sure those making a search are looking for a specific location, and present a phone number/a direct link to the site.
With this in mind, you should understand the impact of a local search, as well as the absolute need for optimization. Optimization does extend well beyond that of merely signing up for a ‘Google My Business’ account, and making optimizations to your business details, however.
The entire process is well-rounded and starts with other online SEO elements. The hope is, by optimizing both off and on-site elements for SEO purposes, that your business will witness a rise in foot/web traffic, phone calls, sales, and more. Thankfully, there are tons of free tools for keyword research such as AdWords Keyword Planner. Good use of keywords is an imperative part of the puzzle.
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
According to HubSpot, 78 percent of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases. An additional 71 percent of those surveyed say they look up and confirm the location of a business before visiting for the first time.
This has far-reaching implications, and even further stresses the fact that small businesses must, in fact, optimize for local searches. This also stresses the importance of proving a good experience for those who come to your business so that they can leave positive reviews of the service they received for others to read.
Yelp & TripAdvisor
There are a few common places visitors will look/leave reviews, including Yelp and TripAdvisor. The two platforms are crowd-sourced review platforms where users provide detailed reviews on various local businesses such as restaurants, plumbers, lawyers and more. Yelp and TripAdvisor focus on restaurants, hotel/travel accommodations, and other businesses.
You can create an account for both platforms and control basic business information like address, name, website, add professional photos (which we highly recommended), as well as accept bookings.
Reviews left here can impact your small business in a negative or positive way. This again goes back to providing a good experience for customers.
Next is Yelp, with the platform, you can view hours of operation, write a review, gain knowledge of how expensive a business is, receive a quote, and more.
Let’s talk about Schema Markup, one of the most underutilized SEO features. With Schema Markup, you can insert code that assists search engines in providing more informative results for searchers. Schema Markup essentially tells search engines what your data mean and why the data are important — not just what the data say.
In terms of ranking, Schema Markup helps content in the following categories rank higher in search results:
- Local Businesses
For example, if you want to highlight a star rating and publication date, you can do so with Schema Markup. This can be particularly important when customers are close to making a purchase but are on the fence. Using Schema Markup can even be beneficial in cases where someone is considering coming to your local business but needs a bit more persuasion, having a five-star rating could provide such a push.
Title Tag, Meta Description & Content
Title tag, meta description, and content are all important for local search. This is largely true when a business fails to appear in a search because it didn’t add the extra bit of detail needed to make the cut.
Editing title tags are another way for Google to understand exactly what your website has to offer. Title tags do impact SEO, and they should be keyword-focused. In the case of local search, it’s best practice to include the suburbs/towns you service – where relevant, without spamming. Although it is still unclear as to is if Google uses keywords in title tags as a ranking factor or not, we still recommend optimizing, regardless.
In most cases, small businesses can edit the meta description on their website. This is the roughly 163 character description that appears under the title tag which is one of your only chances to entice users to enter your site.
Here, add relevant text that shows you are aware of what the searcher is looking for. If you want a potential customer to visit your site and take an action once there, adding a meta description is advised.
Ex: ‘Visit WebCreate.io and download your free Ultimate Guide to Content Creation. Download your free guide, today!’
Content should also be optimized. Here, you have the opportunity to take a more local approach by writing in the local vernacular, adding alt text to local photographs. Along with optimizing content, consider adding location pages to your site, which is valuable if your small business has more than one location.
Page Speed, URL Structure & Redirects
If you have slow loading pages, it could be because your URL structure is too complicated. You’ll want to optimize your URL structure to improve your page-loading speed. Additionally, this is yet another ranking factor Google uses to determine your search ranking. In terms of your URL — it should be structured in a way that makes it clear to the visitor where they are located on your site.
In order to ensure this, follow the below elements of your URL:
- Use a single domain/subdomain
- Make it readable
- Use keywords
Pagespeed is a different story, slow loading sites can actually cause you to receive lowered search ranking by the search engine giant itself. There are a few precautions you should take to avoid slow loading pages, including:
- Compressing files such as downloads and images
- Reducing the number of redirects your site has, as this can cause slow loading times
- Choose a server capable of receiving high amounts of traffic
Good URL: www.webcreate.io/top-40-wix-apps-for-small-business-websites
Bad URL: www.webcreate.io/the-best-apps-wix-has-to-offer-for-small-business-owners-and-their-websites
If you have knowledge of code — edit your website’s code to ensure there are no unnecessary typos located within your text causing bugs and slow loading times.
On-site/Off-site Link Building
Earning a link on an outside website that holds authority also has amazing SEO value. This gives you as a small the business owner, the chance to comment on industry trends and add your take and spread knowledge to others who are just starting out.
Small business owners should also consider contributing content to local blogs and garnering local news coverage to earn local links.
On-site links are also valuable because you are using keywords and building a great organizational structure. Google is savvy enough to understand that your small business is trying to achieve this and rewards you accordingly with better search rankings.
Quite possibly one of the biggest ways you can help improve traffic to your website from local Google searches is to strictly adhere to the above best practices. Performing all of the optimizations will take some time but will be worth it in the end once you see your ranking soar higher and higher.
Optimizing your small business site is not only free, it will help drive valuable traffic to your site so you’ll never struggle to capture those looking for services like the one your small business offers.