Local Business SEO

“Local and personalised search is the future of SEO.”

But what does that really mean in this online climate?

The days of a one-size-fits-all SEO package are long gone; buried under the rubble of numerous animal themed updates from search behemoth Google. Some of those in the SEO industry consider these updates a bane, some a blessing, but all recognise the benefits for the search engine user.

As the internet develops, and search engines evolve to constantly improve the quality of results given with any particular search term, internet marketing also must evolve to incorporate new areas which can be exploited for efficient gain. By exploiting I don’t mean using black-hat methods of SEO, I mean taking advantage of algorithm changes to best effect your site or page. By adapting to these changes, your site has the best chance of maintaining or increasing its ranking.

In these days of search optimisation you need tailored packages to suit your business, your industry, your customers and your marketing strategy. On top of that, you need to invest time and/or money to succeed in SEO. In Kent this is no less of an issue, with high competition against London based businesses with more resources and reach, it’s vital that you input what is needed to make it to the top.

SEO Can’t Be a One-Off Solution

It’s brand visibility on a whole new platform, and to lax is to drop out of view. A business that is invisible to its customers is as good as dead. With that being said, how can you compete in search results pages against multinational corporations?

Localised SEO

One area that is currently very important in terms of SEO is localised search results. Just as you would advertise in local business directories to promote your business to potential customers within a certain tangible radius (your county, local town or city, for example), the same must be done on the internet. You need to let all of the search engines know of your location, contact details and your area of expertise so that users who use the search engine nearby can find your business easily.

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If you are based in Kent, for example, and you are looking for SEO services, then you would type that phrase into Google, and if you are signed into your Google account, or Google is aware of your location, it would then return a list of service providers in your local area.

Targeting Local Customers

Localised SEO is where it’s at for small and medium sized businesses nowadays.

You need to target your local community, just as you do with regards to offline marketing, to attract local customers online. You must develop your online visibility in the geographical area in which your business operates, creating a visible flow of localised customers and citations to build up a local background and customer base that Google can see. This is what helps localised SEO, and what is the beginning of gaining traction in online SERPS.

What’s great about localised search engine optimisation is that not only is it easier to rank for keyword terms, it also garners an improved conversion rate over non-localised SEO. It’s all about trust, accessibility and brand exposure. Generally speaking, people are more likely to purchase from a company near their own location than from a company much further away, and because of that search engines are now developing algorithms to promote these geographically-orientated results. Additionally, if something goes wrong (faulty goods, items not arriving, poor service, etc.) then it is much easier for customers to follow-up with a visit or a quick telephone call.

Search optimisation with regards to a geographically specific area is all about developing your business into a locally recognised and respected entity in a particular physical area.

Being well-known in the local community has an effect online, as often families, friends, colleagues, other businesses and organisations offer the online equivalent of word-of-mouth suggestions in social shares and hyperlinks directed to your site. These recommendations provide not only high conversion rates, but also a brand citation, and, hopefully, an unreciprocated link directly to your site from a local source.

What does this all mean?

Well, it means that the snowball begins to grow. The more people that know of your business, the more chance it will be recommended (providing you are offering a good product or service). The best case scenario being that this will continue indefinitely, while your products or services remain popular.

The problem is getting to that stage; becoming locally recognised in your geographical region; becoming a household name in homes around Kent, or Manchester. For this you need to look at your offline marketing techniques, and to combine on and offline efforts. You need to market your business offline, and you need to give a reason for your customers to find you or cite you online.

For this there are many techniques, though none as common as combined on and offline promotions such as a discount for a social share or Google +1, discounts for signing up to mailing lists, sending out flyers with links to online incentives, and so on.

Local Area Marketing

Many small businesses rely on local demand for products and services to survive; operating on a national scale requires an investment normally out of reach for such businesses, unless your business offers a niche product or service, that is. When developing marketing strategies, small and medium-sized businesses usually target potential customers in the local area; using fliers, local radio, local newspapers and trade shows to promote their products. Local SEO is effectively the same process carried out on the internet. It involves making search engines aware that your business is based in a certain area of the country, so that the search engines can provide this information to users looking for certain products or services who are located in that area.

Local Area Optimisation – On-site Development

Local SEO on-site optimisation also must be addressed. Ensure your name, address, phone number, and email address are visible and consistently formatted internet-wide as you sign up to forums and websites, advertise, comment and share your way into local search results exposure. Amongst many other things, you also need to complete detailed profile pages for local directories and social media; not only your business name and a tag-line, a full overview including a company overview, images and possibly opening times and major products and/or services.

In Conclusion

As we have touched upon, Google is continuously evolving in this area. Now, it will recognise your location and integrate localised search results with national or international results to try to give you (what it thinks is) the most appropriate information. You don’t even need to be signed into your Google account for this to happen. This is why localised SEO is vital nowadays to help your site become known by the public; to give your business the opportunity to succeed on the internet against bigger brands with more resources.

SEOpie can take care of these services on your behalf, by updating local directories, developing web code to let search engines know of your location and operating area, setting up Google My Business, merging social media and Google+ pages to promote localised results, and creating geo-specific content to further improve the optimisation process.

It doesn’t stop there, either! In order to engineer and then maintain high rankings using localised SEO techniques, you must continuously combine on and offline marketing activities and promote collaborative projects with other businesses in order to maintain location-based rankings. Every mention of your brand online makes up part of your business exposure and rankability in search results, and you need to offer as many opportunities of this as possible to succeed.