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December 1, 2019 at 1:20 pm #81381Participant@emmanuel
It is quite interesting that some businesses have got a nice looking website but unfortunately are still far behind their competitors in the online space. Surprisingly over 56% of businesses online do not have a Google My Business account. Now if you are not getting the expected visibility of your business on local search, together you and I are going to solve that problem right now. This will help you get competitive advantage and dominate your niche. Even if you are just starting, I will try as much as possible to simplify the process and help you gain visibility on local searches.
What is Local SEO?
This is the process of optimizing your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. Let us use an example of a plumbing business in Lagos. If you type the keyword: “Plumber in Lagos” as can be seen in the image below, you will notice that the top of the list is made up of a box of related local business listings on the Google map. These are called the Google Snack Pack. Under these you will then see the typical organic search results. So it is very important that you get your position on this snack pack because according to researches, they generate over 33% of the clicks on the search page. Then the typical organic search results generate over 40% of the clicks on the search page. Hence the bottom line will be to rank in any of those two and that is where local SEO comes in. Since most people prefer using Google to search, we will be using it for this demonstration.
Now let us assume I have opened a fantastic plumbing services shop in Lagos where of course most other plumbing businesses are already. I have also established an online presence where other competitors, as shown above, have occupied the search result pages and no one knows about my exceptional services. Now here are the steps to take for Local SEO:
Steps To Implementing Local SEO
Step 1: Ensure Your Website Is Optimized for Mobile
According to studies, 61% of mobile users are likely to contact a local business with a mobile friendly site. To test the mobile friendliness of your website, go to search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly and put in your website URL as shown below and click Run. Google will tell you whether your website is mobile friendly (from the perspective of Google) or not.
Step 2: Claim And Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
This is the most important part of local SEO and it is very much easy to do. Just go to http://www.google.com/business as shown. Sign into your Google account and first enter your business name, complete business address and phone number. After that the next step will be to pin the Google map marker on that exact address location of your business. Then click Next when you are done.
About your business offerings, Google recommends specificity instead of multiple categories of offerings. For example you can say “my business is plumbing services” instead of saying “my business has plumbing services, pipe fittings …” Then the next step requires you to enter your business phone number and website address. After then, you will need to verify the business ownership by phone or email. These days verification is mostly done on a live video chat with one of the Google operators. Or you might request for a postcard delivered to your business address. Just follow the instructions from Google and your business will be listed in no time.
Step 3: Keyword Research
You might want to rank for some obvious terms like “plumber in Lekki”, “plumber near me”, etc. On dictating such keywords, Google displays the information in Google My Business listing by comparing the location of the researcher and the nearest address of related listings in Google My Business pool. In the order of proximity and relevance, these will show on the Google snack pack box or Google Map listings for the researcher to select from. Now let us talk about the keyword research for the organic search result listings.
Firstly, you need to brainstorm on the anticipated keywords that your local business prospects might want to use to locate your services. For instance “plumber in Lagos”, “plumbing service in Lagos”, and other related queries that researchers might use. To know the exact keywords popularly used, just type in “plumber in…” and view various Google suggestions shown in the list. As shown above, these will give you an insight on popular typed keywords to rank for. Being in the services niche you can look up sites like http://www.craigslist.org and search for your service keyword like “plumber”. Then you will see a list of cool keyword ideas to use.
But in my opinion, the absolute best suggestion will be for you to try to find out the keywords your main competitors are ranking for. This is most effective because that is basically telling you which keywords you can rank for. Online tools like the website http://www.ahrefs.com can be super effective in doing that. With a small token, say $7, you can try it out for a week and get the exact things you really need.
When you register, all you need to do is to put in the domain name of your main competitor in the field provided and you will see the exact keywords that rank his website high. Another useful online tool is the extension Keywords Everywhere (www.keywordseverywhere.com ). You can download this free extension for Chrome or Firefox and use it to know the high ranking keywords.
Step 4: On-Page SEO
There are on-page SEO best practices you need to know in order to rank high in searches. For instance it is advantageous to apply the following SEO techniques on your website:
• Use a keyword in your H1 tag
• Let the keyword reflect in your title tag
• Possibly let the keyword reflect in your URL
• Use short URLs
But there are few other specific things you should do for your local SEO. This optimization will vary depending on your business having single or multiple locations. But for this demonstration, we will be assuming a single business location. The first thing you need to do is to optimize your homepage to your primary location. Ensure that your business name, address and phone numbers that are shown on the home page matches what you earlier submitted on Google My Business. Also add testimonials or reviews of your business on your website and use schema markup to optimize further.
Schema Markup is a set of code you add to your website to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in the search engine results. You can use Google Structured Data Markup helper to eliminate a whole mess of complicating coding. Go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/markup-helper as seen in the image above, choose Local Businesses and put in your website URL in the field as shown and click the Start Tagging button. When your site opens, highlight any area or keywords you want to tag and select the appropriate representation.
For example, you can click on the logo and select Image. You can highlight where your business name appear on the homepage and select Name and highlight the particular phone number you added to Google My Business and select Telephone. Do the same with your primary address and choose each corresponding part of the address, like the Street Name, City, Region/State, and Country. Ensure that all the information as shown in the Data List Items at the right hand of the image above is in line with their corresponding fields. When you are done, click the button Create HTML then a piece of code will come up which you will add to your website HTML source code. With this you are instructing the search engines on how to easily locate and represent you.
Step 5: Build Local Citations
Citations are online mentions of your business. There are two main types of citations – structured and unstructured. Structured citations are those that include your business name, address and phone number. And this is usually presented in a visually structured manner. This can be seen in business directories, yellow pages, and social media page profiles. Unstructured citations are mentions of your business that do not follow a structure. This might be in blog posts, vendor pages, or other websites. According to researches, building local citations is very important to local ranking factors because it contributes up to 13% to your Google snack pack result and 8% to your organic search results.
Having a correct and consistent citation that is in consonant with what Google have about your business can tremendously boost your search engine ranking result; whereas incorrect and inconsistent citations can confuse both Google and your customers and adversely affect your ranking. To ensure you have a correct and consistent citation of your website, you need to perform a citation audit. You can use sites like http://www.brightlocal.com or if your business is in United States, UK or Canada, using online tools like Moz Locals (www.moz.com ) can help you align your citations and manually correct any inconsistent citation that your business might have. This will make it easy for your business to be found on search engines.
Step 6: Build Backlinks
According to survey taken in 2017, backlinks contribute up to 29% of your website top ranking in local organic results. And it contributes 17% to your business listing in the snack pack. For you to achieve this, let us look at two tactics that can be employed:
• Create and Promote A Useful Resource: In this regard promoting local resource that is related to your niche on your website will be ideal. For our plumbing business, you can promote a local renowned retail shop that deals on quality pipes and fittings. Or you can also promote local guides to your service niche or any other content that will appeal to your audience, like the best practices for a functional plumbing system or things like that.
• Do Guest Blogging: Writing a resourceful article on a popular blog or forum and make reference to your business and website will not only get you the needed backlinks but will also show that you are a professional in the service you claim to render. People want to hire a professional they can trust and know will deliver a good job. And by such articles, you position yourself as a professional they can count on for their plumbing needs. More so, they will be willing to pay your price. Hence you can look for a popular local niche-related blog that accepts guest posts or a niche-related topic in a popular forum and make a notable contribution and drop a backlink to your website.
Step 7: Ongoing Activities
• Keep Your Google My Business Account Active: This you can do by ensuring that you have all information and citations well documented so as to always edit whenever necessary. Maybe you move to a new location or change business name or any of your citations. Also constantly respond to customer’s negative or positive comments and reviews as found on your Google My Business page.
• Lookout for Inaccurate Edits to Your Google My Business:
Anyone can make a suggestion on your business listing and sometimes Google will accept such suggestions without notice to you or the business owner. Scammers have sometimes used this feature to swap phone numbers with legit business owners and defraud their unwary customers.
• Use Google Posts to Keep Your Customers Informed and Engaged:
Google Posts is a micro blogging platform within Google My Business. And all its updates are visible in the knowledge panel of your Google My Business listing. And these posts are accessible by researchers by the click of a mouse. It provides more opportunity to attract more attention to your listings, help you rank higher and ultimately boost conversions. You can create a Google Post by logging into your Google My Business and select Posts as shown below. You can select an image, put some write ups and even add a call to action button that customers can click. All these will help you stay active on Google and help you rank.
All these suggestions on Local SEO can only be helpful and appreciated if you try to put them into practice on your business. Try them out and report any difficulty you might have.
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