Today, we’re going to talk about local search engine optimization. You probably heard about local SEO. But what is exactly local search engine optimization?
Let’s say that you have a business with a physical presence, a store in the centre of Nairobi. In this case you will need to apply slightly different principles of search engine optimization that favour local signals in order to literally put your store on the map for local searches.
The advantage of implementing local SEO is visibility in local searches, which would mean more qualified traffic on your site.
Did you know that 99% of the total internet traffic subscriptions are mobile and that 70% of consumers running local searches act on their search within an hour?
So you see that if you have a physical store, you need to be visible for local searches and attract qualified visits.
Now you might not be entirely sure about what a local search is. So let’s clarify this first. A local search is a search for a specific type of business, product or service and a location. It can be a state, city, district, or street.
For example the following are local searches, “Chinese restaurant in Nairobi,” “chocolate store in Westlands,” “florist Kisumu”.
Let’s look at a particular local search. I’ve chosen “Chinese restaurant in Nairobi”. So I’m on Google and you will see that you have your local listings at the top of the page.
Then you have your free, organic or natural results, whatever you want to call them, and somewhere within the page, you also have another set of results that are local results.
I was looking for a specific restaurant in Nairobi and Google understood this and provided a list of stores that it considered best matched my search.
As you can see I can also access quick information about each store in the local results by moving the mouse on each result, which displays additional information about the shop on the right side of the search page.
You can also click directly on the name of the store or company and it will take you directly to the site of the business or you can click on the Google Plus link for that business if the business has one. It will be displayed below the result and in this case, you will see the Google Plus page of that business.
I will go into more detail about this later. But in order to appear in Google Local searches, you will need to register your business with Google Places for Business. It’s free and this service will allow you to appear in local searches depending of course on many other factors as well such as the local optimization level of your website.
OK. Let’s get back to the Point. There are a few things that you need to do in order to optimize your site for local search.
First of all, include your full address and contact details on your home page and on each page of your website. You can do this in the footer, side bar or header.
But make sure to include the full address and be consistent. Keep the same address. Don’t change it or include variations.
Also if you have multiple store locations, add one contact page for each location. In this case, you can have a main contact page but it’s important to differentiate between stores and have one page per location.
So your main contact page can link to the individual contact page of each location.
Next you have to optimize page titles and meta descriptions by adding local information such as the name of the business and the city or street, together with keywords relevant for that specific page.
Use internal links rich in local keywords. You want to let Google know that your business has a physical presence in certain locations. So use internal linking and local keywords for this purpose.
Now let’s talk about off-page optimization for local search. First of all, you need to create a Google Plus page for your business and include the store full address.
Also use Google Plus if it’s relevant to your business because it’s always good to have social signals associated with your site and especially on Google Plus.
Once you’ve done that, don’t forget to claim your vanity URL which is basically the name of your business. This will help with your branding. You can do this here. You click on the link section and edit and here you can type in your vanity URL.
Also in the section you link your Google Plus profile to your website by providing the URL of your website in the field below.
You also need to register your business with Google Places for Business. This will put your company on Google Maps.
You will be asked to choose a confirmation method of your business location and information. So you can choose whatever feels best for you, either a confirmation postcard that will be sent by post and should arrive in a couple of weeks or a phone call to the business telephone number you provided.
You will also want to use rich snippets related to your business because that will give you more visibility in search results. If you need more details about rich snippets or how to add them, please refer to the section on rich snippets of this course.
Another important element of local search engine optimization is citations on the internet. So use trusted local directories to add your local business. Use TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Yellowpages, Niche Directories, or OLX. These are only a few of the available local directories out there. Use anything that makes sense for your business but make sure that the directories you’re using are trusted.
Another important point, be consistent. It’s extremely important to decide on a business name and location and use this exact information everywhere on the internet.
OK. This brings me to the last point. Your site needs to be mobile-friendly for local search. It’s important because a large percentage of local searches are made on mobile and if visitors arrive on your site and cannot view the content or read the text, they get frustrated and a frustrated user will most likely leave your site. So your site should be mobile-friendly.