Google estimates that up to 73% of online activity involves local searches - we do it more often than we probably realise. If you fancy a burrito or want to go and catch the latest film, a quick Google search of ‘Mexican restaurants’ or ‘cinemas’, will show you the best options around. Google often shows nearby results automatically, even when the location isn’t specified by the user.
With SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) already a competitive arena, local SEO is an effective way of ranking higher in search engine results.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO refers to the way website owners can optimise their content to appear for users in a specific location - for example, in Nottingham. Using keywords from your niche, combined with relevant information related to your business location you can hope to appeal to local searchers.
The way people search is changing and, in response, so is Google’s algorithm. Voice search is on the rise, and we are starting to search in a more conversational style than we used to. We’re now using long-tail keywords (search terms of 5 or more words) due to the ever-increasing amount of content we have to rummage through in order to find what we’re looking for. So, optimising to your locations is a great way of making your business stand out in a mass of search results.
The basics of local SEO
If you’re new to the SEO game, there are several simple things you can do to help your business’s website rank higher for its locations, for example:
Add individual local branch webpages
Optimise with sector relevant keywords
What are branch pages?
Consider your website as an outfit. Your homepage and product/service pages are the essential elements - the t-shirt and pair of trousers, if you will. Like a nice handbag or a pair of sunglasses, branch pages are not obligatory but a useful accessory, enabling more people to see your brand. Branch pages provide a general overview of your business, per location, acting as a helpful starting point for users conducting a local search.
How can branch location pages benefit businesses?
This is a great way for businesses to get around the dilemma of ranking for multiple locations. So, if your main base is in Nottingham but your secondary premises is in Bristol, you can still appear in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for the additional locations by dedicating a page to each of them and targeting the relevant keywords.
Branch pages, location pages and doorway pages
Online, local pages can sometimes be misused to create ‘doorway pages’ designed with the sole intention of ranking highly for certain keywords. They often do this by duplicating the same content throughout. The real aim of branch pages is to reach customers in a variety of the areas you’re in, in order to provide a service which is genuinely useful to them, so it’s important to make sure that the content of each page is original and engaging.
How to write content for branch pages
Make it personal - where possible, it’s important to personalise the content to each location by, for example, including any relevant information about the local area. You must also consider who your typical customer is in each area - you will need to write differently for somebody who’s buying a flat in a densely-populated area like London compared to somebody buying a cottage in the Yorkshire Dales.
Keep it fresh - as you’re probably aware, Google is against any sort of duplication across different pages, so it’s important that each page contains unique content. They essentially serve as a mini homepage, providing an overview of your business and all of its services, and including links to relevant subpages.
Include prominent CTAs - people who are searching using location specific terms are usually ready to buy, so encourage them into doing so by clearly signposting where they can contact you, make an appointment, get a free quote, etc.
SEO is a long-term inbound marketing strategy that takes time and effort before improvements in rankings start to show and it becomes profitable. You’ll need a combination of main site SEO, local branch pages and lots of other techniques in order to see your website start ranking higher. By optimising locally, it’s a great starting point to enhance your business’ online presence and helping your customers to find what they need.