When your customers do a Google search for your type of business, you’d like to appear at the top of the rankings, right?



That’s where ‘local SEO’ comes in. Local. SEO is any activity that helps your business improve its Google ranking for local searches (e.g., “Smithville plumber”).

Google wants to connect local people with local businesses, so its algorithm includes proximity criteria. That’s why any business that serves a local market should use local SEO.

So how can you use local SEO to stand out from your rivals? By doing these 10 things:

1 Create a Google My Business account

Google My Business is a free service that lets your business set up an official Google listing. When you create your profile, make sure you provide key details about your business, such as your logo, your operating hours, your contact details, a brief overview of your products or services, and some great photos. Once you’ve set up your account, your business will become visible in local search results, in Google’s search panel and on Google Maps.

Don’t forget to man whatever phone number and email address you include in your Google My Business listing. If you don’t respond to customer queries in a timely fashion, those customers will move on to a rival business. In other words, you won’t be missing out on business because your local SEO isn’t working but because your customer service is keeping up.

2 Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

You want to be sure people find you wherever they are when they search, and more than 80 per cent of Australians use their phones for Google Maps. Google’s proximity factor automatically adjusts the search results when people are within your geographic location. So making your website mobile-friendly will improve your local SEO.

At the same time, you should make sure your website is user-friendly, because Google ranks websites on user experience. Three ways to do that are to:

• Maximise your website’s page-loading speed

• Use a simple layout and design

• Choose easy-to-read fonts

3 Encourage positive reviews

Customer reviews will appear on your Google My Business dashboard and help boost your Google ranking. People trust other people’s opinions of you more than they trust what you say about yourself. Good reviews will assure potential customers your business is trustworthy.

The best way to get your loyal customers to leave a review is to ask. Respond to the reviews, even the lousy ones. Why? Because it’s the polite thing to do and everyone is looking. More than 80 per cent of potential customers read online reviews while they’re assessing a business.

4 Gear your business for voice search

“Hey Siri, where can I get the best pizza?” is quite different from typing “Pizza near me”, yet both are likely to occur. So make sure your website content contains the keywords that local customers would not only type but also say in a voice search.

5 Create localised content

This can include blogs about local news, posts highlighting local causes and events that target local customers. As a general rule, the more local content you create, the more prominence Google will give you in local searches.

6 Include local keywords

Use Google’s keyword planner to create a list of keywords that are relevant to your business and local market. Next, make sure you use your keywords regularly: on your website, in your blogs and in your social media posts. Do it in a natural way, so your content is readable and relevant. Google will then match the keywords in people’s search queries with the keywords in your content.

7 Get listed in local online business directories

Presumably, you have a website, name, address and phone number. Hopefully, you also have a company description and some great photos of your store, products and daily operations ‒ if not, you can easily create those things. You can then take all that information and upload it to local online business directories like Bing, Yelp, MapQuest, HubSpot and more. Appearing in directories will boost your local SEO and increase your online visibility.

8 Share location-specific information

Mention local landmarks or tourist attractions when you talk about your local business. For example, a Melbourne business might mention its proximity to the Yarra; a Brisbane business located in South Bank might make reference to The Wheel of Brisbane. Why would you do this? Because those regularly searched places are also keywords, and now those keywords appear in your content.

9 Encourage backlinks

A ‘backlink’ is a link from another website to your website. Backlinks is one of the criteria Google uses to rank websites: as a general rule, the more backlinks a website receives and the more reputable the source of those backlinks, the more favourably Google looks on that website. So you should try to get other websites to link to yours. This process can take a lot of hard work and dedication, but it can produce impressive results. One tactic you can use to get backlinks is to publish enticing content (such as blogs, infographics and white papers) on your website and then share the links with other parties in the hope they’ll publish the links on their website. Another tactic is to write guest columns for other websites in return for a backlink.

10 Download two free local SEO tools

Finally, there are two free tools you can use to improve your local SEO. Local SEO Checklist has a list of 30 steps your business can take to boost its local SEO. Rich Results Test is a Google tool that will scan your website and give you tips about how to make it more Google-friendly.

Why local SEO is so important

If your business is targeted at people within a specific region, local SEO will help you stand out in local online searches. That, in turn, should generate more visits to your website and shopfront. By following the 10 tips above, you’ll improve. your chances of outperforming your rivals.



Nick Bendel is the director of Hunter & Scribe, a copywriting / content marketing agency that writes blogs, social media posts, ebooks and other content for franchise businesses.