SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation. Local SEO is a process that involves optimising your online presence so that you can attract more business form residents who search for relevant words and phrases online.

For example, if you search “best psychologist in Sydney” you will see a map of local psychologists listings in the area you searched for, in our example Sydney. They call these results a “snack pack”.

You will find your organic search results under that.

For businesses that provide products and services to the local community, it’s very important to rank on both the local map search result and the organic search results.

This is because the businesses that gain the snack pack spot usually get about 35% of the clicks from search results and the organic search results (which are the results under the snack pack) generate about 45% of clicks.

That’s why local SEO is so important for local businesses. The methods mentioned here may also help ranking on organic search as well as Google Maps. 

1- Claim Your Google My Business Account

The first and easiest step to optimise your business for local SEO is to claim your Google My Business account. Google My Business is how you manage and control your business information on Google Maps.

You can read a step by step guide on how to create your Google My Business here: What is Google My Business – Step-by-Step Guide on GMB Creation and how to optimise it here: “5 Super Simple Strategies To Optimise Your Google My Business & Improve Your Local SEO”.

If you have multiple locations, you will need to create a GMB account for each one with their own unique address and phone number.

2- List Your Business On Different Business Directories (Structured Citations)

In the past listing your business in directories was a great way to build citation and links to your website. But, as people and directories abused this more, Google decided not to rank according to directory links anymore. 

But when it comes to local SEO, local directories still help. Locals still turn to directories to lookup a business and their reviews. It is proven that most people pay attention to reviews as they do a friends recommendation.

You may be able to find a lot of business directories when searching in Google. But, as mentioned before, not all of them are good and some may even hurt your ranking.

Your rule of thumb should be to only list your business information in directories that are relevant to your business and that have an engaged audience by answering questions and review. This will not only help with your SEO, it will also get you more traffic if you engage with the audience.

Some useful directories are Trip Advisor, Yelp, Yellow Pages, True Local, One Flare, Word Of Mouth, and Psychology Today. You can also do a local search to find out what directories people go to to look up businesses in your niche.

To do this, you can type in your business (plumbers for example) and the location (in Rosebery) in Google. If it’s an engaging website and it’s relevant to your niche, then go for it.

3- Get Mentioned Online (Unstructured Citations)

According to Moz citations are the top factor of ranking a website on Google Maps and organic search. So, it’s an important step that you don’t want to skip.

Adding your business to directories is one of the ways to build citations and links depending on where you listed your business. But, there is another way to add citations of your business that’s called unstructured citations.

This means unlike directories where your information is structured, this type of citation is unstructured and is just the mention of your website. We want to try to make as many as these citations into links as much as possible. You can do this by asking the website or person who mentioned you to also add a link to your page.

This can be through verdure mentions, blog posts on your website or other websites. You can find people to mention you by different means. One of them is similar to how you can find useful and active directories that are still ranking well on Google.

Type in your business (hairdressers for example) and the location (in Coogee) in Google. You will probably see a few websites that say “top 10 hairdressers in Coogee” or “The Best Hairdressers in the Eastern Suburbs”. You can contact them to see if they’re willing to add you to the list or write something about you.

As before, if you find an engaging website and it’s relevant to your niche, go for it.

Important: Stay consistent as much as possible across all websites and platforms.

The key to success is consistency. To find out if your Name, Address and Phone number is consistent throughout all platforms go to Moz website (only works in US, UK or Canada at the time of writing this post) or SEMrush (supports Aussies as well) where you can do a citation audit.

Type in the name of your business and refer to the report. Check all the tabs and fix any recommendation they give you. Try to make all information consistent through all platforms.

To get your name out there, you can add citations to different websites. To find out where you can add citations go to WhiteSpark to search by category or WhiteSpark to search by City. This website works if you’re in US, Canada, UK or Australia. 

4- Do Keyword Research

Write down a list of keywords and phrases you want to rank for.

For example, the name of your business, the category of your business and the area you serve. Write down as many as you can think of. Then do some research to get more ideas.

One of the ways you can do this is to type in your business + your area and see what Google auto-fill. For example, when you type in restaurants in Mascot Google will suggest more words.

Add the relevant keywords to your list.

Another great way to do keyword research is to see what your competitors are ranking for. You can do this by using keyword research websites like UberSuggest which is free and other paid websites like SEMrush (This is an affiliate link. This means if you purchase this product after clicking on this link, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you).

For Local SEO we will try to add as many localized keywords as possible and try to rank for each one. To do this we will write relevant content about the keyword on the business websites blog and other websites (guest posts).

5- Make Sure Your Website Is Responsive

It is no secret that nowadays most people search on their phones rather than on a desktop. This is why Google has been experimenting with how to make surfing the web a more enjoyable experience for mobile users.

Because of this, in March 2018 Google announced they will be rolling out mobile-first indexing.

According too Google “Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.

And on the first of July Google announced that mobile-first indexing will be the default for all new web domains from now on.

This means that new websites registered will be crawled by Google’s smartphone Googlebot and will index your website pages according to its mobile-friendly content and it’s structured data. Google goes on to say “Additionally, Google will show the mobile version of pages in Search results and Google cached pages.”

So, mobile-friendly websites are essential if you want to rank on Google. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if your website is mobile-friendly or not.

If you need help with building a mobile responsive website or redesigning your current website, you can get in touch with us.

6- On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is an important part of local SEO. There are a series of things you can do on your website that can improve your ranking.

Content Improvement

If you have a WordPress website, the best way to go about this is to download an SEO plugin.

One of the best SEO plugins is Yoast SEO which has a free and a premium version. You don’t  need to upgrade to paid and can use the free version to improve your on-page SEO by following the instructions given. Yoast SEO has an easy to follow step by step tutorial which you can follow easily.

Some content improvements you can do are to add your keywords in your H1 and title tags, meta tag and meta description and URL slug. Using short URLs will also improve your on-page SEO.

Google ranks based on readability as much as keywords count. So use your keywords sparingly. By overusing your keywords, Google may think you’re trying to trick the algorithm and will penalise you for it.

Optimise Your Footer

By optimising your footer we want to try to help Googlebots figure out that our business is local. That’s why you want to add your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) to the footer.

You can also add the hours of operation to your website’s footer as well as your social media accounts. Make sure your NAP spelling is exactly the same as what you added on your Google My Business.

Add Schema Mark-Ups

Schema Mark-ups are codes you add on your website. Schema mark-ups improve the way search engines read and respond to your page in search results.

Writing code is very tricky and if you’re not a techy person you may mess things up. You can save yourself a lot of time and energy by using Google’s Data Mark Up Helper to do this.

Select “local Business” and add your URL at the bottom. Click on the elements you want to tag and add the relevant tags. If you have more than one phone number, tag the one that you added in your Google My Business Account.

After adding the tags, click on “Create HTML”. Copy the HTML and add it to your website.

If you have multiple location in different cities and countries then it’s best to optimise local landing pages instead of optimising your homepage. Repeat all the steps mentioned for the landing page of each individual location and add location specific keywords to the landing page.

Embed A Google Map On Your Website

Google has a lot of crawlers checking your website and analysing your data. Embedding your exact address on your website will tell these crawlers you are local. This will give your website a higher chance to be recommended when someone searches a relevant keyword or phrase, for example, Coffee Shops in the Eastern Suburbs, Sydney.

To optimise for local SEO, or even search SEO, make sure the address you typed in your Google My Business account is spelled exactly the same as Google Maps.

First open Google Maps, type in your address, click on share, click on embed a map, copy HTML and add it to your website.

If you want to read more about on-page SEO you can visit Moz’s On-Page Ranking Factors.

You may have already made some backlinks by doing all those citations in different sites. The difference between a citation and link building is that citations don’t have to link to your website and only mentioning your business is considered a citation.  Link-building is adding a hyperlink that points to your website.

You can have internal links that link from one page of your website to another. For example, if I link to my About Page in this blog, it will be considered internal linking.

We have already spoken about external links before. External links are hyperlinks in domains other than your own, that point to a page of your website. Writing guest blog posts and linking them back to your website is a form of external back-linking.

You can usually find local websites that are looking for guest posts easily. You can find them by searching for “your location” and guest posts. For example, “Sydney guest posts” or “Sydney Write for me” or “Sydney Hairdresser Write for us” “Sydney chiropractor guest post”.

Some sources offer backlink services or sell backlink packages. You’ll need to be careful though because if unreputable and spammy websites point to you, you may be penalized because of the association and your rank might even drop lower.

Last Thoughts

Keep in mind that there are a lot of components to SEO and the tips I mentioned are just a few of the components to get you started on the right path.

Getting a high SEO ranking on google and getting on the first page takes a lot more expertise and time which can’t really be written in one blog post.

Also, SEO is a long term on-going strategy. On average, it takes 3 months for Google to pickup on the changes you’ve made and start ranking your site.

After ranking, you will have to maintain your ranking as Google always changes its algorithms and competitors are always working to get your spot. In future posts, I will be speaking more about SEO and other marketing tricks to get more customers through the door.

At Sydneysider Web Design we offer local SEO packages to help you rank at different stages of your business. You can check-out what we can offer by visiting our SEO page.

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