Local Search - Topic 6: 13 Steps for Local Search

Written by Margaret Shakibaie

13 Steps to Optimise Your Local Search

Today I am going to walk you through the actual steps required to optimise your local search.


1. Define your NAP

If you have been watching the other videos in this series you will know that this is very important!   Write down the name, address and phone number of your business in the format you want it to be across the internet. Then use that as a guide every time you enter your NAP online.

2. Claim / Create your GMB listing

If your business already has a GMB (Google My Business) listing make sure it is up-to-date and verified. If your business does not have a GMB listing, create one and get that verified.

3. Claim / Create directory listing

If your business has been around for a while, it is likely that your business will be listed in online directories. Your details will have been found by ‘scraping tools’ and added to directories. It is very important that you find and claim these citations and make sure that they have up-to-date details such as NAP, description, trading hours, images etc.

4. Develop a review strategy

It is very important that you have positive reviews on GMB and on online directories. Don’t leave it to chance. Develop a strategy to get reviews onto these sites. You could ring up one customer a week and ask them if they are satisfied with your service, and if they are, ask them to post a review online.

5. Develop a citation strategy

Even though your business may already have citations online, it is important to keep growing the number of these on relevant directories. This not only leads to a larger total number of citations but it reinforces to search engines that your business is active.

Your strategy may involve adding one more citations online each week or adding a certain number each month. It is important that it happens organically and consistently.

6. Use schema markup on the website

Look at your website and see what schema markup is on your website and what schema markup would be good to add to your website. There are lots of different schema markups that you can put on your website. The purpose of schema markup is to tell the search engine more about the content that you have on your website. There is schema markup that can define you as a local business, as a shop, even the colour of the products you sell! This assists the search engine to easily identify different types of information on your website which results in the search engine ranking your business website higher in the search results.

7. Show your location on your website

If you want to come up in a local search, make sure you have your address on your website.

  • Embed Google Maps – It is a great idea to actually embed Google Maps on your website showing your location. The map should be clickable.

8. Develop an external link strategy

You should not limit the external links to your business to only Google My Business and local directories. Backlinks on other websites may include an industry specific website – you may want to ask to post some articles on the website. You could advertise on a local event site e.g. ‘What’s on in Brisbane’.

9. Test site speed

There is a strong correlation between your site speed, your bounce rate and ultimately the number of conversions you make from ‘leads’ to customers. You can test your site speed through your Google Webmaster account.

This should be done regularly as changes can take place. The size of images, the CSS, the way the site has been technically designed and the quality of the hosting are all factors that can impact the speed of the site.

10. Ensure the Website is Mobile Friendly

Google Webmaster Tools can also test to see if your site is mobile friendly. You cannot assume that because your website looks good on your own mobile that it is mobile friendly. When you do the test, you may find problems that you were not aware of, such as the click buttons being too close together. While you may not see it as a problem, the search engines will!

This is particularly important because Google and Bing have two different search engines each. One for desktop based searches and the other for mobile searches. If your site is not mobile friendly your business will not appear in the search results for mobile devices. We know that people are more likely to search for local businesses when "out and about" so it is vital for local businesses to be mobile friendly!

11. Create Content for Voice Search

Another step you can take if you have ticked off all the previous steps, is to start working on creating content that is suitable for voice search. As you may know, most mobiles now have the option of voice search. To take advantage of this, restructure your content to include questions that people may ask in a voice search.

One way to do this is to have a page on your website called ‘FAQ’ and using the schema markup for questions and answers, ask and answer questions on this page. This makes it a lot easier for the voice search to recognise that your content is answering a question.

12.Develop AMP Pages

Again, once you have completed the other steps, you could consider developing AMPs.

  • Accelerated Mobile Pages – This is something Google has been recently promoting. These are pages for mobiles that are stripped of styling, images etc so the page will load very fast. Once you have created the AMP you will have no choice whether the user sees the AMP or the full page. Google will decide the best option for the user. This is particularly useful for pages linked to from Facebook or other social media sites.

13. Blog, Blog and Blog

Regular blogging is still very important. It is an excellent way to put more content on your website. Every blog should be between 200 and 400 words with research showing the longer the blog the better the ranking, provided the algorithm sees all the words as relevant. Make sure each page is optimised to the specific topic and that the topic is current and relevant to the work of the business.

These are the steps you can take to improve your ranking in local search. It may take you some time to get through them all but remember it is an organic process. It does not have to happen overnight, in fact, it is actually better if it happens over a period of time!

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