The landscape of local SEO has been rapidly changing. Much of this is due to one of Google’s changes called the “Pigeon” update, designed to give users a more comprehensive search experience when looking for local businesses, which has consequently transformed SEO tactics. The bad news is, it’s no longer possible to hack your way to the top of search engines – if you want high rankings, your site needs to provide genuine value to its users. The good news is we’re giving you four invaluable tips for getting your business noticed:
- Claim your Google My Business page.
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to set up your Google My Business page, the instructions for which can be found here.
Just make sure that once you’ve set it up, you include the following:
- A long, unique description that’s formatted correctly and includes links.
- Correct categories for your business.
- Upload as many photos as possible, including a high-resolution profile image and cover photo.
- A local phone number to your listing.
- Your business address that’s consistent with that on your website and local directories (see point 2).
- Add your opening times/days (if relevant).
- Get real reviews from customers (we’ll get to this a bit later).
- Consistency is key: NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
Google is cracking down on local businesses whose information is inconsistent or difficult to verify, and rewarding local businesses with clear, concise, and easily-accessible information.
Ensure that you have your full NAP on every page of your website. It’s very important that you use the exact same details/format when you refer to your address on other websites (i.e. local citations). The screenshot below shows how a local business in London has placed their NAP in the footer of their website, marking it up with Schema.org data markup.
It’s a good idea to use Schema.org markup on your NAP to give the search engines all they need to display your company information correctly.
Here’s the code that you can adapt to your own website.
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/LocalBusiness"> <p itemprop="name">COMPANY NAME</p> <p itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress"> <p itemprop="streetAddress">ADDRESS LINE 1</p> <p itemprop="addressLocality">CITY</p>, <p itemprop="addressRegion">REGION</p> <p itemprop="postalCode">POSTCODE/ZIP</p. <p itemprop="telephone">PHONE NUMBER</p> <meta itemprop="latitude" content="LATITUDE" /> <meta itemprop="longitude" content="LONGITUDE" /> </div>
It’s more simple than it looks –all you need to do is change the text in capitals to your own details.
According to a recent survey, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation and local reviews have a direct correlation to local search rankings. So it’s absolutely essential to invest your time and effort to rake in the positive reviews. But the single most important variable determining inclusion and ranking are Google reviews specifically, according to Digital Marketing Works (DMW). Here are some ways of boosting your review intake:
- Encourage reviews: create a page on your website that gives instructions to your customers on exactly how they can review your business (i.e. yourwebsite.com/review-us/). You won’t believe how effective this is when it comes to getting in touch with customers, especially the non-technical ones. Visit this site for more information.
- Social media: make sure your business has a Facebook page – this is one of your most important resources – partly because of how often people use social media, but also because the reviews will show up on Google, so there’s no hiding. There are loads of other social media platforms, like Hootsuite and Tiny Torch that allow you to monitor and get alerts any time your brand is mentioned. It’s a good idea to respond to your reviews, especially the bad ones, to show that your customer service is in tip-top shape.
- Don’t tunnel in on Google: while Google reviews is your priority, you’ll also want to focus on getting reviews on your Yelp page (they’re used by Apple maps), along with other local directories like LinkedIn and Yellow Pages.
4. Use local structured data markup
Structured data markup (SDM) — also known as “schema markup”— can be added to your website’s code to give search engines with more information about your business, like the products you sell, reviews you’ve collected, services you offer etc. If you use SDM appropriately, it can be an excellent way of elevating your ranking above your competitors.
Check out Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool which can you use to check whether your markup is properly implemented. Or if coding makes you recoil in horror, you could also try Google’s Data Highlighter to mark up content with your mouse (ALERT: your website will need to be set up with Google Search Console for this to work).