Google has recently updated its local search algorithm. Goal ? Provide online users with more relevant results on businesses close to home. This is an opportunity for us to bounce on the news by presenting the challenges of local SEO. The trend is very clear. Consumers are increasingly looking for convenience stores, and these are highlighted in the search results on the web. In this context, it becomes crucial to be well positioned locally. What means should you invest in it? What actions you need to take and rank well locally? I will try to have the answer for you!

In this article, I propose to see together the following points:

  • What is local SEO and why it is important?
  • In which case to focus your efforts on local SEO
  • How to rank well locally.

Other articles will follow on this topic, which is gaining more and more importance on the web. This one is in a way an introduction.

What is local SEO and why it matters

Local SEO is a subset of a general search engine optimization. It consists of being well positioned in the local search results. This is essential for many businesses because more and more Google searches have a local intent: a DIY store near me, the best hotel for my next holidays in Europe, opening hours for the town hall, a sports center close to my job, etc.

Here are some numbers that will help you understand the magnitude of the phenomenon. According to a recent Google study:

Sushi Calgary

In addition to the results for sushi Calgary, the map on the top of the image is important: it indicates the location of your business on Google Maps, which then makes it easier for consumers to visit their point of sale.

In which case focus your efforts on local SEO

When a new trend appears on the web, it is necessary to take a step back. Admittedly, local SEO is important for many companies. However, it is not mandatory or even relevant. You can imagine that if you sell pizzas to take out, it’s not the same problem as if you have an e-commerce site!

And then, good positioning in the results of local research requires most of the time to have conducted some actions in web marketing (editorial strategy, social networks …) beforehand. Yes, that means that local SEO is not always the priority for a company!

Is it for you? This is what we will try to determine by examining the following criteria.

The competition in your geographical area

In the heart of Calgary City Centre or in the suburbs: the competition will give you some trouble to obtain results in local search. In the suburbs, it’s double jeopardy: in addition to suffering the SEO efforts of Calgarian competitors, consumers themselves are more easily in the hyper center signs. Being well referenced locally in this geographical area, therefore, requires a lot of effort. If you’ve done little web marketing until today, it might be better to start there!
In a city of average size (Red Deer, Lethbridge, etc): the SEO competition is less strong and there is still a certain amount of local research from users. So you can tackle local SEO fast enough, this will be a great weapon to recruit new customers.
In the middle of the Banff: you will probably have little competition, but also very little research. A good local SEO is not necessarily mandatory.
Also note that Google gives an immediate advantage to the signs located in commercial districts and business districts, notice to interested parties. And obviously, speaking of the competition, it will be more or less difficult to be well referenced locally depending on the efforts of your competitors!

Here are the points you can assign (to cumulate):

Business district or commercial district: +1
Very important city: 0
Average city: +1
Low population: 0
Suburb: – 1
Competitors well referenced: -1
Competitors badly referenced: +1

The age of your establishment

Google favors long-established brands in local search results. If you opened 3 years ago, or if you put yourself on the web last year, getting a good local SEO will be more difficult. In other words: it may be better to prepare a little ground before concentrating your efforts on this specific aspect.

Teaching and website existing for over 3 years: +1
Sign and website existing for less than 3 years: -1

Your web marketing affinity

The terms editorial strategy, SEO, social networks do they tell you something? If you’ve been working on these axes for a long time, getting good local SEO will be easier. If, on the contrary, you are not very active on the web and only benefit from a showcase site, the results in terms of local SEO will take longer to obtain …

Companies leading a global web marketing strategy for at least 6 months: +1
Companies not very active on the web: -1

The means (in the broad sense!) you have

Do you have someone in charge of web marketing at your place?

Do you know a little about computers?

Do you have your hands on your tools?

And what budget do you have for your online communication?

Most actions to be well referenced locally are free, but they require a little time … So if you have a small budget, allocate a share to conduct specific actions ‘local SEO’ is not necessarily very wise. This may penalize other web marketing actions that you lead elsewhere. Not very autonomous AND small budget, it is even worse because you will need to appeal to an agency … and therefore to slash even more actions web marketing conducted. But they are essential to strengthen your local SEO.

You have a budget higher than 300 $ / month: +1
You have a budget lower than 300 $ / month: -1
You have a web marketer at home: +2
You are not very autonomous: -2

To Finish

Now calculate your score. If it is positive, you have a priori interest to seriously consider the local SEO. If it is negative, other strategies may be more advantageous to recruit new customers (global SEO, online advertising, web content …).

Obviously, this is only an indication, and it would be crazy to think that one can decide its strategy by following the results of a simple questionnaire. Study your competitors, estimate missed opportunities, evaluate the cost and difficulty of alternative strategies. And do not hesitate to get advice from professionals!

How to get citations locally?

You have made your decision. Very well. Now you want to know how to get your business back on the first Google page with its address and phone number? In SEO (local as global), Google uses so-called ranking factors in its algorithm to know how it should position you. So just respond to these SEO factors to be well ranked! Here are some recommendations that will help you influence your local SEO presence.

3 specific recipes

Be present in the local listings

To ensure that your business really exists, locate it locally and provide reliable information to users. Google looks at your listings in the main directories (Yellow Pages, local directories, Poste, etc.). You, therefore, have every interest in including your information and ensuring that it is complete and consistent from one list to another. A lack of reliability may otherwise penalize you.

Have consumer reviews

Google pays close attention to consumer reviews. This is proof that your company has a business and provides quality service. And since Google wants to put the best addresses, the more positive your comments are, the more your local SEO will be boosted. However, do not panic if there are some negative reviews. It’s inevitable and it can even serve you to build your credibility. In this case, answer calmly, show that it concerns you and seek how to fix things.

Create a business profile on Google + / Google My Business

Google My Business is a service offered by Google. It is primarily intended for companies that want to gain visibility locally. We present it in detail in this article. This is a cornerstone of your local SEO. Having a business listing on Google My Business will allow you to appear on Google Maps, more easily collect consumer reviews, share news about your business, and more… But good!

A general recipe

Work on global SEO and social media strategy

It has already been said: your global SEO efforts and social media are important because they reinforce your local SEO. Yes, let’s not forget the basics, the job of Google is to trace the most interesting sites for users. Your site must, therefore, contain valuable content for your users. Then identify the topics that might interest your users and create content on them. Then relay them on social media, and strive to unite a community around your brand. If Google will reward you, it will first be your customers themselves who will thank you.

By following these tips, with a little work and method, you will quickly get better local SEO!