Getting Started with Local SEO: 5 Quick, Free Fixes
How do you find the best cafe in your area, or the nearest place to hire a bicycle when you’re on holiday?
Chances are you turn first to your trusty life partner, your smartphone, to plug in a search. When you do, as if by magic, you’re presented with options within walking distance.
Later, as you sip your cappuccino upon your geared stallion, you’re reminded that your ol’ pal Google very rarely steers you wrong. But it also dawns on you…
Can people find my business this easily?!
If the above sounds familiar, then you’re part of the 50% of consumers on mobile, or 34% of desktop/tablet users who conduct local searches then visit that business in the same day. If you’re a business owner and wondered how that translates to sales, then you’ll be pleased to know that 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within 24 hours!
With numbers like that, investing in local SEO provides a clear return on effort and return on investment for most businesses. So, if you are new to local SEO and keen to make some simple but meaningful improvements that will help you stand out, here are 5 local SEO must haves that too many business owners miss. Do them well and you should see a flurry of new feet through both your digital and physical door.
#1. Make Sure Your Contact Details (NAP) ARE 100% CORRECT
One of the most common mistakes in local SEO is failing to update your contact information, including name, address and phone number (NAP).
The first time you set-up your Google My Business page, you would’ve had to confirm your address details via a postcard from Google. But if you’ve moved from that initial location, changed your phone number, or altered your trading hours since, you need update your details with Google.
While many readers may be rolling their eyes at the concept of publishing the correct contact details, consider this. Search Engine Land recently surveyed an audience of local SEO consultants and agencies at the InsideLocal Webinar. 41% of those surveyed stated that NAP inconsistency was the most common cause of ranking issues.
This is an easy and FREE element to check and change, and it could easily save you from unnecessarily lost customers.
#2. Have Plenty of Real Reviews for Social Proof
One of the reasons why reviews are so potent for local SEO is because you, the business owner, have no control over them. Google wants to deliver the most relevant, unbiased results to a user’s search query, so it’s fair to say that they’re more impressed by factors that you can’t manipulate.
For this reason, we strongly recommend putting a review generation plan in action. We won’t sugarcoat this – it’s hard work, and if you want to increase your reviews it will take more than delivering great service and great products.
Vendasta claim that 92% of consumers now read online reviews, and more than 88% of online shoppers factor in reviews in a purchasing decision. That’s some super high numbers, but it makes sense right? You’re not really able to experience a product or service online in the same way you can offline, so you need to rely on other matters to cement your decision.
A local consumer review survey from BrightLocal shows that reviews are playing a statistically larger role every year.
How to Inspire Reviews
That’s right, according to the same BrightLocal survey, 70% of consumers will leave a review of a business when asked. Ecommerce stores, and digital products like software that require contact details at the point of purchase can set-up automated systems that send out a review request after a given period of time after purchase.
This is a fantastic way to inspire reviews, and anyone using a CRM system, or automated mailing platform like MailChimp should look into setting this up asap.
In a simpler fashion, make leaving a review easy to do. If you want them to review you on Google, then send them the review link in your email communication. The easier you make it for people to provide feedback, the more feedback you’ll receive.
The data backs this up stating 87% of people share good experiences with others (like friends and family), but only 30% share a positive experience on social media. The same applies to negative reviews, with 95% and 45% respectively.
SmartInsights published an amazing in-depth review into mobile marketing and it states that 48% of mobile searches start on search engines. So starting with Google My Business endeavours may be a strong start for your business.
If you’re a bricks and mortar business that doesn’t offer an online service, like cafes and restaurants, then you could include a custom message on receipts or menus, a message on a table stand, or by having your waitstaff inform customers about leaving a review when they’re settling their bill.
#3. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly (Responsive Design)
With the majority of searches now made on mobile, it’s critical that your website is optimised to suit the device users are using. It’s even more critical with local SEO as people have their mobiles on them ALL THE TIME and as you read earlier, 50% of searches result in a visit to that business on the same day.
Ergo, if people can load your site and find the info they want quickly, you stand a really good chance of seeing them later that day and possibly making a sale.
If your website doesn’t translate to mobile, then users will get fed up, bounce off your site, and venture over to your competitors. Google has confirmed this in regards to pagespeed specifically, stating 53% of people will abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
If you’re not sure that your website design is responsive, head over to Google’s mobile-friendly test and run your site through it.
#4. Keep Essential Information Current
In a similar vein to your NAP, there’s other essential information that you need to ensure are updating to manage the expectations of your potential customers. Here are the main ones you to need to check:
There is nothing more frustrating that traveling somewhere that’s supposed to be open, only to find that it’s closed. If you’ve changed or altered your trading hours, you need to update your listings on social media and Google so that customers don’t experience this.
If you’re a business that is affected by public holiday trading hours, then be sure to set special hours on your Google My Business listing, and update your social channels to reflect this.
Multiple Locations, or Changed Location Conditions
If you have multiple locations, ensure that you’ve listed all locations with their specific NAPs. If you’ve closed a location or moved a location then you need to ensure potential customers aren’t visiting the wrong place, or a business that no longer exists.
Update it on the Fly
Google My Business’ September update allows business owners to update details directly inside search (assuming you’re logged in to Google), allowing you to alter essential business information easily and quickly.
#5. Add Lots of Photos and Use Google Posts
Adding photos to your Local SEO listings, like Google My Business, or Bing Places for Business, is a fantastic way to encourage more user interaction with your business.
If you’re a cafe or restaurant, load these listings with gorgeous images of your food and beverages, if you’re a consumer product store then put up some fantastic product images that showcase your offering.
If you’re a service-based business, upload images of your team, and on-the-job shots that give potential customers some insight into what to expect if they were to engage you for work.
Google My Business also recently added Google Posts, which allows you to freely place promotional material, or deliver fresh content in a carousel format just below the NAP section of your listing. So if you’ve got a new special, an upcoming sale, or want to make the most of seasonal promotions then be sure to set Google Posts up and update them regularly.
When you consider the search engine results page (SERP) real estate you get from Google My Business it’s an amazing addition for businesses of all size to get some ‘free’ promotion.
Driving Local SEO
The above are the most common mistakes we experience during audits of our new or potential clients local SEO presence. So to summarise:
- Make sure your contact details are correct
- Encourage customers to leave reviews
- Make sure your site is mobile friendly
- Update your essential information, like trading hours and locations
- Add more images to your local listings and make use of Google Posts
Did you find this article helpful? We’d love you to share it on your favourite social platform so others can benefit too.
Director & Co-Founder
Co-founder of Reef Digital Agency, a Sydney-based digital marketing and advertising agency. We help clients identify and attract valuable visitors to their websites using search engines, social networks and other forms of online advertising.