Do you own a local business, or a local branch of a larger franchise? If you want to attract more local clients or customers, your online marketing has to go beyond Google Ads and social media posts. You need a solid, local search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is a hyper-focused form of normal SEO, that serves to help small businesses reach their local audience more effectively, online. It also serves to help consumers find a relevant, local business to suit their needs more easily. Working on local SEO ultimately ensures local consumers can find you online, and involves everything from improving your Google My Business (GMB) listing, to increasing awareness on directory websites and curating locally-focused content.
Now that we know what local SEO is, why is it so powerful for small businesses? We’ll let the 2021 search stats do the talking:
- 88% of consumers who search for a local business either call or visit the business within 24 hours
- Search phrases such as “where to buy” and “near me” have grown by around 200% in the last two years
- 70% of smartphone users have called a business directly via the “call” button on Google search results
- 97% of consumers educate themselves about a local company online first
So now that we know that local searchers have high purchase intent, are you keen to start your local SEO strategy? Below is your local SEO guide:
Write fresh content relevant to your local audience
One of the main tenets of SEO is to publish fresh, keyword optimised content on your website on a regular basis in order for search engines to pick up your content and serve it to searchers. To be found online by a hyper-local audience, your keywords need to include your location and topics as relevant as possible to your audience.
Read more: Essential SEO content writing tips for small businesses
Ensure your address can be found on all your online channels
Without your physical address, local searchers won’t know that you’re a local business. From your website, to your Google My Business listing and your social media platforms, ensure you’ve added your address, consistently on all your online properties. This is not only a sign to search engines that you’re a local business that is best served to a local audience, but also lets searchers find you more easily.
Use or optimise your Google My Business listing
Your Google My Business (GMB) listing is a goldmine for local searchers in need of your products or services. Without it, you’re less likely to stand out in the local search results, and less likely to nab that all important local traffic. If you haven’t claimed your GMB listing yet, the time is now! If you have claimed your listing but the information is sparse, add as much information to it about your business as possible to grab a local searcher’s attention.
Optimise your website’s background information
Similarly to your keywords, all the background information that search engines use to find your content needs to be optimised for local searches too. This includes your title tags, your meta description, your URLs and your alt text. Add your local keywords to these snippets of information and your content is far more likely to be served to local searchers.
Luckily, you can optimise your domain name from the get-go to set your website up for local success. Register a domain extension, like .co.za, .capetown, .joburg, .durban and even .africa, and both Google and searchers will immediately know you serve the local community.
Make use of review websites
Listing your details on the likes of Hello Peter, Google and Yellow Pages further increase your brand awareness, as well as the likelihood of being found by local searchers. These websites not only house your vital business information, but also offer a place for existing clients or customers to write reviews about your business and encourage new customers to try you out.
Make sure your website is mobile friendly
Mobile is king in South Africa. In 2020, smartphone adoption had risen to just above 90%. As a large number of searchers are using their mobile phones, it makes sense to optimise your website for a mobile-first approach. If your website both loads quickly and is easy to navigate via mobile, it is far more likely to be noticed by Google and served to your local audience.
How to optimise your website for local search:
- Write fresh local content
- Add your address to all your online platforms
- Make use of Google My Business
- Optimise your website’s background information
- Make use of review websites
- Take a mobile-first approach
From on site content to off site reviews, getting your local SEO in order is hugely beneficial to your small, local business. If you’re unsure where your website currently stands in terms of local SEO or just SEO in general, there are SEO tools available to get you on the right track.