Author: Ioana Amariutei Popa
Let’s first imagine you’re on vacation. Yes, yes, right now. And you want to eat something good. So you need a restaurant near you. What are you doing? (You’re glad restaurants use local SEO 🙂
- You look in the brochure in your hotel room and find a restaurant to your liking. You search online on your mobile phone for a map to see exactly how long it will take you to get there.
- You remember the recommendation a friend gave you and look up the location online to make sure you understand what he or she explained.
- You search online for a restaurant, depending on what you feel like eating. You choose the one with the best reviews.
Notice anything common? You just did an online search and saw dozens of results in close proximity. One restaurant convinced you the most because it had good reviews. Plus, you took a look at the website, where you found an interesting article about how they cook your favorite dish, using ingredients from local producers. You clicked on the number and immediately made your reservation.
The ace up the sleeve of the business that just won you over is the successful implementation of several local SEO techniques. When you search for something in the area, the search results are dominated either by the google map where locations are marked or by sites optimized for local searches. If the question “How do we make ourselves appear first?“, then you must read this article.
You will discover techniques that help you stay ahead of the competition because in Romania, the number of businesses using local SEO to their advantage is still worryingly small.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is about optimising your online presence to attract customers who are looking for services in the exact area where your business is located and operates. Basically, it’s a perfect strategic approach for businesses such as medical practices and clinics, cleaning companies, restaurants, hotels, barbershops or local service providers – photographers, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, etc.
Local SEO is a component of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and helps your business appear in relevant local searches. You may already intuitively use some of the important local SEO techniques and we congratulate you. Read on to see how you can get the most out of these tactics!
Here are some of the key concepts you’ll find important information about a little below: content, indexed pages, Google My Business, reviews, link building, community engagement.
Why would I do Local SEO and not SEO? I feel like I’m limiting myself
Both SEO techniques and Local SEO help improve your business’ search engine rankings, which in turn leads to sales.
The difference is that using traditional SEO aims to make your site visible nationally, or perhaps even globally, using the most important keywords, while Local SEO techniques are focused on attracting people who are looking for a service or product like yours in the area where you do business.
Therefore, using traditional SEO for your local business would only mean noticeable results with considerable time and budget. In addition, you would have a low conversion ratebecause the pages are optimised for general keywords, not taking into account important issues of local specificity. Here is an example to better understand why the conversion rate would be low (many site hits; but little time spent on site; high bounce rate).
Let’s say you’re from Iasi and you’re looking for a bike mechanic. If among the first search results you find a site that lists the services of a bicycle mechanic in Bucharest, you will obviously leave the page immediately and go to another result. You are unlikely to take your bike to a service almost 400 kilometres away, no matter how good the mechanic is.
So, if you sell locally, then focus on getting in front of audiences that are relevant to you. Consider that your potential customers might also search for more specific phrases like “bike mechanic + city or neighborhood” or, “bike repair + city or neighborhood” or, “good bike mechanic” etc. These are long tail keywords and are a great way for your business to communicate with people who are actively searching for the services or products you offer. You can read here how to set keywords for your business.
By the way! Have you noticed that the search page for a particular keyword looks different if you’re in separate localities? That’s because Google tries to give you the most relevant results possible and takes information about your location from your IP in the case of laptops or desktops, or from your geolocation in the case of mobile phones. In displaying results, the algorithm also takes into account Google My Business listings, keywords used, quality of reviews, number of people who checked in or number of social media shares.
78% of local mobile searches turn into offline sales!
50% of local business searchers end up on location within 24 hours
30% of mobile searches are for address, location
What do you need to do to be on the first page of Google?
Sites optimized for Local SEO appear in two areas of Google’s front page – the area dedicated to organic searches and the area dedicated to Google My Business listings. From this, the two directions of optimization – onsite and offsite, each with specific techniques that I invite you to discover below.
Also on the front page we find businesses that promote themselves through Google Ads. If you’re interested in this topic, here’s a guide on how to quickly reach customers looking for your product.
On-Page Optimizations in Local SEO
Your website is your most powerful online marketing tool, especially since you make the rules. On-Site Optimizations are essential for organic search visibility. That’s why you have two key factors to focus on – content optimization and technical optimization.
Concrete ideas for locally optimized SEO content that puts you ahead of the competition
Website content should focus on the products or services you offer, situated in a local context. That means using keywords that also include geolocation elements, such as the name of the city or neighborhood in which the site is located. These keywords should, where possible, be found in the title, meta descriptions, other image tags and site content.
Each page of your website helps you strengthen your local positioning.
At About us You write, for example, about how the idea for the business came to you while you were walking down a certain street in town or how you invest a portion of your profits and support the local community you are part of.
In the section FAQ Specify where your customers can park or that you’re in the vicinity of city landmarks to make it easier to find. In addition, a slightly more advanced technique is the use of FAQ schemes, which allow you to display the most useful questions and answers directly in the search, following the page link and description. Find more details here.
Use blog for even more relevant and useful locally targeted content. Here you answer in detail the most frequently asked questions your clients have, present case studies, projects or local events you organise or are involved in. The more engaging the content, the greater the potential for distribution. In this way, you can create important referrals to your website.
Don’t assume that the visitor is digging for the information they need on your site. Rather, highlight it in the places where they are used to looking for it.
Business name, address and phone number (known in marketer-speak as NAP– (acronym for Name, Address, Phone) must appear on all pages. Usually this information is placed at the bottom of the site (footer), which is common regardless of the page accessed. In addition, you can add the timetable, landmarks to make it easier to find your location and other contact options – email address, social media.
We recommend using the shema.org markup to list location details in search engines. This means adding extra code to the site that helps Google better understand NAP information. Google also provides a step-by-step tool to guide you through implementing schema.org markup for local businesses. Visit this link and find out!
PRO TIP Take care that NAP information is consistent everywhere your business is present online, especially in Google My Business and social media. Your brand could also be listed on review sites such as Trip Advisor, Booking, Timeout, the Chamber of Commerce website or the business hub you belong to. NAP data consistency makes it easier for potential customers to reach you, no matter which online channel they use. If you have multiple phone numbers or change your location, be sure to keep your information up-to-date.
Complete NAP information should also be found on contact page of the website. It is also important to place Google map and a call to action. Why do you want to be contacted?
In addition, we notice that visitors are used to looking for phone number business contact number and at the top of the website, and if searching from your mobile phone, call directly with a simple tap. Check if your business website has this option!
Mobile phone, the most handy tool for local business search online
Google is known to review the mobile version of the site first. Check here to see how friendly your site is for use on smartphone devices. For local SEO, important are geolocation and click-to-call. The menu should remain on the screen even if the user scrolls. In this way, any information is found easily and intuitively.
Optimize the loading speed of the site because otherwise sales can be affected. If the site loads slowly, then your potential customer backs off and moves on to the next search result. Find out more about what you can do to increase the speed of your website.
3 types of sites that are now interested in publishing articles linking to your business!
Link building strategy brings you authority and online visibility. Not just any links will help you, only relevant, quality ones.
1. Local media
Write an article on a topic of interest, a study your company has done, a useful point of view, and submit it to local online publications and community organizations.
Here’s a concrete example. Let’s say you own a medical clinic. You run a heart disease prophylaxis program for underprivileged people. You collaborate with non-governmental organisations in this field. Post information from your activities on your website and social media. Write a press release presenting the results of the programme and the support you have given to the community, together with some health tips that will really help the population.
An example of unosoft is the Interactive Map of Entrepreneurship in Romania.
2. Partner organisations or companies offering complementary services
Join a networking network and position yourself as an expert in your field. Give presentations or trainings. Find partner organisations and exchange content.
Going back to the previous example, surely the NGOs involved in the heart disease prevention campaign will communicate about the joint project and insert direct links to your business.
3. Local bloggers
Organise an Open Day for the local blogging community or offer samples of your product to content creators who have a relevant audience similar to yours.
Don’t require publishing content on a culinary blog if you offer auto mechanic services, even if that site has a large audience and you think everyone needs services like the ones you offer at some point. Google takes into account the relevance of the content and it’s also good to outline your target audience in as much detail as possible.
PRO TIP: Write consistent and interesting content on your blog or partner sites (guest post). Actively follow local forums and groups relevant to your business and, when you have the opportunity, promote yourself and post useful information in your field.
Offsite Local SEO
Set up or optimize your Google My Business (GMB) account today
Google gives you the leading free, offsite tool for local SEO, so you can stand out in Google searches or on Google Maps. It’s extremely effective because it allows you to list information such as city, full address, phone number, hours, website address.
>>>Don’t forget data consistency – the details on the website should be identical to those in Google My Company (and social media, directories etc).
GMB is not a replacement for the website, but a complementary way of providing information about your business, which strengthens your credibility and online presence. Depending on the specifics of your business, the basic details provided differ.
For example, if you represent a restaurant, naturally your address will be visible. This changes if you offer services that require you to go to the customer. Your address will be hidden, but you can enter the area in which you operate.
You created your GMB account some time ago and haven’t done anything since? Well, take this article as a sign and apply the best practice recommendations below!
- Use the main keywords of your business in your description and posts.
- Post once a week via GMB directly to your local audience. Google tends to favor businesses that interact the most through the tools they offer.
- Update your schedule whenever you need to – e.g. around holidays
- Post relevant photos – businesses that have images in their account inspire more trust and increase the chances of site hits by 35% and the chances of seeing the location on the map by 42%.
- Encourages review writing. You can create a direct link to solicit feedback. Respond to testimonials, whether positive or negative.
- Allows users to send you messages. Use the Google My Business>Customers>Messages>Activate. You can create preset responses, the important thing is to have a short response time.
- If you represent a small or medium-sized ecommerce business, you can set up a product catalog. You can enter the product title, details, price and upload images. You’ll have this option in the product editor in Google My Business. This will help Google better understand your business.
Periodically you will receive emails with statistics about user performance in your Google My Business account.
If you haven’t activated your Google My Business account yet or want to find out more detailed information, you can find a complete guide here! Invest the time, because it’s worth it!
What does your business gain from an active social media presence?
Have you ever wondered on Facebook if a friend of yours knows an empathetic paediatrician or a creative content writer, or maybe a Chinese restaurant? You get the idea. Whether you ask on your page or in a local group, the answers influence your decision.
Returning to the business owner’s perspective, you realize that social media can send qualified referral traffic to your site. So, while not necessarily related to SEO, a social media presence helps a lot. Many people after finding a business on Google, will also search for it on Facebook or Instagram. Your business is tagged, and all your contact details are easily accessible on the business page. Gather testimonials and increase brand trust.
In social media you can create a local community based on your company’s values, made up of people with similar interests who support each other. An example (at national level) is the unosoft Marketing Hackers Romania group that I invite you to join, in case we haven’t already met there.
Tailor content to each social media channel and provide variety. Inform, educate, entertain, sell. Don’t just focus on commercial offers!Use the hashtag with the city name, check in.
Choose the networks best suited to your business: Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Tripadvisor, Youtube, LinkedIn (ideal for B2B). These are just a few of the most used tools. By the way, if you’re still unsure which direction to take, find articles on social media marketing and online promotion here. Inspiration!
Local SEO for businesses with branches in multiple cities
The main change when it comes to local SEO for businesses with multiple locations concerns site structure. It’s not advisable to make separate sites for each branch, as this can be confusing for users. In addition, ranking a site is also cumbersome and time and budget consuming; imagine then what this would mean for multiple sites simultaneously on similar keywords.
The best solution is to create a site with separate pages for each of the locations. The important thing is that the pages have a distinct URL, optimised with the name of the location, for example numesite.ro/oraș.
Each branch page should have at least the following information: address, phone number, opening hours, Google map, a short, unique and original description with a focus on relevant keywords, location-specific commercial offers, links to social media. Avoid using the same generic description on all branch pages! Don’t forget about optimising titles, meta descriptions and using schema.org markup for each situation.
In terms of content, you can also add testimonials, photo galleries, clients, news, your own case studies.
In Google My Business, the corresponding NAP information and the facade image of each location should be taken.
Local SEO checklist
Finally, write down the first concrete actions you take to optimize your online presence so that your business is easily found in local searches. We’ve prepared a checklist for you!
✓ Check that I have the same NAP information (name, address, phone number) on all pages where my business is listed (onsite and offsite)
✓ I proofread the text on the website and optimize if necessary
✓ Check and improve title, meta description and add other img tags, using keywords
✓ I add photos and a new post to my Google My Business account
✓ Thinking of a strategy for getting new testimonials
✓ Make an editorial plan for the blog – 4 article ideas for a month
✓ I make a list of media contacts relevant to my niche
✓ Do market research to determine which companies have complementary products or services that I can partner with
✓ Make a list of 3 ideas of events I could organise in the next year
Apply one or more local SEO techniques from now on and knock out your competition!