When you’re looking for an answer to a question or looking for a business, the chances are one of the first places you will turn to is a search engine. Google is the most popular search engine with 5.4 billion searches every single day. With around 400 million active websites globally, you need to make an effort if you want to get found. How do you get found locally on Google? In this Local SEO beginners guide, we will explain.
What is Local SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimisation”. This is the process of creating a website that appears near the top of the search engine results page when people are looking for something. The local part is relevant to businesses that serve customers within a specific locality. For example, if you want someone to find your restaurant online in a particular town, you need to optimise your website and list your business on Google (GMB) so that people can find you.
To the left, you can see GMB results for burger restaurants in Eastbourne. These show on a map to show their proximity and their review rating is displayed. This demonstrated the importance of creating your GMB listing.
Local SEO is important because it makes your website more visible to people who are looking for your products or services online locally. Your website is like your digital storefront, telling people what you have to offer. If no one is visiting it, it’s redundant.
The importance of SEO varies from industry to industry. For example, some industries rely more on SEO than others when it comes to ranking and traffic numbers. So, how do you rank a new website or one with very little traffic on Google?
What are the Important Ranking Factors for Google?
When it comes to determining where a website ranks, search engines take many points into consideration. These include:
- How many backlinks the site has?
- What is the keyword density of a page or post?
- Is the content readable by both humans and machines?
- Has Google indexed this website yet – Have you submitted a sitemap?
- Does it rank higher in Google’s search engine results page (SERPS) than other websites
- Is the site mobile friendly?
- Has the website been updated recently with fresh content?
- How fast does the website load?
These are just a few of the many factors that go into ranking well on Google. Begin by establishing what your keywords are. These are the words people would type into the search engine to find a business like yours. If you’re a burger restaurant in Brighton, people may be searching ‘best burger bar Brighton’.
If you have a new business website, the first step in local SEO would be to create a Google My Business (GMB) listing. Bing and other search engines also have their own alternatives you can use. Look at other website directories that could help people find your business, such as yell. There may also be industry-specific websites you can list your business on.
The next step would be to establish a social media presence. People are increasingly asking others for recommendations on Facebook and Twitter. Own your presence there, and people can tag you. Ensure you have a link to your website on all social media channels.
Paid advertising such as Google ads may be another way to get some traffic to your website. Google ads often offer advertising credit for new businesses to help get them started.
To the right you can see the search results on Google for accountants in Bexhill. Adverts are displayed at the top of the results before any organic results. For new websites this can help to drive traffic, get new customers and allow Google to see how your website is received by visitors.
How to Optimise Your Website
If you’re just starting an online business, then it’s essential that you do your research and prepare for the future of SEO. Do your keyword research to understand what people are typing when they search for businesses similar to yours. You can use tools like the Google Keyword Planner or third-party websites such as Neil Patel.
You may think it’s best to go for the highest searched keywords. When you are starting out, avoid this because the competition is just too great. Instead, focus on multiple lower search volume keywords and longtail keywords. A longtail keyword is a longer search term; instead of using the keyword social media manager, try social media managers in Eastbourne.
Once you know what your keywords are, you can begin focusing on them in the content on your website. Each page should be optimised for one main keyword. You can use variants of that keyword within the page. If your search term is Hotels in Hastings, you can also add variants such as Hastings hotel, best hotel in Hastings, 4-star hotels Hastings, etc.
To optimise each page, you should do the following:
- Make sure keywords are included in the webpage’s title tags, H1, H2, H3, H4
- Create easy to read content that will attract readers
- Use headings throughout the pages, posts or articles
- Include citations or links within the text – these tell Google that this site is authoritative
- Use alt tags on images
- Make sure that there are no broken links, pages or navigation bars
- Include keywords in the URL of your page content – and keep it short
- Consider adding video to pages
- Ensure pages have a meta description that includes the keyword
A blog is a great way to boost your website rankings by allowing you to create multiple longtail keyword pieces of content that are informative and useful to your business. Your content should be engaging, informative and useful. This way, people spend time reading it, are likely to share it and may link to it from their website. All of these factors tell Google that your page is useful.
Google is a business; they want to ensure that the page they are sending traffic to is useful. If someone lands on your page and then leaves without doing anything quickly, Google records this as a bounce. The higher your bounce rate, the more irrelevant Google will deem the content to be. It doesn’t want to send people somewhere irrelevant and will therefore stop ranking that page for that keyword or phrase.
Google likes websites with lots of in-depth content on them as it is likely to be more helpful. Creating pages for each of your products or services, faq’s and company details certainly helps to bulk your website out. Try breaking your services down to create individual pages. If you’re an accountant in Bexhill who offers services to clients in the surrounding areas of Eastbourne, Hastings, Battle etc., then you could create a page for each area.
To the left, you can see the organic results for accountants in Bexhill. These were displayed underneath paid ads and then GMB listings. Google has shown the keywords I typed in Bold in the meta descriptions for these web pages.
We mentioned backlinks above. A backlink is a link from one website to another. It is like a vote for your content and helps other websites find you too. You can encourage people to share the page on social media or write about it in their blog; both of these are great ways to get more backlinks without doing anything yourself.
Google gives websites a domain authority (DA). The higher the DA of a referring site to yours, the more importance Google places on the link. This means if websites with a high DA link to your content, it should help to boost your SEO results.
How Long Does it Take to Rank a Website on Google?
This is a tricky question to answer as it depends on many things. Generally, the more quality content you have, the easier it will be. By updating your website regularly, search engines will come back to crawl it.
Ensure you submitted a site map to Google to speed up the process. You can do this through Google search console.
SEO won’t create overnight results; you’re playing the long game and building up trust and authority over time.
So, to recap, begin with keyword research and planning, create your content around these keywords. Ensure the pages are optimised for the keywords by using them in the headings, through the page and in the image alt tags. Ensure you have listed your business on Google My Business, set up Google analytics and search console to see how people are using your website and get suggestions of things to improve. Submit your XML sitemap to Google, so they index your website.
Utilise social media channels and a blog to create useful content that is valuable, important and engaging to your audience. If the content is particularly useful, others will naturally link to from their websites, helping you further.
These steps are for websites that want to rank their websites locally. For some businesses, this strategy won’t be necessary. A GMB listing and a strong social media presence will be enough to gain local business. For businesses like this, reviews will be instrumental in climbing up the rank of GMB listings.
If you feel confused by all of this information, don’t panic. Begin with the keywords and start from there. If you need some assistance with your website, content and social media, you can reach out to us, and we can go through some options of how we can help.