Since the Google Venice update was launched in 2012, and later the Google Pigeon in 2014, the emphasis for businesses to be optimised for local search has never been greater.
Google’s main aim has always been to deliver the best search results for the user, and the introduction of the above algorithm updates developed this further by ensuring not only the most relevant result was returned, but also the most locally relevant to the searcher’s location.
So what are the best practice measures to help you optimise on local search signals?
For a business that operates in numerous regions, the structure of having a page per location is essential for ranking in local search results.
The on-page optimisation for each page will indicate to the search engines the intended locale for which the page should be appearing.
Local identification should be included within the URL, page title and meta description, and these pages should be treated as the hub for regionalised marketing.
The on-page copy should also reflect this, making use of local mentions within the text.
Every location page should include the following as mandatory:
- Company name
- Regional address
- Phone number
- Opening hours
- The above details should also be marked up in shema.org for visibility within the search results to further augment the local intent of the page.
Routes to regional pages should be clearly defined within the site navigation, with the use of drop down menus to indicate regional variation is a clear way. This helps not only the user, but also the search engines understand the localisation intent of the domain.
Local pages should claim their free Google Maps listing, which in turn can be configured as part of a Google My Business account. This can be used to host multiple regional pages under one account.
These can then be embedded within the regional pages on site, providing directions to your local outlets.
Prominent reviews for regional pages should be incorporated into the relevant page on site; i.e. if a previous customer leaves a glowing review via a local Google business page, these should be linked to the page on your domain providing social proof, helping Google to associate reviews from those profiles and give credence to the appropriate regional page.
Any regional pages should be marked in the XML sitemap - this will not help the pages to rank better, but it will enable the search spiders to discover the pages and index them quicker to be found in the search results.
Localised link building will increase the relevancy of your pages within the search results.,For each of your regional pages there should be a local link strategy in place -doing the research locally for businesses that are relative in context and then reaching out to link to your regional page will again add authority to those pages and help outrank competitors.
Again images of regional locations that appear on local pages should be used and tagged with the appropriate alt text to reflect this.
A company blog is great leverage for promoting local pages - writing features that represent the qualities of each locale and linking internally to those pages is good self-promotion.
As well as strengthening the overall domain authority of your site, providing internal links that will be crawled by the spiders will also provide gateways for users to find those pages and convert on site.
Sharing localised posts and regional announcements via your social channels should be encompassed as a strategy, and indeed depending on the size of your business, there could be dedicated social accounts for each regional outlet.
Encouraging shares, likes and retweets is another way of amplifying the local pages of your business to increase traffic and conversions to those pages.
So, why should local SEO be part of your strategy?
Google now gives greater emphasis on localised search results than ever before, and it’s imperative for any business to include a localised strategy within their marketing mix.
Implementing the above strategies will mean your business will be doing the utmost to capitalise on localised intent. And give yourself an advantage over your competitors for localised search results.