You’d be forgiven for thinking COVID-19 would have driven consumers to larger businesses who have the digital expertise to continue operating during these uncertain times. And while this is true to an extent, the appetite to engage with local businesses is higher than ever.
Whether you’re a retailer or a restaurant, being local is a huge advantage. The convenience of being just around the corner automatically places you head and shoulders above the competition. But first, you need to let your customers know how close you are. And that means upping your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) game to improve your search ranking and make it easier for customers to find your website.
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Google introduced ‘local SEO’ in 2014. Since then, it’s been a key factor in determining search results – both for Google and for other search engines. Use this checklist to help you optimise your website for local search and make your business more discoverable for the customers on your doorstep.
Sign up for Google My Business
When you use Google Maps and see nearby businesses categorised by business type, all that information comes from Google My Business that lets you tell Google where your business is and what is does.
Once you’ve signed up, Google will start taking your location into account when feeding search results to users – which could attract more local customers.
Don’t forget Bing Places
Bing is the second most popular search engine in Europe, so you should optimise your site for it too. Bing Places is and provides a similar function: making your business visible for free on both Bing Places and the search results page. Sign up and tag your business type to let Bing know you’re nearby and open for business.
Manage your reviews
Reviews send powerful signals to search engines about the quality of your service. If you’re confident your customers like what you do, encourage them give you a five-star rating. This will improve your SEO and help push you higher up the search results.
Remember, online reviews are huge factors in determining if a customer will choose your business. Negative feedback can be very damaging, so respond quickly to show you’re trying hard to address their complaints.
Upload high quality photos
If a customer is faced with a dozen local businesses to choose from, the attractiveness of the business’ photos might just be the clincher. If you don’t upload anything, Google will default to a generic Google Street View picture – which might not show your business the way you want.
Invest in some proper photography and upload them to Google and Bing to show your business in its best possible light.
Create web content based on local events
Let’s say a potential customer Googles ‘restaurants near me’. If your website is full of references to the location of the customer, Google is more likely to pick up on your location and push them in your direction.
A great way to do this is to create a basic blogging section on your site and start creating content about your local area. But be sure to make it relevant to what you do. For example, if you’re a sports retailer, try writing about local sports events. The more engaging and timelier your content, the more search engines will favour your website.
Ensure all your contact information is up to date
This may seem obvious but is key for SEO and user experience.
Having outdated or inconsistent addresses and phone numbers on your site sends mixed signals to customers and search engines – discouraging both from engaging with your website.
Whether it be your website pages, your Google My Business information or your social media, make sure all your channels are correct.
And there it is! It might sound simple but by following this checklist, you will begin to climb up the SEO rankings and become well known in your local community.
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