London SEO Agency Breakdown: What is Local SEO?
Local search engine optimization is a division of SEO that focuses on the optimization of a web property or page for localized searches (i.e. city, state, county, etc).
By utilising the optimisation strategies in this guide you can improve the chances your website will show up for search phrases used by your target market when they seek out information on Google regarding the types of products or services you offer.
Why is Local SEO Important for London Based Businesses?
Now more than ever local SEO is a vital ingredient in your marketing recipe. Those businesses that fail to implement a thought out and expertly implemented localized optimization plan will quickly find themselves at a significant competitive disadvantage.
In fact, research by AdWeek has demonstrated that over 81% of shoppers begin their buying journey with an online search. This is true even if they eventually come into a physical store location to make a purchase.
Regardless of whether you sell online or off, if you’re business isn’t optimized, visible and readily accessible to prospective customers when and where they demand it (i.e. on Google), you’re missing out on up to 81% of ALL potential sales.
Not only that, 100% of those “potential” sales are now going directly to your COMPETITORS, providing them with capital that will no doubt be used as ammunition against you in the market.
But that’s not all, Let’s Look at Some More Numbers
- Over 45% of all searches on Google are “Local” (Hubspot)
- 58% of individuals conduct localized searches on a daily basis
- 89% of consumers make local searches on their smartphone at least once weekly
- 72% of those that make a localized search will VISIT a store within 5 miles of that search
What Can You Do About it?
Now you’re asking the right question!
Google themselves has confirmed that they track, analyze and weigh over 200 “ranking signals” applied against a layer of algorithms in order to determine the “best” pages and in what order they should display them for any given search phrase at any given time.
As it relates to “local”, they also apply a further GEO proximity algorithm.
If that all sounds a bit complicated, that’s because it is. Add to that Google applies hundreds of “mico” algorithm adjustments and a few core algorithm update each year (Yikes).
But don’t worry.
This guide will break down the core principles and strategies that can be employed by yourself or by our experienced and results driven local SEO company. As an award-winning SEO Agency in London, Peal Lemon can help you quickly and easily map a plan to dominate local search.
Google My Business (GMB) Optimization
Google My Business has quickly risen to the pinnacle of local search optimization strategies. Once properly set up and optimized monthly, this free listing can bring your London based business fresh leads, web visitors and phone calls on the daily.
For the sake of argument, we’ll presume that you already have claimed a GMB. If not, please see Google’s guide HERE.
SEO Agency London: Recommended Optimization Steps
A. Profile Information
On your Google My Business dashboard, find your listing and click on “Info”. Next, select the section of your listing that you want to fill out or update with new information.
First up is to make sure your basic NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) information is 100% accurate and consistent across all of your digital assets (social media, citations, website, etc.). This is a basic, yet vital step. Inconsistent or inaccurate information can dramatically hurt your optimization efforts.
B. GMB Photos
Data from none other than Google themselves revealed that those businesses with photos earned 35% more “clicks” to their website than those without. These photo-rich profiles also received 42% more requests for driving directions to those locations in Google Maps (i.e. customers wanted to know how to get to the business, indicating a visit in the near future).
To get the most out of your photos, use:
- JPG or PNGs
- Keep them at a minimum, 720 pixels by 720 pixels
Types of Photos
Cover Photo: This photo is of the utmost importance given that it is displayed front and central on your listing.
Profile Photo: This photo is the image that appears whenever you review responses or upload new photos or videos.
Other Photos Worth Considering
Remember, a photo is worth a thousand words…so when selecting your photos, consider what each says about your brand to your prospective and current customers.
A Few Photo Ideas to Get You Started:
- Use photos that highlight your product and/or services
- Both interior and exterior photos of your business
- Team or employee photos (with permission)
- Happy customers (with permission)
- GMB Videos
Videos are a great way to make your profile stand out among a sea of competitors in your category of business.
Videos must be:
- 30 seconds or shorter
- 100 MB or smaller
- 720p resolution or higher
Finding compliant ways to encourage your customers to leave reviews not only will set your business apart as one that delivers on promises and provides excellent service, but it will also help your GMB rank better locally.
Be sure to respond to each positive review with a thoughtful “thank you”.
- Local Citations
Local citations for your business can provide both your website and GMB with local relevancy and authority, thus improving rankings for desired search terms.
Local citations include any mention of your business on the internet. It may include any combination of your company name, address, phone number, and/or website URL.
While backlinks as part of your citation are indeed important, they are not an absolute necessity and even those citations that do not include a link to your GMB or website provide SEO value.
2. Optimize Your Website
So you’ve got your GMB set up and dialled in. What’s next?
Your website. The online storefront representing your business 24/7/365 without ever missing a beat. When done right, your website can be your best salesperson, always up to the challenge and providing consistent results day in and day out.
- Internal Link Structure
Why is your link structure important? Oh let us count the ways…
- Improves visitor usability
- Makes information readily and easily accessible to customers
- Contributes to effective information architecture and siloing of topics
- Allows you to optimally distribute link juice, relevancy and authority among important pages
- Optimize Meta Titles & Descriptions
The meta description is a short snippet of content up to 160 characters in length. This “description” helps inform both users and search engines alike as to what your page is about. The meta description is an ideal place to write a short snippet that is enticing, engaging and accurately describes the content on the page while also including your local and other targeted keywords.
Likewise, the meta title is a short snippet of between 50-60 characters. Similar to the meta description, this title also helps inform both visitors and search engines what your page is about. A well-crafted title can improve click-through rates as well as ranking.
- Optimize Content for Local Search
If backlinks are king (don’t worry, we have a whole section on those below), content is queen. Websites don’t rank, but pages do. And each and every page of content you publish on your site represents an opportunity to rank for and pull in highly targeted traffic to your site.
Key Ranking Factors for your Content Include:
- Use of keywords in H tags
- Incorporation of semantically relevant keyword variations
- Use of topically and categorically relevant keywords, sections and information
- Use of location-specific identifiers such as city, zip code, landmarks and more.
- Creating content that answers questions or solves one or more problems
- Curating content that is relevant, engaging, valuable and authoritative
- Adding Location Pages to Your Site
Remember, Google ranks “pages”, not sites. If your local business provides services or products to more than one city, or if you have more than one physical location in the UK, creating individual city-specific pages for those products and services can bring you laser targeted traffic.
When creating local service pages consider the following tips:
- Use as little duplicate content as possible (even though you’ll be covering much of the same information on products and services).
- Include geographically relevant anchor points and keywords to improve proximity scoring
- Consider including a local section “about” the city or relevant attractions or other services and products that you are not in direct competition with
- Consider embedding or linking to a Google Map for each location
- Earn a Local Audience in London and Other Cities
In addition to city-specific service pages, consider adding content to your site about the city or area you operate in. Honing your focus on a specific subset of markets can help you earn relevant traffic, brand awareness in your market and ultimately more sales.
- Local News
- Local Attractions
- Important issues
- Educational content
- And more…
For example, if you are promoting a local security company, and break-ins have increased since last year, consider writing a news piece about the issue and what local residents can do to keep their family safe.
- Mobile Friendly is a MUST
In recent years mobile search has quickly outpaced that on desktop. Research shows that more users are making localized searches while on their smartphones or tablets. How many? Nine out of ten internet users make local searches on mobile devices.
This is why Google has made a push to include mobile optimization and page load speed as key ranking factors in 2019 and beyond.
Modern-day consumers expect their mobile experiences on your site to be fast, fluid, error-free and intuitive. Research has shown that websites taking 3 seconds or more to load will lose 40% of their visitors due to drop off.
Another survey revealed that 29% of mobile users will immediately switch to another website it if does not quickly address their needs or make the information they were looking for readily available.
But it’s not just “super slow” sites that take a hit. According to research published by the Aberdeen Group, every ONE second of load time results in:
- Up to an 11% drop in page views
- A 7% loss in overall conversions
- 16% drop in customer satisfaction rates
- SEO Agency London: the Inside Scoop on Backlinks (for both your GMB and Website)
If your GMB + Website is the Ferrari of SEO, then high-quality backlinks are the high octane fuel that propels that Ferrari to the top of Google’s index, bringing you laser-targeted web traffic that drives conversions, sales, revenue and growth.
But not all links are created alike.
Think of backlinks like a popularity contest on Google. The more you have the better. Each link counts as a “vote” for that specific webpage for a specific keyword or keyword search phrase.
Sounds easy right? Not so fast…
The number of links is important, but it also matters where those links come from. Using our analogy of a popularity contest, those links that come from sites that are considered “popular”, authoritative, valuable, resourceful, and relevant will hold the most weight.
In this same way, “bad” links from sites that are spammy, less valuable, or unpopular can effectively do the opposite, causing your reputation on Google to do down and actually hurting your rankings, or worse, causing one of many dreaded Google penalties.
High-Quality Links Should Be:
- Relevant to your niche (or geographic area)
- Earned, not spammed
- Dripped at a rate mimicking a natural organic growth over time
- Use mostly branded or naked URLs as anchors (i.e. don’t spam keyword anchors)
Ways to Attract High-Quality Backlinks
- Analyze the Competition and Provide a Better Option
If you find your competitors link to a high-quality site that you would like a link from, consider creating a piece of content or webpage that is “better” than the one that site currently links to and offer them the opportunity to “swap” out the link for yours (which ideally should provide them more or their visitors with more value).
- Broken Links
Analyze sites you would like a backlink from and see if they have any broken links that you could offer to fix and link to your web pages.
- Create High-Quality Multi-Media Content
No doubt about it, high-quality content on its own can attract backlinks naturally and organically over time.
Ideas that attract the most links organically include:
- In-depth guides
- In-depth “hot to”problem-solving pieces
- Lists (i.e. Top 100)
- Data-rich pages that cite sources backing up claims
- Consider Becoming a Guest Editor or Publisher
Most websites online are starving for high-quality content that addresses the needs of their audience. By establishing relationships with these sites, you may be able to earn a guest editor or guest posting role (one-off or recurring) whereby you can submit content for publication on their sites (linking back to yours of course).
- Outsource to a Reputable SEO Agency
If you’re like most business owners out there, you likely don’t have the time (or expertise) to effectively craft a holistic SEO strategy that encompasses both on and off page analysis and implementation.
Local SEO, your Ticket to MORE Sales
With Google and other search engines moving towards improved user experience and customized search results, especially as it relates to localized search, local SEO in 2019 and beyond is an absolute must.
With over 80% of all buying decisions (both online and off) starting with a search engine query, you simply can’t afford to neglect this critical marketing channel.
And if you’re on the search for an SEO agency in London, consider reaching out to our team for a discovery call to learn more about how we can help. Our award-winning team has a track record of helping London and other UK based businesses just like yours dominate local search and earn more business organically.