Beat Your Competitors with These Local SEO Tips

20 February 2017

Beat Your Competitors with These Local SEO Tips

One of the quirks of the internet is that, although its very nature breaks down global barriers, it is also hugely important for local businesses looking to connect with local customers. Basically the internet has, to a large extent, taken over from adverts in shop windows and is even ousting the likes of advertising in local papers.

This being the case it pays, literally, to understand the key points of local SEO. Here are three key points you need to know:

1 – The basics still matter

While SEO in general has moved on enormously since Google was founded way back in 1998, the absolute fundamentals are actually much the same as they always have been. Google needs to know who you are and what you do before it can make an informed decision on where to put you in its search results and human readers need the same information so that can decide whether or not it’s worth clicking on your link.

With this in mind, make sure you make effective use of title and meta tags. In the case of local SEO, both Google and human searchers need to know where you are so use structured data mark-up (schema mark-up). Google is so keen on getting websites to add SDM that it provides an easy-to-use tool called Data Highlighter precisely for this purpose and offers a structured data testing tool, so you can check the results.

2 – Claim your place in online directories (and optimise your entry)

Those who are old enough to remember when the Yellow Pages was the undisputed king of local business information need to understand that - while its digital incarnation yell.com is still a major player - Google My Business has long since taken over the throne. Getting on to GMB is free and easy and optimising your listing by including all relevant information (such as opening hours) can really help your search results.

Also make sure that, at the very least, your business is also on Bing Places for Business and Yell.com. After this do a search on “UK citation sources” and “your area directory” and decide which other directories are appropriate for you. In theory, you want to be listed in all the high-ranking directories but, in practice, you may want to stop at five to ten. The main reason for this is that you need to ensure that your details are always kept up to date across all directories. If you forget to update even one directory, the conflicting information may cause Google to remove your business from search results (or at the very least give a lower ranking).

3 – Good reviews are vital to success

For an idea of how important online reviews are these days, search for “online reviews” and head to the News tab.

There are two sides to user reviews: the first is that you want to do everything possible to encourage customers to leave you positive reviews, particularly on Facebook and Google My Business. Many customers are aware of the important of reviews but may also be suffering from “review fatigue” when it comes to writing them, so make a point of asking nicely. The other side is that, at some point, you are bound to receive the odd negative review, which may or may not be justified. There is a lot of information on the net about responding to negative reviews but the key point to remember is that what you write will be out on the internet for everyone to see, so it is imperative that you stay calm, polite and professional.