How to Claim Pole Position on Google in 2016 – Part 3
By definition, much of this article will appeal to businesses that depend on ‘walk in traffic’ – i.e. retailers and other high street businesses.
If that’s your business, you’re bound to find some useful information here, as much of what is important in local search is to do with instantly satisfying a current need.
The search needs that drive this are sporadic and unpredictable, so getting found in order to satisfy them is more important than before, especially as the mechanism for the search is often a mobile phone.
Having said all of this, local search is equally important for business to business organisations that want to sell within a very defined local or regional area.
Read on to find out more!
If your business depends on local customers, then local SEO (a subset of search engine optimization that helps people in your area find you online) is vital for your business. According to Google, an estimated 73 percent of all online activity is related to local searches.
Customers use local search to learn about the businesses available in their area and, following a 2014 study, Google made it widely known that half of consumers visit a store the same day they run a local search.
Why Local Search Is Important to Your Business
If you’ve read ‘How to Claim Poll Position on Google in 2016 Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’ you know why improving your search ranking is important to your business and why, when we talk about search engines, we mean Google!
(And if you haven’t read them then you’ve missed some crucial advice about what could be stopping you ever getting into the top 10 Google search results, do it now!)
Done it? Awesome
So why is local search important to your business?
- Local searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within a day. (Source: Searchengineland.com). This is relevant if you’re a retailer, a coffee shop or café.
- More than 60% consumers have used local information in ads. (Source: Business2community.com)
- 50% mobile searches are conducted in hopes of finding local results. (Source: Business2community.com)
- 61% of mobile local searches result in a purchase (Source: Engine Watch).
- Businesses like to buy from other local businesses too – so it’s not just about retail and consumer.Everything we covered in our earlier articles
Everything we covered in our earlier articles around improving your search ranking in Google, will also help with local. It’s still vital that you have a mobile friendly site (we said it in part one, we said in part two and we’re not promising anything but there’s a distinct possibility it’ll crop up in part four as well!).
Voice search, videos, fresh, original content will all also help with your local search ranking. However, there are specific elements that need addressing as well and we’ll focus on these in this article.
But first, a little bit of local search history.
Google, Pigeon and How 7 Became 3!
In July 2014 Google rolled out its local search ranking algorithm, Pigeon. Initially this was just in the US, but it went on to be released in UK, Canada and Australia in December 2014. While local search had always been important, Pigeon took it to a whole new level of detail and accuracy.
The algorithm connected map search and web search in a more consistent way, with revised local results from the new Pigeon algorithm becoming more “similar to the page rankings of the Google web search”.
Search Engine Land reported ‘The new local search algorithm ties deeper into the site’s web search capabilities, leveraging hundreds of ranking signals, along with search features like spelling correction capabilities, synonyms and Google’s knowledge graph’.
It was, at the time, the biggest local search update that Google had ever released.
And then in August 2015, they released a new local search display format, the local three-pack. While it wasn’t a change in ranking factors, but in the way the local business information was displayed on the Google results page, it still had a major impact on many businesses that wanted to market themselves locally.
Whereas previously Google displayed typically seven local results (the ‘7-Pack’), the update changed that to just three (the ‘3-pack’). That meant local businesses previously listed in positions 4–7 would likely see a drop in website traffic
4 Tips to Improve Your Local SEO in 2016
Firstly, if you want to qualify for a local business listing in any index, your business must have the following:
- Business name
- Local phone number that matches your city of location
- Street address (not a registered address or PO box)
- Customer visit opening time
If you tick all the above then the below tips will help improve your local SEO.
Back to Basics – Complete All Information
When setting up or editing your Google My Business profile make sure that you are filling out all standard information including:
- Company Name
- Phone Number
- Email Address
But don’t stop there, with an estimated 1 in 3 customers doing a local search on a smartphone before visiting a shop it’s important you provide what they’re looking for, such as opening hours, and payment methods accepted.
As thoroughly filled-in listings are more beneficial to the user, Google will rank these higher then incomplete ones.
1. Be Specific in Categories
While Google will provide you with suggestions about where your business may fit, don’t be afraid to choose a more specific category.
Google assures business owners that they will still be seen by users who search for broader categories:
“Don’t be afraid to choose specific categories instead of broad ones. The important thing is that the categories are accurate and describe your business well. Google’s search algorithm makes sure that users looking for ‘Book Stores’ will see businesses in more specific categories like ‘Used Book Stores,’ ‘Antique Book Stores,’ and ‘Rare Book Stores’ too.”
2. Be Consistent, Be Precise
Remember that Google will be looking at different sources from all over the web. So make sure your information is up to date and consistent all local listings (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter, Yell, TripAdvisor etc).
As Google+ local listings use Google maps to generate locations and information for customers, it’s also important to check, and if necessary correct any errors in, your business location.
3. Leverage Your Website
Google will use information from your website to improve their search listings, so it’s important to include your business URL in your Google+ local listing.
Also, ensure your website includes your business address, and an embedded map showing the business location so users can easily find you (remember you can drag the map marker to show your exact business location).
With the local 3-pack, ranking in the top three in local search results is more important than ever. So in addition to following the four optimising for local search tips above, it’s important to continue focusing on improving the general search ranking for your site. A non-mobile friendly site, with duplicate or stale content will still be ranked lower by Google, regardless of how locally optimised it is!
To ensure your business has optimal SEO strategies in place and that people locally are finding your business, book in for your SEO Healthcheck, we’d love to help.
Call our friendly team for a chat on 01763 877110 or click this link.