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There’s no doubt that Google is the most popular search engine among Internet users. It’s estimated that over 90% of its users use Google. Not surprisingly, a high ranking position is usually a competitive advantage for various businesses and enterprises.
We use it to find all sorts of information: from the seemingly trivial, such as a list of recommended restaurants nearby, to the quite serious, such as health advice (it’s not without reason that the term “doctor Google” is very popular). For this reason, SEO has become one of the most effective ways to promote your brand on the Internet. However, businesses that are focused on regional advertising should be interested in the concept of local SEO.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a series of onsite and offsite activities, whose aim is to increase visibility for a selected set of keywords, but only within a specific area such as a city or a district. The essence of this solution is based on displaying information to potential customers about the place where they are currently located.
For example: imagine that at the moment you are in a foreign city, but you need to use the services of a hairdresser. In the past, you would ask the locals and based on the first or most common answer, you would choose the best service provider. Nowadays, you can find a specialist in a particular industry in your vicinity and read reviews about them in a much shorter time with the help of a search engine. So, as you can easily guess, an effectively conducted regional SEO process combined with a good quality product or service can bring a number of benefits to a regional business.
What Are the Benefits of Local SEO?
A well-planned and executed local SEO strategy brings unquestionable benefits to a business. First of all, competing on a national or global market is difficult and also requires lots of time. Regional positioning, on the other hand, isn’t such a complicated process, and at the same time it brings the intended results much faster (both in terms of higher position in the rankings, as well as financial gains associated with it – potential consumers are located in the area and are usually ready to use the offer on the same day).
Additionally, a less complex SEO process usually requires less money, especially in areas with low competition. This is also supported by the fact that optimization activities within local sites or directories are much cheaper. Regional positioning may also bring much better results if you simultaneously decide to implement Google Ads advertising campaign or promotion in selected social media.
Who Should Take Advantage of Local Positioning?
As you can easily guess, local positioning of a website works well in case of businesses, which operate in a certain area, e.g. in a given city or province. Catering establishments (restaurants, cafes etc.) and health and fitness centers (private doctors, gyms etc.) often use this solution. Local positioning is also used by companies that provide their services in the homes of customers (eg. emergency plumbing, repair crews, locksmiths, etc.), as well as by premises to which customers must get to themselves (eg. hairdresser, law firm, car service, etc.).
Of course, this method can be used by businesses in a variety of industries, so it need not be limited to the examples listed. Those who opt for this solution, however, should realize that most local searches are done via smartphones. Thus, their sites need to be responsive, and therefore, tailored to mobile device users.
Geolocation and its Impact on SEO
Geolocation allows you to determine the geographical location of a particular website user,and t;is a very important factor that affects search results. In the past, the results displayed were also dependent on the national domain of the search engine. This means that when you typed in a particular phrase via google.co.uk, you received exactly the same page ranking, regardless of where you checked. Nowadays, results are tailored to a specific location to make it easier to find information from a user’s perspective. Of course, the user does not have to rely on the search engine and can specify for which area he wants to receive information. It’s enough that for this purpose he uses the so-called geolocalized query, e.g. “pizzeria Portland”.
Regardless of whether the user is currently in Warsaw or another city, Google should present a ranking of this type of restaurant from Portland. However, it’s worth adding that the geolocation made by the search engine is so accurate that in large agglomerations, it can show the sites of companies that are located in a particular district. The fact that many Internet users still enter the phrase + area in place of the bar may result from their habit or previous planning of staying in another city. Nevertheless, this kind of personalization of results is a very important SEO factor, over which the person responsible for the regional positioning of a given site has little control.
As a site owner you should set up a business card in Google My Business, and thus ensure your visibility in Google Maps. Additionally, apart from XML sitemaps, you also have to equip yourself with a KML file (the so-called geositemap), which is used, among others, by the Google Earth application to guarantee that your company or premises will be properly located in search results. In addition, you must take care of regional positioning through other actions: internal (proper optimization of the site and content) and external actions (acquiring links and encouraging customers to add opinions).
How to Create a Business Card in Google My Business?
As it was emphasized above: creating a business card in Google My Business service is an absolute must if you care about local positioning of your business. This not only ensures that your business will appear in standard search results and maps, but it also increases the credibility of your business from Google’s point of view.
Setting up a business card isn’t a complicated process though it requires verification with a special PIN (in most cases sent by mail to verify the actual address). Once this step has been successfully completed, you will have your own ID on Google, where users will be able to check your address, phone number, opening hours, as well as see available photos and past customer reviews.
When providing contact information (which is all the information that your customers can use to contact a company representative), you must also remember to be consistent. It’s a good idea to have the same address, phone number or email name on the “contact us” subpage, in the attachment with regulations and in all external sources. Then the algorithms will easily associate the contact information with your business, which ultimately benefits the local search results.
A very important factor that affects the ranking of local search results is your business reviews. This should come as no surprise since Google always puts the well-being of the search engine user first. In turn, the opinions of previous consumers about a given service provider provide a lot of valuable information about its offer and customer service, and thus often help an undecided Internet user in making a decision. Positive reviews about your business are therefore read favorably by both Google’s bots and potential consumers.
For this reason, you need to make sure that your customers share their reviews (especially on Google My Business card, but also in other places), because their number and average are valuable clues for the robots when determining the local ranking. Additionally, there are times when Google displays selected ratings and reviews as part of the presentation of your business in search results, so unflattering comments can cause your listing to be quickly excluded by users.
Correct Optimization of Your Site for Local SEO
Of course, if you’re committed to achieving high local rankings, don’t forget to properly optimize your site. It includes a number of the same actions as in the case of SEO for general phrases, i.e. correct page structure and internal navigation or unique content. However, optimization of the website for local positioning provides for a few additional, obligatory actions:
- placing a Google map in the “contact” tab (indicating the seat of the company),
- company name, address and phone number in the “contact” tab and footer,
- describing contact information using structured data,
- naturally placing the name of the area in the content on the page, in headers and in meta descriptions.
You also can’t forget about external links to the site, which play a very important role, both for general and local positioning. In the latter case, it’s worth taking care of links from local sites e.g. regional advertisement portals or county newspapers.
Regional positioning may bring a lot of benefits for the business in a short time, though it requires the website owner to fulfill several conditions, such as correct optimization of the website, effective link building or encouraging customers to leave ratings and opinions. There’s no doubt this will result in reaching a wide range of customers from the local area, and thus monetization.
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