Putting your business on the map with local SEO

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This article is part of our advice series developed in association with the UK Domain, who help UK businesses and individuals achieve more online.

If you run a local business, event or organisation, you’ll know that footfall is your lifeblood.

And once you have a website to support your local endeavour, attracting traffic and turning it into visitors through your doors is a huge challenge.

Fortunately, you have a powerful tool at your disposal to help you – local SEO. Your website should be an extension of your brand, the online version that drives people to your bricks-and-mortar location.

Unlike many forms of local marketing, you remove the guesswork from who you are targeting. Local SEO is aimed at those who are looking for your product, service or offering, and in your area.

What is local SEO?

Every day, millions of us search online, and many of those searches are looking for something in a particular location or near to where we are.

When people look for a specific type of product or service, such as clothing, a plumber or tennis club, they often add a local term, such as a town name, into their query. Search engines understand this, and answer with local search results, often with a map and a selection of specific local listings.

Similarly, there are many queries where a search engine such as Google and Bing will interpret local intent, even if you haven’t specified one, and give answers based on your location – something that is more common as we search on our phones or wearable tech.

It’s not until you begin looking that you realise how prevalent these kinds of searches are.

Put simply, local search engine optimisation (local SEO), is the tactic of making a site appear when someone performs one of these local searches. Its goal is to earn more traffic by appearing when potential customers search online for goods or services you provide.

For us, local SEO is about appealing when customers are searching for a local service, planning their next trip or appearing when they are in your area and suddenly realise they need what you offer.

How do I get started?

Just as with its big brother SEO, local SEO has many different elements to consider. These combine to determine local rankings.

The three main considerations Google makes are relevanceprominence and distance. How relevant is your business, how notable and how close?

When it comes to the many ways we can improve local SEO, the main tasks can be grouped into four main categories:

  • Improve the on-page optimisation of your website for local search terms, feature local information (such as address and phone number), use semantic markup and create locally-focussed content
  • Claim and optimise your Google My Business listing – this is how you get and manage your placement on Google Maps, as well as influencing local rankings
  • Build citations on third-party websites, to help show you are an active business and make it easy for search engines to consistently see the correct name, address and phone number (known as your NAP)
  • Earn reviews and mentions on other websites, to help provide legitimacy, add review ratings to your search results and get links

How do I learn more?

You don’t have to do this on your own; we’ve put together a huge guide to the whole process, guiding you through the changes to make to your site, how to claim your Google My Business listing, find citation opportunities, earn links and more.

And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve also got a handy downloadable cheat sheet which summaries the key points for you to work on.

Find more hints, tips, and tools to help you grow your business online on the UK Domain. This article originally appeared in longer-form as ‘Mapping your way to success’.

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