Attracting Local Customers On Google

Want Your Business To Show Up In Local Google Search? Here’s How…

Are you looking to build your local customer base using search engines such as Google and Bing? Wouldn’t it be great if your business showed up right at the top of search when customers in your area are looking for your service? What you need to do is maximise your ‘Local SEO‘, not sure how? Don’t worry, read on, we’ve got you.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is all about tailoring your online presence to generate more local business, effectively maximising your site ranking in local search. Here, were focusing on Google (after all, it currently has an 87% share of all internet searches) but these methods work on pretty much all search engines.

What’s The Difference Between Local SEO and Organic Search Results?

The easiest way to show the difference between Local SEO Google listings and ‘normal’ organic results is to show you, so here’s a recent search of ‘Plumbers in Sheffield’

Local SEO Plumbing in Sheffield Search
Local SEO trumps Organic Search here.

As you can see, local listings (also known as the ‘Local Pack’ or ‘Snack Pack’) are now showing in Google, with a map, in a nice little box; above the first organic listing! Here, we’ve also taken out paid listings (of which there were four, these are always shown above any other), the key message here? Focus on Local SEO and you’ll be listing above anything else!

In our ‘Plumbers in Sheffield’ search, the first organic listing is, well below and less visible than the three local listings.

What Are Local Pack or Snack Pack Google Results?

The local listings or ‘Local Pack’ now show more regularly on Google search results in a box, displaying the top three local business that are most relevant (essentially, the three businesses with the best Local SEO) along with a map.

When does Google display a ‘Local Pack’ or ‘Snack Pack’? These results are shown when someone performs a ‘Service in Location’ search, such as ‘Plumbers in Sheffield’ or ‘Driving Instructors in Wolverhampton’, basically, if your business is region specific, you’ll need to get on top of the Snack Pack asap.

Should I focus on Local SEO or Organic Listings?

Both. If you really want to choose, then local results attract about a third of all clicks, with 40% going to organic results. The ideal option is to master both.

How to Start Ranking For Local Google Searches

Find Your Service in Location Keywords

As we mentioned earlier, understanding Service in Location searches is key to capitalising on Local SEO listings, so it’s worth making a comprehensive list of potential SIL keywords for your business. The easiest way to develop your SIL keyword list is pretty obvious; list all your services and all the places you can service, add them together; hey presto!

Think outside the box a little, for instance, we offer ‘Web Design in Sheffield’ but we also offer ‘Website Design in Sheffield’ and ‘Business Websites in Sheffield’, make sure you list all variations of your services that you can think of.

Keyword have a pretty decent tool that will generate your local SIL keywords, but you’ll probably still be able to flesh it out a little.

Tip: If you have time, get super granular with your locations, think about city wards, for instance; ‘Web Design in Hillsborough’ might not have as many searches as the whole of Sheffield, but it should be easier to monopolize.

Update Your Google My Business Listing

Before setting up a Google My Business (GMB) listing it’s a good idea to conduct a Google search to ensure your business doesn’t already have one.  If your business has been around for a while it’s possible it already has a GMB listing, you’ll just need to claim it.

Local search results favour the most relevant results so it’s important to ensure all your details are accurate and up to date, providing as much information as possible will make it easier to serve in search results. It may sound obvious but it’s important that you include your businesses location and locations you operate in.

Like Google, Bing also comes with its very own business listing tool. Bing Places for Business. The set up for which is very similar to GMB. Since it’s another free tool that can help drive your business we recommend setting up and managing your listing in a similar way to GMB.

Google My Business (or GMB, as it’s known), in a nutshell, is a free business listing from Google, which business owners can set up to display their info and services ready to display, whenever someone makes a local search. It’s one of the first things we do when working on a client’s local SEO because it’s a pillar of your online presence and a great stepping stone to your site.

To set yours up, simply register with GMB. Once you have submitted all your details, keep an eye out for your postie! You’ll receive a verification code, usually within four working days, once you enter the code, your listing is all set up and will start to be considered in local search results.

Add A NAP To Your Website

‘NAP’ simply stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. If you’re looking to rank in local searches, it’s important to have this clearly and consistently displayed on your site. Google will use your NAP when performing Geo-Targeted searches; such as ‘service in location’ searches.

Our practice is to include this information on both the contact page (which makes logical sense for potential customers) as well as on the footer of the site; in our experience this boosts local business listing schema too (we’ll get to that bit shortly). As a minimum, include your NAP on your contact page.

TIP: Google’s search works on consistency, ensure your onsite NAP info matches your Google My Business Listing!

Register With Local Citations

Local Citations is a fancy way of saying directory sites, such as Yell, Free Index and Yelp. There are hundreds of local citation sites which Google quickly crawls and uses as a signal to determine which businesses service the area in which someone is searching. In essence, if your business is listed on Yell (for example) for ‘Sheffield’, Google pairs this information to any searches including ‘Sheffield’ (or similar stuff like ‘Near Me’).

The more (quality) local citations you have your business registered with, the better. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to fill your details in on every site under the sun, we’ve listed our favourites below to get you started:

118 InformationBT Phonebook
ScootThompson Local
Free Index192
Hot FrogTipped
My Local ServicesMister What
FypleBrown Book
City VisitoriBegin

How Do You Register Local Citations?

Each citation or directory site will have a free registration area, it’s just a case of ‘adding your business’ to their database. Whilst some directory sites provide instant registration most will require email verification, usually by clicking an automated link sent to your inbox.

Some citation sites, such as Yell, may wish to contact you prior to setting your business information live. Whilst it can be a little tiresome, it’s well worth verifying your information with each site, even if they do ask for a quick call as it will work wonders for your local rankings.

As always, your NAP consistency is vital, ensure you register with citation sites using information as close as possible to your GMB listing and website Name, Address and Phone Number.

TIP: Perform a Google search to find industry specific citation sites too! There’s a directory out there for everything from Carpet Cleaning to Caravans!

(Technical) Add ‘Local Business’ Structured Data

A relatively new kid on the block, structured data is a piece of coding or ‘language’ which speaks to search engines such as Google and Bing, to help them better understand what each page or website is all about. If you’ve ever searched for a recipe, the displayed number one listing will include ingredients, maybe some images and a ‘how to’; this is all generated using structured data (or schema markup as it’s also known).

Adding structured data to your site can be a little confusing at first, but it’s a great shortcut to getting your business showing up on Google, as well as helping your site display ‘rich snippets’.

To add ‘local business’ structured data to your website, you need to follow three steps;

  1. Generate your local business structured data
  2. Add your generated structured data to your website
  3. Test your structured data

Generate Your Local Business Structured Data

Google wants you to use structured data, so they’ve made it as easy as possible, even building a handy, intuitive tool. Check it out here:

It’s a pretty simple task generating your local business data from there, simply choose the ‘Local Businesses’ option, paste your business web address into the ‘url’ box and click ‘start tagging’. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be directed to a version of your site, which is where you can click and add information such as ‘Business Name’ and ‘Address’.

Whenever you click an element on your site, you will be presented with a pop-up option, so you can determine which information the element represents. Simply repeat this function until you have filled as much information as you possibly can, then click ‘Create HTML’ (the red button in the top right hand corner).

Using Structured Data Mark Up Helper we can tell Google that our ‘Name’ is convert digital, by simply highlighting and picking the right info. You can also add telephone, email and much more.

Add Your Generated Structured Data To Your Website

Once you have your structured data html generated, it’s time to add it to your site; speak to your developer on how to apply this properly!

Using WordPress? You can add your structured data to the footer of your site using a plugin, we recommend Monster Insights. Once this is installed, you can paste your code into a text box (as prompted by Monster Insights) rather than having to tinker with any complex stuff on your site.

Test Your Structured Data

Once you have added your local business structured data to your site, you can test it, to make sure it works properly and get a general idea of how it will display, when triggered, in Google search results.

If you have added your data to your footer, it will display ‘sitewide’ (meaning it will trigger on every page that your footer is present, as opposed to just an individual page). To test your information, simply paste your home page url into Google’s Structured Data Tester.

The Wrap Up

As search becomes more sophisticated, so do your customers. If you’re running a small-medium business, local SEO and targeting hyper focused searches is your best bet for online conversions. Whilst targeting generic terms such as single word keywords; ‘shoes’, ‘plumber’ etc is tempting, as volume is massive, you’re really up against the big boys, which is why local SEO is becoming vital.

With Local SEO, your business holds an advantage, as Google will prioritise geo-located businesses over any other criteria, meaning a more optimised for local search site will outrank sites with higher domain authority, better general SEO and bigger budgets! Local SEO really is your secret weapon when it comes to growing online revenue!

We hope this guide has given you some insight into the work involved and helps you build your business’ local ranking. If you’ve enjoyed reading or found our blog useful, don’t forget to share!

If you need help with your Local SEO and attracting local customers on Google, find out more on our Local SEO Page.

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