Local SEO Techniques For SMEs: How To Use SEO To Grow Your Business
As the owner of an SME with a local customer base, SEO can be critical to growing your business
Most businesses know the importance of SEO, and that it is vitally important in driving traffic to your site, bringing sales leads and increasing revenue. However, local SEO is quite distinct from SEO for a national, SaaS or e-commerce based campaign. For local SEO, relevance to your specific city or area is important, and Google will look in all areas of your site to determine geographical relevance. Simply putting including your sector and the name of your city in your SEO title is not enough, and won’t put you in front of your competition.
In this article we will look at the best techniques for local SEO, and how you can use them to improve your Google rankings and ultimately grow your business.
Research Keywords Thoroughly
Like any kind of SEO, keywords are essential for local SEO. Conduct thorough keyword research through tools such as Moz, SEMrush or Answer the Public. This will help you to identify high volume keywords in your niche, to increase the volume of organic traffic to your site. Always keep topical relevance as a top priority, however: it is important that the keywords you use are appropriate to your business and to your audience, in order to reach the correct audience and maximize results.
One great technique for identifying high performing keywords is to reverse engineer them from your competitors’ sites. Identify the top performing sites for your niche and location: this can be as simple as doing Google searches for relevant terms and picking the top ranking sites. Then use an SEO tool like Ahrefs to see which keywords these sites are ranking for.
Once you have identified your primary keywords, you need to focus on on-page optimization for each and every section of your site. As mentioned, Google checks every part of your site for geographical relevance, so you need to make sure all areas show your relevance in terms of industry, services, and location.
Keywords should be integrated into certain key areas of your site including:
- # SEO Titles
- # Permalinks (page URLS)
- # Post headings and subheadings
- # Image alt-tags
This process goes beyond simply putting a few primary keywords in these elements. Be sure to include long tail and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords, as this will help you to rank for not only primary keywords but every possible keyword associated with your business. This maximizes the traffic and sales leads that will be driven to your site. Remember that 70% of Google searches use long tail keywords so do not ignore the vast majority of traffic and potential revenue!
The quality of your content is also important here: it is not enough to simply throw in the correct keywords in the right places. Google’s algorithm is smart and it is only getting smarter. Having well-written content which is relevant to the appropriate topic is a “trust signal” to Google, and will improve your site’s SEO.
Google My Business Listings
Claiming and verifying your business to Google is essential for strong local SEO. You can do this through Google My Business listings, which directly impacts your rankings (and presence) on important apps such as Google Maps, Google Local Pack and Google Places. Optimizing your listing on Google My Business will directly impact your ranking on these apps. Having a high ranking on Google Maps, in particular, is highly beneficial for your business: maps results generally appear at the top of search results and have an incredibly high click-through rate compared to organic search results.
Many businesses do not take the time to update their listing on this free and simple tool, so you will instantly put yourself ahead of your competitors by optimizing your Google My Business Presence. By going to the Google My Business site you can claim and verify your organization, check that the information is accurate and complete. This tool also allows you to track how your customers have searched for your business, which is valuable information for your digital marketing strategy.
You can also improve your Google My Business ranking by:
- # Creating Google Posts
- # Embedding a Google Map to your website
- # Getting more positive reviews on Google
- # Keeping your NAP (name, address and phone number) up to date, and make sure it is consistent with your website and other mentions online
Backlinks and Citations
One of the key factors which Google looks for in determining site rankings on its results pages is backlinks. Having links which point to your site from well-known, authoritative sites tells Google that your site is reputable and therefore should be ranked higher. The best way to build local links to your site is through quality content marketing as part of a comprehensive Ghost Marketing strategy.
When it comes to local SEO, citations (listings of your business NAP on other sites) are also important as location-based trust signals to Google. There are a number of online directories which list this information, most notably yell.com, so it is important to make sure your business is listed and the information is accurate and kept up to date. Building both quality backlinks and citations is not only great for SEO, but it can also greatly increase organic traffic to your site which is directed through these links.
Effectively applying local SEO strategies is one of the best things SMEs can do to bring more traffic to their site, thus driving sales. If you are looking to grow your business in 2019 be sure to refine your local SEO techniques for exponential growth and business success.
GUEST POST: Tom Buckland is a digital marketing consultant specializing in technical SEO & Amazon Marketing. He’s the founder of Ghost Marketing and Cardiff-based digital marketing agency in the UK and loves helping businesses profit through smart digital marketing strategies.