SEO 101 - Going Local
If you’re a business specifically targeting local customers, getting SEO right is really important. But when it comes to Going Local it’s actually as much about your own geographic location as it is about the right metadata and keywords. Google has made some updates to its algorithms that are quite important to know about.
When someone is looking on Google for a business that matches your services and products, quite often they will include the area in which they’d like the business to be based. Google will then prioritise those businesses in the town itself - it knows where we’re all based as we register our business online with our postcode.
Therefore, if you’re hoping to catch interest in a particular town but you’re based just outside, you might find that your local competitors might just pip you to the post, regardless of what you say on your website.
Unfortunately, it does makes sense. If you’re looking for a cafe in Winchester, you don’t really want to be told about one in Twyford. In fact, you might get annoyed with Google if such a cafe appeared in your search.
And it’s because of this that Google will leave your business out of results (or lower your ranking) if you’re not in the area that’s been included in the search term.
And did you know that even if someone doesn’t include an area they wish to find a business in, Google now automatically finds local businesses anyway? Their IP address helps Google to place where they are and make sure their search results are as close as can be to what might be required.
It’s not great to know that influencing search rankings with your own site content only goes so far. But there are some things you can do.
A Google+ account can help
Firstly, make sure you’ve registered your business with a Google+ account. Google does take into account businesses that have profiles here.
But more than this, when you’re creating your profile keep in mind your location and that of your customers. We're talking about the Address section here.
There is an option to select if you serve customers in your exact location (perfect for a static business like a cafe) or within a wider area.
Optimising your Google+ page is important to support SEO anyway, but making sure you’re highlighting that your customers are in a wider area than specifically where you’re based is imperative if you’re wanting to attract a broader audience.
And the same goes for the local cafe. Ultimately, you don’t want to be in a listing that you’re not relevant for - both parties would have their time wasted.
Think about creating unique pages on your website
Secondly, let’s get back to your website. General keywords and metadata won’t be enough, but there is something you can do to help.
If you serve customers in specific towns where you’re not physically based, it’s worthwhile creating unique pages specifically for that audience. Our recommendation is that these pages are linked from your footer menu, not your main navigation bar, but they will be found by Google when a relevant search takes place.
On these pages include testimonials of clients based in that town (specifying where they’re based), perhaps events that you’ll be at or other specific information that links your business with that area.
But be warned, it’s not enough to just replicate content from page to page and switch out the town name. Each page has to be unique, relevant and focused on that local area.
Remember that it might just end up being a landing page for a prospective customer, so it still needs to read well, have clear messaging and encourage them to visit other areas of the site.
- Make sure your business has a Google+ page
- Make sure you’ve selected the right option for the area in which you serve your customers
- Create individual pages on your website for each location you’re targeting
- Make each page unique, and relevant
We hope this helps - please do read our other blogs in our SEO 101 series. And if you’re a Smart Little Web customer, just contact us via your site’s workshop if you have any specific questions on this!