When you search Google, it knows where you are, what device you are using and customises the results it shows you. If you are in Blackburn and search for “hairdressers”, it won’t give you hairdressers located in Derby or Plymouth, instead it gives you hairdressers that are situated in Blackburn.
The companies that come up top for the search phrase “hairdressers” don’t come up by mistake or by any kind of luck, they are optimised specially to appear for the “hairdressers” search and therefore are reaping the rewards of a well optimised website and digital marketing strategy.
We are experts in local search engine optimisation and would like to share our top 5 tips on getting ahead of your local competition.
#1 – Have you companies address on EVERY page
A very simple tip yet you wouldn’t believe how many companies make the mistake of only having their companies address on their contact page. Google likes consistency throughout your pages and by having your companies address in say, your website’s footer area (as seen below) you also get the added benefit of increasing your chances of ranking for more things. For example, say you have two pages for two different products you are selling, Blue Widgets is one page and Red Widgets is another page. By having your address on both pages you are going to rank well for “Blue Widgets Blackburn” or “Red Widgets + your location“.
#2 – Markup your address using Rich Snippets
Have you noticed when searching for particular things (such as recipes, events, people, places) that the results Google shows are beginning to change?
This is because Google is starting to reward websites that have “rich snippets” on their website with more prominent search results. An example is for a recipe search as below :-
Can you see the 5 stars? This is because the BBC Good Food website has rich snippets of the review kind on their website. As you can see this makes the listing more attractive in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) and has probably sent their click through rate through the roof as a result.
The Rich Snippets that Google uses are from a website called Schema.org and you can have snippets for reviews, contact information, people, events and many more.
The one we are interested in is the one for local businesses (http://schema.org/LocalBusiness) . If you wrap the rich snippets tags around your companies address in your HTML code, you will reap the rewards of the 30 minutes it will take to make the modifications.
If you need any help, you can always Get in Touch
#3 – Put your location in your <title> tags
This often gets overlooked and people assume that Google will automatically know where you business is located even though there is only a few mentions of it throughout their entire website. Don’t leave these things to chance. If your local business serves people in the Ribble Valley, make sure that in the title of your pages you include the phrase “Ribble Valley”.
This is a pretty easy tip to implement, if you are using a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal there should be an option in the settings where you can easily change your title tags.
If you would prefer to get your hands dirty, simple locate the <title> your website title here </title> code in your HTML code and add in your location manually.
#4 – Get listed on local directories
It’s worth the small effort to make sure your business is present on local directories such as Yelp.co.uk, Yell.com, Thomson Local, TouchLocal and Scoot directory.
These all count as “citations” for your business which are like a big approval for your business in the eyes of Google. A tip though, make sure you are consistent with your companies address on all your profiles and fill out as much information as you can on your business such as your opening hours, twitter profile, website address and description. Having a filled out profile on these directories is often the difference in ranking highly or dwindling mid-page when people search for your business category on these directories.
#5 – Sign yourself up for Google Local (formally Google Places)
Google Local is a relatively new service but being a product child of Google, it is worth getting your company listed and creating a page (again filled out as much as possible).
Gaining user reviews is important as well as this will increase the likelihood of you ranking highly for local searches.
Ultimately, you want to build a strong “local profile” of your business by getting citations from local directories in your area and across the web, with good customer reviews (which we have seen are not being integrated into search results) you stand the chance of leaving your local competitors in the dark.