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How your SEO agency can achieve local success in 2019…

What if we were to tell you about a secret about SEO?

Did you know there is an aspect of SEO that is highly underused and yet could dramatically improve your results? An aspect that Google is also beginning to focus on – to the extent of giving it priority over general organic search results? An aspect that is at least 50% guaranteed to bring customers to your door within 24 hours?

Well the secret is local search.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 88% of smartphone users and 84% of tablet owners conduct local searches at all phases of the buying cycle;
  • 50% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone will visit a store within a day;
  • 56% of ‘on-the-go’ searches have local intent;
  • 78% of location-related mobile searches will result in an offline purchase.

These numbers are endorsed by the most recent IRI European Shopper Insights Survey. The research found that 55% of UK consumers prefer to buy local brands. This is largely to help support local and small producers, but also because of the perceived better quality, and environmental reasons – such as less pollution from transport.

In light of this information, you would expect businesses to be seizing this growing opportunity. But interestingly this is not currently the case. For example, evidence suggests that around 90% of Google My Business (GMB) profiles remain unclaimed and unverified, meaning that businesses are losing out on valuable traffic.

So how can you ensure that as a marketer or SEO agency you are making the most of local search during 2019? If you take the following seven steps you will be well on the way:

1. Ensure your site is fully optimised for mobile

The overall proportion of mobile search is increasing, and this applies just as much – if not more so – to local ‘on the go’ searches. So use responsive design to make sure that your site is fully mobile optimised and that it displays well in any kind of browser.

2. Let people know where you are

This sounds obvious but many websites either do not include a physical address or make it very hard to find. So think NAP – Name Address and Phone. If possible try and include NAP on every page, ideally in the header of the site and in the footer. Ensure that the data is the same everywhere on the web, and that any changes are made consistently across all platforms.

Also add your business to Google Business and also to Google Maps – then embed the map on your website.

3. Use local SEO keywords

Make sure that you include the name of your town or city in the title tag, meta description, heading tags, images, text and URL. Also ensure that your meta description is well-worded: even though it has no value in terms of SEO, it is valuable in prompting users to click on your site.

Similarly, use local keywords in your content but make sure they are included in a natural and easy to read way rather than using keyword stuffing just to try and attract the attention of search engines.

4. Link building

Link building is a powerful ally in terms of local success but many companies do not have any link building strategy in place. But having an effective link building strategy can get you right out there ahead of the competition. So this is another strategy to focus on for local success.

Our article on link building contains various tips to get you started.

5. AdWords

To get the attention of local customers there are various Google AdWords tools that can help you to localise your ads. You can target audiences by country, county, city, town or postcode. You can also prepare geographically relevant adverts and have adverts scheduled during business opening hours. You could even retarget local customers using their email address or phone number.

There are lots of possibilities, and if you are not currently using Adwords for local targeting then this is a key priority for you to explore.

6. Local Inventory Ads

One area that Google has been testing over the last year is Local Inventory Ads. This is where real-time information is added to product listings via live inventory feeds. This gives searchers up to date information about product availability.

Google is also working with a start-up company called NearSt to take this process one step further by connecting its live inventory technology to retailers’ point-of-sale systems. This enables local search results to include current information about stock and prices. It has the potential to empower local stores to compete more equally in online search results.

7. Augmented reality

Whilst you may associated the concept of augmented reality with the gaming world, it also has great potential for local search. It can dramatically bring your business to life. You can include eye-catching visuals of your location and products. Not only can this be highly effective in engaging consumers but it can also help to boost your search engine rankings.

AR can also be used as an enhanced navigation tool. Local searchers are often looking for directions as well as information, and AR can enable them to navigate their way to you. It can also be used to help them navigate around your premises – which in turn can provide you with valuable data about how customers move through your store or location.

But how do you know it’s working?

So if you are about to relaunch your local SEO strategy then the above steps will certainly help to get you moving in the right direction. But it can still be difficult to get an accurate picture of how well this strategy is transferring into footfall, sales and conversions.

One way to track footfall is by the use of beacons and in-store sensors, but such devices are currently only used by around 10% of businesses. So this could be well worth doing to measure any changes that happen in footfall as a result of your new local strategy.

Over and above this there are various analytics measures you can use to gauge how effective your local SEO campaign is. For example, changes in:

  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • Profit
  • New vs returning visitors

Our recent article Does Anyone Still Need an SEO Agency? looks at other ways that effective use of SEO can add value to your business.

But whatever measures you use, you can certainly expect to see improved results during 2019 from your local SEO strategy.