There’s no doubt that local SEO is an effective way of attracting and engaging with local audiences. Local consumers are statistically more likely to take an action such as making a phone call or visiting a local store than those in other regions or countries – making a strong focus on local SEO an important part of your 2021 digital marketing plans.
Although it was once an easier way to achieve search engine visibility than general SEO, local SEO is now a competitive discipline in its own right due as more and more organisations have switched on to the numerous opportunities it offers.
To make sure your local SEO efforts pay off, here’s what our experts say you should be prioritising in 2021:
- Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) continues to be an important component of any successful local SEO campaign. Fortunately, this isn’t a technical or overly complex task to get right, but it does require time and consistency.
The Moz Local Search Ranking Factors report cites Google My Business as its most important local pack ranking factor, so it’s well worth setting some time aside each week to dedicate to GMB profile maintenance.
One of the most important parts of your listing is your selected business category – this is something you set-up when you claim your listing but it can pay to check back from time to time to ensure it’s still the most appropriate option.
You’ll also want to ensure that you have your profile completely filled out, and updated when things such as contact information change.
Aim to upload new images at regular intervals (Google stipulates you should upload at least three images of team members, your business interior and exterior) and be consistent about using features like Question and Answers and Posts.
We have more tips on how to optimise your Google My Business listing here.
- Niche Content
Local SEO has remained at city level (or equivalent) for quite some time. However, towards the end of last year, some Google users were reporting that a new ‘choose area’ feature was intermittently being presented which allowed them to narrow their search even further to specific areas or neighbourhoods. This could mean that local SEO becomes even more localised throughout 2021, with businesses tailoring their content to target even smaller pools of potential leads by using highly specific content.
While not all test features get the green light from Google, it’s always a good idea to ensure that your content is very localised and very personalised for local shoppers.
- Business Reviews
Back in December, Google confirmed that businesses with enough reviews would now see their feedback displayed in a carousel format on their Google My Business listing. These reviews are featured above vital information such as contact details and opening hours, making them very prominent and highly visible to users. What’s more, search users will no longer have to purposefully click a button to read reviews for that business.
With reviews becoming a more accessible feature and potentially a bigger deciding factor for local consumers, we expect that 2021 will be the year that those who have been slow to adopt peer-to-peer marketing techniques make the shift.
If you are already proactive about encouraging customers to leave you an online review, don’t forget that how quickly you respond to the review is also a ranking factor. What’s more, the simple act of replying to a review can lead to more business, as the very latest Local Consumer Review Survey confirms that 97% of consumers who read online reviews also read the business’ response to reviews.
You can find more on the importance of consumer reviews overall in our dedicated blog here.
- Local citations
One of the three pillars of local SEO visibility is prominence. In a nutshell, this means how visible your brand is online. Building local citations is a great way to create more mentions of your brand, across a range of sources. Not only does this help your business appear more prominent, it also gives your potential customers lots of new routes back to your website.
A citation is a mention of your business name, address and phone number and often will include additional details such as website URL, email or social media links. These can appear in a single grouping, such as in a directory listing, or diffused throughout a piece of content, such as in a local newspaper report. They’re also available from places like event listings, exhibitor profiles and social media accounts.
Links can sometimes be harder for local businesses to come by but, this doesn’t make them any less important from a local SEO perspective. Focus on obtaining a few good quality links rather than a mass of low quality ones to help your local SEO visibility soar.
While it is often a slower process than you might like, getting a link from a local media outlet or prominent local influencer carries a lot of weight, not just in terms of rankings but in terms of delivering relevant, good quality traffic to your site.
There’s no doubt that mobile search and local SEO are closely linked – after all, many people will turn to their smartphones when they’re in need of a product or service in the immediate local area. Ensuring your site is optimised for mobile with quick page loading times and a seamless user experience is non-negotiable if you’re targeting better local SEO visibility in 2021.
The Adrac team is on hand to help you explore all of the opportunities that local SEO presents for your business. Contact us to find out how we can help.