On 18th September 2019 I had the pleasure of hosting the SEMrush webinar ‘Understanding your Location in Local SEO (UK)’. I was joined by the awesome Tim Capper and Felipe Bazon.
If you missed the webinar, fear not you can watch it back.
We covered some really interesting elements of Local SEO and Google My Business, so it’s well worth watching the full webinar back. The highlights below are some of what we covered in the full webinar.
Let’s get into it then…
Location, location, location…
No this isn’t the TV programme, Tim Capper discussed with the audience the utmost importance of search engines needing to understand your business’s location. This is in order that your business gets shown to searchers looking for a product or service in a specific geographic location.
Tim delved into how this both works on and off site. Supplying the correct location information is key. A lot of times you may find that you moved office and your listings do not have all the updated correct information. This could lead to missed business. Imagine if a potential customer didn’t have the correct details to visit or call you. Make sure your details are always correct and up to date.
This nicely leads us to the golden rule, ensuring that your NAP is consistent. If you don’t know what NAP means, it’s your business’s Name, Address and Phone Number. It’s key that this is consistent across all your listings and how it’s displayed on your website.
A little top tip from Tim was that Google is now smart enough to understand Limited (LTD) not being in the business name all the time. Together with address inconsistencies like Road (Rd) and Street (St). Google is getting smarter and smarter!
Optimising your Google My Business page
Moving on we jumped into optimising your Google My Business page. It’s imperative that you cover all the elements when optimising your business listing. For those new to Google My Business here’s a checklist for you to follow and ensure that you have all this detail answered and completed.
- Business Category
- Full Address + PIN Marker
- Links – Website, Appointments, Menu
- Business Description
- Short Name – Review Link
- Google Posts
- Questions & Answers
Tim reminded us that this information is business branding. It’s business branding that’s FREE. It’s also business branding that Google uses.
That’s fantastic, we’ve got all our Google My Business information updated. What next though? We went onto looking at what should be covered onsite, we delved into the following.
Tim delved into on site NAP information. This was very top level information, great for those wanting to get their GMB to where it should be. Top tip that Tim sees time and time again is make sure you put where your business is located. Sounds obvious but from his experience this still isn’t happening across the board. Make sure you put your address on your website.
- Single location businesses – full business details (NAP) in footer.
- Good for Google and crucial for customers !
- Multi location businesses – head office details (NAP) in footer.
- Location pages contain their own specific NAP details.
- LocalBusiness schema markup containing matching NAP
LocalBusiness Structured Data
Did you know that there are 5.7 million small and medium sized enterprises in the UK. Schema.org have said that between 500,000 to 1,000,000 domains currently using LocalBusiness schema in the world. Looking at both of these figures you can start to understand how under-utilised this markup is. This really goes to show that more companies should be utilising these opportunities. Remember to get creative and use structured data to stand out from the SERPS
Tim further discussed some finer points to make sure you’re covering all the bases.
- Find the best category that fits your business
- NAP consistency
- Geo Coordinates +hasMap
- Use Image and priceRange to your advantage
- Don’t spam aggregatedReviews
Tim then moved on to discussing how Google were evolving and cracking down on reviews for local businesses. Here’s a link to the blog post from Google that discusses their new standpoint. If this is something you’re not aware of we’d recommend you read through to better understand how this may affect your business. In short the main element of this update was regarding self serving reviews. Self serving reviews are company reviews. These will no longer be displayed in SERPS. Whereas product reviews or reviews on recipes will still be listed.
We then moved onto a bit of the old school. Don’t forget page structure, this is still as critical as it is in traditional SEO. A lot of businesses still are not filling in the basic SEO information on site. So please, please make sure you have covered off the below.
Tim discussed that he still sees businesses putting home in their homepage title. Firstly, this is a missed opportunity to add critical information into your title tag. Secondary to this is to try and add your location in the title tag. Then follow the page structure down as you normally would with your H1 and H2.
Ensure that you have covered the below:
- Home Page <title> – include service + location
- <title>Business Name – Expert Eye Care in Kettering</title>
- Your Eye Care Specialists in Kettering at Name
- Include what service you offer on the page: xyz
It’s key that you have the right information at the right time for customers. As much as we want to design something beautiful and unique. It’s key you explain what products and services your business offers. To test this, it’s great to ask someone outside of your business who may not know what you do and ask them to tell you what they feel your website is telling and selling them.
Moving on we then looked at localised content. How can you start targeting your customers. Ensuring you are answering questions that customers/potential customers have is a must. Anticipating what a local customers online journey is and providing content that satisfies their queries will help you and your business no end. Tim recommended that localised content could be:
If you have customers who keep asking similar questions, then get content out there that will answer these. Think about what is the best delivery method to target them with. For example do you have white papers that you already have created that could provide key information that your customers are looking for.
Tim noted that say you were a barber than there could be an extent to particular content such as trimming beards. Think… if you’re outgoing and flamboyant and come off really well on video what content could you put out to customers to bring them in and fill that gap, anticipate what the user is looking for. Utilise skills you may already have to create localised content.
Another great example of this was a taxi company Tim had worked with previously. They have worked on creating ‘localised’ information. For example people searching for ‘Taxi ranks in Chester’. This taxi company therefore created a localised piece of content to answer this localised question.
Off Site Local SEO
Tim then discussed with us how to work with off site practices to compliment our Localised SEO strategy.
Looking at Business Citations Tim talked through that yes you may have a Google My Business page but if you are not mentioned anywhere else online you have no other signals showing who you are. Imagine you only have your address on your website and Google My Business. That’s only two citations effectively.
The more prominence you can give to your business via business citations is a must. Reinforcing your location to search engines. For example business directories is good to build on your business citations.
A business citation is a reference to your business from another online source. A citation includes Business Name, Address and Phone Number ( NAP ). They typically include a link to your website.
- Only use main UK directory sites (if you are a UK based business)
- Check for any smaller local sites
- Expand to niche directory sites for your industry
Fully complete all information required for all directory listing, like you would your Google My Business listing.
It was then discussed the wealth of business citations we had available to us in the UK. Listed below are some of the sites that could be utilised to build your business citations.
Other Citation Sources:
- Trade Association
- Chamber of Commerce
- Social Media Business Profiles
- Profile Pages on websites you contribute to
- Trade Reviews
Not all of the above are set and forget. Tim highlighted that scoot.co.uk and freeindex.co.uk allow you to add events and even YouTube videos. Remember here that you can build on your profile with these and prominence.
Work with and utilise your local press. Invite them to product launches, have you done anything for charity, create local opinion pieces. The local press is a great resource both online and offline! Build a relationship with the press and magazines and reap the rewards.
Stay local. Have you talked to other businesses that compliment your business. Are you a car wash company with a local coffee shop next door? Discuss how there could be interlinking benefits. For example, grabbing a coffee whilst you wait for your car to be washed.
Another great example from Tim was if you owned a ladies clothing store or hairdressers, how can you work in collaboration with each other? If you are a local business, think local.
Tim rounded off his presentation with this recap slide. Follow these three pillars and get your local SEO moving in the right direction.
Complimentary to Tim’s presentation we were taken through SEMrush’s Listing Management Tool with Felipe Bazon.
Felipe took us back to the start, in a world where the internet wasn’t what it is today and many people were using the Yellow Pages to look up companies.
Now we have companies like Yelp etc. The change is huge from the days of the printed Yellow Pages. These days we have business listings, maps, reviews, images all at our fingertips. Not to forget Google My Business.
Felipe then took us through what exactly a business listing was.
“online portfolios that contain information about your business, such as your name, address, phone number, hours, and other data. Most platforms that provide this information are free to use, but users must manually add their information or claim their business.” source: https://www.digitaldoughnut.com/
We were then taken through the necessity to claim your business listings on these platforms. It’s your business so make sure you own or take control of these spaces online.
An interesting question that was discussed was ‘Are Local Business Listings the Same as Citations?’
Felipe’s response was “From an SEO standpoint I would say so, since local business listings are used by search engines, such as Google, as signals (citations) to attribute local rankings, more specifically on the local pack.”
For anyone reading this and unsure of what the local pack is, here’s a screenshot from Felipe’s presentation.
We then looked back in history again at times where SEO’s would submit your website to 1000’s of business directories. Times have changed and this is not best practice anymore.
Felipe then whisked us over to the SEMrush Listing Management tool. Essentially this tool allows you to put in your business details and click check listings. Then SEMrush’s tool will go off and see how your business appears on business directories such as Google, Yelp, Facebook etc.
This is only available in UK, USA and Australia at the moment. In the UK the tool will check a huge number of business listing directories making it a huge time saver.
Once the tool has run it will come back with some analysis of whether your listing is; Present, With issues or Not present. A secondary feature to this tool is that you can pay SEMrush $20 per month to distribute and keep this information up to date. Something worth considering dependant on your teams resources and time.
Making sure this information is correct across the board is a key factor in you Local SEO strategy. Keep you NAP consistent on all business directory listings.
There was so much useful information in this webinar for anyone starting out with Local SEO and Google My Business. For the full webinar head over to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D47i47et5oc
Top 5 tips Google My Business – Local SEO
Felipe Bazon from Hedgehog Digital was kind enough to drop some helpful tips that can help you get you Google My Business into a place that it needs to be.
- Guarantee that your Google Business Listing is as optimised as it can. Use all features including Google Posts.
- Make sure you are using structured data. If you are not too tech-savvy the traditional Schema LocalMarkup would do, but if you are techier customise it accordingly to Tim’s recommendations.
- Build your brand and reputation locally, from chambers of commerce to local press through non-governmental organisation (yes, engage in social work in your community)
- Optimise your pages for your location, make sure you use your location as complementary keywords within your content, from titles and metas to your texts. Add your address to all pages.
- Build citations: from traditional local business listings websites (a.k.a business directories) to mentions in the local press. The more local signals you send to Google the better.
Need support with your Google My Business or Local SEO? Get in touch with one of the team today!