SEO, short for search engine optimization, refers to the process of altering a website, so it ranks better in search results. This helps more customers or clients find the site when they search for keywords related to its content.
Local SEO is an effective way for business owners to market to local customers online. It differs from standard SEO in a few important ways, but the intent is the same. Business owners who have their sites optimized for local results are merely tapping into 46% of Google users who search for location-specific products, services, and information.
Optimizing for Local Search Queries
Business owners that want to improve their sites’ rankings for location-specific search queries should know. Search engines are designed to take users’ location into account when they pull up results for services “near me,” showing them suggestions based on this location. These suggestions come up in local search engine result pages (SERPs).
The essential search engine positions; when it comes to local SEO in Calgary, are the first three business listings that Google displays. Organically, this is beneath the maps when the search engine detects a search with local intent. Sometimes referred to by industry insiders as the “map pack” or the “3-pack,” this block is exactly where business owners want their site to be.
The info offered in the local packs is more comprehensive than what is included in Google’s standard organic search results. It contains photos, ratings, opening times, and phone numbers along with the company’s name and its purpose. The information found in the 3-pack is pulled directly from the companies’ Google My Business (GMB) profile.
Google My Business Profiles
GMB profiles are powerful. They don’t just provide the search engine with the information it needs to compile SERPs. This information is also made available directly to browsers via the Knowledge Panel.
A company’s GMB profile needs to be maintained to ensure that it’s always accurate and up-to-date. It won’t just help customers or clients access the information, but will also help them find it, to begin with. Updated GMB profiles improve businesses’ chances of getting their websites into the local map pack.
Three Core Elements of SEO Ranking
There are three elements that impact how well a business ranks in local queries. They are proximity, relevance, and prominence.
Brick-and-mortar businesses can’t do much to affect their proximity to customers or clients once they’ve already opened up shop. They also definitely shouldn’t advertise services or products that aren’t relevant to their business models to attract more traffic. The aspect of local SEO that will allow business owners to shine online is prominence. This refers to the business’ popularity, its social media presence, and how it’s rated on online directories and third-party review sites.
Since search engines like Google are constantly updating their algorithms, used to determine where businesses rank on each of these three key scales. Digital marketing experts spend a lot of time focusing on local SEO. The rules for local SEO differ from broader optimization strategies. That’s why it’s so crucial for business owners to work with an SEO company that has specialized experience helping their clients rank higher in local searches.
Localizing a website involves incorporating the name of the city, or region into the text found on the site, but throwing in the right keywords is where talented SEO agencies start a part of their work. Other essential tactics include networking with local community groups and blogs who can create feature articles or incorporate information about the company into their own sites.
Businesses that have multiple locations face an additional challenge. To optimize a site for multiple locations, an SEO expert will have to create separate content hubs for each of them. These pages are still linked directly to the company’s main website, but their content is optimized for each location.
Citations are references to the business’s NAPW, short for its name, address, phone number, and website URL. They’re typically found in online directories and on third-party business listing sites. Online citations can be divided into two categories, referred to as structured citations and unstructured citations. Structured citations can be found on sites like Yelp, where business owners can have their NAPW listed by contacting the administrator and have full control over how the citation appears. An unstructured citation is your name, address, phone# + website on sites that are not necessarilly online for the purpose of listing businesses.
Unstructured citations include any references to the business’s NAPW that are found online and connected to a web page in an unstructured format. More often than not, they’re the result of social media marketing or press coverage. Building citations involves contacting directories and citation sites to ensure that sites are listed and that all the information in these listings is accurate and up-to-date. Many SEO experts cite citation building as one of the most important elements of local SEO.
Claiming GMB Listings
If business owners haven’t yet claimed their GMB pages, they should do so immediately. GMB is the most important online directory, thus claiming the company’s listing gives business owners the ability to alter the information found on Google Maps and in the local pack.
The vast majority of today’s consumers check at least one online review site or business directory before heading to a new restaurant or shop or calling a new service provider. That’s not the only reason it’s crucial to have plenty of good, honest reviews. The number of reviews that businesses receive, the authority of the sites containing the reviews, and the quality of the reviews all contribute to local search rankings.
Backlinks are important for all types of SEO, including local SEO. The most effective backlinks are obtained from well-established websites that search engines already recognize as trusted sources of information.
Tons of trusted backlinks give a website a boost in “prominence,” arguably the most important of the three core aspects of local SEO. While brick-and-mortar businesses can’t alter their proximity to potential customers or clients at will and there’s no sense in trying to rank higher for unrelated services. It’s entirely possible to change how search algorithms rank a site in terms of prominence. Since higher ranking sites are more accessible for consumers, websites that have plenty of backlinks from local newspapers, blogs, and organizations will have better search engine visibility.
Just like general SEO strategies, local SEO strategies should involve optimizing the site to be more mobile-friendly. If this is important for provincial and national SEO, it’s twice as important here in Calgary. An impressive 78% of mobile searches for local products and services eventually result in an offline purchase.
Desktop use is also down, with only 42% of digital media time in Canada. Google has responded to this switch to mobile phones and tablets as a primary means of searching the internet by altering its algorithms to prioritize mobile-friendliness.
Local SEO experts are also aware of these trends. That’s why they make sure that websites are optimized not just for desktop use but also for mobile phones, tablets, and other on-the-go devices.
Creating Local Content
Every business should have a blog. Companies looking to boost their rankings for local queries should have blogs that offer information targeting local audiences. These blogs can be used to promote local industry events, share important news, provide educational content, or introduce employees.
The blog should contain plenty of highly relevant on-page local signals. SEO experts even encourage their clients to include maps and event calendars that contain information about what’s going on around the city, town, or region. It’s fine to expand the scope of the blog beyond the obvious and to include information that goes beyond just informing customers about what the business sells or what services it provides.
Advantages of Going Pro
The world of search engine optimization is always changing. Even business owners who used to consider themselves pretty internet-savvy a few years ago will be left in the dust by their competitors if they resort to optimizing their own sites. Working with a professional SEO agency gives business owners access to all the accumulated knowledge and experience of an entire team of skilled and specialized marketers. As a result, going pro with SEO services provides an excellent return on investment.
One advantage of Google’s constantly changing algorithms is that the company is always finding new ways to prioritize websites that offer better value to customers and clients. Business owners who invest in having their websites optimized for local content will find that their sites also become more user-friendly as a matter of course. Plus, higher visibility in search engine rankings means more traffic to a website and, ultimately, higher customer conversion rates.
Learn More Today
If all of this information feels a little overwhelming, that’s because there’s a ton of detailed and highly specialized work that goes into local SEO. Don’t waste time that could be spent improving your company’s products and services on attempting to improve your rankings yourself unless you’ve dedicated your education and career to this competitive field. Instead, trust the professionals and call us today to find out more about our SEO services.