SEO is complicated business, and it can be difficult to understand.
The terminology alone can make it feel like a minefield and there are so many criteria to meet to ensure that your website performs well.
Understanding some of the fundamentals of SEO can go a long way. The acronym stands for ‘search engine optimisation’, and it determines the order in which websites appear on a search engine results page (the acronym for this is SERP).
There are two divisions of SEO: organic and local. Organic SEO is a more rounded and general way of ranking websites in a SERP. If the search terms used in a search do not include a location, organic SEO will determine the results. You can read our guide to the basics of SEO here.
Local SEO, on the other hand, comes into play when a search engine believes there is a geographical component or local intent to a search.
This means that search engines will show results based on the search terms used and the location of the user, or if a location is explicitly used in the search terms. In this instance, business with strong local SEO rankings will appear at the top of the results page, and below that would appear the highest organic results.
While good organic SEO practice can be helpful from a generalised perspective – such as content marketing – understanding the importance of local for SMEs can help to drive awareness of your physical location, which could in turn translate into improved sales and brand awareness.
How to get started with local SEO
One of the first steps to getting started with local SEO is to claim your business location; this is as simple as creating a business profile with Google, and you can find our guide to doing that here.
During the early stages, you should also carry out an audit of your website to ensure that, from an SEO perspective, it is in good health. This means making sure that everything on your website is in good order, including metadata, alt text on images, and the quality of any copy and links within copy. Again, see our first-steps guide to SEO if you’re unsure about this kind of thing.
Auditing and editing can be time-consuming, but it’s essential as you want to ensure that you are building on good foundations.
If, for example, your business name, address and phone number (abbreviated to NAP in SEO parlance) are listed across several locations but are not correct in all instances, this can negatively affect your SEO ranking.
Collecting reviews is one way to positively influence your local SEO ranking, as having customer testimonials verify your service offering as well as playing a part in attracting new customers to your business. A few places to start:
- Facebook page, or any social site with review functions
- Google reviews
- Glassdoor (for employees)
SEO experts, Moz, have written a handy guide to encouraging local online reviews, which you can find here.
Finally, there are tools available to assess how effectively your SEO works, and you should think about using them to give you an idea of where you can improve. For the most part, these will be paid-for services.
Moz, the marketing analytics company mentioned above, is one such example. The company offers both general and local SEO programmes on subscription basis, but it also offers a handful of free tools.
It’s worth making use of these to assess the general health of your SEO practices and to see where there is room for improvement. Finally, remember to review these frequently – staying on top of small changes reduces the workload while ensuring consistency.