A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO in 2024

local SEO illustration

Table of Contents

local SEO illustration

Local search has quickly become a powerhouse for small businesses throughout the UK: 46% of all Google searches seek local information. If your business isn’t optimised for local search, you could miss out on potential customers ready to shop in your area.

The SEO Group team have put their heads together to produce a comprehensive guide covering local SEO tips and tools to help you optimise your business for local SEO.

By the end of the guide, you’ll understand how to optimise your business to reach potential consumers who use local search to choose which products or services they’ll buy.

Learn About Local SEO

What is local SEO?

Firstly, before you can work on optimising your website for Local SEO, we need to understand what it is.

Local SEO optimises a website or its online presence to improve its visibility and prominence in search engine results for localised searches. It focuses on increasing web traffic, leads, and conversions from specific geographic areas rather than anywhere globally.

This type of SEO is perfect for local service providers and physical shops that only work with clients and customers in their local area. For example, tradesmen such as builders, bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, and local shops such as Dentists, Accountants, vets, and florists. Optimising your website for local searches should be your main priority if you have a local clientele.

With the rise of mobile usage and personalised search queries, Google and other search engines have started prioritising local results over general ones. This makes it crucial for small businesses with physical locations or service areas to have a strong presence in local searches.

Is it important?

A quick peek at the statistics shows how users are beginning to prefer to interact with local SEO listings, providing insights into how important local SEO is becoming for all businesses.

According to research, 46% of all Google searches seek information about local businesses, while 88% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit or call that business within 24 hours.

These numbers clearly show the importance of having a robust regional SEO strategy.

Moreover, with the rapid growth of e-commerce and online shopping platforms like Amazon, brick-and-mortar stores and small businesses must utilise local SEO tactics to stay competitive.

Another significant factor that makes local SEO essential is its cost-effectiveness compared to traditional advertising methods. With traditional advertising channels like print ads or billboards becoming more expensive and less effective, improving your online presence through local SEO can significantly benefit your business’s growth.

What Must I do to Become the King of Local Search?

1. Create a Google My Business Profile
The first step to improving your local SEO is claiming and optimising your Google My Business (GMB) profile. This free tool provided by Google helps businesses manage their online presence across various platforms such as Search and Maps. Scroll down to view more information.

2. Build Your Citations
Citations refer to online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). These can be found on various directories such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and TripAdvisor. Consistent NAP information across all these platforms helps improve your local rankings, signalling that your business is legitimate to search engines.

3. Get Listed in Local Business Directories:
Listing your business in other relevant niche-specific local directories and citations from popular directories can boost your local SEO efforts.

4. Create Localised Website Content

Creating website content such as location pages focused on showing users the services/products you provide within a certain geographical location.

audit illustration

Step 1: Perform a Local SEO audit.

Performing a local SEO audit is the first step towards optimising your website for local search. This process involves evaluating the current state of your website’s local presence (if any) and identifying areas for improvement. Here are some essential steps to follow when conducting a local SEO audit:

1. Analyse Your Website’s On-Page Elements
Examine your website’s on-page elements, such as title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and URLs. These elements are crucial in telling search engines what your site is about. Ensure they accurately reflect your business name, location, and relevant keywords.

2. Check for NAP Consistency
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number – essential components of any local business listing. Ensuring these details are consistent across all online platforms where your business is listed. Any discrepancies can confuse search engines and negatively affect your local SEO ranking.

3. Evaluate Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing
GMB listings are crucial for local businesses as they appear prominently in Google’s Local Pack or Map Pack results. Ensure your GMB listing is claimed, verified, and up-to-date with accurate information about your business.

4. Review Online Reviews
Online reviews have become an integral part of consumers’ decision-making process when choosing a local business to engage with. As part of the audit process, check all review sites like Google My Business and Yelp to assess the quality and quantity of reviews you have received.

5. Correct any Duplicate Listings
Duplicate listings can harm your local SEO efforts by creating confusion among search engines about which version of the listing should rank higher in search results. Use tools like Moz Local or Yext to identify duplicate listings and take the necessary steps to remove them.

6. Examine Mobile Responsiveness
In today’s world, where more than half of internet traffic comes from mobile devices, ensuring that your website is responsive and mobile-friendly is vital. Test your site’s responsiveness using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool and make necessary adjustments.

7. Check for Technical SEO Issues
Technical SEO issues such as broken links, missing sitemaps, slow loading speed, or incorrect use of canonical tags can negatively impact your local SEO ranking. Use tools like Moz Pro or SEMrush to promptly identify and fix technical errors.

Suppose you are at the very beginning of your Local SEO journey. In that case, some of the suggested audit actions, such as evaluating your local SEO pages or your Google My Business profile, might not yet be relevant as it is not set up. If so, you can return to complete the full audit later.

Google-my-business-illustration

Step 2: Setup and Optimise Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free and powerful tool for businesses to manage their online presence on Google, the world’s largest search engine. By optimising your GMB listing, you can increase your visibility in local search results and attract potential customers in your target area. In this section, we will guide you through optimising your GMB listing.

1.1 Claim and Verify Your Listing

The first step to optimising your GMB listing is claiming it as the business owner. You can do this by logging into Google My Business with a Google account and searching for your business name. If you find an existing listing, click “Claim this business” and follow the instructions to verify that you are the rightful owner.

If there is no existing listing, you must create one from scratch by clicking “Add my business.” After claiming or creating your listing, Google will send you a verification code via mail or phone call, which you must enter to complete the process.

1.2 Provide Accurate Information

Once verified, ensuring that all the information on your GMB profile is accurate and up-to-date is essential. This includes your business name, address, phone number (NAP), category, website URL, hours of operation, etc.

Make sure that this information matches what is listed on other online directories like Yelp or Yellow Pages, as consistency across platforms helps improve your local SEO ranking. Incorrect or inconsistent information may confuse potential customers and hurt your credibility.

1.3 Add Quality Photos And Videos

Visual content is crucial in attracting and engaging potential customers; therefore, it is essential to add high-quality photos and videos of your business premises, products or services to your GMB profile.

Ensure that these visuals accurately represent what customers can expect when they visit or purchase from your business. You can also add a virtual tour of your business premises to provide customers with an interactive and immersive experience.

1.4 Collect Customer Reviews And Respond To Them

Gather reviews from satisfied customers on your GMB listing, as it not only helps build trust but also has a positive impact on your local SEO ranking. Encourage customers to leave reviews by sending them a customised link to your GMB profile or displaying a QR code in-store.

Also, respond promptly and professionally to both positive and negative reviews. This shows potential customers that you value their feedback and are committed to providing excellent customer service.

Remember to regularly update your profile with new information, photos, and videos, and respond actively to reviews for maximum impact on your local SEO efforts.

A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO in 2024

Step 3: Make sure your NAP is consistent

Ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent online.

One crucial aspect of local SEO is ensuring that your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all online listings. This may seem small but can significantly impact your local search rankings.

The first step in ensuring consistency is to choose a standardised format for your NAP and stick to it. For example, if you list your phone number as (+44) 123 456 789, ensure this format is used consistently across all online platforms, including your website, social media profiles, and directory listings.

Inaccuracies in your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) can make it difficult for potential customers to find you online. Ensuring your NAP information is consistent and up-to-date across all platforms.

Is important. If your business has multiple variations of its name or address listed online, engines may need help identifying which information is accurate. This could result in lower rankings for localised searches and decreased visibility for potential customers.

Moreover, inconsistent NAP can confuse customers trying to contact or visit your business. Imagine if a customer finds different addresses listed for the same company on various websites – they may become frustrated and give up on doing business with you altogether.

To avoid these issues, it’s essential to regularly audit all of your online listings and correct any discrepancies. Search for your business’s name on Google Maps and see what information comes up. Then, check popular directories such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Citysearch to ensure the data matches what is listed on Google Maps.

If you encounter any NAP inconsistencies during this process, updating them immediately is crucial.

What does NAP mean in local SEO?

NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number – the three most crucial pieces of information for any local business. In digital marketing, NAP is pivotal in Local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). It refers to consistently mentioning your business’s name, address, and phone number across various online platforms.

Having consistent and accurate NAP information on the internet is essential for improving your business’s chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant local searches. Search engines use NAP as a critical signal to determine the relevance and credibility of a local business.

Let’s break down each element of NAP and understand its importance in Local SEO:

1. Name:
Your business name should be consistent across all online platforms, including your website, social media profiles, Google My Business listing, review sites, directories, and citations. When choosing a name for your business that will be displayed online, opt for something unique yet simple so that customers can easily remember it.

2. Address:

Your physical location is crucial for Local SEO. Search engines use this information to determine where you are geographically so that they can provide relevant results to users searching for businesses in their area. Therefore, ensure you have an updated physical address on all online platforms.

3. Phone Number:

Similar to having a consistent name and address across the web, having a standardised phone number is equally essential for Local SEO. It helps customers reach out to you and enables search engines to verify the legitimacy of your business.

In addition to these three elements, it’s also essential to have consistent NAP information on every website page so that users can easily find it regardless of what page they land on.

The importance of NAP goes beyond just improving search engine rankings. It also plays a significant role in improving user experience and building trust with potential customers. Only accurate or consistent NAP information can make customers understand, hamper their ability to contact you, and even lead them to question your business’s credibility.

A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO in 2024

Step: 4 Optimise Online Directories and Citations to Help Your Local SEO

Optimising your online directories and citations is one of the most effective ways to improve your local SEO.

Your business’s online listings include essential information such as your name, address, phone number, and website. They are digital versions of traditional phonebooks and can significantly impact your ranking on search engines like Google.

To optimise these directories and citations, there are a few key steps you need to follow:

1. Consistency is Key

As mentioned when discussing your NAP, it is crucial to ensure that all your business information is consistent across all directories, citations, and website pages. Any spelling or contact information discrepancies can confuse search engines and affect your ranking.

2. Claim Your Listings

Start by claiming and verifying your listings on popular directories such as Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, Facebook Pages, etc. This will give you control over the information’s accuracy and allow you to respond to reviews. We have added some of the top free business directories below

3. Complete Your Profile

Make sure to fill out each listing with as much detail as possible. This includes adding business hours, services offered, photos/videos of your products or services, and a brief business description.

4. Use Keywords

Incorporate relevant keywords in the description section of each listing without being too spammy or unnatural.

5. Get Listed on Local Directories

Besides the popular directories mentioned above, it’s also essential to get listed on local directories specific to your industry or location, such as Chamber of Commerce websites or community pages.

6. Keep an Eye on Reviews

Encourage customers on these platforms to leave reviews about their experience with your business. Positive reviews not only build credibility but also improve visibility in search results.

7. Direct Links to Your Website

Include direct links from these directories/citations to various sections/pages on your website, such as product/service pages or location-specific landing pages.

8. Track Performance

Regularly monitor the performance of these listings through tools like Google Analytics or other analytics platforms specific to each directory. This will help you identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.

Free local directories to help with SEO

https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/business/
https://www.bingplaces.com/
https://www.yell.com/
https://www.yelp.co.uk/
https://www.192.com/
https://www.freeindex.co.uk/
https://www.cylex-uk.co.uk/
https://www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk/
https://www.hotfrog.co.uk/
https://www.bizify.co.uk/
https://www.opening-times.co.uk/
https://www.opendi.co.uk/
https://www.businessmagnet.co.uk/
https://www.mylocalservices.co.uk/

A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO in 2024

 

Improve your internal linking structure

Internal linking plays a crucial role in optimising your website for local SEO. It aids in navigation and helps search engines understand the hierarchy and relevance of your content.

1. Utilise Relevant Anchor Text

The anchor text, or the clickable words used to link one page to another, should accurately describe that page’s content. Use relevant keywords instead of generic terms like “click here” or “read more” as anchor text. This helps with SEO and makes it easier for users to understand where they are being directed.

2. Link to Relevant Pages

When creating internal links, make sure they are directing users to pages that are relevant and related to each other. Avoid linking unrelated pages, as this can confuse users and search engines. For example, if you have a blog post about “10 Best Restaurants in London”, it would be appropriate to link to a related article about the best hotels in London rather than one about hiking trails in Scotland.

3. Create a Logical Hierarchy

Organising your website’s content into logical categories and subcategories is vital to a good internal linking structure. This helps search engines understand the relationship between different pages on your site and improves user experience by making it easier for them to find relevant information.

4. Utilise Breadcrumb Navigation

This type of navigation system displays the user’s location within a website’s hierarchy, typically using horizontal links near the top of the page. Breadcrumb navigation makes it easier for users to navigate through your site. It provides valuable signals to search engines about which pages are connected and how they relate to each other.

5. Monitor Broken Links

Broken links disrupt the user experience and negatively impact SEO efforts, preventing search engine crawlers from properly indexing your site’s content. Regularly check for broken links within your internal linking structure and fix them promptly.

6. Keep it Natural

It’s important to remember that internal linking should always feel natural and not forced. Make sure to overcrowd your content with enough links, as this can make it appear spammy to both users and search engines. Focus on providing valuable information to users through your internal links rather than solely trying to improve SEO.

Optimise URL, Title Tags, Headers, Meta Description, and Content.

Optimising your website’s URL, title tags, headers, meta description, and content is essential for achieving success in local SEO. These elements help search engines understand the context and relevance of your web pages and improve the overall user experience. In this section, we will discuss how you can optimise each of these components to boost your local SEO efforts.

1) URL Optimisation:

Your website’s URL is one of the first things that search engines and users see when they come across your website. Therefore, it is crucial to optimise it for both readability and keywords. A well-optimised URL should be short, descriptive, and include relevant keywords related to the page’s content. For example, instead of a generic URL like:

“www.yourwebsite.com/page123”,

Opt for something specific like:

“www.yourwebsite.com/swindon-plastering-service/”.

Here we have shown that we are providing a “plastering service” and offering this service in “Swindon”. Before the search engine crawled the page, it clearly indicated its purpose.

Also, avoid using numbers or special characters in your URLs, as they make it difficult for both users and search engines to understand.

2) Title Tags:

Title tags play a significant role in on-page SEO as they are displayed as the clickable headline in search engine results pages (SERPs). It is crucial to ensure that each page on your site has a unique title tag that accurately describes its content while incorporating relevant keywords. Keep the title under 60 characters to stay in search results.

3) Headers:

Headers or H1 tags highlight the main headings on a webpage. They help readers navigate your content and provide context for search engines about the page’s topic. Use target keywords in at least one header tag on each page while keeping them natural and informative.

4) Meta Description:

Meta descriptions appear below the title tag in SERPs and briefly summarise what users can expect from clicking on your link. While these do not directly impact rankings, a well-written meta description can entice users to visit your site, improving click-through rates. Keep the description under 160 characters and use it to highlight your unique value proposition and include relevant keywords.

5) Add location pages to your website.

1. Add location-based information to your website’s pages
One of the critical elements in optimising your local SEO strategy is incorporating location-specific content on your website. This helps you rank higher on search engines and provides valuable information to potential customers about your business and its presence in their area.

Here are some ways to add location pages to your website:

a) Create a separate page for each branch or store

Creating individual pages for each is essential if you have multiple locations. This will help search engines recognise and index them separately, making it easier for local customers to find the nearest branch or store nearby. Include the full address, contact details, business hours, and directions to each location.

b) Utilise localised keywords

Include geographic keywords throughout your content, such as city or neighbourhood names, along with relevant terms related to your business. This will increase the chances of appearing in local searches when potential customers are looking for a specific product or service in their area.

c) Include customer reviews and testimonials

Customer reviews can significantly impact a consumer’s decision-making process. Therefore, include positive reviews from satisfied customers on your location pages. This will build trust with potential customers and provide valuable social proof of your reliability and credibility.

d) Optimise meta tags and descriptions

Meta tags and descriptions are crucial for SEO as they describe what users can expect from a webpage before clicking.

Ensure each page has unique meta titles and descriptions accurately representing the content, including relevant keywords and location-specific phrases.

e) Link internally between location pages

Interlinking between different location pages on your website can improve its overall search engine ranking and help visitors navigate seamlessly between branches or stores. This reduces bounce rates and enhances user experience, leading to increased conversions.

f) Embed a Google Map

Embedding a Google map on your location pages provides potential customers with visual aids and improves the page’s local search ranking. It allows users to easily find directions to your store, making visiting and fulfilling their needs convenient.

Creating location pages on your website is essential to optimising your online presence. Large companies in the UK have been utilising this strategy to showcase their products and services to potential customers in specific geographic areas. Creating a page for each area where you provide services can attract more clients and improve your online visibility. This is a proven strategy that can generate great results for your business.

illustration of man creating digital content

Creating Various Types of Local Content.

Creating locally-focused content is an essential aspect of successful local SEO strategies. With the rise of voice and personalised search results, search engines like Google increasingly prioritise local content.

Understand Your Local Audience

Before creating content, you must understand your target audience and their specific needs. Thorough research on your local market can help you identify topics that resonate with your audience and address their pain points.

Utilise Local Reviews

Positive reviews from satisfied customers can significantly impact a business’s reputation and visibility in online search results. Encourage happy customers to leave reviews on popular sites like Google My Business, Yelp or Trip Advisor. Responding promptly to positive and negative reviews shows potential customers you value feedback and customer satisfaction.

Feature Local Events or News

Including information about upcoming events or news related to your business or industry can be a great way to create engaging local content. This not only showcases your involvement in the community but also provides opportunities for backlinking when other websites mention your business in their coverage of the event or news.

Optimise for Voice Search

With the rise of voice-enabled devices, voice search optimisation has become crucial. Users tend to speak more naturally when using voice search; therefore, long-tail keywords are essential in creating optimised content for this search type.

Businesses wanting to impact their local market must create locally focused content. By understanding your audience, incorporating relevant keywords, utilising customer reviews, and featuring local events or news, you can create compelling content that attracts potential customers and helps you rank high in local search results.

mobile app development illustration

Ensure Your Website is Mobile-friendly

88% of people who conduct a local search on their phone visit within a week With most internet users accessing websites on their mobile devices, it has become essential for companies to ensure their website is optimised for mobile viewing.

Benefits of Having a Mobile-Friendly Website

Having a mobile-friendly website can significantly impact your SEO efforts. Search engines like Google prioritise websites optimised for mobile viewing in their search results. This means that if your website needs to be configured correctly for mobile devices, you may be losing out on potential customers searching for products or services similar to what you offer.

Furthermore, with the increasing use of smartphones and tablets, more people are conducting local searches while on the go. Visitors will likely leave and look elsewhere if your website could be more user-friendly on these devices. This can result in lower engagement rates and ultimately affect your sales and conversions.

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

To ensure that your website is easily accessible and navigable on all types of devices, here is how you can test:

a) Is your design responsive?

If you have a responsive design, it will automatically adapt your website layout to different screen sizes depending on what the viewer uses.

This means that no matter which device a visitor uses, they will have an optimal viewing experience without needing to zoom or scroll horizontally. If your website does not fit correctly on Mobile, you may need to speak to a website developer to revamp it.

b) Optimise Images

Large images can slow down your webpage’s loading speed on mobile devices. Compressing images or using smaller file sizes can improve loading times and enhance user experience. Again, to avoid this, you should seek help from a technical SEO specialist or a website developer.

 

Best online Local SEO Tools

What are the best online tools to help your Local SEO journey?

We have examined some of the best online Local SEO tools available today. These tools offer a range of features and benefits that can help businesses optimise their website and content for local search queries.

Google My Business

This has already been mentioned quite a few times in this article, so you can guess their importance regarding local SEO. Google My Business is the most essential tool for local SEO. It allows businesses to manage their online presence across different Google platforms, such as Search and Maps. By creating a business listing on Google My Business, companies can appear in relevant local search results with valuable information such as location, contact details, reviews, images, etc.

Benefits

  • Improved visibility on Google’s local SERPs
  • Increased chances of appearing in the coveted “3-pack” listings
  • Enables customers to easily find relevant information about your business
  • Offers insights into how people find and interact with your profile

Price: Free

 

Moz Local

Moz Local is another popular Local SEO tool that offers various features to help businesses improve their online presence in local searches. With Moz Local, you can manage your online listings across different directories, such as Yelp, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, etc., from one platform.

Benefits:

  • Automatically syncs information across all major directories
  • Allows businesses to monitor their reputation by tracking reviews
  • Provides insights into how customers are finding your business through different channels

Price: Starts at $129/year

 

Ahrefs Local SEO

Ahrefs is primarily known for its backlink analysis and keyword research features, but it also offers a powerful local SEO tool. With Ahrefs Local SEO, businesses can track their website’s performance on local search results and identify areas for improvement.

Benefits:

  • Accurate tracking of local rankings
  • Identifies the top-ranking pages and keywords for your competitors in local searches
  • Offers suggestions to improve your website’s visibility in local searches

Price: Starts at $99/month

 

BrightLocal

BrightLocal is an all-in-one Local SEO tool that offers citation tracking, reputation management, review monitoring, Google My Business insights, and more.

Benefits:

  • Streamlines various tasks related to managing online business listings
  • Provides detailed reports on website performance in local searches
  • Offers customisable citation building services

Price: Starts at $29/month

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