Local SEO is sometimes defined as ranking in the map results. Map results are an important part, but as a local SEO consultant I think it’s more. I define local SEO as improving search visibility for a business that serves a particular location or has a fixed address its customers visit whether that’s on the map or elsewhere.
If your brand has potential to win new customers from search engine searches that include the location where you trade, you need local SEO. If don’t already have a stream of customers coming from search engines, you need a local SEO Consultant like me.
Search engines are divided into search verticals. The search verticals are the ways different types of results are organised. You’ll have seen the different search verticals for all, maps, images, videos, news, hotels, flights and so on. A vertical search engine is slightly different, it’s a search engine that specialises in a particular niche. Like booking.com for hotels or trustrader.com for tradesmen.
When someone performs a local search, a brand targeting searches that include a location should rank in all results, the map results and on vertical search engines that operate within the brand’s niche are likely to pick up some of that traffic.
A search engine’s mission is to provide the user the information it wants in as few clicks as possible. Therefore, a broad search like ‘service provider + location” is more likely to bring up vertical search engines and offer other verticals within the general search engine, like Google does with maps.
The outcome is that results for a local search tend to follow this order: adverts, maps, vertical search engines, news media and the service providers with the biggest SEO budget. It’s obvious where a brand working on local SEO should invest its energy. The budget available, and the way your customers behave, will influence how much energy is invested in each area. I’ll help you work out the best approach to local SEO for your business and market.
A local SEO Consultant like me will help you improve your search visibility for searches that contain your target location. I help my clients decide if they should pursue the map results or if they should also consider all results. In addition, I define which vertical search engines they should be on to reach their market through searches that end up on vertical search engines.
The same things that are important in SEO in general are important in local SEO but a major difference between general SEO and local SEO is citations (directory entries on websites like yell.com). In local SEO citations have more influence on map ranks than backlinks so a local SEO campaign that will achieve top map ranks should include lots of citation building.
You don’t just want any citation though; you want citations that specialise in your local area and are used by your customers and competitors. By building good quality and relevant citations, a local SEO consultant is building a typical web footprint of a local brand.
A brand will also benefit greatly from a local off-page SEO profile (backlinks, citations, reviews, mentions, tags) that indicates it’s active in the local area. It’s why you often see local brands sponsoring local charities, participating in local activities, and engaging with local personalities with their social media. It helps their position as a local brand, but it also helps their local SEO. If you serve the local area your SEO must have a local angle.
A local SEO consultant doesn’t have to live within the local area where they’re campaigning. I’ve earned number one map ranks in towns and cities I’ve never visited, and I’ve earned top ranks in all rankings and map rankings for local businesses in London (in the UK local SEO doesn’t get much tougher than London due to its size and competitive density).
The way I achieve local ranks is simple. I research a local area and other local businesses that occupy top local ranks and I very quickly get an understanding of the local landscape. That landscape could differ from area to area and industry to industry, but it could include anything from getting involved with the local chamber of commerce, sponsoring a local football team or holding a charity bake off.
The more intense a local SEO campaign the faster you’ll see results. I’ve achieved a top three rank for ‘SEO Agency + County’ for one of my clients and that took three weeks from publishing the page to achieving the rank (number two on page one). Competing with other SEO agencies for an entire county is quite competitive, but it only took a few weeks because a lot of energy was put into it in a small space of time.
Some of my clients prefer to earn ranks gradually, realise gains from those and work towards achieving more others prefer to work more intensively and realise gains more quickly. A slower more gradual approach usually suits a small business that is reliant on cash flow and wants to gradually increase its size. An intensive campaign suits a business with ambitious, short-term growth plans.
When we talk about your campaign, we’ll agree activities and expectations in advance, so you’ll know when you’ll begin realising gains from your improved search visibility before the campaign begins.
Local SEO is a competitive activity. I’ve achieved some top local ranks and not had to do any maintenance to keep them because the rest of the market wasn’t doing SEO and it was easy for my client to remain the best within their local area. I’ve seen other local ranks achieved and then lost within a matter of days because the competitors have active SEO teams working to maintain and win new ranks.
As a rule, the time required to earn a rank influences the time required to keep it. The more difficult ranks tend to have competitors who will invest more energy to keep what a new entrant has taken.
Before we start your local SEO campaign, I’ll outline keyword difficulty so you’ll know in advance how much energy will be required to earn it and keep it.
My hourly rates start at £60 an hour. For a local business serving a large town or small city, with active competitors, I could make a meaningful impact with around twenty to forty hours work. That can be done intensively or spread to suit your business plans.
When we talk about your local SEO campaign, I’ll research the competitive density of your market so you’ll know in advance a forecast of hours to achieve the goals we’ve agreed and how much your campaign will cost.
Do you want to know what it’ll take for your website to achieve a top local rank? Book a free one-hour SEO consultancy on my online calendar.