Read about the top influencers of local SEO in 2019: we define local SEO, tell you why it’s important for your business, list the pillars of local SEO, and provide a forecast of the top influencers of local SEO in the coming year based on these pillars to keep you ahead of the curve.
Local SEO is a subset of SEO that focuses on increasing your business’ online visibility to help customers find your local business (i.e. at your physical location or at the area you provide your services in) for face-to-face/in-person contact.
By extension, a ‘local business’ in the context of online digital marketing refers to any business that in some way requires in-person meetings between the business’ representatives and the customer either in a service area or through a storefront. An online-only business that provides it’s services to a specific geographic area can also be termed as a ‘local business’ as its operations are confined to a specific locality.
Like any business owner, you’d like your customers to have a pleasant experience from the instance they set foot inside your store. But that’s ancient customer service experience in this day; now the customer experience begins when your customer searches your store for the first time on the internet. It’s, therefore, crucial that your business’ information is as easy to find online for your customers as possible.
Local SEO is not just important for the customer experience, it also helps improve conversions and we have the stats to show that:
- 80% of internet users use search engines when looking for local information,
- 71% of people conduct an online search to confirm a business’ location before visiting for the first time,
- 50% of customers who make a local search on mobile devices visit the store within a day, and;
- 18% of local mobile searches result in a sale within one day.
With this kind of statistics about local search, it’s imperative for any business to get up to speed with its local SEO.
Similar to the broader SEO, Local SEO requires you to stay ahead of the curve in order to edge out your competitors. That means evaluating your current position and implementing new strategies in order to have the first-mover advantage, which makes now the perfect time to start planning for your business’ local SEO strategy in 2019.
With local-SEO rules seemingly changing every other day, many internal marketing teams and business owners find it to be incredibly difficult to stay ahead. But even with all these changes, there are a couple of factors that will always remain constant and key signals for local SEO ranking. These are:
- Distance. How far is the potential result from the location term that’s being used for a local search? For this, preference is given to the closest business. If the location is not specified by the user, the search engine uses the user’s device location.
- Relevance. How well do the local listings match the user’s query? Complete and detailed information about a business helps a search engine understand your business and better match it to user queries.
- Prominence. Prominence in the offline world, as well as online prominence (based on information pertaining to your business available online through links, directories and articles), will be reflected in local search rankings.
While other factors often change with different search engine (read Google) updates, these core factors remain the key determinants of local search rankings and the pillars of local SEO. As a result, all local SEO strategies are created and implemented in line with these factors.
Based on the above-mentioned key ranking factors, we can predict the top influencers of local SEO in the coming year. They are:
- Local business directory listings (NAP consistency)
This forms the basis of local SEO and will continue to play a prominent role in local search rankings in 2019. For the best customer experience, search engines prefer to display information that can be verified. Having business listings on different online directories that are contradictory makes it difficult for search engines to verify the information’s authenticity.
To excel in local SEO in the coming year, make sure to claim as many directory listings as possible and update them with up-to-date information about your business. The most important information being your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP for short). This includes claiming and updating your information on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business – the two biggest directories.
- Local content
Search engines are continuously getting smatter which means that they are equally getting better at identifying your content’s relevance to users. Make sure you create relevant local content that is location specific to rank well in Local search. This involves adding location information to your content as well as other relevant keywords. Local content can include industry or local news so as to attract a local audience.
Additionally, your meta tags and meta descriptions should also include the geographical location your content is targeted for. Be careful not to “stuff” the location information but instead make it appear naturally and sparingly in your content. Keyword stuffing is still a penalizable offence when it comes to SEO and local SEO.
- On-site optimisation
Onsite optimisation will continue to be an important ranking factor for general SEO as well as local SEO in the coming year. Optimise your website for SEO and local SEO by harmonizing your sites URLs, meta tags and meta descriptions for consistency and relevance throughout your website. Internal links and a proper sitemap should also be added to your site for more efficient crawling by search engines.
Additionally, you should use schema markup to help organise your site and provide the information search engines require to generate meaningful results for improved local search ranking in 2019.
- Local links and citations
Google and other search engines have been (for a long time) using links to measure the quality and relevance of your website. For local search, inbound links portray the relevance of your business. This trend doesn’t seem to be coming to an end soon and will play an important role for local SEO in the coming year.
Get authoritative and relevant inbound links and citations (mentions of your business on other websites that include name, address, phone number and/or website URL) to improve your local SEO. You can do this by leveraging your local network of vendors, distributors, suppliers and other affiliates or by contributing guest blogs to other relevant local websites.
- Mobile optimisation
With its mobile-first indexing update, Google announced to the world the level of importance it puts on mobile users. And with 88% of all local searches coming through mobile devices, it’s imperative that you have your website optimised for mobile to improve your current local search ranking and to secure your future local SEO as well.
Ensure your website loads quickly on mobile devices and contains all the information you would find on the full website to ensure the visitor experience is uniform across all the platforms – desktop and mobile.
For more information visit: https://www.websitestrategies.com.au/