How to do local SEO?
The 3 keys to position your business with local SEO are:
- Set up your Google Business Profile (GBP), the old Google My Business.
- Optimize the information in your GBP to make it more trackable by search engines and users.
- Keep your GBP updated.
Below we provide you with the information about local SEO that you need to know to position your physical business in Google and make it always present among the first results of queries in your area.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is the application of a set of digital strategies and tools aimed at improving the presence and visibility of your business in Internet search engines, of which the most important worldwide is Google .
While conventional SEO techniques seek to position a web page in a global search context, local SEO techniques seek to highlight the relevance of a particular business in an environment close to the user.
For example, if a user searches Google for a pharmacy, an inn, or a pizzeria, the algorithms of this search engine will show them relevant results in their city or neighborhood.
Who can do local SEO?
Whether you have an establishment with a physical address (store, restaurant, doctor’s office, hotel, etc.) or if you offer services at home (for example, event photography, catering, plumbing, gardening, among others), the use of techniques and strategies of Local SEO can help you increase your sales and make your business stand out from the competition.
What factors influence local SEO?
Local SEO increases the presence and visibility of your business or commercial proposal on the Internet by applying techniques based on a set of optimization criteria, of which the most important are relevance, proximity and popularity .
It refers to the precision with which Google associates the keywords used in the query with the user’s search intentions.
In this way, the algorithm will first show those results that it considers most relevant according to the authority or real importance of the business.
For example, if you are a pioneer in your business, if you dominate a market niche, if you stand out from your competitors, etc.
Google’s algorithms compare the location information of your company or business with the location of the customer who makes the query on the Internet.
This is done through different techniques that include geolocation through GPS, evaluation of the IP addresses of digital equipment and also of postal codes, telephone numbers and addresses of physical establishments.
Once the Google algorithm identifies your business as a relevant result within its close geographic environment, it evaluates its level of popularity and acceptance by other users.
For this reason, customer reviews and testimonials are very important to increase your business presence and visibility on Google , so make sure you encourage your customers to express their level of satisfaction with the products or services you offer them. .
Why is local SEO important?
Local SEO is very important because it allows your company, business or service to be found easily and quickly on Google.
Remember that SEO is the only tool with which users will find you exactly when they need you.
If your company or business does not have an adequate presence and visibility on Google, you will surely be losing a large number of potential customers for your products or services.
On the other hand, your competitors are not going to miss the opportunity to display their offers in the various tools available today. Now, read on to find out what those tools are and how they work.
Types of local search results
When a user makes a local query on Google, the search engine algorithm shows them two types of information:
- Snack packs: These are the first 3 results that the Google search engine presents at the top, framed in a box. The snack packs contain essential business information, such as your business name, address, telephone number, hours, among others.
- Organic results : These are those corresponding to websites that manage to position themselves based on their relevance, proximity and popularity.
Recent statistics show that approximately 40% of the clicks made by users go to organic results, while around 33% correspond to snack packs.
This allows us to conclude that it is very important for your company or business to position yourself both in snack packs and in organic results and, to achieve this, local SEO techniques and tools are necessary.
Platforms to do local SEO
Currently there are several search engines, such as Google, Bing, Apple Maps, etc., that allow you to advertise your company or business on the Internet for free.
However, of all of them the most important is Google , where between 87% and 92% of total searches are carried out (at least in the United States market). Of those queries, it is estimated that approximately 46% correspond to local searches.
Because Google is the most widely used search engine in the world, in this article we will focus on the fundamental aspects of its local SEO tool, Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business).
Google Business Profile
In the case of Google, this platform offers the Google Business Profile (GBP) local SEO tool , which is free, very useful and easy to configure.
It is vital that you know and respect the rules and guidelines of GBP to enjoy the benefits of its platform and avoid unnecessary penalties.
Among the main types of business activities allowed by Google Business Profile are:
- Companies and businesses with a physical location that users and customers can visit, such as stores, restaurants, hotels, etc. This includes the service industry, such as banks, medical services, etc.
- Local area services, such as plumbers, electricians, photographers, etc., who can serve customers at home.
- Hybrid companies and businesses, that is, that have a physical location but also provide home delivery services, for example, a pizzeria that has a specific establishment but delivers to the place of your choice.
Among some of the activities and practices not allowed and penalized by Google Business Profile are:
- Offer properties for rent or sale, such as vacation homes.
- Offer services, classes or meetings in places that you do not own or do not have the authority to represent.
- Register virtual offices and/or mailboxes (PO boxes).
- Register and operate agents or companies generating leads.
- Generate false, misleading or unrealistic advertising or information.
- Use of abusive, harassing, fraudulent or unreliable tactics or strategies with potential users and customers.
- Illegal or unethical activities (in accordance with current legislation).
Failure to comply with the rules of Google Business Profile can lead to sanctions ranging from account suspension and deletion of your company or business information, to legal proceedings, in the case of activities or practices punishable by law.
How to do local SEO?
It is important to note that any local SEO strategy must take mobile optimization into consideration.
This is because, by their very nature, a significant number of users and potential customers conduct local searches from mobile devices when they are in new or unfamiliar places, for example when sightseeing or visiting another city.
Set up your account in Google Business Profile
Setting up your account is a very simple process that consists of a list of basic actions that you must complete to launch your profile in GBP and enjoy the benefits of being present in the most important local SEO directories:
- Registering the business name: This is the first step in creating your business account in GBP. If you already have an account with that name, you can update the data. If not, you can create an account from scratch.
It is very important that in this step you use the name of your company or business as it is in reality. Any type of unnecessary information, commercial slogans, codes, telephone numbers, URLs, or special characters that are not part of the commercial name is not allowed.
For example, it is permissible to use the acronym “DHL” because it is the name of that shipping company. Similarly, it is possible to use “Dolce & Gabbana” because the special ampersand “&” is part of that trademark.
If when entering Google Business Profile you realize that the name of your company or business is already registered, you must proceed to claim it, that is, regain control of it. For this, you must follow the procedure indicated by the GBP platform.
- Enter Company Description – This is a short but meaningful description of the products and services you offer. Google Business Profile requires that the information presented in this field is honest, accurate, and consistent with the information available on other digital platforms (for example, social networks).
In this sense, the GBP guidelines are very strict and do not allow the publication of irrelevant, misleading, inaccurate or fraudulent information, offensive, inappropriate or illegal content (for example, promotion of hate, discrimination, violence or sexually explicit content).
- Register the address of your company or business : in this step you must enter the physical address of your establishment as accurately as possible. Registering virtual offices is not allowed.
In the case of home service providers, such as plumbers, electricians, photographers, etc., you must create a profile of “service area business” ( SAB , for its acronym in English)
- Enter the exact location of your company: this is done on a digital map using a location pin that you can move and fix manually to indicate the geographical position of your establishment.
- Define the category of your company or business : the category of your company or business has to do with the type of products and services you offer.
Google Business Profile has a menu of default categories and you should choose the one that best represents your business model and value proposition, taking into consideration what your company is rather than what your company has .
The idea is to define your company or business broadly, encompassing all the commercial activities you offer, but being specific enough to allow GBP’s local SEO optimization algorithms to classify your corporate profile appropriately.
- Register your business phone number and website : It is critical to the success of your business that your phone number and website are up-to-date and consistent with other business information, especially when doing local SEO for services.
In accordance with GBP regulations, the telephone number provided must actually correspond to the company, it must not redirect to other companies or third parties, it must not be a premium rate number and, as far as possible, it must not direct to a call center or a helpline, especially in the case of large companies.
- Specify the hours of operation or attention to the public : The importance of this step is self-explanatory. You must tell your potential customers what your business hours are.
However, there are certain cases in which this is much more relevant, for example, for businesses and companies that have seasonal cycles, such as tour operators. It is also important to specify the hours on holidays or during special events.
In accordance with the GBP guidelines, there are certain businesses that must not provide schedules, either because they provide services continuously or repetitively (multiple schedules), such as airports, airlines, schools and universities, hotels, movie theaters, among others. .
- Verify your GBP account : In order for your company or business to be published on Google you must first verify your corporate account. This is done by following the steps that the Google Business Profile platform itself tells you.
Optimize your Google Business Profile account
Once you’ve created your GBP business or company profile, it’s important to focus on local SEO optimization for your business account. To achieve this, there are several simple techniques that you can apply. The most commons are:
- Post photos : According to GBP statistics, accounts that post photos have up to 40% more views . This, in turn, increases the probability of converting a user inquiry into an effective sale.
In this way, an easy and economical way to increase the presence and visibility of your business on Google is by publishing relevant and striking photos of your company, your products and services, etc.
According to GBP guidelines, photos between 10KB and 5MB can be posted, must be in JPG or PNG format, with a recommended resolution of 720px high x 720px wide, and must not have significant alterations or use excess filters.
One type of photo that should not be missing from your GBP account is your company logo, as well as all those images that contribute to projecting, consolidating and highlighting the visual identity of your business.
An excellent way to promote your company or business is by showing images of your work team performing their duties, photos of attractive or significant internal and external areas of your local or physical store, etc.
Similarly, you should publish photos that add value to your commercial proposal, such as the products that are for sale or elements related to the services that you offer.
On the contrary, photos from image banks or third-party entities should not be used because this detracts from your commercial proposal and disadvantages the positioning of your company or business on Google.
A very interesting option for certain types of businesses, such as hotels, inns, bars, restaurants, pastry shops, entertainment venues, gyms, beauty salons, etc., is to make 360 interactive tours that show the best of your physical establishment.
In this way, always add high quality and good resolution photos, original and representative of your company or business, to improve its presence and visibility on Google.
- Publish videos : In the same way that occurs with photos, the publication of short but high-quality videos gives you the opportunity to show significant content that projects the image of your business and increases the capture of potential clients.
According to GBP rules you can post videos up to 30 seconds in length, a maximum of 75 MB, with a recommended resolution of 720p or higher. Use a free online video maker to create such videos that are engaging and informative for users who view your business listing.
In the case of videos, the same recommendations that are given for photos apply, especially in terms of the relevance and originality of the content, so that they effectively contribute to adding value to your company or business and improve its positioning in Google.
- Publish listings : According to the type of commercial activity that your company or business develops, it is highly recommended to publish a list of the products or services that you offer.
This is even more important if your business is a gastronomic company, such as a bar, restaurant, pizzeria, pastry shop, etc., in which case it is essential to publish a list of available menus and house specialties.
The strategy of creating and publishing lists or menus of products or services must be harmoniously complemented by the two previous strategies: publication of photos and videos. In this way, the positive effects of each strategy are enhanced, significantly improving the positioning of your company or business on Google.
- Publish content : Sharing quality information on topics directly or indirectly related to the commercial activity of your business is a very useful strategy to strengthen the image of your company and attract new users and customers.
For example, suppose your business is a pizzeria and you decide to publish informative content about the ingredients of your pizzas, their history and geographical origin, their nutritional qualities, among others.
A person searching on Google for information on wheat, tomato, oil, mozzarella, etc., may be directed by Google’s search algorithm to the content section of your GBP account.
In this way, a user who was not initially making inquiries about pizzas can learn about your business, the types of pizzas and other products you offer, and become a new customer.
And, since we are talking about local SEO, it is very likely that this person is interested in approaching your establishment to take a look or order a delivery of pizzas to their home or workplace.
Keep your Google Business Profile account up to date
Once you have created, configured and optimized your Google Business Profile account, you need to keep it up to date. To this end, we give you the following recommendations on the most important elements to keep updated.
- Contact information : It is essential that the physical address, as well as the telephone numbers, the website and the social network accounts of your company or business are always up to date and consistent with each other.
- Listings of products and services : It is also very important to ensure that the information about the products and services offered by your company or business is always up to date.
- Hours and conditions of service : Any change in the hours or conditions of service (for example, new biosecurity measures, etc.) must be timely reflected in your GBP account information.
- Photos and videos : Periodically you must add new representative, relevant and quality audiovisual material that shows your users and customers that your company is dynamic and your business is prosperous.
- Informative content : As in the case of photos and videos, you should regularly add new topics to increase the acquisition of new customers and maintain the interest of those who already know your business.
- News : Whenever new products or services are added (or withdrawn) to your commercial offer, discounts, promotions or any other activity, strategy or information of interest to your users or customers, you must timely reflect it in your GBP account.
- Events : If you are a company that is dedicated to organizing events, for example, the entertainment industry, sporting events, cultural events, etc., you must inform your users or clients of the schedule of your activities with sufficient time.
- Reviews : One of the factors that most influences the positioning of your company or business in Google is its popularity, and this in turn depends largely on the level of satisfaction of users and customers.
In this way, it is very important that you encourage your users and customers to publish reviews about their experience and degree of satisfaction with your products and services, and you should always respond to their reviews and comments in a grateful and friendly manner, both positive and negative. .
In the case of negative reviews or comments, the response must be empathetic, apologize for what has caused low customer or user satisfaction, try to understand the origin and nature of the failure or conflictive situation, and express the disposition of correct or compensate for it.
- Questions : As with reviews and comments, you should always respond in a timely, friendly, concise, and accurate manner to questions from your users and customers.
If the volume of questions asked is very large, you can create a section of Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ , for its acronym in English)
How to maximize your sales with local SEO?
In conclusion, if you are the operator of a business with a physical establishment, or you are a service provider in a certain geographical area, and you want to maximize your sales with local SEO, you should start by putting these 3 keys into practice :
- Set up your corporate account in Google Business Profile.
- Optimize your corporate account in Google Business Profile.
- Keep your corporate account updated in Google Business Profile.
To set up your account in Google Business Profile you must create it (or, if it already exists, you must claim it, that is, regain control of it), for which you must follow the steps, rules and guidelines of GBP .
Once your Google Business Profile account is configured, you must optimize it , publishing photos, videos and listings of your products and services that strengthen the image of your company and add value to your business.
Finally, you must always keep your Google Business Profile account updated , especially contact information , hours and conditions of service, as well as always responding to reviews and questions from your customers .
Final comments (+Infographic)
Of course, there are other strategies to improve the presence and visibility of your online business, but these 3 keys are the first step to boost your GBP account towards the first results of Google local searches:
Now, it is valid to ask, if all my competitors are applying the same local SEO techniques, how can I obtain a greater advantage to position my company or business among the first results of Google?
If you want to give your company an even greater advantage over your competitors on Google, it is best to hire an SEO agency with knowledge of local SEO optimization .