3. Complete SEO Guide – Local SEO

Just starting the Complete SEO Guide? Start here! Next4. Complete SEO Guide – Tools for SEO **** Note: If you are looking for a more comprehensive guide on Local SEO then check out our partner website BubbleLocal SEO. Local Search Engine Optimization is very similar to normal SEO, in fact, you would do everything described in the SEO guide before going on to local SEO, both On-Site and Off-Site SEO. The difference with local SEO and normal SEO is that you are targeting local search results. For example, if you run a Web Design Agency in Bournemouth, the search results for a person searching for “Web Design” located in Bournemouth would be different from the results a person sees who is located in London, or outside the country. These are Local results, intended by Google to provide the searcher a business based locally for their search term. You can test this out with a tool at http://isearchfrom.com/ that allows you to perform Google search from different locations. In this section we will break down the most important Local SEO indicators used by search engines, expected time-frame to attain local SERP ranking and how to gain a good local ranking.

How long does it take to rank in Local Search?

This is the question often asked by clients, and it’s a difficult question to answer as we have no control over what search engines do, but we can at best estimate. There are a few factors that could affect this estimate.

Age of Website

A brand new business with a brand new website has to start from scratch and it takes 6-10 weeks alone just for Google to index a brand new site, so it will take a little longer. The positive is that it would not have negative SEO attached to it or have been penalised by Google. Typically if it’s a brand new website in a fairly competitive industry, you can be looking at 9-12 months to get the desired results, which is usually Page 1 ranking for the main keywords.

Competitiveness of the industry/keywords

Competiveness of the keywords also matter a lot, as an example, a brand new website in an easy industry could take 3-6 months to get good local rankings instead of 9-12 months.

Existing Website

Existing Websites are easier to perform SEO on, you don’t have to wait for Google to index the pages but you do have some work to do depending on the quality of the SEO done so far. If it has been a poor SEO job or even worse, penalisation from Google, it could take over a year to fix everything. If it’s fairly average SEO work then results can be seen within 3 months for a website in an easy industry and 6 months for a more competitive industry.

How to rank Locally?

There are 4 main factors for ranking locally, in addition to normal SEO requirements (onsite optimised and offsite SEO). These are local citations by way of directory listings, inbound links, on-site optimisation and Reviews and Ratings. Local SEO results are largely based on online reputation of the business against their local competition and these 3 factors help increase that reputation.

Directory Listings (Local Citations)

Quite simply, the more local citations you have, the more credible your business appears to Google and search engines. Aim for about 50 local citations in directories within your country. Search engines look for NAP + W information. This stands for Name, Address, Phone Number and Website Address. There is also category which helps Google determine your competition. Make sure that the information is consistent, inconsistent information can cause your business to lose credibility and consistency could be as simple as “Manley Road” vs “Manley Rd.”, make sure whichever you go with, its consistent. Below are 30 of my favourite directories for local citations in the UK. If you are looking for built-for-you local citations, you should check our Marketers Center. (Note that Google, Yahoo and Bing Local are a MUST and not optional)
Google+ Local Scoot Hotfrog Independent
Yahoo! Local ThomsonLocal 118118 Yalwa
Bing Local TouchLocal Freeindex Wampit
Facebook Manta 192 City Visitor
Yell Foursquare Cyclex UK UK Small Business Directory
Yelp The Sun Brownbook MisterWhat
Foursquare iDorset Yalwa LinkedIn

Reviews and Ratings

Reviews are very important not just from an SEO perspective, but also for brand and business reputation. Google Plus displays your ratings and review, so does Yell and many others, and this can influence users whether they decide to visit your website or not. The importance of reviews and ratings to search engine rankings is still up for debate, however it will definitely affect that click-through-ratio of your site in the search results which is an SEO factor.

Inbound Links

Just as in normal SEO work, the quality and quantity of sites linking to your site is a big factor for determining your SERP ranking. We covered some backlink tactics in the Off-Site SEO section and they remain largely the same. The main difference being that with local SEO, you can leverage links from local businesses such as targeting local colleges, establishments for partnerships, offer discounts to get links.

Website Optimised

The requirements for on-site optimisation for local SEO remains the same. Some additional requirements such as a schema structure for business address helps, you can create one here http://schema-creator.org/. Ensure good quality content, keywords targeted in title, heading and content, images optimised, website loads fast and geo-targeting set correctly in Google Webmaster Tools. I also find it’s important to have the same ccTLD as your location if targeting local customers, as all things being equal, the ccTLD will have more success for local rankings.   **** Up Next4. Complete SEO Guide – Tools for SEO

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