Whether you own a brick-and-motor store in Australia or have an online business, you certainly want more people to easily find their way into your store. The good news is that attracting local customers nowadays is even easier than before thanks to the ability to market yourself within a defined geographical area specifically your service area. This is made possible due to local SEO. In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about local SEO and how you can get started with it.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is whereby you optimize your website or blog to rank better for your local audience. Local SEO has grown exponentially over the last few years mainly due to the rise of the smartphone and better connectivity. For example, in 2011, statistics declared that over 40 percent of all mobile search engine queries had local intent. According to another study done by Forbes, it was established that over 95 percent of all smartphone users had at least performed a local search using their device and out of this, 61 percent had called the business and 59 percent visited it. From these statistics, it is safe to assume that local SEO is slowly becoming a major avenue for potential customers.
How Local Search Works and Impacts Your Business
Although it has some few similarities with organic SEO, local SEO mainly focuses on providing internet users with search results that are most relevant based on their current location. Since your website or blog will probably put you on show to the entire world, if your target audience is actually located near or inside Melbourne city or anywhere in Australia where you are operating then you definitely need to start practicing local SEO.
If you own a business, optimizing for local SEO can be very rewarding. As we have seen in the beginning of this guide, most of the Australian local searches originate from the local population that is searching for a business like yours. This means that when done right, local SEO can help capture this audience and provide your potential customers with the right information that they are looking for. Even if you still don’t have an official website, through local SEO you will still be able to stand out in the local searches and drive more traffic to your store using online leads. As we mentioned earlier, more than 61 percent of those people who will perform the local searches will end ended up calling your business. This in turn lays a very strong foundation upon which a business can use to build strong relationships with customers.
What Search engines use local search
We usually tend to focus mostly on Google Place search and Maps results because Google has the largest market share. With an estimated 87 percent of market share, it is arguable that most Australians use Google to search the internet for local content. However, this doesn’t, mean that it is the only search engine that uses local search. Surprisingly, there are a good number of local search engines that also do this. Some of the biggest search engines that also use local search include:
- Bing Local – Since Bing local listings is powered by Yelp, it makes it becomes even more important to have a Yelp listing. Bing local displays content about your business’s photos, review snippets, and attributes to Bing users. If your business is not yet listed, you just go to Bing Business Portal and list it.
- Yahoo! Local – Yahoo local shows your business address, website URL, and phone number. Setting up a listing in Yahoo is very similar to Yelp. You just go to Yahoo! Local and then search for your business and edit it’s information. If it is not listed, you just head over to Yahoo’s business listing page and begin the process.
- Foursquare Search – While socializing through check-ins is usually the main feature of Foursquare, it is also good for searching businesses. The huge amount of data that they compile is what makes it a strong local search engine that people can use to search for businesses. In Foursquare, businesses can further customize their listings by adding websites, categories, and Twitter handles.
- Yelp – Yelp is one of the most popular and visited local directories for finding local businesses. Internet users can write reviews, rate businesses, and even follow one another just like Twitter. For the business owners, you can upload photos of the businesses, communicate with customers, track the number of people viewing their business profiles, and even recommend other businesses. To get listed in Yelp, you simply create a Yelp account and log in to begin.
What is Search Intent and SERP?
Search engine results page also known as SERP is the long list of results usually returned by search engine in response to an internet users word or phrase query. In each of the listings returned, the internet user can see the linked Web page’s URL and title and a brief description of the content. On the other hand, the search intent is described as the reason that is behind the internet users search query. In other words, it refers to the objective that the internet user is trying to achieve by searching the phrase or word. Although there are probably different types of search intent, the most common include: to learn about something, to take action e.g. purchasing something, or to find something. If your business wants to attract new customers in Melbourne then it needs to focus on the search intent of your visitors.
How Google Maps are Different from Google Mybusiness?
Google Maps are often used to navigate from one specific location to the other. In addition to that, it can also show you some highlights, reviews, and photos of the place. This is a very useful app when you are wandering in Australia or are going to a city you have never been to earlier. On the other hand, Google My Business is what you do to make your business locatable on Google Maps. It is what you will use to register your business so that information about it including reviews and photos can be shown to the users.
Google My Business Role in Small Business Growth
As we have seen above, Google has an estimated market share amounting up to 87 percent. This means that claiming your listing on Google My Business should be a top priority even though Bing places and other listings may be important as well. According to Moz, it is one of the top ranking factors for both organic results and ‘’snack pack’’. Google snack pack is simply the boxed area that usually appears on the first page of Google results when someone does a local online search. Usually, it displays the first top 3 listings that are most relevant to the search query. Google My Business offers businesses with many marketing opportunities. The best part is that it is a totally free and easy to use tool for attracting more local traffic. So what are some of the benefits of using Google My Business?
- Helps Customers Find Your Physical Location – Using this tool, a business can list it’s exact address and location on the map. This in turn makes internet users able to reach you much easier as they no longer have to only rely on a paper map.
- Gives you Better Search Visibility – You have probably notice that there is a high-visibility panel usually at the top of every search page, just below the paid ads. Having a fully optimized Google My Business listing can help your business to land in this section and in turn gain more search visibility.
- Displays Useful Information – Thanks to Google My Business, you can easily make important updates about your business. Some of the useful information that will be displayed about your business that you can update include hours of operation, busy Periods, directions, photos, and the description of your business.
- Another Communication Channel – Another benefit of Google My Business is that it provides you with a new interactive channel for communication effectively with your existing and potential customers. In addition to that, you can use it to promote your offers and promotions.
- Cost-effective local marketing – Being a free tool to use, it gives small businesses an avenue to advertise themselves compared to spending on billboards and TV ads.
How to Keep Google My Business Profile Healthy and Happy
Now that we have seen how Google My Business is important for your business growth, it’s important to master how to create a profile that helps you feature in the local search. One mistake that many businesses make is just adding a few details to their listing right after claiming it. To help your business stand out in Melbourne, here are the steps you need to optimize your listing and make it healthy.
- Ensure your information is accurate and up-to-date – Even if your listing has existed for quite a while, it’s important to ensure that the information present is correct. The Name, Address, Phone Number, Website, Description, Category, and Attributes should be consistent with whatever is listed on your website. It is also advisable to add at least a profile photo, a cover photo, and a video showcasing your business. You could even encourage your happy customers to upload photos of their various interactions with your business.
- Ask for reviews – Reviews are very important when it comes to local search. Actually, 90 percent of people usually read reviews before making a purchase. So how can you get reviews from your customers? With Google My Business, it is very easy to get reviews. All you have to do is send links to your previous customers via email and/or text.
- Activate Google My Business Messages – Google My Business comes with a messaging feature that you should activate. The feature provides a perfect solution for communicating one-on-one with your potential customers. To turn the feature on, simply click the “Turn On Messaging” button that is located on your profile’s dashboard. When you unlock the messaging feature, you will add a number where you will receive an SMS when someone asks a question in your listing.
- Add posts to share business updates – Launched by Google in 2017, the Google post feature allows your business to share content about their business. Through the posts, your business can showcase an upcoming event and share updates on various advancements. The posts also allow your businesses to add gifs and even call-to-action buttons.
What is a local citations and its role?
A local citation, also known as NAP (Number, Address, and Phone) is just an online mention of your business name, it’s address, and phone number. It applies when your business is mentioned on other websites on the Internet. So what is the role of Local Citations?
Generally, search engines use local citations to gauge a business’ online reputation. For example, Google likes having as much information as it can about any business. Therefore, the more quality information it finds, the more credibility it will give to that information and the higher the business’ placement will be in the local search results.
The mindset of many business owners has always been that having more citations is always better. However, unknown to them is that maintaining local citation consistency is the key. In fact, very low-quality citations can negatively impact Search engine’s trust in your business. This means that instead of trying to use sheer volume to improve your business’ online reputation, you should only aim at making sure that all of your business data is consistent all over the internet.
How to Maintain Local Citation Consistency?
Normally, those businesses with consistent data on the web relating to their Name, Address, and Phone number tend to be ranked higher. This is because to the search engines, having consistent citations mean that your business always provides it’s searchers with the right information. However, the process of optimizing your business listing on various websites is something that requires lots of time and understanding. This is because your business will often be listed on directories without you even being aware of it. So how can you ensure that your listing remains accurate and consistent after it has been listed on a category? Thankfully, there are companies that offer businesses with local listing management services. These are known as local listing management companies.
How local SEO services can help your business?
Being that 61 percent of all consumers who conduct local search visit a local store within the same day, local SEO comes out as a great way for businesses to get in front of searchers. This means that if your business goes a step ahead and invests in local SEO, you will even realize more payback. Incorporating local SEO services to your marketing strategy is a sure way to get in front of more potential customers. Whether you are a new business in Melbourne or an already existing one, local SEO services is the most effective strategy for gaining an edge over your local competitors. So what are some of the ways local SEO services can help your business grow?
- Cost-Effective Approach for Reaching Customers – When compared with other forms like AdWords and PPC, local SEO services emerges as a very cost-effective approach for reaching customers. Despite being rather inexpensive, you can still expect a huge return on investment. The best part is that it is very effective especially when it comes to boosting your offline purchases.
- Increase in your ROI – Every business has one main goal which is increasing it’s return on investment or ROI. If your business is among the ones that are struggling to do this then you need to start using local SEO services. When you implement local SEO services, your website will be sure to get quality leads which will results in a great Return on your Investment.
- Uplift Your Brand Awareness – Having an impressive website is not enough to make your brand become very familiar with the people. There are other strategies that are also very necessary when it comes to building your brand awareness. Being that there are hundreds of thousands of websites out there, having a good ranking is one of the major and most important factors that will come into play as much as building brand awareness is concerned. Using local SEO services, you can be sure to get good ranking as well as earn the trust of the people.
- Trigger Your Conversion Rate – There are times that you will realize that as much as your website is getting enough traffic, there are little or no conversions. This happens mainly due to irrelevant traffic or having a poor website design. For a business, getting irrelevant traffic is worthless since your main concern is getting conversions. However, getting your website optimized very well for relevant local search terms can help you pull the relevant traffic that is most likely to result in conversions.
- Give a Competitive Edge to Your Business – With more and more businesses coming up each and every day, competition in the marketplace also grows at a very fast rate. To have an edge over your competitors, you have to make good use of the digital medium. Local SEO is among the most effective when it comes to staying a step ahead of your competitors. Through local SEO services, your website will become compatible with the local search terms which will in turn give you a competitive edge.
How to Choose a Right Local SEO Company in Melbourne
When you finally decide to use the services of a local SEO company in Melbourne, you need to hire the right SEO Company that will help you perfectly shape your plan. However, currently there are dozens of options available and this can make it rather daunting to know which one particularly is right one for you. So how do you choose from them the one that will get you the results that you need? To help you narrow down your search, we have compiled a list of the top tips that will enable you find the right local SEO Company in Melbourne.
- Look at their service packages – Before you hire a local SEO company, it is important to first know what affordable SEO plans they offer. So, what do you need to look for in a local SEO package? One of the top things that you should ensure is in your local SEO package is Google My Business optimization. Another equally important service that they should offer is SEO keyword optimization. These are among the few campaigns that form a very important part of your local business.
- Look at their prices – It goes without saying that budgeting is very important to any business. When hiring a local SEO company, you definitely won’t want to exceed your budget. Most companies offer a variety of packages and therefore you should ask the price ranges early enough to see if the service is in your price range. However, you should be very careful when doing this since many companies tend to hide some other prices. When researching companies, it is advisable to also research and know the average cost for local SEO services so that at least you have an idea of how much it should cost you.
- Look at their portfolio – Another thing worth checking out when researching a company is their portfolio. It is a company’s portfolio that will give you all the information pertaining to the work they do for their clients. For example, you can probably look at some of the Google My Business listings that they have previously worked on and made better.
- Get SEO company reviews – One of the best ways to get unbiased opinions about any company is by looking at their reviews. You can find a company’s reviews by exploring through their website or looking for them on websites like Google. However, don’t just go and pick a local SEO company because it is on top of the search list or they have good reviews. You should go ahead and do your homework to see if they are the real deal.