To celebrate our Aussie SEO partner Mebsites new office we have decided to create this guide for ranking your website locally in New Zealand and Australia
Local SEO – Ranking Your Business Locally In A Competitive Online Environment
If you own a small business chances are most of your potential new clients are within a 100-150 kilometre radius of your location. This is where local SEO can be extremely cost effective as it is typically easier (cheaper) to rank for a your suburb or surrounding suburb than to try rank for you whole city, state, country or the whole world even. The other neat thing about Local search engine and Google My Business (Google maps or Map pack) results is they tend to change quicker and have more churn than the harder state or country wide search results. Furthermore, you can have multiply chances to get a clients attention with it being possible to rank in the 3 pack, organic search results plus potentially have a local directory listing ranked and even a video or video pack rank. Additionally, you could get a brand snippet or rich snippet if it is a product search or you have a Exact Match Domain, such as: Pressure Washing Upper Coomera, Mortgage Brokers Auckland or something to that effect.
A breakdown of different classifications in local SEO campaigns can be found in the figure.1 above. One thing to mention here is that while the normal SEO (External Loc. Signals and My Company Signals) campaign is very different, NLP metrics, links and on-page variables still have a major role to play. The only difference is that you want to concentrate on the sort of links that will add value.
I will speak about some of the strategies you can use to achieve results from your local SEO campaigns.
There is a lot of upstream work on your web site before you start chasing the links, particularly if you want to rank in your local listings, so that you can obtain the best results. Ranking locally is less about link building and more about consistency of data on your website, citations and completeness of your Google my businesss listing.
Must do Google My Business Configurations
- Add a long and unique business description using keywords
- Choose all the correct categories for your business
- Upload as many useful photos as possible, which are preferrably not stock images
- Add a local phone number
- ensure your address matches exactly with what is on your website
- Upload high quality images for your logo and cover photos
- Upload video clips ‘
- ensure your opening hours are correct
- Get real reviews from customers (DO NOT BUY FAKE REVIEWS)
- Create the GMB website
- Add a regular post
- add products and services in the correct sections
Consistency of NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
Here, coherence is essential. You have to make sure your NAP is exact in your entire site (i.e. every page). In addition, when you enter your address on other websites you must use the exact same details/format (i.e. local citations). No joke getting this wrong can make an absolutely mess of your ranking.
Few people get schema right. Without it you likely will not rank anywhere near as well as you should. I’d recommend not using a plugin for most of your schema, with the exception of organisation and product schema in an ecommerce context. Most of the top plugins will create org schema for you as long as you fill out all the fields properly. Our recommendation is to use WordPress plugin SEOpress.
The minimum schema type you should use are:
- *Local Business // Multi-location local business schema
- FAQ schema if appropriate
* local is the critical as you are trying to locally
Our SEO partner Mebsites.com has a series of schema template you can use here
To manually add your schema you must copy it into the head of your website. This can be hardcoded in html/CMS managed websites or an easier way if you have wordpress is use a plugin called SOGO which allows you to insert code into the head of your site and manage it globally, page by page from the cms system.
Genuine Local Reviews
For ranking reviews can be very helpful. However, after you have a certain number (around 5-20 more than competitors) the amount they help drops off dramatically. Consequently, there is no need to pump 100s of reviews on to your listing having a lesser number that are regular is a better tactic. Ideally, you want as many as possible in the 4-5 range, but there is no reason to panic if you get a bad one because there are inbuilt mechanisms to remove them if fake and/or let users up or down vote their relevance.
Most importantly reply to all your reviews good or bad. Encourage your customers to be descriptive in their language and to post pictures along with their reviews.
Local On-Page SEO Factors
Online SEO is consistent with some pretty old school SEO strategies for local businesses. In the local search lists there is quite a major weighting to the on-page content, so that you squeeze the most value out of the content, as much as possible.
As a general rule you’ll want your target keyword/s + location in at least some of these places:
- Meta title
- meta description
- first paragraph
- NAP on the page
- Image of something from the location and in Alt tag
- A google map embed of your business (debate-able whether this is effective so if you have performance issues a link to the gmb and an image will do)
We would recommend using a onpage metric tool like CORA in conjunction with a NLP editing tool (SEO Surfer has a good one) to get the metrics perfect. The NLP editor definitely can move a GMB rank from no where to top 3 in 24 hours.
Mobile Friendly Website
Make sure your website is very mobile friendly, especially if you are providing walk in retail services and yes Google can tell if your website has poor mobile usability. GMB searches are highly linked to voice search, direction search from mobile phones. Therefore, if you website then drops the ball by being a nightmare to use via a mobile you are wasting your efforts.
Local Link Building & Citations
We are big fans of building citations in directories and local service websites. However, do not waste the opportunity by posting a sentence as the description and barely filling out the details as this will add no value to your rankings. Ideally pay a local citation service to do the posting and account creating for you, but either way you want to put maxium effort in and supply great pictures, descriptions, links etc filling out the citations our as good as possible will help pass any link juice onto your website and GMB.
Note: Remember NAP is about consistency
Local Link Building Strategies
There are lots of ways to create and construct links, and if you are interested in loading them, see my instructions for building links. I will concentrate for the purpose of this article on acquiring links within local link building campaigns that are really successful.
Here are a few to begin with:
- Go to or create a meetup.com for businesses or people of common interests and collaborate to do some Google friendly link sharing
- Create a honeypot – These are local resources which you can aggregate and allow people to use in exchange for links or to solicit links
- Sign up for a press request services to get quoted in local publications
- Run an AMA on Reddit / subreddit
- Do interviews with local celebs, industry personalities for cross promotion and increasing your audience
- Give discounts/sponsorship to local clubs, groups
- Enter local award programs and if there are none create your own
- Spend time being active in local groups, forums online and offline
- Regularly check all your competitors for interesting links they may have and work out how you can get them to
- Offer scholarships to local universities or offer internships to local students and encourage them to link back to you
CTR is a factor which can be manipulated for better ranking
Another sign of rating, which is much more debated, is the CTR from the SERPs.
This signal is no wonder because it is being used as one of the key quality score indicators in Google on its Adwords platform. It is a powerful signal. It makes sense to calculate the user experience with this metric by searchers.
Moz’ Rand Fishkin performed an interesting experiment with his followers on Twitter to see if SERP CTR’s search rankings have improved dramatically. The results were quite tremendous – in less than an hour, he saw many positions rise!
We performed a few similar experiments in the past few years and found it earns a couple of short-term win, but CTR must still be strong in order to stabilise rankings. You must also reduce search bounces, as this is a negative message to Google. Holly Starks has also run many experiments driving around with many phones, creating CTR events with very positive results. Our problem with this course of action is that it is not sustainable long term. However, it does give you insight that CTR does work and that clickbait trickery maybe a negative if you are using deception which results in a high number of bounces.