Last month, Learn Inbound held its 2019 marketing conference at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, with 20 speakers taking to the stage over the two-day event. One of the highlights was a presentation from Wikimotive’s Vice President of Search, Greg Gifford, on increasing local SEO visibility.
Instead of repeating the same old tips we’ve heard a hundred
times before, Greg goes the extra distance in his presentation, offering
practical tips and insights on how businesses in the UK and Ireland can get
ahead in local search. You can watch
his presentation in full on YouTube (37:52) but we’re summing up all
the best points from his talk right here.
As Greg mentions in his presentation, any businesses with a
physical location or serving customers in specific geographic areas should be
doing local SEO. The thing is, a lot of business owners (and marketers for that
matter) don’t appreciate how different local SEO is to universal search.
There are additional signals and additional factors to
For example, Google tracks the location of people’s phones
and this allows it to measure visits to your business. It even shows a graph in
Google Maps displaying the busiest times for local businesses. As far as Google
is concerned, a busy business is one worth ranking well and the search giant is
capable of measuring repeat visits from the same people – a strong indicator
that a business provides great service.
Google also had a patent approved in July for “Quality visit
measure for controlling computer response to query associated with physical
The point Greg is making is that local SEO is unique to
regular search optimisation and strategies that work in one vertical don’t
necessarily work in another. As he says, the most important signals for a
doctor might be different to electricians and plumbers while the signals for
all three could be different again in different cities or countries.
In his presentation, Greg references Moz’s Local
Search Ranking Factors report, which is compiled by dozens of the
world’s leading search experts every year. According to the 2018 report, these
are the most important factors for the local pack:
Essentially, the same count for organic local rankings in
Google Search but the weighting is different.
We’ve covered Google My Business (GMB) before in our article
looking at how to show up in Google Maps but the key
thing is to make sure you complete your profile with every piece of information
that’s relevant to your business.
Details like your opening times aren’t only important for
Google, they’re crucial when it comes to helping people choose your business
Also, make sure your details are 100% accurate and use your
GMB as a reference so your business information appears exactly the same
elsewhere on the web (your site, social accounts, review platforms, etc.).
If your address in GMB says London Street, don’t start putting London St. elsewhere – 100% accuracy is important.
As Greg admits in his presentation, building links is tough
for any business. What a lot of marketers don’t realise, though, is that the
rules for link building in local SEO are totally different – and much easier to
Local links are what really matter here and Google isn’t really worried about authoritative links. Local churches and community centres aren’t going to have high domain authorities but they do tell Google your business matters to the surrounding community. So forget about chasing that Forbes link and concentrate on getting links from local sources.
Greg suggests using Meetup.com for local meetups that need a
venue or sponsoring existing events as a means of generating local links. This
makes a lot of sense as you can use this strategy to bring more people into
your business, which Google will count as visits and, in some cases, you could
host events while you’re open for business – eg: a language exchange or book
club in your cafe or bar.
More foot traffic, more revenue and, hopefully, more
We also recommend making your business newsworthy in the
area to get the local newspapers and bloggers writing about you. And remember
Google also looks at citations so there’s still value in having people mention
your business name, even if there’s no link provided.
Much like links, Google wants to see localised content on
your blog and you need to do more than mention your city a few times. You need
to be creating topical content that’s relevant to your area and this is going
to be much easier if you’re genuinely involved in the community.
Hosting events, for example, will generate local links and give you material for writing posts
In terms of technical on-page SEO, make sure you have the
If you’re stuck for ideas on what kind of local content to create, Gregg also published an article with suggestions on Search Engine Land, which will give you some ideas to get started.
Greg spends quite a lot of time talking about Google Posts in his presentation (starts at 27:49). He makes a point of saying that, while businesses in the US have widely adopted Google Posts, companies in the UK and Ireland aren’t really using them a great deal, which means the gains from becoming an early adopter are huge right now.
Here’s a summary of what he says:
Google Posts are a great way to boost visibility –
especially here in the UK, as adoption has been relatively slow compared to in
the US. Crucially, they also provide a new channel for generating no-click
conversions and this couldn’t be more important with search becoming
increasingly no-click for website owners.
Finally, Google Posts are also a great way for brands to
interact with real people in the local community – something Google and
potential customers both want to see.
We know reviews and citations are important but things have
changed a little over recent years and Greg has a few key messages in his
Studies have shown that only 10% of people trust brands with a 5-star review
average. You’re much better off with a 4-point-something score out
of five and even scores of 3/5 are more trusted more than perfect scores.
So don’t obsess about getting 5-star reviews every time;
just focus on delivering good service and getting as many positive reviews as
The whole point of local SEO is to increase the number of
customers walking through your door. As mentioned at the start of this article,
this is something Google specifically looks at as it tries to gauge the quality
of your business – so make this a core part of your strategy.
Hold events, run promotions, ask for reviews, get involved in the community and maximise store visits to show Google and new customers how popular your place is. This is going to become increasingly significant as Google merges digital and real-world metrics such as repeat visits and searches made in your store.
We have a specialist team in-house that focuses purely on local SEO – find out more about our services here or call us on 02392 830281 if you’d like to chat.
Originally coming to us from a content background, Ben has made his career helping small businesses with their digital marketing and is one of our small business superstars, developing and implementing SEO strategy for his wide portfolio of clients.
Let us review your search marketing campaigns and provide a proposal free of charge.