Google estimates that 73% of online activity has to do with local searches.
The discipline ofSEOhas evolved greatly in recent years. You can attribute this change to Google’s ever-evolving search algorithm, but also to the fact that the way we’re searching is changing. Long-tail, conversational keywords have become standard,with a report suggestingthat search terms of 5+ words make up 41.7% of the overall keyword length distribution. As more and more content is appearing in search results, we’re adapting our method of search by using long-tail keywords to sift through content.
Voice search is also on the rise, which correlates to the increase in conversational long-tail keywords. In this increasingly competitive SEO battlefield, how do you get your content seen by your demographic?
An interesting tactic is to uselocation-based search engine optimisation.
What is location based SEO?
Location based SEO, also known as geo-targeting, is the practice of optimising your content to appear for your target location. It's fair to say that Google is getting better and better at creating location-based search results on more generic topics, where searchers are looking for something.
For example, if I’m sitting in our digital marketing office in Abingdon and search for the term 'restaurants', Google knows to display me local results. A desktop search will return restaurants in the wider local area, whereas a mobile search will show restaurants in close vicinity. Google believes the intent is different between desktop and mobile search; those on a desktop are more likely to be researching while those using mobile search want more immediate results.
This, however, does have its limitations. For less commonly searched terms, such as 'SEO agency', Google tends to display mostly national results.
Although location-based search terms have far fewer search volumes, they carry a lot more intent and can deliver traffic to your site that has a greater chance of converting. Those searching locally are far more likely to be in the consideration or purchase stage of the buyer’s journey.
The most powerful way to get around keyword competition is by targeting location-based keywords.
This is a strategy that almost any company can leverage and is simple to execute. Think about keywords that take into account location, such as:
Your area in general
Let’s say I was tasked with improving an Abingdon estate agent’s presence in local search. I’d initially create content optimised for keywords such as 'Abingdon estate agents' or 'estate agents in south Oxfordshire' and then include variations of these for my regional SEO strategy. A good example would be to write an article with the title: 'How to make the most of your Abingdon estate agents'.
2). Make use of Google My Business (GMB)
Google My Business(GMB) is a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. To optimise your GMB for local SEO, ensure that:
Your GMB is accurate and filled out completely
Your location is owner-verified
The specific town/city that you’re targeting is mentioned in the GMB landing page title
The GMB primary categories are consistent with your service/product offering
As well as GMB, there are also lots of other regional online directory services that you can use to help build local authority. It’s important to appreciate that Google cross-references these listings to determine your business’ credibility — consistency is key.
3). Use a targeted Top Level Domain (TLD)
If you solely operate in the UK, it’s probably in your best interest to have a '.co.uk' TLD, as you will perform better in UK searches. For global businesses wanting to target several countries, this method may not be viable.
Can you optimise your website’s SEO for multiple locations?
Yes! As you’re aware, duplication of content is a big no-no in Google’s eyes. In order to rank for different locations, you must create unique content that is specific to your target areas. For each different location, you should almost create a 'mini homepage', which provides an overview of services you provide in that area with links off to relevant subpages. It’s important to make sure that the location is included in the slug.
Let’s go back to the estate agents example. Say I’d decided to set up a branch in London. I’d repeat my same location keyword strategy, although the content optimised would be different. Informative content is key and, where possible, should be tailored to reflect the buyer persona's needs. Those buying property in London will have different concerns than those buying property in Abingdon — your content should reflect that.
Remember, those searching with local intent are usually ready to buy. Your landing pages should include a prominent call-to-action that reflects this.