Fact: 46% of all Google searches are local, yet56% of local retailers haven' t even claimed their Google My Business listing.
If you' re not gaining visibility and customersfrom local search, then you and I, we are gonna solve that problem right now witha jam-packed local SEO tutorial.
[music] Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool thathelps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche.
So, I've got quite a complete tutorial foryou on how to do local SEO, so even if you're just starting out, this video should simplifythe process for you quite nicely and help you gain visibility in local search.
Let's dive right in.
So first, what is local SEO? It's the process of optimizing your onlinepresence to attract more business from relevant local searches.
For example, if I type in best Mexican restaurantToronto, you'll see that the top of the search results are dominated by a box of local listingson Google Maps, which is called the “Snack Pack”.
And below that are your typical organic searchresults.
It's super important that you can gain positionin the “Snack Pack” because they generate 33% of clicks on the search results page.
But it's equally important to rank in theorganic search results since they attract 40% of clicks.
So bottom line? It pays to rank in both spots, which is wherelocal SEO comes in.
Now, Google has an estimated 87% market share, in the US, which means that most people are using Google to search for local businesses.
So in this tutorial, we'll be focusing onlocal SEO in Google only.
Now, let's get on the same page and draw outan example scenario.
Let's say that I'm opening up a new coffeeshop in downtown Toronto for cool, hard-working people like SEOs and entrepreneurs.
We'll be open 24/7 because our target audiencetends to work around the clock.
And of course, there will be fiber internetbecause there's nothing more frustrating than slow public WiFi.
To differentiate ourselves from other coffeeshops and build some nice recurring revenue, we'll be offering virtual office servicesfor a set monthly fee, which includes bottomless coffee, your own private cubicle, and incomingmail service.
I've invested in this concept, I've droppeda lot of coin, but no one knows about my business because they're finding other coffee shopslike this in Google search.
Alright, so we're going to start with stepzero, and it's something all local businesses need to do.
And that's to ensure your website is optimizedfor mobile.
According to Bright Local's study, 61% ofmobile users are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile site.
You can use Google's Mobile-Friendly Testtool.
Just enter in your domain or URL and shortlyafter, Google will tell you whether your page is mobile friendly, or if it's not.
On to step one, and that's to claim and optimizeyour Google my business listing.
This is arguably the most important part oflocal SEO.
And it's actually quite easy to do.
Just go to google.
com/business, sign intoyour Google account, and the first thing you'll need to do is enter in your NAP, which standsfor name, address, and phone number.
If you have a business with multiple locationsor you purchased a franchise, then you can start typing in the business name, and you'llsee a list of businesses that are already registered in Google's database.
My coffee shop is called High Speed Coffee, so that's all I'll write and click next.
It's important to note that your businessname is not meant for keyword stuffing.
So I wouldn't write something like “CoffeeShop Downtown Toronto 24/7 – High Speed Coffee”.
It's not going to help you rank, so don'tbother.
Next, we'll enter in our address.
Now, since we' re a coffee shop, we'll obviouslyhave a physical location, but if you're an independent service provider like a photographeror a work-from-home consultant then your typical client meetings might happen in their office, or in a coffee shop like High Speed Coffee.
If that's the case, then you can enter inyour home address, select the “I deliver goods and services to my customers, ” then chooseto hide your address since it's not a store.
Now, when your business shows up in Googlesearch, it'll just show the city and province/state where you work from.
Since that doesn't apply to our business, let's move on to the next step, which is to pin the marker on the map.
Google's pretty good with this, but you'llwant to examine the map and make sure it's in the exact position where your store islocated.
Just drag and drop it and click next when you'redone.
As Google recommends, don't add multiplecategories to list all of your products and services.
Instead, you should focus on this statement: “My business is a blank.
” Rather than “My business has blank.
” So in the case of High Speed Coffee, our businessis a coffee shop, even though it has virtual office space.
Just start typing in a description and selectthe most appropriate one from the drop-down.
Let's go to the next step, which is to enterin your phone number and website, which is pretty straightforward.
This step is optional, but I recommend includingboth.
Now, we'll need to finish off the processand verify the website, which can be done by phone or mail.
You just need to follow the instructionsfrom Google and your My Business listing should be active in no time.
Before you continue, you should add a fewmore optimizations to your listing.
You can click on the info menu in the sidebar.
Then you can click on the pen icon to editdifferent parts of your listing.
So you can add more relevant categories, for example.
Other things you should do is to set yourhours of operation, add specific URLs to important pages, add a description of your business, and photos of your actual location.
Now that we have the foundation set up forlocal SEO, let's move onto step 2, which is to do some keyword research.
There are some obvious terms you'd want torank for like “coffee shop near me”, “high speed coffee”, “what time does high speed coffee openor close”, and “high speed coffee phone number”.
With these kinds of local search queries, Google pulls the information from the Google My Business listing.
For example, if I type in “what time does Starbucksclose”, Google will pull up the Starbucks in my vicinity and show the hours of operations for all locations on the map.
And if I specify a location or use a singlelocation business, then you'll see a quick answer box like this, which is pulled directlyfrom Google My Business.
So rather than going deeper into the “SnackPack, ” or Google Maps listings we'll be talking about keyword research for the organic searchresults.
First, we need to brainstorm your SiLs, whichstands for “service in locations”.
As a coffee shop, I'd want to rank for querieslike these: “Coffee shops in Toronto” “24/7 coffee shops in Toronto” “24 hour coffee shops in Toronto” “Virtual office in Toronto” And we'd want to rank for synonymous variationslike “cafe in Toronto”.
A photographer, on the other hand, might want to rank for “photographerin Toronto” or “photographer in a nearby city.
” Here are a few ways you can generate solidkeyword ideas.
First is to use Google's autocomplete.
Just type in the main query you want to rankfor, and you'll see a few good suggestions here like “open late”, “financial district”, and”Toronto Canada”, which may likely come from tourists or travelers.
If you're in the services industry, then youcan look at local classified sites like Craigslist.
So I can search in their services categoryand use a seed keyword like “photographer”, and you'll see some cool ideas here like “experienced”, “freelance”, “engagement shoot” and more.
But in my opinion, the absolute best placeis to find the keywords that your competitors are already ranking for.
And the reason why this is so effective isbecause this is basically telling you which keywords that you can also rank for.
You can use a tool like Ahrefs' Site Explorer, and enter in the domain of one of your search competitors.
Next, go to the organic keywords report.
And this report will show you all of the searchqueries that the domain is ranking for.
You'll see that they're ranking for a lotof branded queries, so you can use the exclude box, and type in the brand name, which willgive you a nice list of relevant keywords to target.
And just from a quick scan of this list, thereare a couple of keywords that I would have never thought of like “coffee places near me”and “coffee shop near Eaton Centre”, which is a large mall in downtown Toronto.
You should have a solid list of keyword ideasnow, so it's time to move onto some on-page SEO.
If you're familiar with SEO, then you'll findthat a lot of the typical on-page SEO best practices apply here.
For example, it can be advantageous to includeyour keyword in your H1 tag, add your target keyword in the title tag, set the URL slugto your keyword, and use short URLs.
But there are a few other things you shouldspecifically do for local SEO.
Now, these optimizations will vary dependingon if you have a single location versus multiple locations.
So I'll cover both.
The first thing you'll want to do is optimizeyour homepage.
In general, most single location businessesshould optimize their homepage around their primary location.
So as a Toronto based coffee shop, I wouldprobably target keywords like “coffee shop Toronto, ” rather than just coffee shop.
Here's why: If you look at the organic keywords reportfor that Toronto coffee shop we were looking at before, you'll see that nearly all of theirkeyword rankings revolve around their homepage And you can see that they rank in the “SnackPack” for that keyword phrase.
But if I do a search just 30 miles away fromdowntown Toronto, you'll see completely different results for the same keyword phrase.
So here are a few on-page optimization tipsfor your homepage.
First, show NAP information, which again is name, address and phone number on the homepage.
In fact, you can add this to the footer ofyour entire website if you operate from a single location as you can see in this examplehere.
And it's absolutely critical that your name, address, and phone number match exactly or as close as possible to what you've submittedto Google My Business.
You can also add testimonials or reviews ofyour business here and use Schema markup, which we're going to attack right now.
Schema markup is code that you add to yourwebsite to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in the searchengine results.
You can use Google's structured data markuphelper to eliminate a whole mess of complicated coding.
Just select a data type, so in this case, we'd choose local businesses, then enter in the URL of the page you want to markup andclick the “start tagging” button.
Next, just click on the elements that youwant to tag.
So if I click on the logo here, I can setit to the name.
Then I'll scroll down to the footer of thepage and add a few more markup elements.
So here, you can see that they have two phonenumbers, so you'd want to choose the one that's submitted in their My Business Listing.
And the last thing I'll add is the address.
You would need to select all of the differentparts of the address and choose the correct field.
Also, you'll see that they include their addresshere, but left their postal code out, so in this case, if I were this business, I wouldinclude that in the footer too.
Once you're done, you can click on this button, and a piece of code will come up which you can add to your website.
Now, if you're a business that has multiplelocations, then you're exempt from the rule of optimizing your homepage around your primarylocation.
And by multiple locations, I'm not referringto a couple brick and mortar shops 10 miles from each other, but bigger companies likehotels or car rentals where they might have hundreds or even thousands of locations.
Instead of the home page, you would want tooptimize local landing pages by including key elements like the location's NAP, operatinghours and sprinkle in related keywords targeted at that location.
Let me show you how Enterprise Car Rentaldoes it and pay attention to the URLs too as we go throughthis process.
If you want to rent a car in the US, thenyou'll start at their location directory where you need to select a state where you wantto rent a car.
Next, you'll need to pick a city within thatstate.
Then you'll be brought down to the branchlevel.
Finally, you'll see the local NAP informationthat's actually designed to convert visitors into customers.
Scrolling down, you'll see the operating hoursfor this specific location.
And if we look at the organic traffic forthese 4 pages, you'll see that they all get a good amount of targeted search traffic onlanding pages, which I'm sure is quite profitable.
The next step is to build local citations.
And citations are online mentions of yourbusiness.
There are two main types of citations.
They are structuredand unstructured.
Structured citations are mentions that includeyour NAP information and it's usually presented in a visually-structured manner.
So this would include places like businessdirectories and social profiles.
Unstructured citations are mentions of yourbusiness that don't follow a structure.
So this might be in blog posts, preferredvendors pages or on other websites.
And building local citations is super important.
According to a 2017 study done by Moz, citationsignals were one of the top local ranking factors, which was true for both Google's”Snack Pack” results and regular organic search results.
And this is likely due to having consistentNAP information from all over the web, which verifies that the data Google has in theirMy Business listing is accurate.
On the other hand, inconsistent NAP informationcan confuse or mislead both Google and potential customers.
So your job is two fold: First, you need to make sure that your existing citations are correct and consistent.
And second, you need to build more relevant citations.
So to handle the first part, you need to performa citation audit.
More often than not, some of your citationswill be incorrect and/or incomplete.
And you can run a quick search using Moz's localsearch tool.
Just enter in the name of your business, andchoose one from the auto select options from the best results.
From here, you can see a breakdown of thecomplete, incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate citations, which you can then manually fix.
You can also do a manual audit using Googlesearch operators, which I won't get into now, but you can check out our local SEO blog post.
The link's in the description.
After you've completed your audit, you'llwant to build more citations.
Now, if you're a new business, I would startwith a list of core structured citations.
ca has a great resource on placesto build these structured citations, which I'll leave a link to in the description.
Just choose a country, and you'll see a listof places to add your mark.
You can then branch out to other relevantlocal directories like your local chamber of commerce, other local business associationsand then expand to niche specific websites like TripAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Findlaw andmore.
Another great places to find citation opportunitiesis to let your competitors do the work for you.
So using Ahrefs' Site Explorer, look up the homepageURL of one of your competitors since most citations will lead to the homepage.
Next, go to the anchors report.
In here, you can use the search box to look forany of these keywords: These are common anchor texts that you'llfind in directories, which make them easy citation opportunities.
So if I search for “website, ” then I'm gonna click on”details” and “referring domains, ” then you'll see a bunch of places where we can build bothstructured and unstructured citations.
Another hyper-effective tactic you can dois to use the Link Intersect tool.
In the top section, enter in the name of afew of your organic search competitors.
So I've already entered in a few domains of top-rankingToronto coffee shops.
Then, I'll set the top dropdown to show websitesthat link to any of these sites.
And you can enter in your domain in the bottombox, which will exclude links that are already linking to your website.
But since we don't have a real website, I'llleave the bottom section empty and run the search.
Now, when you're looking through the results, just scan these 3 columns and look for referring domains that link to at least a couple ofyour target websites.
In general, the more sites a domain linksto, the better the chances of it being a legit place to create your own citation.
ca would be a solid one that wecan add our coffee shop to.
With these citation hunting methods, it shouldbe enough to keep you busy for a while.
But we can't stop here because we still needto build quality editorial links.
According to Moz's 2017 survey, link signalswere the most important ranking factor for local organic results.
For the local “Snack Pack, ” links were thesecond most important factor.
Rather than focusing on a full-out link buildingtutorial, I want to leave you with two tried and true tactics that work.
The first is to create and promote a usefulresource.
In this case, a local resource related toyour niche would be ideal.
I know I say it all the time, but people aremore willing to link to helpful articles over salesy content like product and services pages.
So a couple ideas would be to create local”best of” guides or content that would appeal to your target audience.
So for example, we could create content on howto make the best cup of coffee, where we can plug our own products.
We could also create content targeted at coffeedrinking solopreneurs on the best and affordable local places for office space, since we offervirtual office services.
The second tactic would be to guest blog.
Even though guest posts normally come witha link back to your site, I want you to look at this as an opportunity to build yourselfup as an industry expert.
This is particularly important for peoplein the services industry.
People want to hire professionals they cantrust and know will do a good job.
And often times, they're willing to pay apremium to have the peace of mind that the job's gonna get done right the first time.
And you can look for local blogs that accept guestposts by googling any of these queries.
So looking at the search results for “Toronto “write for us”, you'll see some very relevant local websitesthat are seeking writers.
You can also do this in Content Explorer toexpand your list of potential guest posting prospects.
Just type in a topic related to your niche.
So I'll type in “coffee beans” and I'll alsoset the search to a title search for more relevant results.
Next, click on the “one article per domain, “filter, since we don't need to contact the same website multiple times.
Scrolling down a bit, you'll see this poston The 12 Best Coffee Beans to Buy.
From here, you could easily pitch yourselfas a pro barista that runs a cafe in Toronto and share some actionable or interesting insightson something like roasting beans.
The last and final step is to take care ofongoing activities.
Even though you've set up your Google My Businessand built a bunch of citations, these are all things that you want to have well-documented.
In business, things change.
That might be you moving to a new location, changing your phone number, or even changing your business name, in which case, you would need to update allof your citations.
So the first thing you need to do is ensurethat you keep your Google My Business account active.
There are 3 important regular tasks that you need to take care of.
First is to consistently respond to customersand client reviews.
This includes both positive and negative comments.
Next is to be on the lookout for inaccurateedits to your Google My Business listing.
Anyone can click on “suggest an edit” on yourMy Business listing and sometimes Google will accept these suggestions without notice toyou or the business owner.
In fact, scammers have even swapped phonenumbers with legit businesses for a quick payday.
So it's your job to ensure that your listingsare up to date and correct at all times.
Finally, is to use Google Posts to keep yourcustomers informed and engaged.
Google Posts is a micro-blogging platformwithin Google My Business.
And all of these updates are visible in theKnowledge Panel and accessible with the click of a mouse.
This provides an opportunity to attract moreattention to your listing, connect with your audience and ultimately boost conversions.
You can create a Google Post from within GoogleMy Business by going on the posts menu, click “Write your post” and then add an image andup to 300 words of text.
This is a great way to share your promotionaloffers or teasers for your blog posts.
You can also choose a call-to-action buttonfrom a list of preset options to bump click-throughs.
I recommend all local businesses play aroundwith this feature and stay active with Google Posts.
It doesn't take any more time than a tweetand there's a ton of potential to garner attention from Google searchers.
Now we've covered a lot here, so what I recommenddoing right now is putting these techniques into action, and watching some of the videosuggestions in the cards, which will dig deeper into some of the topics we've talked about likelink building, SEO for blogs, and on-page SEO techniques.
So hit the subscribe button for more actionableSEO and marketing tutorials, go and get your local website ranked, and I'll see you inthe next tutorial.