Unlocking the Potential of Local SEO: The Top 12 Tips for Boosting Your Business in Your Neighbourhood
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Unlocking the Potential of Local SEO: The Top 12 Tips for Boosting Your Business in Your Neighbourhood

Posted on 10 October 2023
Unlocking the Potential of Local SEO: The Top 12 Tips for Boosting Your Business in Your Neighbourhood

In today's digital age, local businesses have a tremendous opportunity to reach and engage with their nearby audience online. Whether you're a neighbourhood cafe, a boutique store, or a service provider, understanding the intricacies of local search engine optimisation (SEO) is key to attracting more local customers. Join us as we explore the essential elements of local SEO, from proximity and reviews to Google Business Profiles. Discover how this dynamic strategy can enhance your online presence and drive growth for your business in your local market.

Primary GBP Category

In local search, choosing the right category for your Google Business Profile is vital for ranking well. Your primary category matters most, and while Google usually displays it on your profile, this isn't always the case. To set your primary category, log into your Google account, search for your business by name, and edit your profile in the New Merchant Experience editor. This choice has a big impact on your local SEO.

Your primary category goes in the main category box, and you can add up to ten categories in total. To find the best category:

  • Search for the main keyword you want to rank for locally and see what categories top businesses use.

  • If the top 3 businesses have different categories, pick the one that fits your business best, like "French restaurant" or "Fine dining restaurant."

  • For a practitioner within a multi-practitioner company, choose diverse categories to avoid competing with the main company listing.

  • If you manage multiple locations, it's okay to use the same primary category for all, but consider changing it if one location isn't showing up due to proximity.

  • In competitive markets, decide whether to compete in the same category as top competitors or target a less competitive one while building your brand.

Keywords in GBP Business Title

Unfortunately, the significance of keywords in your business title can lead you astray, making you think you should use something other than your actual business name in the New Merchant Experience editor's field. However, this field should only contain your real-world business name as displayed on your street sign, without extra keywords.

Regrettably, Google's ranking system has a flaw that rewards listings with misleading business titles. This aspect of Google's system is relatively basic, making it vulnerable to business titles stuffed with keywords. While you can report businesses with misleading names, Google's responses are often lenient, and these businesses often return to their spammy names soon after.

This situation often leaves business owners and marketers grappling with whether to be honest or try to manipulate the system. While honesty is the best long-term policy for building a reputable brand, here are some tips to navigate this complex situation:

For multi-location businesses, co-located businesses, solo practitioners, or multi-practitioner businesses, refer to the "Guidelines for Representing Your Business on Google" for specific instructions on writing the business title.

Don't hesitate to report competitors in your industry with misleading business names. While Google's response may vary, taking action can potentially reduce the ranking influence of such spammy listings, benefiting your legitimate business.

Avoid naming your business in a way that restricts future growth. For instance, think twice before naming your new restaurant "Tacos on the Gold Coast" if there's a chance you might expand to Brisbane or Byron Bay in the future. Planning for future scalability is essential.

If your current real-world business name limits your progress, consider legally changing it. Aim for a name that serves your business well in the long term and avoid trendy fads. Some local businesses have gained attention with trendy or viral names, but be cautious to prevent your name from appearing outdated in a few years.

When rebranding your company, ensure you update all legal registrations, local business listings, social media profiles, and references to the old name on your website and third-party websites. This comprehensive update ensures consistency and accuracy in your business's online presence.

Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (Searcher-Business Distance)

Until recently, how close a business was to a searcher was the top factor in local search rankings.

In 2023, while proximity's importance has dropped to third place, it's crucial to know there's no fixed number one ranking in local search. Google customises results for each user based partly on their device's location, like a mobile phone or laptop. You can see this by moving around town and searching for the same keyword. To evaluate your overall visibility in the market, you can manually do local market research or use tools like Whitespark, Local Falcon, or Mobile Moxie's SERPerator.

You can't control where your customers are, and if your address limits your goals, moving might be the only solution (a tough choice). Still, every local business marketer should watch how Google behaves for each search term.

For instance, searching "Italian restaurants" may mainly show results for one neighbourhood, but when you search "vegan-friendly Italian restaurants," Google widens the search to the entire city or even beyond. This insight helps optimise for specific search terms and reach customers from farther places. Use this info when deciding on:

  • Categories

  • Services

  • Photo and video content

  • Attributes

  • Website content

While you can't change Google's focus on proximity, you can adapt with a smart local search strategy. This leads us to the next factor.

Physical Address in City of Search

Perform a Google search for your city and click on the map. You'll notice a red border outlining Google's perception of your town or city's boundaries. This detail is significant in the realm of local SEO because businesses situated outside this border often face greater challenges in gaining visibility for users within the border or for search queries that include the town or city's name.

"I want to rank beyond my location" is undoubtedly one of the most frequently heard requests by local SEO professionals from their clients. If you start to suspect that your physical address is significantly restricting your online visibility and customer reach, you have three primary choices:

  • Relocate to a new address within Google's recognised borders.

  • Optimise your online presence to compete for less competitive keywords, as previously discussed in factor #3.

  • Make a substantial investment in various facets of your local search marketing, strengthening your Google Business Profile to the point where it can overcome Google's city border bias.

Removal of spam listings through spam fighting

Google has a significant problem with listing spam, caused by both inexperienced and unscrupulous users. This issue has plagued local search for a long time, and there's always hope that Google will do more to protect businesses from misrepresentation and consumers from false information, especially with the challenges posed by AI like ChatGPT and the competition from platforms like TikTok.

For now, local businesses and their marketers must report spam listings to improve their local pack rankings when Google removes these spammy entries. To do this effectively, it's crucial to understand what Google defines as spam, which includes:

  • Fake business names

  • Ineligible business models

  • Multiple ineligible listings for the same business

  • Fictitious businesses

  • Fabricated locations

  • Fake reviews

To identify listing spam easily, get to know Google's Business Representation Guidelines. When you suspect a listing is spam, report it using the business redressal form.

High Numerical Google Ratings

High Google ratings are more than just numbers; they significantly impact local search rankings and customer conversion. Here's why they matter:

Local Search Ranking: Google's algorithms use your average star rating to decide where your business appears in local search results. Higher-rated businesses get priority placement, increasing their visibility to users looking for local products or services. A high rating can put your business at the top of search results, attracting potential customers.

Conversion Power: Star ratings play a crucial role in consumer behaviour. Research consistently shows that customers heavily rely on ratings and reviews when making purchase decisions. A high star rating builds trust and confidence in potential customers, making them more likely to choose your business over competitors with lower ratings. It serves as proof of your business's quality and reliability.

If your rating is below 4 stars, take these steps:

Improve Customer Experiences: Invest in enhancing the overall customer experience, addressing recurring issues or complaints that lead to negative reviews. Consistently providing exceptional service can lead to more positive feedback.

Generate Reviews: Actively encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on Google. Positive reviews boost your star rating and balance out negative ones. Use email campaigns, in-store signage, or follow-up messages to ask for feedback.

Handle Negative Reviews: Address negative reviews professionally, acknowledge any shortcomings, and show your commitment to resolving issues. This approach can sometimes turn dissatisfied customers into advocates.

By focusing on better customer experiences and actively seeking reviews, you can gradually raise your star rating. Even if you start below 4 stars, your dedication to improvement can help your business rank higher in local search results and attract more customers over time.

Additional GBP Categories

Additional Google Business Profile categories are vital for boosting local SEO. While the primary category is crucial, secondary categories can significantly enhance your online visibility and relevance. Here's how:

Expanded Reach: Secondary categories widen your reach, connecting your business to a broader range of related keywords. This means your business can appear in search results for various services or products, even if they aren't your primary category.

Targeted Traffic: Specific secondary categories help attract more focused traffic. You can align your listing with niche keywords, drawing users who are specifically interested in those offerings.

Competitive Edge: In competitive markets, additional categories set you apart from rivals. They allow you to showcase a diverse range of services or products, capturing the attention of a broader audience.

Enhanced Relevance: Secondary categories help Google better understand your business and offerings. This improved relevance can lead to better rankings in search results and a higher chance of appearing in the local pack, a prime spot in local SEO.

Strategically incorporating additional Google Business Profile categories optimises your online presence, reach, and relevance. This drives more qualified traffic and potential customers to your business, making it a crucial aspect of your local SEO strategy.

Quantity of Native Google Reviews (w/text)

The quantity of native Google reviews, especially those accompanied by text, wields substantial influence in the realm of local SEO. Here's how:

Enhanced Credibility: A higher quantity of reviews, particularly those with detailed text content, bolsters your business's credibility. When potential customers see a significant number of reviews, it instills trust and confidence in your offerings. Textual reviews provide valuable insights and demonstrate real customer experiences, making your business more appealing.

Keyword Enrichment: Native reviews often contain keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business. These user-generated keywords can improve your business's visibility in search results. When users search for specific terms mentioned in reviews, your listing is more likely to appear.

Fresh Content: Google values fresh and up-to-date content. Regularly posted native reviews with text contribute to a steady stream of new content associated with your business. This signals to Google that your business is active and engaging with customers, potentially leading to higher rankings.

User Engagement: The quantity of native reviews reflects your business's engagement with customers. Encouraging customers to leave reviews, especially those with text, fosters a sense of community around your brand. It also provides an opportunity to respond to feedback, further enhancing your reputation.

Competitive Advantage: In competitive markets, having a higher quantity of quality reviews can give you a distinct advantage. It not only sets your business apart but also signals to potential customers that you are a trusted choice.

Overall, actively seeking and accumulating a significant quantity of native Google reviews with textual content is a powerful strategy to boost your local SEO efforts. It not only improves your business's visibility but also helps in building credibility and attracting a more engaged customer base.

Verified GBP

A Verified Google Business Profile (GBP) holds paramount importance in the realm of local SEO and online reputation management. It serves as a symbol of credibility and trust, reassuring potential customers that your business is legitimate and reliable. The verification process itself elevates your search visibility, as Google often prioritises verified listings in search results, making it more likely for users to discover and choose your business over unverified competitors.

Verification unlocks a range of valuable features and tools within your GBP, including Google Posts and insights, allowing you to engage with users and gain insights into their interactions with your profile. Additionally, verification safeguards your listing against unauthorised edits or impersonation, ensuring that accurate and up-to-date information is presented to potential customers. Verified GBP listings are also more likely to secure prominent placement in the coveted local pack, further enhancing your business's visibility to local audiences.

Beyond these practical advantages, a verified GBP instils consumer confidence by demonstrating your commitment to providing accurate information and valuing customer feedback. In competitive markets, it provides a distinct advantage, showcasing your professionalism and dedication to maintaining an accurate online presence. In essence, a Verified Google Business Profile is an invaluable asset that not only boosts your local SEO efforts but also contributes to the overall success of your business in the digital landscape.

Proximity of Address to Centroid

Proximity to the Centre Matters: In local SEO, how close your business is to the centre of a city or region matters. This centre is called the "centroid," and Google considers it when deciding how to rank businesses in local searches.

Impact on Rankings: Being near the centroid often means better local search rankings. It can put your business ahead of others that are farther away, making it easier for people to find you.

Local Pack Advantage: Businesses close to the centroid are more likely to appear in the prominent local pack in search results, increasing visibility.

Tailored SEO: Knowing this, businesses can adjust their SEO strategies to align with the centroid of their target area.

Balance Proximity and Relevance: While proximity is important, staying relevant through quality content, reviews, and services is equally crucial.

Competitive Edge: Understanding the importance of centroid proximity can help businesses stay visible and competitive in local markets.

Keywords in GBP Landing Page Title

Including relevant keywords in your Google Business Profile (GBP) landing page title is crucial for local SEO. This title is one of the first things users see when they find your business online. It helps Google understand what your business offers and improves search rankings for related terms. A well-optimised title also grabs users' attention and encourages them to click on your listing. It increases your chances of appearing in the local pack—the prime spot in local search results. Plus, it sets you apart from competitors and shows that your business aligns with users' needs. In a nutshell, using the right keywords in your GBP title boosts visibility, user engagement, and your edge in attracting local customers.

Completeness of GBP

The completeness of your Google Business Profile (GBP) is vital for local SEO success. It's all about how much information you provide about your business on your GBP listing. When your GBP is complete, it has a better chance of ranking higher in local search results. This means more people can find your business. A complete listing also offers users a better experience by giving them all the details they need, like your address, phone number, hours, and photos. It builds trust with potential customers, showing that your business is reliable and well-managed. Plus, Google is more likely to include complete GBP listings in the local pack—a prime spot in search results. In today's mobile and voice search era, complete information is crucial for users on the go. Having a full GBP sets you apart from competitors and demonstrates your commitment to providing valuable information to local customers.

Final Words...

Local SEO is vital for businesses aiming to succeed in their local markets. Understanding the key factors that affect local search rankings, like proximity, reviews, categories, and a complete Google Business Profile, helps you enhance online visibility and attract local customers. Whether you're a small local shop or a multi-location enterprise, local SEO can significantly improve your online presence and drive growth. To thrive in the ever-changing local search landscape, stay informed and adapt to changes. For expert assistance with your SEO strategy, reach out to Bloomtools today and take your local online presence to the next level!


Tags:Search Engine Optimisation