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Local SEO Hampshire

Posted on December 7, 2018 by

local seo hampshire search on mobile

 

As I said in my recent article on Local SEO – 7 Step Guide to the Best Local SEO – 46% of all searches on Google are local.

Local search is critical to your business and is only going to get more important as search and Google shift more towards mobile.

What is this article about and who is it for?

You may be asking why Hampshire? If your business is based in say, Surrey, that’s fine, this guide is also for you but I needed an example county. Seeing as I’m in Hampshire, that seemed like a good place to start.

Who’s it for? Well, anybody that has a website and wants to understand how search, and in particular local search, works with Google. This will allow anyone to perform some basic search engine optimisation specifically for, in this case, SEO Hampshire.

Your two primary considerations wrt Local Search

Number 1 consideration – Google’s Local Pack & Google My Business

Your business is almost certainly in a town or city, let’s use Eastleigh as an example throughout this guide. No surprise, that’s where Web-Feet is based. Eastleigh is a town in Hampshire with a population of around 130,000, roughly 10% of the population of Hampshire – just to put things in perspective. If you are from much further afield and have no idea where I’m talking about, welcome! Hampshire is in the UK, on the South Coast of England.

Google Local Pack

When you search for a product or service on Google, you will quite often get served up some ads There are at the top of the page, followed by what’s called the Local Pack. An example of which is below. In this case, there are two ads followed by the Local Pack. Underneath the local pack are the Google Organic Search Results.

Search results for landscaping services in Google

Now, see how I just searched for ‘landscaping services’ and not ‘landscaping services Eastleigh’, or ‘landscaping services near me’? Google is smart and I wasn’t even using my mobile. You can see that it has placed me on the map by way of a small blue dot just underneath where it says ‘Chandlers Ford’. Whatever device you are using, Google knows where you are. Or has a pretty good idea and gives you relevant search results. A few years ago, you would have had to have been more specific with your search queries. Now, you don’t need to be. In fact, you probably haven’t even noticed because most people have adapted to the new way of finding things online.

Google My Business

If you provide Landscaping Services in Eastleigh you will want to be listed in the Local Pack. The main reason being that it’s below paid ads but above organic results. This is your first consideration with respect to Local Search. I’ve covered this in a bit more detail in my article  7 Step Guide to the Best Local SEO. To get straight to it with Google you can go to the Google My Business page. Here you will be able to complete the whole process or update your existing listing. Without covering the whole process, my advice would be to be as thorough as possible and make sure that your NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) are entirely consistent wherever they are listed. Google will get confused otherwise and you won’t get the full benefit of the listing.

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Number 2 consideration – Letting Google know the area your business covers

So now your Google My business is set up, let’s move on.

Let’s say you are a landscaping business in Eastleigh and you’re listed in the Local Pack. That’s great, but Eastleigh isn’t that big a place and your business covers the whole of Hampshire. This actually presents your business with a bit of a challenge. Anyone searching Google will always be served up a business local to them in the Local Pack. Someone doing the same search above in Southampton  (a city just down the road from Eastleigh, population around 250,000), is going to find a landscaping business in Southampton, not Eastleigh. At least as far as the Local Pack results go.

Adwords (slight diversion)

To cater for this scenario you can consider running Google Ads, this will allow you to target specific areas for search. This will ensure that your business is placed at the top of search for very specific search phrases and in specific geographic locations. Google Adwords is beyond the scope of this article however.

Letting Google know the areas you cover

Now whilst the Local Pack is important and you want to be listed here for local searches, underneath is where the organic search is. In order to rank well here, you need to optimise your website for, in this example, landscaping Eastleigh, landscaping services Southampton and landscaping services Hampshire. The temptation here is for businesses to build a page for each location they service but then go on to duplicate all the page content because it’s the same service, just in a different location. I would advise against this although you will still see this strategy in use. This approach is a bit dated and the problem with trying to unnaturally game the system is that Google makes the rules. Essentially, the more natural your approach to this the better. Always keep real people in mind. Don’t try and second guess what a computer thinks.

If Google decideds clamps down on the use of this tactic, your entire online business is instantly compromised. You would need to make some significant changes to your website to address (sorry no pun intended) this. You need to be smarter than this because Google doesn’t like duplicate content and to be honest, neither should you.  It’s just not adding any value to your visitors.

How to let Google know the areas you cover

Let’s do that search for landscaping services again but add a location to our search this time

Search for landscaping services hampshire in Google

You will see that the ads are now gone, which presents an opportunity perhaps but that’s not in the scope of this article.

Let’s break this down a bit. The local pack is still showing services local to me, as expected. Looking down at the organic search results however and you will see two businesess that have made it clear to Google that they cover Hampshire. Equally, it’s clear to the person searching that they cover Hampshire. This is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s hard to see how if you carried out this search you’d not click on those two websites to investigate further. This is exactly the outcome you want as a business listed on Google.

How to make it clear the areas you cover

Let’s say that you had 2 minutes to pitch your business to an audience in person. You’d almost certainly cover the following topics;

  • What your business is called
  • The services you provide
  • Where you provide them
  • What makes you special
  • Something about yourself

On your website, you obviously need to cover all of these points, and much more, too. Focussing on where you provide your service, make this very clear on your website. For example;

  • Where you are based
  • What areas you cover
  • Provide a map if that’s relevant
  • Showcase work you have completed with details of where you completed it
  • Show testimonials of happy customers and make it clear where you carried out their work

Basically, take every opportunity to say what you do and where you do it.  This makes it clear to both your visitors and Google. That way, your website and business will be properly associated with all of these things. Google will list you accordingly and you should receive good quality click-throughs to inquire about your business. Each of these clicks is valuable and hopefully, you can convert them into a sale.

On page SEO – some techy tips

Don’t forget that Page Title, Meta Description and other on-page areas are all places that you want to make your geographic business coverage clear. Going back to the example search above, you will see that Hampshire is mentioned in the Page Titles for both of the ranked pages in all four top positions. It’s not just this Local SEO factor that will get them this listing but it is a factor. More importantly, to the person looking at the search results, it’s clear to them that they are relevant to the search term they used.

That brings this article to a close. I hope you found it useful. If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.


7 Step Guide to the Best Local SEO

Posted on November 29, 2018 by

Search magnifying glass

Local Search and appropriate Local SEO is important.

Here’s why – 46% of all Google searches are local

Below, I will share with you the top 7 best strategies to optimise your website for local search and in fact good SEO generally.

1. Nail your keywords (the heart of good SEO)

Keyword research is very important for your SEO and therefore success online. Never assume that you know how people find you online. Sign up for a free trial with either SEMRush, MOZ or ahrefs and this will do a lot of the work for you. Yes, this will be a steep learning curve but you will uncover a lot of useful information. They all have a ton of helpful guides to get you started. Keyword volume is absolutely critical to understanding where there is search volume. Next, you need to know who’s currently ranking well for these higher volume keywords. If you supply niche products and services you can benefit from a higher conversion rate with lower volume keywords. Otherwise, search out keywords that have some volume and try appending your local area to the search. This way you will see what keywords are generating the volume in local search. Once you have a good handle on your keywords you can use that information to find out who is ranking well for them and delve into how they’ve achieved that.

2. Complete EVERYTHING in your Google My Business account

Listing well in Google’s local pack is very important for local search success. It’s tempting to just enter the basic information and make a mental note to go back and finish it off later. Don’t do this. Fill in everything you can as comprehensively as you can. This is the next best thing to free AdWords. The local pack sits between paid ads and organic search so a good placing here is extremely valuable. Google ranks knowledge highly so a well-written description of your business, it’s products and anything else valuable, like some photo’s, is a must. We’ll talk about reviews below but also make sure you keep on top of any you have already. Everybody knows that things go wrong sometimes so make sure you reply constructively to any negative feedback. It’s how you deal with these things that matter.

3. Put a strategy in place to get more Google reviews

Building upon point 2 above, to really nail your local SEO, you need to build trust with Google as well as your customers. There is no better way to do this than get some good reviews and bake this into your business strategy going forward. Ask any recent customers for a review and then put a strategy in place to ask all future customers too. Making this as friction-free as possible for your customers is a must. Use the tools on Pleper to help with this. You can use their Google Review Link Generator to create a short URLs to email or print on business cards along with a QR code inviting reviews. This will take your customers straight to the review card where they can rate you and leave a review very quickly.

Goal, target audience, content artwork4. Research who’s ranking well in Google’s local pack and check their local citations

So now you’ve got your Google My Business listing all done and you are getting regular reviews it’s time to see who’s on top. Search for your products and services online and see who’s listing in the local search box. If you’re not there you have some work to do. Local citations are from directories that list products and services by geography. Whitespark have a Local Citation Finder that will do all the research for you. It will list all the citations from all the people ranking well in the local pack. Once you have this information, you can spend some time listing your business on the same directories. This will likely take a while but it’s time well spent. Some of the directories may charge a listing fee but before you do this, find out how valuable that link is first. Whitespark will rate each citation so only consider paying if the citation has a high rating. Alternatively, do all the free ones and wait and see how this works for you over the next few weeks or months.

5. Audit your website with a special audit tool

If you are serious about nailing your SEO yourself then you have hopefully signed up to one of the services mentioned in section 1. All of these will allow you to carry out an audit of your website in order to improve your SEO and SERPS. The audit will basically pick up anything that’s suboptimal for SEO as well as anything more serious. This process can sometimes be daunting because the volume of errors can be significant. That being said, you can resolve sometimes hundreds at a time with just one simple fix. Other issues such as missing alt tags on images can just become a process of longer-term resolution. It’s unlikely you will fix everything straight away, or even quickly. Don’t be put off, just keep chipping away and everything you do will start to work in your favour. This will translate into better rankings over time. Be patient and don’t expect miracles.

picture of spanner and hammer6. Fix any errors or problems on your website

The tools you are now hopefully making use of are powerful. They are also well established and as a result all have a ton of useful information with regard to understanding and fixing issues. Granted sometimes this can be technical and daunting but don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek assistance from your developer here. Most of the issues are going to be one-off fixes or issues that you can avoid in future with your new found knowledge. The best SEO involves diligent attention to detail and the ticking of many many boxes. Over time, like anything in life, this diligence will pay off, in this case, with better rankings.

7. Write expert content and share it as much as you can

Now that you’ve done all the groundwork to ensure that your website is on a firm base, it’s time to think about content. If you have fixed all the issues with your website and it’s diligently optimised for local search, content becomes the next critical factor. Google, and just people on the Internet generally, value good content. Chances are that you are an expert in what you do. Share this information and you will be rewarded. You don’t need to give away your trade secrets or anything but remember that most of what everybody knows can be found on the internet somewhere anyway. Sharing advice and specialist knowledge will be rewarded with online interest, sharing and ultimately better rankings from Google. Share your content everywhere that you are likely to have an audience and over time you will see traffic increase. This will build your standing with Google and any online followers you have. Don’t try and substitute quality with quantity though. Make your content useful, unique and engaging. Like all things SEO, don’t expect instant results. Work hard at this aspect and good things can happen quickly but chances are you will need to be generating good content for a while before you start to see great things happen. Stick with it though because your patience will be rewarded eventually.

Summary

So that wraps up this article. I hope you found it useful. If you would like any help or assistance with website design, website development or Search Engine Optimisation please get in touch. We are based in Eastleigh in Hampshire in the UK so if you are in the Southampton or general Hampshire area you are more than welcome to come in and see us. We’d love to talk through your online business needs in person. We will be happy to suggest solutions perfectly tailored to your needs.

If you enjoyed the article, found it useful or have any questions or comments, please get in touch below and we’ll get back to you.


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