In the past, it was normal for most homeowners to have a predefined list of agents that they will call when they are ready to buy or sell. However, the rise in Internet use around the world has resulted in many people now completing a Google search to help them compare and contrast what agency will best suit their individual needs. As there are potentially hundreds or even thousands of similar agencies competing for the same customers, how does one stand out from their competition? This is where Local SEO comes in.
What is Local SEO?
Local search engine optimisation (SEO) is about how to optimise your website to rank better for a local audience. When your business features in search results for Local SEO, your business will be much easier to find from potential customers who are conducting online searches around your area. Keywords, alt text, tags, website architecture and website design are just some of the SEO elements that can be manipulated to increase your ranking in search results that are geo-specific. If your Local SEO is effective and implemented correctly, your business will rank on page one of Google’s search engine results, resulting in increased exposure and potential success for your business.
How Local SEO Results are Ranked
The Google Algorithm, based on a number of on-page and off-site factors, ranks local SEO results. Geo-proximity is the most important ranking factor used to rank results in Local search engine results pages. This means that the closer your business is to a prospective customers physical location, the more visible your ranking is in the local search results.
For example, if a potential homebuyer/seller types a search into Google along the lines of ‘new flats North London’, the relevant pages that are tagged appropriately with matching keywords will appear in the search results.
The content displayed on your page is also extremely important to Local SEO. If your page content is very substantial, it will become more visible, as it holds more value to the user. For example, a page with 1,500 words of text, subheadings and images is going to be much more visible than a page with 250 words and 1 image. This is the reason why the bigger businesses dominate local search results as they have so many pages with relevant content and keywords.
So how is your up-and-coming online estate agency supposed to compete with the more popular businesses with the majority of market share? Luckily for everyone, Google is also concerned with this issue. Google doesn’t want search results dominated by the same businesses all the time, giving smaller businesses a change to rank on search engine results pages.
The Key Benefits of Local SEO
1. Organic Traffic – Successful Local SEO is measured by the volume of organic traffic that your website generates. Organic traffic is created through original content that you own and publish, organic traffic is better than paid traffic as organic content is more likely to be clicked on and trusted by audiences and also can grow your online presence for longer.
2. Cost-Effective – Local SEO will be cost-effective for your business as once your content is published it remains online, this content can gain in authority over time as more visitors and potential customers discover your page. If the content you post is properly optimised it can continue to drive organic traffic to your site for a considerable amount of time.
3. High Visibility in Local SERP – As you will already know, there are likely to be millions of pages of local content on the Internet. As users attention span has significantly decreased, users will most likely click on the top 3 results listed on the search engine results page. This means that if your business is not on the first page of local search results, your business will likely not get many clicks or conversions. This is why Local SEO and achieving visibility on the first page Local search pages is critical to the success of your business.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is another crucial aspect of Local SEO, as you need to be on GMB to appear on local map listings. Setting up GMB is a very straightforward process, just visit the GMB homepage and follow the simple instructions. The great aspect about Google My Business listings is that every business has a chance of achieving a prominent listing, what they need to do is get the basics right and also add value to customers search. At the end of the start up process you will have to verify your business via a code to be given full access to GMB. After this code has been verified, it is now time to focus on creating great Local SEO.
After setting up your account, here are some crucial factors you will need to implement to give your business the best possible chance of success:
· Correct Information – It is strongly recommended that you enter all the correct information about your business so it’s at 100%. Otherwise you’re already harming your Local SEO opportunities.
· Profile Picture – Make sure that you choose a suitable profile picture. So for example, you could just simply use your business’s logo, or if you have a branch on a fancy high street, you might be better off using a picture showing the exterior.
· Image Keywords – You should try to add more than one image if you can and also name your image with a specific keyword in mind. This is a good way to build image keywords and can make the content more interesting and engaging for viewers.
· Correct Categorisation – Good categorisation is essential as it makes your business clear from the get go. This is where you would select either ‘estate agent’ or ‘lettings agent’ depending on which category you specialise in, or if you fall into both, simply put them both down.
· Format – Make a note of the exact format your business is listened in, as you will need this information later on.
Why Do I Need A Google My Business Listing?
Businesses at any level or reputation will need a GMB listing. Here’s why:
· Prominence in search results – Having a GMB listing can help your business stand out in search results, and will help people find your business, whether it’s online or offline. However, having a GMB listing does not automatically guarantee a position at the top of the search rankings, factors such as the level of competition in your local area and review scores will help determine where you rank on the search engine results page.
· Importance of local search – As Google My Business is all about local search, which includes things like searches made near your business or searches made outside the area with the location added, having a GMB listing is imperative. According to stats from Google, 46% of all Google searches are local, so if you want to improve your chances in local search results, then GMB listing is the way forward.
· Importance of mobile search – The rise in usage and consumption of mobile phones has resulted in mobile search overtaking desktop search for the major search engines. In 2019, 62% of Google searches were made on mobile. This has made mobile visibility more important than ever, and GMB is key to that, as these listings dominate mobile search results to the extent that it’s impossible to avoid them on the majority of local searches.
· Competition – This will depend on whether your competitors have GMB listings or not. If your competition does have a GMB listing then potential customers are going to have to work harder to find your site in local searchers. So by having your own GMB listing this will help you compete with them on a level playing field. However, if your competitors do not have a GMB listing, this will give you a considerable advantage over their business. This is because your local search and mobile results will stick out more, resulting in more potential customers seeing your business page.
· Credibility – The majority of Internet users will now be used to seeing business profiles, so this can give some credibility to your business because these listings look professional and provide users with key information.
· Easier for customers to find you – These GMB listings make it so much easier for customers to find our key information about your business such as opening hours, popular times to visit and finally maps to help with directions to your business’s location.
· Its free & easy – The easy nature of setting up a GMB listing for your business is one reason you should implement this method, but more importantly it’s free.
· Find insights into customer behaviour – Google will provide you with some very useful data around your listings, which will give you a much clearer insight into customer behaviour. For example, you will be able to see how people located your listings (through web searches or social media etc.) and also key information on the actions they took after viewing your listing.
A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business, which is often referred to as ‘NAP’ (name, address and phone).. Citations help Internet users find and discover local businesses, and can also impact local search engine rankings. These citations usually occur on local business directories, on websites, apps, and finally on social platforms. It should be known that Google values citations highly, which means that the more citations your business has, the better the chance of gaining a higher search engine ranking.
Building Credibility With Local Reviews
An online local business review is written sentiment left directly by a customer on any website or platform that supports this type of content. Even though there are several factors involved in determining search rankings, online customer reviews are a very strong signal to search engines that communicate authority and trustworthiness. These reviews act as another form of ‘word of mouth’ marketing and positive referrals go a long way to promoting your business, resulting in increased customer conversions and creating more potential marketing opportunities.
But don’t just take our word for it. According to the 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors study performed by Local SEO Guide, Google My Business reviews that included the searched-for keyword were the second-most influential factor when examining a local business’ performance.
So the question is, how do you get more reviews? The answer is really quite simple: just ask. As the saying goes, if you don’t ask you don’t get. If you feel your agency has provided a very high-level of service, and the client has let you know just how pleased they are, ask them to leave an online review. It really cannot be stressed enough just how important these online reviews are for your business; they really do go a long way.