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Know Basic SEO Factors that Can Affect Your Local Business Rankings

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Planning to tour a city, hire a local guide. Lost your way, ask your local “Google Bhaiya”. Lost in thoughts, ping me ladies! (Feeling trapped yet? watch it in your nearest “local” theatres, now!).

Who needs Google when people tell you about the ways in a way that some way you’ll start feeling like you’re Dan Brown, the master of finding ways? (Any females out there who are fans of wordplay, don’t ping me! Seriously, how can you like someone who makes simple things complex just to simplify them again?)

Well, these days any of your local guys can outwit even Shakespeare with the use of Thy, Thou, Thine in his sentences. These three words have become like keywords in the social media community to garner some cheap and quick publicity. ScoopWhoop, Storypick, scribbled “gibberish” stories, want some more?

So, even before starting my article, I would just leave this sentence as an “alternative” ending or disclaimer maybe that, “Not all locals are good”! But, don’t worry we’ll talk about the benefits of local just for the sake of the topic.

(Wait, my memory wouldn’t allow me to continue without telling you guys about the most awesome thing on the internet today, so, there is something called disclaimer which allows you to put anything on your site and also, you can easily get away with that just like how Mallya did.

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Today, when I was browsing on my safe abode, I happened to have come across something called Chinese birth calculator, which calculates your unborn baby’s gender according to the date of your birth and the month of the conception. How cool is that? Hey, Hey, hold on, brace for the impact, coz there’s more coolness flooding in. Even while encouraging people to determine the sex of the innocent fetus, they wanted to play it the softball as they have put up a disclaimer which practically says that it’s illegal to determine sex before delivery in their targeted domain/country. So, again, local is not always good!

Well, so much local, does anyone remember my “extremely” funny reply to our “dark” Western overlords in the one about branding? (No? Well, read it here)

It says something about someone who is residing in some country with a mindset of buying and hiring local but selling globally. Well, someone cares but we don’t, right? (Maybe Arshad Warsi does when he made predictions about them in his movie Jolly LLB where he was quoted saying that, “Kaun hai yeh log, aur Khan se aate hain yeh log” (translation: who are these people and where do they come from))

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What interests me, is the reason behind such behavior!

Why local, why? (Mumbai people also ask the same question to each other every morning while taking a local train to the office, although their meaning to say this might be different on another level)

In this quick guide, we’ll try to get the deeper understanding of the subject at hand and will also discuss its implications on the marketing as a whole.

So, shall we begin?

What is Local SEO?
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Whether you’re looking for a restaurant to dine with the family or a mechanic to fix your car or even a plumber for any sort of burst pipe emergency, search engines always come to your aid. While performing a search for some local business on the internet, you are sending out a loud and clear message to the world that from now on consider you among their leads.

Now you just do the old trick of wait and watch with a stick in hand while making some scriptures in the sand (remember there was burst pipe failure, so we’ll have to do with what’s best for nature), and see the business will come knocking at your door.

Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the use of off-site and on-site search marketing strategies to help rank a local business higher in the search engine results.

Before I tell you about the tricks and tactics to explore the “small universe” of local SEO, you should at least know about why you need to hear them.

According to Go-Globe:
  1. The Google Local 3-Pack holds the top spot with above 90% local searches.
  2. As much as 60% of the customers who have performed a search for your business, are going to visit you by the end of the day, congratulations, it’s your lucky day today!
  3. Local has some aura around itself which encourages people to make a purchase. E.g. this product is something which signifies the rich history and tradition of the country, available for you at the minimal rate of 500$, now you can sell them even the dirty shoelaces or underwear of Aurangzeb, until and unless they are forensic or archaeological experts.
  4. Almost 50% of the total searches on Google are local, and out of 100 such people, 75 of them are going to call you.
  5. 85% of the searches on Google maps are done to find some local wine shops (Kidding, to find some local business actually, although looking for wine shop would have been a whole new level of productive).

Basically, with all these figures, I just want to tell you that Local searches have high conversation rate. Otherwise, you tell me why a man would Google about cafés in Jaipur if he doesn’t even have a girlfriend? Or money or a nice pair of shoes!

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Well, that example has clearly gone wrong, let’s stick with the one about finding plumbers in trichy, ok?

So, these days it’s imperative for the local businesses to have their names on the Google’s list of results otherwise it can perish the image of a business and can shoo its consumers away as well. Local SEO is here to help you proclaim your business to a higher level in Google’s search-related rankings.

Now, let us begin with the local SEO tools and its determining factors.

1.) Google My Business:

Well, it’s a directory of local businesses which magically appear when someone performs local search for a business. As almost four out of five customers use search engines to conduct local searches, it is a huge missed opportunity if your business is not up there on the Internet. Well, there are many other local directories available to do the same such as Merchant Circle, Yelp, Citysearch, etc. but GMB is considered the best of them.

It is also important to have your contact details on the online citation sites such as Neustar, Info group, etc. These sites aggregate your data in such a way that it becomes available for the customer to view when he searches for the keywords related to your business.

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Claiming your Google page is a free and hassle-free process, you can easily visit Google.com/Business to get your business online. There’s a verification process that you need to go through as Google is very careful about the information it provides to the users. At the official portal, you’ll have to provide your business’ physical address (No spamming there), and by taking its heed, Google will send you a pin by post. Once you receive this pin, you can log into your account and verify your business. This verification process is important as it tells Google about the legitimacy of a business and as per the Google’s terms and conditions, only a business owner can apply for a GMB page.

The next goal should be to make your GMB page crowded with the necessary information such as categories, descriptions, operational hours, logo, and, photos. In short, literally everything that you feel that user might be interested in looking at.

Bing has also made something similar like this but it lacks the charm and searches as well, but it’s also free so why not exploit it as well! You can visit Bing Place for Business to claim your business page.

Google local SEO 3 pack is the most new offering from Google to the local SEO world, but you can’t just rely on this as these days every business want to be the sole proprietor of the free traffic that Google searches generate. But, as everyone cannot be the King, so, you should keep updating your strategy to keep up with the competition.

Recently, Google stepped up the level of competition with its adwords policy, as nowadays almost 2-4 ads are bound to appear on the top of a consumer’s search results. (Read more about Google adwords here)

In case you have no money to spend on ads, don’t be disheartened, as Google also categorizes the result according to two more factors, namely, ratings and hours of operation. So, in case you are lucky enough to have good ratings and a smart customer (to filter the results according to the ratings) then, Bingo, you can reach even to the top position!

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2.) Title and Meta Description Should be Love

Well, yeah! Just like the way a beautician puts makeup and ornaments on the bride to be, you should also decorate your title and meta description with lots of lovely keywords. As there are tons of similar webpages available to look at, try to make your title and meta description unique and keyword enriched at the same time.

As a first, you can start by adding your region/city name plus your relevant keyword within the title tag/ H1 tag/URL/Content/Alt tag. (Be cautious while putting it up as it can look like stuffing and Google isn’t very fond of it.)

While doing so, keep reminding yourself with the character limits of both the title and meta description. Last year, Google widened its area of main search results, which increased the limits for title and meta descriptions to 60 and 200 characters, respectively. Try to finish your title and meta description within their limits, otherwise, Google will embed (…) into your details, and it surely doesn’t look cool.

3.) Good Online Reviews Are Must
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According to a survey conducted by a site named SearchEngineLand, almost 80% of the people consider online reviews as a personal recommendation of a friend and also, six out of those ten customers tend to leave a review when asked.

It all depends on your manner of asking which makes it quite a bit more complex than asking out a girl on date. Just like various dating sites, there are numerous reputation marketing tools and software that can help you to approach, track and manage your customers.

There are, namely, Get Five Stars, Trustpilot, Reputation Loop, Vendasta, etc. Also, if you are rooting for a notification whenever someone mentions your name on the social media then, you can select any tool for the same. E.g. Hootsuite, Tiny Torch, etc.

Be careful with your response to the reactions to your business on social media, mostly to the negative ones, as two negatives don’t make a positive in the real world.

To make it easier for you, I suggest you should focus your attention on only two major platforms, namely, Google and Facebook. As Google reviews appear when someone searches for your business online whereas, Facebook reviews are important to garner fan following among friends and family.

4.) Local Structured Data Markup
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Often referred to as “scheme.org markup” or simply schema markup, is embedded into the coding of a website to provide more information about its business, e.g. reviews, products, services, etc.

By using this tool, you can make your website stand out from the crowd in the eyes of the search spider as currently, only 30% of the websites are using this tool.

In case you’re worried about its guidelines, Google has made a testing tool available to validate your markup.

The Conclusion

In the Dan Brown language, these factors constitute to just the capstone of the whole pyramidal structure of Local SEO. But, knowing them is essential to begin from somewhere!

With all the knowledge at your disposal, you can start working on the possible ways to improve your SERP rankings on Google.

Meanwhile, make sure you go through other cool stuffs here!

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