Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information and 97% of people use search engines to find local businesses. 88% of consumers searching on their mobile devices for local business information contact or visit the business within 24 hours.
If that’s not enough for you to realize the importance of local SEO, I don’t know what else will do it.
These days everyone looks to the Internet first to find information about companies they want to do business with. When it comes to finding a brick and mortar shop that’s nearby, your best bet is the Internet, which is filled with search results meant to guide customers through their open doors.
The WordPress content management system alone powers 34% of the world’s websites. Ranking high in search results is something all website owners want to do, whether they own a local business or just have an online presence.
How do you ensure your local business stands out from the crowd?
We’ve researched all the best ways to optimize your WordPress website for local SEO, so you can beat out the competition and secure more in-person sales than ever before.
Let’s first take a quick look at what local SEO is.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO differs from traditional SEO in that it aims to promote your physical business in local searches. In other words, it lets potential customers find information about your brick and mortar shop in search results so they can visit in person.
When a person uses certain geo qualifiers in their searches, such as city, state, zip code, or terms like “nearby” or “near me,” Google recognizes the search as a local one and provides search results from that area.
Local SEO is important for a whole host of reasons. Here are some of the most compelling:
- Rank Higher: Focusing on local SEO optimization will help your local business rank higher in search results and boost your business’ visibility. This results in increased brand recognition, more walk-ins, and ultimately more revenue.
- Make a Good First Impression: We all know the more relevant your site is the higher it will rank in Google. After all, Google rewards those that provide stellar user experiences to site visitors. By optimizing your site for local SEO, not only will you rank higher, you’ll set the tone for those that plan to visit your business. Making it easy for people to learn about your company, find your physical shop, and contact you is the key to boosting sales and beating out the nearby competition.
- Free Advertising: Whether you take part in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or not, the truth is local search results are a free form of advertising for your business. Think about it: The information you include on your site about your local business uses keywords, enticing copy, compelling imagery, and reviews and ratings. This information is seen by people while they conduct local searches and is used during the decision-making process.
- Boost in Sales: 78% of location-based searches produce an offline purchase. Those looking for local businesses actually want to spend their money in those physical shops. If you do it right, that means more money in your pocket both on and offline.
Here are eight, actionable ways to optimize your WordPress site for local SEO.
1. Have Customers Leave Legitimate Reviews
84% of people trust online reviews as much as their friends and family. That’s why having reviews of your business, across multiple channels, is so important. Not only do these reviews help people decide whether to do business with you, they help Google rank you for the right results for the right audience.
One of the easiest ways to ask people for reviews is to send an automated email campaign to those that purchase your products or services online. If you have in-person customers sign up for a rewards program, you can include an email campaign that asks them to review their purchase as well. The WooCommerce Points & Rewards add-on is a great way to incentivize customers to leave reviews for points-based discounts.
Another great place to encourage reviews is on Google itself.
In addition, Yelp reviews will always appear on the first page of Google, so working on building these reviews is a great strategy. It’s important you interact with all reviewers and work to frame your business in a positive light, even when problems arise.
2. Publish Local Content on Your Website
If your goal is to secure on and offline sales, it’s crucial you optimize your website’s content to include local information, too.
For instance, your website’s homepage should state exactly who you are, where you’re located, and what you do. Google is going to crawl and index your website for the search results it feels are most relevant.
3. Populate Your Website With Local Terms
You should also update your website’s title tags, header tags, and meta descriptions. Google uses these elements to understand your site’s content. As long as local content (e.g., keywords and locations) is included there, you’ll rank higher in local search results.
When using WordPress, one of the best ways to optimize this information is to use the Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin provides fields for adding keywords, SEO titles, SEO slugs, and meta descriptions that will appear in search results.
4. Claim Your Google My Business Page
If you want to appear in the coveted Google 3-pack and boost your SERPs, you’re going to need to claim your Google business listing.
Not sure what the Google 3-pack is? It’s the top three spots in local search results that include short snippets of information about each business, helping guide customers right to their front doors.
Here are some best practices to follow when claiming your Google My Business page:
- If you have multiple locations, claim them all separately and then manage them from one login
- Use primary and LSI keywords because they count for nearly 20% of your chances of getting placed in the Local Pack
- Find the category that best matches your business, even if you can’t find an exact match
- Regularly update any changes to your business so you rank in the right results and customers always have the right information (e.g., location, phone numbers, email, etc.)
- Include images to add visual appeal
- Don’t forget to encourage customers to leave Google reviews as they will appear here as well
Claiming your free Google My Business page is one of the easiest ways to boost your local SEO efforts.
5. Take Advantage of Local SEO Plugins
There are a handful of really great SEO plugins that will make improving your local SEO efforts a cinch.
1. WP SEO Structured Data Schema
The developers behind this plugin understand how difficult it can be to implement structured data and schema on a website (even for professional SEO experts). That’s why they created this plugin to help site owners easily add schema for organizations, reviews, restaurants, services, and local businesses.
A typical search will display results with a page title, URL and meta description. One that utilizes schema markup however, will have images, reviews, dates and times, hours of operation, and more depending on the type of result.
As you scroll through Google search results, you’ll notice that tons of local businesses do not implement schema markup on their websites, even though it’s easy when using a plugin like this one. So stand out from the crowd and offer potential customers more immediately.
2. WP Google Maps
Another great way to get noticed in search results and boost your local SEO efforts is to add a Google Map to your website that search engines can crawl.
Doing this also gives those conducting local searches on-the-go an easy way to find your business right away. This is an easy way to promote your business and convert more customers.
6. Optimize Your Site’s Content
If you have multiple business locations, and reference them all on the same webpage, you can’t expect to turn up in local search results. Google won’t know which results to place you in if you list different locations.
To fix this problem, create separate webpages for all your site’s content and optimize each for their specific location and keywords.
Is this going to take more time and effort?
Will it be worth it?
When you see sales start to rise in each of your shop’s locations, you let us know!
If you’re looking for another effective way to ensure your site’s content is indexed in the right local search results, create an XML sitemap of your site’s content. You can do this using any number of beginner-friendly SEO plugins, such as Yoast SEO (which we mentioned earlier).
With one click, you can create an XML sitemap that Google and other search engines can use to analyze your site’s data and rank you properly.
7. Optimize for Mobile
Since Google announced its mobile-first indexing efforts, optimizing your mobile site has become more crucial than ever. Google is responsible for ranking you in Google search results. If it doesn’t like how your mobile site works for users, you can expect your SERPs to suffer.
In addition, when it comes to local SEO, know this:
- 2 in 3 mobile users are more likely to purchase from sites customized according to the user’s location
- And by 2021, it’s estimated that mobile devices will influence more than $1.4 trillion in local sales
- The use of the terms ‘near me’ and ‘close by’ have increased by 900% over the past two years
And these are just some of the compelling mobile search statistics that are driving local business sales.
The easier you make it for people to view your website and access local business information, the better. If you aren’t sure how to tell what people can see when they click on your site with their mobile devices, use the built-in responsive previews in the live customizer. Just go to Appearance > Customize, and use the desktop, table and phone icons at the bottom of the customizer menu to preview your site.
With it, you can see how your website appears on multiple device types and even navigate your site in real-time to make sure everything works properly, too.
8. Make Your Website Blazing Fast
The last thing we’ll touch on, since it’s a traditional SEO strategy that applies to local SEO, too, is site speed and performance. If you follow all the above, actionable tips and tricks, but never optimize your website to load quickly, you’ll never appear in local search results.
After all, many consumers expect your website to load in less than 2 seconds, and 53% of people will abandon your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
That’s not a lot of time to convince people to stick around, find out about your brick and mortar shop, and head your way.
Google favors fast-loading websites that deliver an exceptional user experience to all site visitors. So find your website’s benchmark speed using a free speed-test tool like Pingdom.
You can choose from a variety of testing locations to measure your site’s overall speed and performance. Once your site is analyzed, you’ll receive the following:
- Overall performance grade
- Page size
- Load time
- Number of requests
You’ll also discover great ways to improve your site’s speed and performance. Some of these suggestions might include using a caching plugin, compressing images, reducing HTTP requests, avoiding URL redirects, decreasing DNS lookups, and much more.
Once you know how fast your website is right now, you can make some small changes and re-test until you can’t improve anymore. That’s when you’ll know that your website will rank in local searches because it caters to a local audience, implements local SEO strategies, and loads quickly for site visitors.
In this digital age, those with physical businesses are in direct competition with the boom of strictly online businesses vying for the same target audience. It’s important you cater to people that want to visit a brick and mortar shop to do business. The best way to do this is to boost your local SEO.
If you take time to evaluate your WordPress website and implement even just a few of the above local SEO strategies, you’ll find your business ranking in relevant local search results in no time. Remember: To succeed, you must advocate for yourself. No one is going to do it for you. So get out there and start optimizing your website for local SEO, so those that are nearby can benefit from everything you have to offer.