Let’s do a role play.
Imagine for a second that you are a barber with a shop somewhere in the streets of Lagos. Will you advertise that business on CNN (any TV, newspaper or radio with global reach) or instead find a smart way to advertise to people in the neighbourhood? Your guess is as good as mine, because it will amount to waste of money if most of the people that will see your advert will not be able to do business with you.
But that is the mistake many businesses are guilty of with their online presence. When they check their analytics, they sometimes get carried away with vanity metrics of users visiting their websites from all over the world, whereas their products can only be used locally. The ugly truth is that there is no point if most of your searches are not from your country of choice.
A balanced traffic view is when at least 70% of your visits are from the geographical market you are targeting. So, if you run a business that is focused on Nigeria market, you need to start optimizing it for local SEO.
Let’s take a little lesson on how Google works.
Google has the largest market share of search engine website, so most people use it to discover products and services online. When someone makes a search, Google uses complex and powerful algorithm to decide the result that will be displayed. In order for the result to be relevant, Google considers the location of the person doing the search. For example, if a user in Nigeria searches Google for “hotels around me”, her result will be different from someone doing the same search in Dublin, Ireland. Each of them will find a result relevant to them.
My Google search page. Google was asking for my location to customise result.
Since these results are designed to vary according to location of the user, the good news for your startup is that if you have identified where the majority of your users are based, you can “tell” Google to display your website to visitors searching from that region only. This way, you can easily attract highly targeted traffic to your startup and be sure that your website visitors are likely to turn to your customers because your products will meet their needs.
Meet “local SEO”.
Local SEO is an aspect of search engine optimization that enables you to “inform” Google that you want your website to be displayed when users from a specific location are looking for information. Since Google results are designed to vary according to location of the user, you simply need to identify where the majority of your paying users are located and “tell” Google to display your website to visitors searching from region only. This way, you can be sure that your website visitors are likely to turn to your customers. The sad truth is that if you do not specify your target audience demography to Google, you are among those people losing valuable traffic and business leads.
Here are the top 4 simple tricks I have uncovered that you can use to make your website become more “visible” in local results, especially when someone is searching for information about your business.
1. Use Google Search console.
One of the free Google tools I mentioned in this post (number 15) is Google Search Console. It is a powerful SEO machine and one of its functions is that you can use it to notify Google what you want your site to rank for.
Country targeting setting specify a primary location to target in Google search results that show your pages (See the area highlighted in the image below)
You can achieve this in 3 easy steps.
Step 2: By default, your site is configured for international exposure, you should change it to Nigeria or your preferred country of choice. Visit the “search traffic” console and click on “international targeting” to modify it to your country of choice.
Step 3: Save your setting and Google will position your website to be more relevant to searches from your country of choice.
2. List your business on Google My Business.
Another local SEO strategy is to configure your site for Google My Business. According to Google, “listing your business with Google My Business makes it optimized for local searches”. You can find more information about this and how to set it up on their official support forum.
3. Publish content that your local community will find useful.
Your business should have a blog where you can share information and tips your local audience will find useful. The major key to this strategy is that your content must be relevant to their needs. In this post, you can learn more about how to use this strategy to drive traffic to you your startup.
While the idea of writing blog posts might seem difficult at first, its impact on your business is high. Take for example, when ProbityBooks a local invoicing and accounting startup experimented with this concept. They published a post that is locally relevant which ended up ranking on the first page of Google ahead of 50 million results, within 10 hours of posting.
You can use tools like Google Trends or Google keyword to identify keywords that your local audience are interested in. You can also search online forums like NairaLand to understand some of the pain points of your local market and publish a content that meet that needs.
4. Use Structured data and Open Graph markup
According to Google, “When you use structured data to mark up content, you help Google better understand its context for display in Search, and you achieve better distribution of your content to users from Search”. This rich snippets provides more information that enables Google to display it for locally relevant searches and enables the content eligible to appear better in Google Search.
If you use WordPress, you can easily download a plugin to fix this or you might need to go ask your developer for assistance.
Conclusion (Will local SEO bring real ROI?)
You need to understand that if your website does not specify your target audience, you are giving Google a hard time to classify it and you will end up losing valuable traffic and business leads. Hence, one of the steps you should take to improve your local SEO is making sure that your site is optimized to be display results for local users using Google to search online. If you take action on the 4 recommendations above, you will see improvement in your website ranking for local search on Google.
If you take action on the 4 recommendations above, you will see improvement in your website ranking for local search on Google. I am sure Implementing these tips has the potential to yield a big impact to your business.
Try any of the steps and let me know how it helps your traffic by leaving a comment.
You can read this complementary post of 57 kick ass local SEO tips from around the world.