Local Search Engine Optimisation or Local SEO presents opportunities for small businesses that include an increase in sales or leads and greater visibility to local customers. It has become increasingly more important as customers are now turning to search engines for local services. Google Stats also reveal that about 97% of consumers first search for local services online.

Local SEO is like normal SEO in many ways, but there are a few differences. The major difference is that local SEO high rankings are usually easier to achieve than a nationwide or international campaign. The traffic may be much lower in a local campaign but there are fewer competitors too and the conversion rates are even better.

If your business serves a local customer base, you will know how difficult it can be to reach your prospects with your offers. So we’ve put together 5 things you can do to increase awareness of your services online and drive more traffic and sales to your business.

1.      Choose your Keywords Carefully

Your SEO campaign should start with keyword research. Your keywords are what searchers use to find your website on Google and picking the right ones is critical.

There are many free keyword tools to use like the Google Keyword tool to find your keywords. The ideal combination of keywords you pick will have high traffic volumes and low competition. You will want low competition keywords because they are easier to rank for and are sometimes more profitable, especially if they are long tail keywords.

2.      Sign up to Google Places for Business

One of the first steps to Local SEO success is getting listed on Google Maps. The benefit is that you get a free listing on Google, right at the top for local searches for your services. Your listing also includes your address that makes it easy for your customers to find your business premises and a map too with directions.

Another benefit of a Google Places listing is customers can leave reviews about your services and their positive experience can enhance your brand.

To get started with Google Places for Business you will need to provide your Business name, Address, Telephone Number, description of your services and various other details like trading hours and business category.

3.      Optimise for other search engines

Google’s share of Local search traffic is around 67%. That’s a big slice of search traffic for sure, but there are other important players in this arena and they include Bing, Yahoo, Yell and a few others. Yell for example is very popular with local searchers and conversion rates there are very high. Another benefit is that having a listing on local sites like Yell, Yelp and Touch Local will boost your Google rankings.

 4.      On-page optimisation

Advice from Google to website owners looking to rank high on their search engine is to optimise their websites for visitors and not the search engines. Optimising your website for visitors or on-page optimisation is about providing content that is relevant, engaging, entertaining and keeps your visitors coming back to your site for more. It also helps improve your search engine rankings because other sites are more likely to link back to your website.

Optimising for the search engines alone, which Google frowns upon, includes such black hat methods as keyword stuffing which ultimately will hurt your rankings.

5.      Stick with it

The worst thing you could do is give up on your local SEO efforts and allow your competitors to win. Local SEO at times can be difficult and getting that Number one spot or Page one listing on Google can be a mammoth task for any business in a competitive niche. It requires constant optimisation and providing quality content with a well planned link building strategy. With perseverance, your site can achieve that coveted number one spot and receive tons of traffic and sales.