Of all the landscapes COVID-19 may have irreversibly altered, the local search environment is not the one most people talk about. Yet in 2020, 57% of consumers purchased from a local business for the first time because they offered pandemic friendly services. Over half of consumers avoided local businesses that didn’t offer such accommodations. How did consumers know which business had what policy while they were home in lockdown? Using location pages for SEO has become key.
What makes a local search different from an organic search? In Google’s Local Pack, local results are shown above organic search results by order of relevance to the consumer. These results are highly visual in their use of star ratings and map displays. Each search result is linked to Google My Business (GMB) listings, the most important factor in determining local pack ranking. Following GMB, the most important factors considered in a local search related to backlinks, customer reviews, and website keywords/domain authority, respectively.
How to Use Location Pages for SEO
Local businesses needing to optimize their GMB listing can do so in 3 easy steps. The first and most important step is for a business owner to claim their business profile. Google can’t display results for businesses it isn’t aware of. Next, one should complete every section of the profile. The more relevant, accurate information that Google has to work with, the better an entry will fare in searches. Important sections on the GMB profile include business name, address, website, hours of operation, category, and so on. Once these two initial steps are completed, the third is to keep the listing updated. Ways to keep a listing recent when basic information about the business has not changed are: creating weekly posts, responding to reviews by customers, and answering questions from the public. If a local business has only a single location, are all that’s necessary for a fair search ranking.
For businesses with multiple locations, the path ahead is a bit more complex. Local landing pages (LLPs) are essential to their success. An LLP is a standalone web page dedicated to the specific location of a business. Using LLPs allows business owners to link each landing page to a separate listing on GMB, optimizing their search potential in every location where their business operates. Designing an LLP follows many of the same conventions a standard web page would, but features they can include to specifically improve local search rankings are hyperlocal content, location photos, Google Maps embed, and location-specific profiles on social media.
Why a Mobile Webpage is an Important Aspect of Success
Another thing local businesses of all sizes should consider is their mobile presence. 84% of local searches are made on mobile devices. If a business’s website is hard to navigate on a customer’s smartphone, they are less likely to buy from that business. Some features that improve the mobile experience are: mobile-friendly coupons and sales codes, click to call phone numbers, and floating call to action buttons. Always test a mobile feature before implementing.