Setting the foundations of local SEO for your business

Written on 25 April, 2016 by James Baylis
Categories Search Engine OptimisationSmall BusinessTags local businesslocal seosearch engine optimisationseo

There's a huge difference between search engine optimisation (SEO) and local SEO. SEO focuses on global searches whereas local SEO hones in on nationwide and city-level queries.

For local businesses and startups in the Sydney or Melbourne region, you'll almost always want to start with local SEO if the bulk of your customers are from Australia.

What's the point in showing up as the number one search in the United States if you only sell products or offer services to an Australian customer base?

Want to get found on Google locally? Here's what you should be doing.

Get a .com.au domain name

Having a country specific top-level domain (ccTLD) is a huge part of ranking locally in search engines. Having .au at the end of your domain sends Google a strong local relevancy signal letting them know your business is primarily targeting the Australian market.

Set your Google Search Console search parameters   

Google Search Console is a free tool that helps you monitor the progress of your website and online search presence within Google. You can learn things such as how many impressions your pages receive on Google, the keywords users type to find your business and any issues Google web crawlers have reading your website.

Google Search Console also allows you to provide Google with information to better serve your website to the correct audience with their international targeting feature.

After logging in, head to the dashboard, go to Search Traffic > International Targeting and from the county tab select Australia:

local seo google search console

This option will tell Google that you would like them to prioritise your website more for Australian users who search for your business and industry keywords. Typically this option will be set to worldwide if you don't have a ccTLD already.

Place your NAP in the footer

What does NAP stand for?
Name. Address. Telephone number.

NAP is a significant factor to ranking your website locally in searches. Google crawlers are smart enough to read addresses and telephone numbers to identify the location of your business.

Your telephone number must use a local prefix (02 for Sydney, 03 for Melbourne) for Google to accurately read your NAP and place you in the correct local search rankings. Avoid using mobile or free phone numbers as they don't contain local prefixes.

If you have your NAP listed anywhere else (Yelp, Google +, social media sites) make sure it's consistent throughout all platforms as this is something Google cross-references to verify whether a business is legitimate.

Google Plus Account

Setting up a Google + account can see your business appear on the first page of Google for local and mobile searchers.

Setting up and verifying a Google + page is arguably the fastest way to get your local business ranking in your local Australian city.

Don't expect to follow our 4 tips above and to instantly see thousands of local searchers landing on your website. Local SEO doesn't work like that. However, do expect to see a small spike in traffic which should compound overtime as you implement more local SEO techniques and build a bigger online search presence.

Local SEO is a long-term plan and by following our 4 tips above, you will have set yourself the perfect foundation to get the ball rolling.