Local SEO – The way forward for many small local companies

Local SEO – The way forward for many small local companies

Local SEO

Local SEO is crucial in 2018

 

Why Local SEO is becoming so important?

The fact of the matter is that things are changing because of one thing, the growth of the use of Mobile Devices, especially Smartphones to access the Internet. The figures are quite startling when you look at them, from 41% in 2016 to over 61% in 2017.

Smartphones and Internet Search

How People use Smartphones to Search the Internet

When you then consider that most smartphone searches are related to immediate / local needs you can see why appearing on that Google Search screen has become more important, YOU NEED TO BE THERE to get that all important click (and the business that comes with it).

You also have to consider that when you search on a Smartphone you automatically get local results (Google after all knows where you are) instead of having to ‘manually signal’ i.e. use a geographic term along with the search phrase (i.e ‘Security companies Hereford’ rather  than just ‘security companies’. The latter, when used on a Smartphone automatically giving you local results for Hereford (as long as of course  you are in Hereford at the time of the search).

 

So What Makes Google Choose One Site Over Another?

The first thing to remember is that Google uses different signals to decide who to list in the Local SEO (the map section at the top of listings that is often shown) than the standard Organic Listings.

The Six Local Pack Ranking Factors

  • Proximity of the address used in your Google My Business (GMB) listing
  • The quality of the GMB listing, photographs, details of services etc
  • The linking structure for the website mentioned in the GMB listing
  • The On Page SEO of the website mentioned in the GMB listing
  • The number of Citations for the website mentioned in the GMB listing
  • The number of Reviews the GMB has recevied

Local SEO and Organic SEO have similarities

As you can see, it is IMPORTANT to ensure that your website is properly optimised, as many of the factors used in Local SEO are also used in the normal Organic listings. It is of course possible to get a listing in the so called 3 pack without having a website, but you are far more likely to get a position if you have a high quality optimised site linked too from your GMB listing.

How to get a Place in the 3 Pack?

Obviously the first thing you need is a Google My Business listing. You may well find that one does exist already, in which case you need to ‘claim it’ a process that can sometimes be carried out by phone, whilst in other cases Google will send you an email or a postcard.

If you don’t have a listing to claim the you must  first log onto your Google account and then vistit https://www.google.com/intl/en/business/, following the process laid out there.

Whichever process is used, you will eventually end up with a GMB listing that you can edit.

Are you listed already and if not who is?

You may also want to check to see if you are, for some reason already listed in the 3 pack, or maybe you want to find out who is. The best way of doing this is to use the Google Adwords tool, this can be found at https://adwords.google.com/apt/anon/AdPreview.

3 Pack Listing Checking Tool

See if your business is already listed in the 3 Pack

 

3 Pack Listing for Caple Security

3 Pack Listing for Caple Security

Editing your Google My Business Listing

The first thing to do is to remember to keep to the rules, these being available at https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en-GB.

Another set of interesting information can be found at https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en.

What to include in your GMB listing

  • At least 5 photographs are needed, it also being important to ‘GeoTag’ them (this telling Google they are relevant to a certain location). This is an easy enough process, see https://www.geoimgr.com/ for more information.
  • Provide as much information as you can about the services you offer and your times of operation / opening.

Getting Citations and Reviews

As mentioned above, having a correctly optimised website is a key requirement to getting a 3 Pack listing, but that is a separate matter (and you can find a lot about ‘search engine optimisation’ elsewhere in this blog, so please do have a look about), this post will just cover the important area of Citations and Reviews.

Of the two, Citations are the most important, it being very possible to get a 3 pack listing with no reviews at all.

If you already have a GMB listing that is not listed in the 3 Pack AND have a fully optimised site, then this is more than likely being caused by having too few Citations, or by the fact that the ones you have are ‘confusing’ Google. This is often caused by the fact that the Citations are using different variations of your business name, address of phone number. Sometimes this is just human error, in other cases it is because your business has moved address or changed the phone number.

Whatever the reasons, having citations that all use different Names, Addresses or Phone numbers (the three together being known by the acronym NAP) can be a real killer to your chances of getting a place, so the first thing to do is to check on what citations you do have and ‘clean them up’.

If you don’t have any then fine, you can start building them up, but ALWAYS ensure that you use EXACTLY the same information on ALL of the citations you create.

Don’t forget Press Releases

Online Press Releases are also a way of helping things along, so please also consider posting these as many times as you can.

Local SEO also helps in getting business if you are not in the 3 Pack.

In some cases, you simply won’t be able to get a 3 Pack listing in the town / city you want, this for the very good reason that your office (as in the GMB listing) is not close enough to the centre of the city / town for Google to consider you as being ‘local enough for a 3 Pack placement.

One way around this is to create a ‘virtual’ office in the town that you wish to target, and whilst this, if done properly can work, it is fraught with dangers (i.e. getting your business thrown off ALL 3 Pack listings). It is therefore better to make sure that your website is fully optimised for ‘Local Searches’ as that way, although you cannot get a 3 pack listing, you can get an Organic listing.

As some if the results in Google don’t have a 3 Pack to get listed in in the first place, this is really a great way to go. See below for our customers No.1 listing, one of many too.

 

Local SEO outside the 3 Pack

Local SEO outside the 3 Pack

 

I do hope that this has provided you with some useful information and please do contact us if you want more information or help with your Local SEO / 3 Pack problems. We are here to help!

Why You Should Care About Google Lighthouse

Lighthouse is an Open Source tool that effectively audits web pages and applications to enhance the quality of them. The audits are conducted to measure a variety of areas of a website and webpage. For one, it focuses on performance. The other areas it focuses on include the accessibility and the best practices in order to figure out how the entire user experience scores and whether or not there are any specific problems with it that can detract from a good end-user experience. Below, we will be going over some of the reasons you should care about Google Lighthouse.

Reasons You Should Care About Google Lighthouse:

1. Receive Actionable Advice.

One of the main reasons you should care about Google Lighthouse is due to its unique ability to offer you actionable advice from real data that can help you boost your end-user experience. You are going to get presented with all kinds of data that can help you improve your website in total. Not only will you be able to get the metrics that mean something, but you will also get an actionable report that includes information regarding the most technical aspects of your entire website including CSS selectors, DOM elements, and even the entire infrastructure set up that your website is built on.

2. It’s Built By Experts.

Another good thing that comes from Google Lighthouse is derived from it being uniquely built by the best experts at Google. The engineers that built the performance tooling software have a deep understanding of browsers and what matters inside because they effectively build them. Therefore, you know that they have the greatest expertise when it comes to auditing a website because they fully understand the inner workings of the browser and search engine experience as a whole. They also have direct access to API creators which can help them with both benchmarking and accurate tracking.

3. Measure a Website’s Speed.

When it comes to measuring a website’s speed, there is no better way to go about it. The fact is, the speed of your website is crucial in today’s mobile dominated marketplace. As more consumers change to using their mobile devices rather than traditional desktop or laptop computers, it is becoming increasingly important to maintain as fast of a speed as possible. Everything can affect a website’s speed including the response time, animation time, idle time, and even load times. Thus, you will need to have the proper analytics on each to see where improvements can be made, where they should be made, and if they need to be made in the first place. Being able to use tools like this to help measure website speed can be a game-changer for optimizing your end-user experience.

For anyone that is looking to improve their end-user experience, Lighthouse is an invaluable collection of tools. Not only will you be able to get quantifiable and actionable metrics, but also having actionable advice laid out in an easy to understand way which can help you make the proper adjustments and corrections to your web app or website to improve the end-user experience.

 

Lighthouse is Google’s free, open source, and automated site monitoring tool. It can help ecommerce businesses track site load times, accessibility, and search engine optimization.

Lighthouse is available in a few forms, including via current versions of the Google Chrome web browser.

An ecommerce owner or manager simply opens Chrome’s developer tools by alt-clicking anywhere on a web page, selecting “Inspect,” and then opening the “Audits” tab to find Lighthouse.

Lighthouse is available under the “Audits” tab of Chrome developer tools.

When an audit is run, Lighthouse will load the target website several times as it gathers information about site structure, tags, and performance. The tool puts a premium on mobile, so Lighthouse does its best to emulate a smartphone, even throttling the network connection to something like 3G and testing the page offline.

Improving Your Site

Lighthouse is meant to “help you identify and fix common problems that affect your site’s performance, accessibility, and user experience,” according to Google.

Put another way, the world’s largest search engine wants to use its extensive experience to give your company advice. Followed intelligently, Lighthouse’s findings could help your online store improve, and, perhaps, become easier for shoppers to find and use.

Lighthouse provides a score for each audit category and then offers actionable feedback to improve your site.

A Lighthouse audit will provide five categories of feedback, each with a ranking of zero to 100.

  • Performance. How quickly your site loads or how quickly key elements become available to users on mobile. This audit is based on several data points including when the first elements are painted and when the page becomes interactive.
  • Progressive Web App. Based on the progressive web app basic checklist, Lighthouse looks for your site’s level of completeness. Google is emphasizing PWAs, which improve mobile performance and may boost search engine rankings.
  • Accessibility. This score is a weighted average of about 35 accessibility traits. Accessibility is one of the most important things online merchants can monitor; it is very helpful to have this built in. Not providing an accessible site might be illegal.
  • Best Practices. Checks for the use of current web development best practices, such as employing HTTP/2.
  • SEO. Audits nine search engine optimization basics. This is significantly less thorough than some third-party SEO audit tools or extensions, but it can still help your business get an idea of how it will perform in Google and other search engines.

Usable Results

In many cases, Lighthouse provides details a business can use to improve its site.

As an example, a Lighthouse audit of Walmart.com conducted on May 7, 2018 found a few accessibility errors, including an iframe without a title attribute. Lighthouse points out that this missing title could make understanding the page relatively more difficult for shoppers using a screen reader and shows the specific iframe tag in question.

Lighthouse’s feedback is often specific enough to take action and improve your score.

Armed with this information a Walmart developer could add the required title attribute and improve the site’s accessibility.

Similarly, a Lighthouse audit of Kohls.com on May 7, 2018 identified several CSS declarations not used. The tool pointed to the specific style sheets in question and estimated how many bytes of data Kohl’s might save if it edited this CSS.

Kohl’s might save a few bytes by removing unused style declarations.

Read more: https://www.practicalecommerce.com/google-lighthouse-monitor-site-performance-seo-accessibility