If you want to know how to do local SEO 2021 so you can beat your competitors and get more leads and customers from your website, then you know being found by your local community who needs the service you offer them is critical to your success as a local business, especially right now with fewer people out and about.
Your online strategy for driving people to your business is more important than ever before, so this in-depth guide is going to be your ultimate guide telling you every major step that you need to focus on so you can show up and stand out in local search results making you more visible.
And of course more visibility leads to more leads and more customers 🙂
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Everything I show you in this ‘How to do local SEO 2021’ guide is guaranteed to move the needle in your favour, and let’s face it your competition’s probably already doing some of this, whether it’s intentional or not, so if you want to outrank them, you just need to do slightly more of it than they are.
That’s basically what SEO is all about at the end of the day.
So let’s get into what you can do starting today, and I should say right off the top that when I say Local SEO, I really mean two different places your business can be found: First is in the local business Map Results (Map Pack) shown at the top of Google (You of course want to be one of the three featured businesses shown here) and second is in the ‘organic’ search results that are shown below the map results.
There are also the paid advertising spots that are shown at the top of the page, which should also be part of your online strategy, but in this ‘How to do local SEO 2021’ guide we are focusing on local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) that provides the best value (ROI) offers the highest conversion rates.
There’s one really important difference between these two placements, and that is the map results change depending on the physical location where your prospective customer is searching from, as Google’s always trying to show them the closest results to them (I think this will change in the future as Google realises that, especially with services, people want the best, not the closest).
The organic search result listings underneath the map results however, are pretty much the same across the board, which is great whether you’re centrally located or not. So what I’m going to reveal to you in this ‘How to do local SEO 2021’ guide is going to work together, so you can show up in both places, especially for those customers who happen to be close to you (which gives you the advantage over your competitors).
The first thing you need to do is find the keywords (or the search phrase) that your local customers are typing into Google to find the service or product you provide e.g. plymouth cosmetic dentist or plymouth plumbing.
SEO professionals use expensive and complex keyword research tools like Ahref, Moz or Semrush to do this, but you can use Google for free to find out the main keywords people are using.
Just go to Google and type in the name of the town or city you serve and the service you provide e.g. plymouth plumbing. That is probably the most popular keyword to be honest, but Google will automatically suggest other variations. Write them down.
Then go to the search results for each keyword on your list, and scroll down the page to find the ‘Searches related to….’ section and write all the keywords listed there as well. Do that for all your keywords and before long, you’ll soon have a list as long as your arm.
Next you need to set up and optimise your Google My Business profile correctly. Moz (the leading authority in this area) confirm the signals that you send out on your Google My Business profile is the single most important factor for ranking in the Map Pack (Top 3 results shown in the local business map results at the top of Google which gets 80% of all customers).
Now you probably already have a GMB listing , but there’s a right way and a wrong way of filling it out, so if you really want to know how to do local SEO 2021 and stack the deck in your favour, make sure that yours is filled out completely 100 percent just as Google tell you. Yes, they actually tell you how filled out it is with a completion score, so do everything they tell you to do. Don’t skimp out on this stage.
But even if you’ve got a perfect 100 score sheet from Google, I still strongly recommend going even further than that if you really want to dominate your market and beat your competition, as going the extra mile will get you in the top results position and pay dividends.
A few extra measures you can take include:
Choose the main top level Category that best describes your business, but also choose as many secondary Categories that also fit your business. DO NOT try to scam Google here or you will get your knuckles rapped. Only choose categories that are relevant to your business. How do you find these extra categories? Look at all of your competitors GMB profiles and see what they’re using. Make a list of all the ones that make sense and add them to your GMB profile.
You also want to pay close attention to the services and product sections this is going to give Google some extra content about what you offer, not to mention that these are just great places that you can naturally work in some of your keyword phrases for some extra SEO power (Remember that getting your business above your competitors on Google is all about lots of little things like this, rather than a couple of big things).
Geo Tag all images BEFORE uploading them to your Google My Business profile (Geo Tagging just means adding the Latitude & Longitude co-ordinates of your business location to your images). Use the free service at geoimgr.com. You’ll need your Lat and Long co-ordinates to do this, which are easy to find. Find your business on Google Maps and ‘right click’ on the red marker icon. Then ‘left-click’ on the numbers shown at the top to copy them. These are your businesses co-ordinates. After uploading your image, paste your co-ordinates in the Lat and Long sections at Geoimgr under the map (Lat is the first number and Long is the second number), click on the ‘Write EXIF Tags’ button and download the geotagged image (TIP: Also make sure all the videos you upload to your Google My Business profile have the same file name as your main keyword).
We’re seeing that reviews are directly impacting local rankings, so make sure you make a big push this year to get more of those 5 star reviews from your customers. And always make a personal reply to every review you get, because it’s really likely that having your keywords in the text of your reviews is going to help strengthen your SEO score, so not only does replying to a review help your customer service, but if you can work in a keyword into your responses, it definitely couldn’t hurt. Make it look natural and don’t force it in. You should always be either thanking them for their review or trying to smooth things over and making things right in the case of a bad review. NEVER respond aggressively or be defensive to a bad review, as potential customers will be reading it.
So in the next part of this ‘How to do local SEO 2021’ guide, and after you’ve optimised your Google My Business profile correctly, you’ll need to focus on what your website is saying.
It’s VERY important to understand that what Google is really looking for here is consistency across your Google My Business profile and your website, and together it should all paint a really clear picture about where you are and what you do.
But what if your business serves lots of locations and can’t rank in the map pack across your entire service area? Well, you can have more than one Google My Business profile to target each area, but you will need to have a real physical office in each area. This can be a rented office just for this purpose, but you can’t use a PO Box or mailing address, as Google can identify them easily and will close you down quicker than you can say SEO.
But don’t worry if having an office in each location isn’t practical for you, as that’s where the organic search results come into play. All you need to do is create a new page on your website targeting and optimised for each location e.g. If you’re a seo company in Plymouth for example, but also cover Tavistock, then you would create a new page on your website properly optimised for the keyword or search phrase ‘tavistock seo services‘. You then do the same thing for all the areas you cover and for all related keywords e.g. tavistock seo, tavistock seo company and so on.
But like your Google My Business profile, there’s a right way to do this too, and most business owners (and some seo companies) are doing it completely wrong, so if you want to do it right, there’s a few things to keep in mind;
DO NOT treat these pages like an afterthought, as they really important. If these location pages are how you’re planning on getting customers from your website, you need to treat them exactly like your home page with all the same strong on-page SEO, high quality content including benefits, testimonials, FAQs and all the good stuff that converts visitors to your website into customers.
Use your home page as a template and tweak it for each location. Just change all instances of the location name, tweak the content and FAQs as needed, mix in some secondary keywords, change meta tags (H1, Title & Description), images, videos, Maps etc. and you’re good to go.
Make sure your content isn’t just written for the search engines, because your customer isn’t going to be Google. Make it natural and use proven psychological sales techniques to draw your visitors in and choose you over your competitors. You can have the best SEO optimised page on the Internet, but if it doesn’t convert your visitors into customers, then it’s all been a big waste of time.
Create a footer that shows on each page of your website that has the EXACT same business name, address and telephone number that’s on your Google My Business profile. Also link the address in the footer back to your Google My Business profile, embed a Google map showing your business location and have an ‘Areas we serve’ section linking to all the location pages you created.
Next in our ‘How to do local SEO 2021’ guide, and after you’ve got your foundation built strong by getting your Google My Business profile and your On-Page SEO sorted, it’s time to start getting citations. These are simply getting your business listed in as many quality business directories as possible like Yell and Yelp.
The Golden Rule to remember when creating citations is to make sure your business name, address and telephone number are EXACTLY the same as the ones listed on your Google My Business profile, and I mean EXACTLY the same. If your business address on your Google My Business profile is 123 High St. then you CANNOT use 123 High Street. It must always be 123 High St. Seems a small thing I know, but it’s REALLY important it’s always exactly the same.
Creating citations is simply a case of going to each directory online and entering your details. It’s boring tedious work, but MUST be done right (Contact us if you want us to do it for you). Some are free, and some you pay for. Stick with the free ones to start with is my advice, but the one I do recommend paying for is your local Chamber of Commerce as it’s a powerful local link that Google loves.
Next comes the most important part of SEO, whether it’s local SEO, national SEO or even global SEO, and that’s link building. Having a lot of quality links to your website from other sites that Google likes and trusts, has always been a key ranking factor, and it’s just as important today as it’s always been.
But, and this is a BIG but, you must NEVER start link building until you have built a strong foundation for your website by doing everything we’ve talked about above, or you’ll just be wasting your time and money (If you only take one thing away from this ‘How to do local SEO 2021’ guide, make sure it is that).
Not only do quality backlinks help you rank your site organically, they also help you in the local business map results as well. For local SEO, all quality links are valuable, but you also want to get some links from local websites as well to further tie you with your local area (This is why the Chamber of Commerce link is a good one to get), so reach out to all the local businesses you have a relationship with and see if you can get a link from their website to yours.
If you’re a member of a trade organisation or have a professional membership, check to see if you can get an entry on their website with a link to your website.
Another way to get quality local backlinks is to offer to provide free content (like gardening tips if you’re a landscape gardener, or cooking tips if you’re a cafe owner etc.) to local blogs and websites, local online newspapers and magazines etc. in return for a link to your website.
When building links though, just make sure you start small and gradually build them up to make everything natural and organic. This is a mistake a lot of website owners (and seo companies) make. Going from a few low quality backlinks to suddenly getting a bunch of powerful links from the home pages of websites will set off alarm bells at Google and may get your website penalised, so it’s always best to build links slowly and naturally to keep Big G happy 🙂
Follow this ‘How to do local SEO 2021’ guide and I guarantee you’ll get your website to the top of the search results (Local Map & Organic) where over 90% of everyone searching for the service you provide will contact you.
That’s the reality of what will happen, so you need to ask yourself are you ready for it and do you really want it? (Some business owners we work with say they are, but when the calls start flooding in, they quickly find out they’re not).
So, local SEO will get the phones ringing off the hook, it’s now your job to turn as many of those leads into customers as you can. Make no mistake about it, this can be a game changer and will at least double your business within 12 months (normally much sooner), so make sure you’re ready for it.
Have processes and procedures in place to deal with all the extra leads you’ll be getting. Have a good sales team in place ready to convert the leads into customers. Have extra funding ready to purchase new plant, equipment, premises and staff to deal with your expansion. DO NOT even bother trying to grow your business using SEO if you’re not 100% ready for it first.
We’ve been offering SEO services for over 20 years and see it all the time. We ask every new client we take on if they’re ready for all the new business we’ll be sending their way, because once you’ve started SEO, it just continues to grow, so be ready.
We can switch paid ads on and off when you have more leads than you can handle, but SEO is a different beast that continually builds momentum and keeps on growing and growing.
Having more customers than you can handle is a nice problem to have for most business owners, but it’s not for everyone, so make sure you’re honest with yourself that it’s what you really want before you start.
Now if you prefer watching rather than reading, don’t forget to check out our free SEO training videos. Click HERE to sign up and get instant access to our free Kick-Starter video course.
I hope you found this guide to local SEO useful. I know it’s a lot to take in, so if you have any questions or need any help with anything I’ve talked about here in this post, simply book a free call-back on our contact page to have a chat with me.
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