How to boost your local SEO

Steve TraskBy Steve Trask in Content Promotion

In a recent article we covered how most homeowners have a pre defined list of agents they will call when they are ready to sell. This is true but we also touched upon how a great many people will do a Google search to help define or validate that list. As with most searches based on a location Google will display a more localised set of results, for example while searching ‘estate agents in Sydenham’ yields the following results –

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is an extension of search engine optimisation (SEO), solely relating to search engine optimisation in a specific area. By featuring in search results for Local SEO, your agency will be easier to find from people doing searches around your area. If your Local SEO is effective, your agency will appear on page one of Google’s search engine results, both in the map section and in the listings results.

In days gone by, the difference between SEO and Local SEO was minimal. There have, however, been changes over the years that specifically affect Local SEO, one of which is location settings. Trying to rank first for ‘estate agents in London’ would be a near impossible task because of the volume of agents in the area. But ranking first for ‘estate agents in Sydenham’, a small district in south east London, is more achievable.

Even if you’re not London specific, ranking on the first page for, say, ‘estate agents in Leicester’ is also going to be a hard task. This is where Local SEO becomes effective. If you focus on your area, rather than wider town or city, your chances of appearing in search results are far greater.

Imagine the amount of traffic your website could receive if it featured on page 1 for ‘estate agents in Sydenham’, or wherever your agency is based. Greater traffic to your site means more exposure, which ultimately leads to more sign-ups, conversions and instructions. This is why local SEO is so important for your estate agency.

Local SEO for estate agents on Mobile devices

The importance of localised SEO will only grow stronger as more people continue to use their mobile devices for internet consumption. The majority of mobile users browse the internet while on the go, as they are most likely looking for solutions to problems they want a quick fix for.

Recent studies show that 56 per cent of mobile users have local intent when searching online. A further 78 per cent went on to make an offline purchase. As an estate agent, you may find that someone has identified the area they want to live in and then, having travelled to where your branch is located, look for nearby estate agents on Google.

You have to remember a Google search on a mobile will give you a different set of results to one done on a desktop as they are indexes. This is why you have to optimise for both, this can be done naturally but it may require some work to make the most out of it.

If you are featured in a local SEO search, there is more chance your agency will be one of the companies people choose to contact. Local listings means a higher CTR (click through rate) for local searches, which increases traffic to your website and helps to enhance brand reputation.

Google my business

Google My Business (formerly Google Places) is your starting destination for all things Local SEO. You need to be on GMB (Google My Business) to appear on local map listings – one of the most important aspects of Local SEO.

Setting up GMB is a straightforward process which requires you to visit the homepage and follow the simple instructions. Part of the process requires you to locate and verify your business on a map. If you are unable to locate it, create the address from scratch.

You will need to verify your business via a code before you’re given full access to GMB. Once the code has been verified, it’s time to focus on creating good Local SEO.

After setting up, it’s time to optimise your account so you can start achieving the best results. Start off by entering all the correct information – and we strongly recommend you have filled it out so it’s at 100 per cent. Otherwise you’re already fighting an uphill battle.

Make sure you choose a suitable profile picture, one that will interest your target audience. You can use your agency’s logo or if you have a branch on the high street, think about using a picture of the exterior.

Name your image with a specific keyword in mind, ideally the name of your agency. Add more than one image if you can, as it’s a good way to build image keywords and make the content more interesting for the viewers. More on that later.

Your business should be clear from the start, so good categorisation is essential. Select ‘estate agent’ or ‘lettings agent’ if you specialise in lettings. Or if you fall into both categories, choose both of them.

Make a note of the exact format your business is listed in – you will need this information later and will also want to keep it consistent.

Citations

A citation, also referred to as a ‘mention’, is when your agency is featured on other websites. A local citation is when your agency name, phone number and address are listed together in the same place. For Local SEO, this is referred to as ‘NAP’ (name, address and phone).

Even if you are mentioned on another website without a backlink to your own, it’s still considered as a citation. Online directories like Yell.com and Yelp are examples of other websites where you may get citations.

Google values citations highly, which means the more business directory websites you feature on, the better the chance of gaining high search engine rankings. A website with more citations is going to rank better than a website with fewer citations.

Optimising to rank in local map pack results

There is some good news and bad news regarding Google map pack search results. First, the good news: map pack results always appear above organic results. If you’re a local business and feature on the map pack, there is a greater chance you will be at the top of the rankings. The bad news, however, is that there used to be seven companies featured in the map pack. Now there are only three.

To increase your chances of featuring as one of those three local businesses, outline the NAP (name, address and phone number) at the start of your Local SEO campaign to keep it consistent. If you’re changing your NAP when entering details into local online business directories, search engines won’t value your content in the same way.

You have to have a Google Business Account, which will connect you to a map when you sign up, to stand a better chance of featuring at the top. A consistent stream of online reviews will also increase your chances of featuring. The more positive reviews, the better your agency looks to Google. A combination of good reviews and regular reviews will increase your chances.

Google takes your citations into consideration when deciding whether or not to rank you in the top three. As most directories don’t include a backlink, it will be up to you to provide the correct NAP so Google can connect it to your website. Backlinks are also important; Google values backlinks the same way agents value instructions. A website with a strong backlink profile will stand a better chance of featuring in the top-three results but remember it is more about quality and relevance rather than quantity.

Finally, there is the location. If your business is located in Neasden, London, your optimisation needs pay attention to that particular area with relevant keywords. Search engines value proximity highly, so it’s unlikely you will show up in a search for a nearby area. It’s best to optimise for your local search area as if you try to cover too much of an area you rank lower or not in the top 3 in any. Adding content related to your local area within your website is another ranking signal for Google related to relevance, add some local property market research which is information rich and also hyper local to help with your Local SEO.

Building credibility with local reviews

Building credibility with local reviews and online testimonials goes a long way to building your Local SEO rankings. Online reviews are another form of ‘word of mouth’ and work the same way online as they do offline. Good referrals go a long way to promoting your business. Search engines place emphasis on online reviews, and they can also impact customer conversions and create more potential marketing opportunities.

So how do you get more reviews? It’s quite simple really: just ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you feel your agency has provided a high-level service and the client has remarked at how satisfied they are, ask them to leave an online review.

Get started with your local SEO today
To outline the steps we have covered:

Some of these simple steps might have been done already but make sure you get the most out of them and get in those top rankings for your local area.

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