Local SEO & Google Possum - Brand Web Design

What do possums and local SEO have in common?

No doubt you have used your phone to find a local store, gas station or business. You may have noticed that Google gives you a list of suggested search queries including terms like “near me”, “closest”, “open” or “nearby”, and other similar phrases. These are terms that people use to find local businesses (called near me searches) and Google’s newest algorithm update (Possum) targets local SEO rankings. I tried out a couple of searches to see what Google would suggest (try it out on your own mobile device and see what you get).

Google search results for "closest" Google search results for "closest bakery"
Searching for “closest” suggests several businesses, while “closest bakery” results in more specific queries including “near me”, “to my location” and “to me” – all terms that searchers use to find local results.
Google search results for "bakery" Google search results for "bakery near me"
Searching for “bakery” suggests local results, while “bakery near me” provides time-based options like “now” and “open now”.
Google search results for "bakery open" Google search results for "buy cake"
Searching for “bakery open” also gives me time based results like “today” and “now”, as well as the “near me” phrase. The search term “buy cake” provides the “near me” and a local option.

Optimizing your website for local search can help you rank better for your service, product or brand in your area, and makes it easier to compete with big brands in search results since this new algorithm seems to favour results based on the location of the user performing the search. Over the past few years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of near me searches.


How to optimize your website for local SEO and “near me” searches

Local optimization and  near me optimization follow similar principles. If you have a specific service area or a local business, you need to make sure your site is being indexed for local search results. There are a number of ways you can do this quickly and easily. It is still early to understand how much Possum will affect local search results, as it was only released at the beginning of September, 2016. However, business owners with locations outside of city limits have seen an increase in how they rank in local results, suggesting that perhaps Google understands service area, and uses location a little better to determine local results. (Source) Here are the most important steps you need to take to optimize your site properly for near me searches, according to Yoast:

  1. Make sure your location information is on your website (name, address and phone – also called your NAP details). If you have more than one location, use a separate page for each one.
  2. Make sure your NAP information is also on your Google My Business page. If you have several locations, but one is your primary location, you can create multiple locations for the same listing. If each location is run as a separate business (like franchises), then create a new Google My Business page for each location.
  3. Ask your developer to add schema.org markup to your address and location information on your website (or if you are handy with code, you can do it yourself). If you are using WordPress, Yoast has a Local Search plugin that you can use to add this markup to your website and help Google index it better for local search. I love Yoast’s SEO plugin, we use it on every WordPress website that we build because it makes it super simple to make sure every page and post on your site is properly optimized (keywords, meta description, Facebook and Twitter posts). If you’re not using Yoast and are struggling with SEO on your website, I highly recommend checking it out.
  4. Get reviews! Positive reviews on Google, Yelp, and even Facebook influence your search engine ranking. Google understands that the more recommendations a business has, the more likely it is to be trusted and relevant to your search.

Get started today! The sooner you start implementing some local SEO tactics into your website, the sooner you will start coming up in the search results of people in your area who are looking for exactly what you have to offer. Tell us in the comments, is your site optimized for your local business?

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