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Understanding Local SEO in NZ: A Guide for Businesses

In today’s dynamic digital landscape, businesses fiercely compete for visibility, and local search engine optimisation (SEO) emerges as a vital lifeline for local businesses. Understanding and implementing Local SEO is crucial if you’re a New Zealand business aiming to stand out in your local market and attract local customers. With 87% of consumers using Google to evaluate local businesses, mastering Local SEO can significantly enhance your online presence and attract more customers. Optimising your business listing, such as Google My Business, is essential for improving local search engine rankings and business credibility. In this article, I’ll guide you through why Local SEO is indispensable for New Zealand businesses and how you can leverage it to gain a competitive edge.

What is Local SEO?

Local search engine optimisation (SEO) enhances your online presence and attracts more business from relevant local searches. These searches occur on search engines like Google and focus on finding services, products, or companies within a specific geographic area.

While it might sound straightforward, achieving this visibility requires a deep understanding of SEO, especially local SEO. To ensure your business stands out in local searches and attracts more customers, here’s exactly what you need to know and do.

  1. Do Local Keyword Research
  2. Optimise Your Google Business Profile (GBP)
  3. Optimise Directories, Citations and NAP
  4. Conduct a Local SEO Audit
  5. Engage on Social Media platforms
  6. Create Location-Specific Pages and Local Content
  7. Optimise On-Page Elements
  8. Improve Your Internal Linking Structure
  9. Build Quality Inbound Links
  10. Participate in Your Local Community

1. Do Local Keyword Research

Incorporating location-specific keywords into your website’s content, meta tags, and social media profiles can significantly improve your local search rankings in the local area. Keywords such as “best café in Auckland” or “Christchurch electricians” indicate to search engines that your business is a relevant result for users searching for these specific local services. By optimising your content with these targeted keywords, you enhance your visibility and attract more local customers.

Understanding what your local customers are searching for is crucial for improving your business’s local SEO. Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Moz Local, or SEMrush to find popular local search terms.

2. Setting Up and Optimise Your Google My Business Profile (GBP)

Setting up your Google Business Profile (GBP) is the second step in optimising Local SEO.

GBP is a FREE tool that lets businesses manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. Here’s how to optimise your GBP:

  1. Claim and Verify Your Listing: First, claim your GBP listing. Verification is usually done via mail, phone, or email.

  2. Provide Complete and Accurate Information: Ensure your business name, address, phone number, operating hours, and other business information are up-to-date and consistent with other online listings.

  3. Add Photos and Videos: Businesses with photos on their profile receive 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps and 35% more website click-throughs than businesses without photos.

  4. Incorporate Social Media Links with GBP: Add all your social media profiles to your GBP listing so that they are just one click away from all your customers.

  5. Collect and Respond to Reviews: Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews and respond thoughtfully to all reviews, showing that you value customer feedback.

  6. Add Posts with Relevant Keywords: The new update allows you to add small posts highlighting your products or services. Using local keywords as titles or within the description of these posts will help you attract more local clients.

4. Conduct a Local SEO Audit to Improve Local Search Rankings

Optimising local directories and citations is essential for improving your local SEO and ensuring your business is easily found by potential customers. For New Zealand businesses, key steps include listing your business on prominent directories such as Yellow Pages, Localist, Finda, and Neighbourly, as well as international platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Consistency is crucial, so verify that your Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) are accurate across all directories to avoid confusing search engines and potential customers. Ensure all your business information is complete and correct, including business hours, website URL, and a description of your services. Regularly monitor and update your listings to maintain accuracy and eliminate duplicate entries, which can dilute the impact of your citations.

Additionally, utilise local and industry-specific directories to gain valuable backlinks and drive targeted traffic to your website. Joining local Chambers of Commerce or industry associations can also provide external inbound links, further boosting your local SEO efforts. Keeping your business information accurate and consistent across all directories and citations can enhance your local search visibility, build trust with search engines, and attract more local customers.

4. Conduct a Local SEO Audit

Once you have the basics of local SEO down, it might be tempting to slow down. However, SEO is an ongoing and adaptive process. Rather than stopping there or making random changes, performing a comprehensive audit is beneficial to understand your website’s current status and what improvements are needed to reach your goals. A local SEO audit may include the following:

  • Google My Business Audit: Review how your Google My Business profile appears on search engine results pages. Ensure that all information is accurate and up-to-date.

  • Google Search Console Audit: Check if your site is crawlable and identify any errors that could hinder indexing.

  • On-Page SEO Audit: Assess whether your site accommodates all the necessary on-page SEO elements, such as title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and content, that help with ranking.

  • Citation Audit: Verify that all your citations in the top business directories are correct. Consistency is vital for search engines to trust your business information.

  • Competitor Analysis: Compare your site with competitors. Identify gaps you must close regarding inbound links, content quality, design, and overall positioning.

  • Website Audit: Evaluate your website’s overall performance. This includes checking page load speeds, mobile-friendliness, user experience, and overall functionality.

Performing a detailed local SEO audit helps you identify strengths and weaknesses in your current strategy, allowing you to make informed decisions to improve your local search rankings and attract more customers.

5. Engage on Social Media platforms

Google considers content shared on social media more important now than ever before. Integrating social media and search engines means your social media activity can significantly impact your rankings.

Now that you’ve carved out a beautiful Google My Business page, it’s time to leverage your social media platforms to maximise its reach. Share your Google My Business profile on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other relevant social media channels to increase visibility and engagement. Regularly posting updates, photos, and promotions keeps your audience informed and signals to Google that your business is active and relevant. By aligning your social media strategy with your search efforts, you can create a cohesive online presence that enhances your local SEO and attracts more local customers.

6. Create Location-Specific Pages and Local Content

Creating dedicated location pages for each site is essential if you have more than one brick-and-mortar location. These pages provide valuable information to both search engines and potential customers, enhancing your local SEO efforts. Critical elements of location pages include ensuring the Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are consistent and prominently displayed on each page, listing the store hours for each location, and writing unique descriptions to avoid duplicate content issues. Additionally, provide details about parking options and public transit routes, highlight location-specific promotions or events, and include testimonials from happy customers specific to each location to build trust and credibility.

Example:

For a restaurant with multiple locations, create individual pages for each site. Each page should include the restaurant’s name, address, phone number, operating hours, a description of the unique ambience and menu offerings, parking information, ongoing promotions, and customer testimonials.

Additionally, avoid duplicating content across multiple location pages. Each page should be uniquely crafted to reflect the specific attributes of that location. For businesses with a single location, create a locally descriptive “About Us” page highlighting your community presence. Adding a Google Map to your website on your respective location page(s) can also enhance user experience and provide clear directions to your business.

Creating detailed and unique location-specific pages improves your chances of appearing in local search results, making it easier for customers to find and choose your business.

7. Optimise On-Page Elements

Optimising website pages with the right keywords will help you rank higher in organic search results. Local search engine optimisation helps your business rank in the Local Pack.
To ensure local search engine optimisation (SEO) on-page, you should include your locally targeted keywords in page titles and meta descriptions. Also, add specific location pages to your website so that there is a page for every location.

8. Improve Your Internal Linking Structure

Although external links pointing to your site are ideal (which we’ll discuss soon), adjusting your internal linking structure will significantly boost your SEO rankings. Internal linking matters because it supports website navigation by helping users quickly find relevant content, assists with information architecture and website hierarchy by clarifying the relationship between different pages, and distributes page authority and ranking power among pages, ensuring that essential pages receive the attention they deserve. To improve your internal linking structure, create a clear hierarchy with main categories and subcategories, use descriptive and relevant anchor text, focus on linking to high-value pages, and regularly audit your links to ensure they are functional and appropriate. For more detailed guidance, check out Kissmetrics’ “The Seven Commandments of Internal Linking for Top-Notch SEO,” which offers valuable insights into creating an effective internal linking strategy.

9. Build Quality Inbound Links

According to Google, backlinks are among the most vital ranking signals. Backlinks are links (your website URL) on other sites that link back to yours (do-follow backlinks).
Getting links from non-competitor-relevant websites will ensure that your local SEO services rank higher in the local SERPs, thus helping you attract local customers.

10. Participate in Your Local Community

New Zealanders are known for their strong sense of community and a preference for supporting local businesses. Local SEO taps into this cultural trait by enhancing a business’s visibility to the local populace, thereby fostering a sense of familiarity and loyalty.

Engaging with the local business community through localisation, participating in local events, and showcasing community involvement on social media and Google Business Profile can further strengthen this bond. This local engagement boosts a business’s reputation and encourages word-of-mouth marketing, which is invaluable for SMEs.

By implementing Local SEO strategies, SMEs can enhance their visibility, engage more effectively with their local community, and drive meaningful growth. The success stories of businesses that have embraced Local SEO underscore its potential to transform an SME’s online presence, turning local searches into local sales.