Having a strong online presence is crucial for any business. However, some businesses aren’t looking to build a national profile. Equine freelancers, professionals and yards are usually only interested in targeting a local audience. For these types of businesses, local SEO is key to enhancing their visibility in the local market. This article outlines the basics of local SEO and how equestrian businesses can develop a local SEO strategy.
This article covers:
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO refers to the process of optimising a website and its content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for location-specific searches. It involves various strategies and techniques aimed at improving a business's online visibility within its target geographical area.
The importance of local SEO lies in its ability to connect businesses with potential customers who are actively searching for products or services in their local area. By focusing on local SEO, businesses can increase their chances of appearing in relevant search results when users are looking for nearby solutions.
Having a strong local online presence not only helps businesses attract more customers but also allows them to effectively compete with other businesses in the same locality. It enables them to showcase their products or services, provide accurate contact information, and even receive customer reviews - all of which contribute to building trust and credibility among the local audience.
Example: A local bricks-and-mortar tack shop has opened near Newbury and is trying to attract local riders to shop in-store. They could use local SEO to ensure their business shows up when people search for “tack shop in berkshire” or “tack shop near Newbury”. Search engines may display contact details, Google reviews and opening hours for the tack shop in the SERPs.
Five Steps to Developing Your Local SEO Strategy
Now you understand how local SEO can help your equestrian business, it’s time to create your local SEO strategy. Below I have outlined five steps to developing your local SEO strategy.
Step 1: Conduct Keyword Research for Local Search
Conducting thorough keyword research is an essential first step in any SEO strategy. By identifying the right local keywords, you will have a clear foundation for your strategy.
One important aspect of local keyword research is incorporating location-based keywords into your content. These keywords include specific geographic locations, such as towns or counties, that are relevant to your business or target audience. By including these location-based keywords strategically throughout your website, you can be more visible to local customers who are searching for products or services in their area.
To assist with your keyword research, there are various tools available, including SE Ranking, SEMRush (both paid) and Google Keyword Planner. These tools can provide valuable insights into search volume, competition levels, and related keyword suggestions.
Step 2: Optimise Your Website for Local Search
By implementing effective strategies, such as creating location-specific landing pages and ensuring NAP consistency (Name, Address, Phone number), businesses can significantly improve their visibility in local search results.
NAP refers to Name, Address, Phone number. Ensuring that these details are available (where appropriate), correct and consistent is likely to help your local search ranking. More importantly, it helps to build trust in your business.
Creating location-specific landing pages can also help with local SEO. These pages are designed to target specific geographical locations where a business operates. By tailoring content and keywords to reflect the local area, businesses can increase their chances of appearing in relevant local search queries.
Note: Avoid creating spammy website content. Create location-specific landing pages based on your keyword research and consider how each landing page will help search engine users. Aim to make each page unique and specific to the target location. For example, a location-specific landing page for a freelance riding instructor could mention which major yards they regularly visit in that area.
Step 3: Claiming and Optimising Your Google My Business Listing
Claiming and optimising your Google My Business (GMB) listing is a crucial step in establishing a strong online presence for your equine business. By claiming your listing, you gain control over the information displayed about your business on Google's search results and maps. This allows you to provide accurate and up-to-date information such as your business name, address, phone number, website URL, and operating hours. It is a good idea to utilise all of the relevant features on a GMB profile. This may include uploading photos, selecting categories and writing a business description.
Customer reviews and ratings play a vital role in building trust with potential customers. Positive reviews can greatly influence their decision-making process while negative ones can deter them from choosing your business. By actively encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews and promptly addressing any negative feedback, you can strengthen your online reputation and build credibility.
Your GMB dashboard should provide a link, which you can share with your customers to ask them to provide a Google review for your business. Review counts and scores have been confirmed as a ranking signal for Google local searches.
Step 4: Building Your Backlink Profile
Backlinks - or inbound links - are links to your website from another website. They have been confirmed as a Google Search ranking signal. However, quality trumps quantity, so it is important to ensure your backlinks are legitimate (i.e. not spam) and that they provide accurate information about your business.
Link building - in the case of local SEO - involves submitting your business information to local directories, ensuring that your Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) are consistent across all platforms. This consistency not only helps search engines understand and validate your business information but also enhances user experience by providing accurate details.
By strategically building backlinks on reputable directories, you can enhance your local SEO efforts and improve search engine rankings. Moreover, consistent NAP information across multiple directories helps establish trust with both search engines and potential customers.
Step 6: Implementing a Review Generation Strategy
Online reviews are key to a local business's success. According to a 2021 report by PowerReviews, over 99.9% of customers read reviews when shopping online. Perhaps even more significantly, 96% look specifically for negative reviews. You can read more about the impact of customer reviews in this article by Search Engine Journal.
Positive reviews not only help build trust and credibility but also act as social proof for potential customers. On the other hand, negative reviews can significantly impact a business's reputation and deter potential customers.
Implementing a review generation strategy involves encouraging customers to leave feedback. This can be done through emails or by including links to review platforms on receipts or follow-up communications. You could even create a QR code and place it on receipts or other company literature.
Incentivising customers to leave reviews by offering discounts, freebies, or exclusive offers in return for their feedback is another option. This can provide that extra push people need to go to the trouble of leaving a review. However, you will need to find a way to administer such a scheme.
Managing your online reputation also involves actively monitoring and responding to customer feedback, both positive and negative. Timely responses demonstrate that your business values its customers' opinions and is committed to addressing any concerns raised.
Boost Your Equine Business with a Well-Executed Local SEO Strategy
By developing a local SEO strategy for your equine business, you can target customers who live, work and ride in your local area. Local SEO is a worthwhile endeavour for equine freelancers and professionals, as well as bricks-and-mortar tack shops, riding schools and livery yards.
I have launched a brand new SEO Auditing service for equine businesses who want tailored recommendations on their SEO strategy, as well as my FREE course on Getting Found Online in 2024. I also offer a flexible monthly blogging service for equine businesses that want to maximise their online visibility without taking valuable time away from their core business.