This article is for you if you have a brick-and-mortar business, a local mom-and-pop shop, or have any kind of business with a geographic location. At the end of this comprehensive guide, you will learn all there is to know about local SEO in Malaysia and how you can leverage it for your business.

Image source: AdsManager.com

Search engine optimisation or SEO is a process of improving or boosting your site’s ranking in the Google Search Result Page so as to increase awareness and visibility of the products and services that you have. The higher your page ranks in search results for a specific keyword or searches term, the more likely you are to attract attention and attract new and existing customers to your business.

Now that you have a picture of what SEO is, let’s dive into local search engine optimization.

What is Local Search Engine Optimization?

Image source: Netilly

Local SEO works by optimizing your website to be scanned and indexed by crawlers (search engine bots) so that it may be seen by local potential customers in the search engine result pages (Google SERP).

For example, if you own a dental practice in Mont Kiara, the ideal SEO local search terms would be ‘Mont Kiara dentist’ or ‘root canal treatment Mont Kiara’ and so on.

But why target local customers? 

Well, it is simply because they are:

  • Easier to reach and thus cheaper
  • More loyal which means they are potentially returning customers
  • More likely to recommend or refer your business to other customers

In fact, a lot of small businesses can benefit from local search queries because 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results. In other words, if your business isn’t optimized for local searches, then you might be missing out on a lot of potential customers who are looking to shop, dine or use your services in your area.

Who needs Local SEO?

Image source: BrightLocal

The answer is simple – any business with a physical location where customers can be greeted or that serves a specific local geographic area qualifies for local SEO. These are usually local brick-and-mortar companies such as restaurants, florists, barbers, bars, laundromats, physicians’ offices, legal offices, and grocery stores.

That being said, online businesses or e-commerce do not necessarily need local SEO. If the budget is tight and you do not have in-house SEO experts, we suggest that it is better for you to just invest in general SEO. It is not you, it is just that local SEO benefits businesses with a physical store better.

Importance and Benefits of Local SEO Malaysia

Image Source: EZ Rankings

When local SEO marketing is done right, local businesses will get to enjoy these perks:

  • Boost local search traffic to your website, meaning lesser competition with bigger brands.
  • Attract more leads (in terms of bookings, inquiries, or calls) to your business, resulting in a higher conversion rate.
  • Increase walk-ins to your local physical store equal more sales.
  • Able to generate brand loyalty as you have the advantage of convenience, generating returning customers as your shop or business is in the same vicinity.

Local business owners may think that getting to the top of Google search results is unattainable, but if you have a physical location, you already have an advantage over only online businesses.

To optimize your business listing for local SEO, you must first grasp Google’s three major ranking variables for local searches. We’ll guide you through each stage of showing up in local search once you understand how rankings are determined.

How do search engines, especially Google determine local search rankings?

To optimize your business listing for local SEO, you must first grasp Google’s three major ranking variables for local searches.

1) Relevance

Google search engine algorithm aims to connect searchers with relevant information and answers. As a result, when people search for a nearby tire shop, they get the best suggestions.

2) Distance/ Proximity

Another important aspect Google considers when deciding local search ranking is the searcher’s proximity to your business. As a result, it’s critical to include your address and other essential contact information in your Google Business Profile (used to be called Google My Business) as well as other online directories such as Yahoo or Yellow Pages.

3) Prominence

The term “prominence” refers to how well a business is recognized or known. Things like directory listings and online reviews are also taken into account when determining prominence. According to Google, local search rankings are determined by a business’ total star rating as well as the number of reviews they have garnered.

A Super Simple Guide to Local SEO Optimization in Malaysia

Image source: Exposure Ninja

Now that you are aware of the importance and benefits of local SEO for your business in Malaysia, here are eight best tips for taking your local ranking to another level:

1) Optimize your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business)

Image source: WWD

Formerly known as Google My Business, now has been upgraded to Google Business Profile with new updates and features.

If you didn’t know about this, fret not as you can start by claiming your Business Profile if you haven’t done so yet. To claim or create your listing, go to Google Business Manager and register your business. Alternatively, Google Maps can also be used to claim your business listing.

After registering, you will need to verify your listing and this is done via postcard by mail. The purpose of this is to show Google that you represent the business in which you claim. You cannot access page insights/analytical information or business reviews from the back end without verification.

Only after verification will your business officially be live.

Now, it’s time to optimize your profile and here are 5 ways to do so:

a) Have an accurate NAP

Image source: SE Ranking

Inconsistent business name, address, and phone number (NAP) information, believe it or not, is one of the primary causes of a poor local search ranking. If your address contains the word lane, it should either be truncated or written out completely. Your NAP should be accurate and up-to-date the contact information for your location-based business throughout all local directories, social media profiles, and websites.

b) Write the Ideal Business Description

When it comes to creating the ideal business description, you’ll want to include target keywords in your profile along with your business details so Google knows what you’re aiming to rank for. So, do your keyword research diligently.

Let’s say you have a pet store in Petaling Jaya, you should understand that some people may be looking for pet grooming in Petaling Jaya, while some may be looking for the cheapest cat grooming in Selangor, hence you should include them in your business description too.

c) Keep Business Hours Accurate

It’s also critical to mention precise and up-to-date operating hours in your ad. Make sure to offer unique holiday hours to avoid consumers becoming frustrated when they arrive at your establishment only to discover it is closed.

d) Upload Relevant & High-Quality Photos

According to a Synup study, online business listings with pictures receive 35% more clicks and are 2x more likely to be rated trustworthy.

Adding a relevant and eye-catching profile picture to your Google Business Profile is similar to having a fantastic Tinder photo. It aids in the creation of a positive initial impression and is typically what drives users to swipe right.

You can also upload a variety of various sorts of images, but at the very least, you should include a logo, storefront photo, product/ service photo with the right dimensions for the platform before submitting it.

e) Set Up Q&A to Answer Customer Enquiries

Before making a purchase, today’s customers will frequently check the internet and do some research about it, whether it’s online or offline. They are interested in the prices and quality of your product or service, but will not go to the trouble of contacting you.

In this situation, answering anticipated queries in the Q&A part of your business page will be ideal for these visitors looking for quick answers. It will also make your listing appear to be really valuable to potential customers who are researching and comparing businesses or services.

Curate a list of frequently asked questions and answers for your business to make an efficient Q&A. Analyze your competitors and add questions and answers that can demonstrate your competitive advantage.

2) Manage and Respond to Reviews

Positive reviews, according to Google, will boost your company’s visibility. When potential clients are studying your business, positive reviews will help them make an informed decision. Notice how the Google search engine result is ranked in a decreasing number of reviews, with the most stars and reviews placing at the top when you search for the best manicure pedicure near me.

On the other hand, the language reviewers use matters too. When customers include the city or keywords in their reviews, it tells Google that you’re a reputable local business.

You should keep in mind that interacting with customers by replying to their reviews and feedback demonstrates that your company values its customers and the input they provide. Especially if it is a negative review, it is more crucial to respond to it as this will show other users that your business can accept criticism and are willing to provide solutions. Keep in mind that this is very important in order to increase your chances of appearing in Google Maps.

How to increase reviews & ratings:

a) Deliver the best customer service

This should go without saying that businesses that want their consumers to submit favorable evaluations should prioritize customer service. This will result in an army of supporters prepared to shout your company’s praises from the rooftops.

b) Send review invitations through text messages

It is no doubt that every Malaysian owns a smartphone that they don’t keep in their pockets. It is always in use. As a result, today’s users prefer to communicate via text messaging rather than phone or email. Businesses should send their online review invites via text message if they desire a greater response rate.

c) Use a platform for managing online reviews

Businesses can use an online review management platform to streamline the collection and management of reviews. A good platform will integrate all of your online reviews into an one dashboard, cutting down on the time and effort required to manage the process previously.

3) Online directories and Citations

Image source: Citation Builder Pro  

In addition to having an accurate NAP on your footer and header of your website, having as many as possible local citations are ideal, but only on high-quality sites with high domain authority. The more high-quality local citations you can get for your business, the better.

When you build relevant, reputable, and localized citations on local online directory websites, your site has a better chance of ranking higher in local search results, which can lead to more organic traffic and leads and, eventually, more sales.

Besides listing on online directories, here are some alternatives to expand your NAPS profile on as many domains as possible, in addition to your own:

a) Create some social media accounts to expand the number of platforms where your business might be identified when keywords are combined with geographical keywords.

b) Collaborate with review sites, influencers, and others to include your NAP in blog posts, articles, videos, and website content.

4) Social Media Marketing for Local Business

Image source: Valen Digital 

With 37% of consumers obtaining purchase inspiration through social channels, social media sites are one of the most important major influences for purchasing behavior.

Nowadays, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so on is one of the go-to online marketing strategies. This off-page SEO technique is very valuable as it can not only help your local business to interact with new clients, but also to retain old ones. Your odds of retaining clients, as well as their potential lifetime value increases when you connect with them online, develop connections, and maintain relationships.

Not only can you build a community who trust your brand, you can also cut your advertising cost with local ads!

This is why we have prepared some social media tips for your local business:

a) Know your audience

Begin by gathering information about your present customers. Then use social media analytics on Facebook and Instagram to dive even deeper. You’ll soon figure out who’s buying from you and communicating with you on social media.

After you’ve determined your target audience, you may build buyer personas to assist you in figuring out how to best communicate with them.

b) Pay attention to trends

We’re not suggesting that you jump on every viral meme. But it’s a good idea to keep an eye on social media trends so you know what people are looking for when they log into their accounts. This aids in the content creation of relevant material that has a long-term impact.

Image source: Business of Apps

Notice how since Q1 of 2020, the number of Tik Tok users increased exponentially and by 2021 they has 1 billion users? Marketers are driven to TikTok because wherever there’s audience, there are potential customers.

Users spend an average of 52 minutes per day using the app due to its fast-paced nature, which keeps them engaged for long periods of time. So keep in mind that when creating content, a few short and informative video about your product or service is ideal along with using a few localized keywords in your hastags.

c) Focus on quality over quantity

The sheer quantity of social media marketing alternatives available to small businesses can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do everything. It’s more vital to develop high-quality content for a few major channels than to be present on every network.

Above all, make sure your social media posts are useful. There’s no reason for people to follow you if all you do is pitch and sell. It’s important to remember that social media marketing is all about developing relationships.

Be human. Be truthful. Produce high-quality material. This is crucial, and you can’t get away with it.

5) Upload Localized Content

Image source: Smartcat

Google is getting smarter, which implies content creators may now write for people rather than search algorithms. While content creation about general themes will appeal to a broad audience, it’s often more vital to narrow your emphasis and write about local or industry news to appeal to a specific target audience.

Promote local industry meetings, news, and other instructional content on your website’s blog to establish yourself as the local authority for your sector. For example, if you have a car dealership business, you can consider writing content on the things to look out for when purchasing secondhand cars. Targeted keywords or keyword phrases that you can include in your content could be used cars for sale in Kuala Lumpur, or used cars problems, and more.

Remember to check the keywords ranking before writing your content if you want to rank. Also, consider top-of-funnel content that extends beyond what your company sells.

Types of content that will help local SEO:

a) Blog Content

The magic happens in blog content. An active blog will boost ranks if you’re a local business trying to compete in the local SERPs. Consider these ideas for your blog: new location announcement, ways to find the cheapest of something, product announcements, interviews & testimonials, and more.

b) “How to” Guides

“How to” guides are one of the best ways to reach new audiences and readers. Four out of five searches will at least search for how to guides everytime they use search engines.

That being said, when some searches for how to rent cars in Penang, your content will show up, provided that you rank for the keywords and the readers will be aware of your business and might possibly rent a car from you!

c) “Best of” Guides

With a “best of” list, you want to create a guide that delivers your readers everything they want to know about a particular subject.

The Coffeebar, for example, made these fantastic coffee guides.

Image source: Coffee Bar

d) Specials for Local Residents Only

For local business owners, specials and discounts are the icing on the cake. Everyone is an extreme couponer in today’s smart consumer age. Personalize promotions for locals to give your customers exactly what they want.

This is something that hotels are well-known for.

Image source: W Hotel 

6) Mobile Responsiveness

Image Source: Google Developers

It’s hardly surprising that mobile devices are utilised more than desktops and laptops; after all, they’re mobile, which means they’re easier to use when you need to find something quickly.

According to an Uberall research, 82% of customers have used their mobile devices to conduct a “near me” search. With this figure in mind, it’s critical that your web design is mobile-friendly so that mobile visitors can easily navigate your site and obtain information about your company. Indirectly, you’ll be able to avoid the astronomically high bounce rate, which will result as a successful SEO strategy.

Furthermore, Google has launched a mobile-first index, which indexes and ranks webpages primarily using mobile web design versions. This means that if your business’s website isn’t mobile optimised but your competitor’s is, you’ll lose out because your competition will rank higher.

Another suggestion is to include call-to-action buttons on both your website and your Google Business Profile, as this might make a significant difference for your company since 60% of mobile users have contacted a business directly from search results.

7) Optimize On-page local SEO

This is one of the most effective technical SEO strategies and the way to play out on-page optimization is to include local terms and geo-linked keywords in your content’s main titles and sub-titles.

H1 titles, title tags, meta description, and your website address should all contain geo-linked keywords.

Here are some other key points to take note on:

a) Add locations on your own website 

Create location pages if you have more than one physical location. Website visitors will find your name, address, phone number, store hours, unique business descriptions, parking/transit information, promotions, and customer comments on your location pages.

For this local SEO strategy, include a Google Map on your website’s location page for each of your individual branches as you’ll gain a lot of bonus points in terms of local ranking.

b) Add relevant schema markups 

Structured data markups can be used for a variety of purposes in local SEO, such as hours, phone numbers, website, menu, address, and multiple departments. In simple terms, schema markup is used to notify search engines about the specific information on your site and where it is situated and is especially highly recommended by Google. It’s the code on the backend that tells search engines things like “This is our location,” “This is a menu,” and “This is our phone number.”

8) Local links 

According to BrightLocal, link signals such as linking domain authority are critical for local organic rankings and snack pack results, as links account for 31% of localised organic ranking criteria in 2020.

According to the expert review, link building is an effective technique to improve local businesses’ success in SERPs.

The vast majority of local businesses have ties to other businesses in the area.

To begin, we recommend creating inbound links from people you already know by listing all of the following:

  • Distributors
  • Supplier
  • Wholesaler
  • Contractor
  • Neighboring business

With whom you have any kind of relationship with.

Here are some more tips to help you take your local link-building game to the next level:

a) Sponsor local events

Image Source: New Straits Times

Most local events will almost certainly require sponsorship. If you can sponsor a local event, you should do so because your link will usually be prominently displayed on the event’s website.

For instance, during the KL Fashion Week in 2021, Lexus returned as their official sponsor and showcased their new car models and offering to chauffer the event’s guests around.

Your contribution does not have to be monetary. Do you own a printing company? You may volunteer to print their flyers for them. Do you own a bakery? Donate a few boxes of customized cupcakes to their event.

You get my point.

b) Local PR

Local newspapers and news websites are in desperate need of stories.

The only catch is that you must notify the news sites at least a few days ahead of time so that they can prepare. You can also assist them in writing the story by providing background information before the incident occurs.

c) Guest Blog Posting 

Image source: Neil Patel

Being a guest blogger might also help you gain links. Talk to and about other people in your business (in a positive way, of course!) and serve as a resource for the community. If you participate actively in community discussions, you’ll notice an increase in inbound links, social media growth, and media coverage. 

How much do local SEO services cost?

Depending on your company’s needs, competitiveness, and geographic location, most local SEO campaigns cost between RM 1,000 to RM 3,500 per month. Most digital marketing agencies will provide local SEO services as a one-time payment pricing model, but it really depends on your business needs.

Image source: Webserver.com.my 

You might think that SEO is very costly but we beg to differ. As you can see from the chart above, SEO success does not happen overnight, as there are many complicated components to optimise. On average, it will typically take four to six months till you start seeing results- higher local search ranking, more inquiries, and more walk-ins.

In fact, SEO is considered as a long-term digital marketing strategy and investment for continuous performance that cannot be reached with low-cost SEO services. Do not jump straight into any packages yet, instead, get a free SEO consultation from a reliable and credible digital marketing agency such as Clarini Online Marketing which is one of the best ROI-driven SEO company Malaysia.

How to Choose the Best Local SEO Agency in Malaysia

a) Look for transparency

Image source: EasySEO 

Pay close attention to what local SEO companies says about getting your organization into the three-pack listings when you chat to them about their methods for your company. What tactics will they employ?

Companies that offer local SEO services who won’t tell you what strategies they employ to improve rankings should be avoided. Companies that refuse to reveal the secret ingredient in their “secret sauce” may be engaging in black hat or grey hat tactics, which could result in your firm being penalized by Google.

Finding a SEO agency that prioritizes transparency with clients over all else might be difficult, but it’s essential for a successful engagement.

Here are some characteristics to look for in a local SEO agency:

  • A dedicated point of contact who walks you through the precise deliverables they provide.
  • Monthly updates on the progress of the activities, as well as any changes to the plan
  • A well-thought-out plan with specific actions written out

b) Do not optimise for Google Map Pack

Image source: Link Graph

Google Business Profile is essential for local SEO. This should be the fundamental goal of your SEO campaign. Your Google Business Profile listing will be optimized by a reputable SEO company so that it appears in Google’s Map Pack. When a user types in specified keywords, this map pack appears.

 In an easy-to-use map format, Google displays businesses that match those SEO keywords. For example, if you own a plumbing company in your neighborhood, you want to appear in the Map Pack for “emergency plumbing service” search phrases.

c) Focuses on link & citation building

Image source: Mondovo 

Link and citation building are important aspects of improving a company’s local rankings in search engines like Google. The right SEO consultants will create a SEO strategy for your business that makes sense to you. The competent SEO company will not only manage all of this for you, but will also keep you informed along the way so you know what’s going on with your organization’s online profile.

Google ads vs. Local ads

Image source: Acquisio

You want to connect with local customers who are looking for the services or products you offer as a local business. You’ve most likely spent time and money optimizing your website, and you could even have paid for Google Ads.

However, if you don’t focus on Google Local Service Ads, you’re missing out on the most highly qualified leads available.

Here are some ways Google local service ads differ from Google ads:

a) Pay-per-Lead Model

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is what Google Ads is known for, which means you have to pay every time somebody clicks on your ad, even if they don’t contact you.

As for Local Service Ads (LSAs),  you have to pay by the lead rather than the click which means you’re only charged when a potential consumer contacts you via the ad. You don’t have to pay if someone visits your website to learn more about your business, unlike with PPC ads.

b) Placement in local SERP

Image source: WebFX

Traditional Google Ads need you to bid on your chosen keywords – and beat out other businesses who are also bidding on those exact phrases – in order for your ad to appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP).

Local Service Ads, like PPC ads, display at the top of the search engine results pages (SERP). However, Google now places local search advertisements (LSAs) above both organic and paid search results – all of which are customized to customers in your area. Local search advertising appears on Google Maps as well.

c) Lower Cost-per-Lead

Image source: New Breed Marketing

If you’ve ever spent money on PPC advertisements, you know how expensive they can be. However, LSAs are also a more cost-effective kind of sponsored search advertising due to their flat-fee approach. And lowering your advertising costs usually means lowering your cost-per-lead — and so increasing your marketing ROI.

d) Seal of Approval from Google

Image source: Smartz

Most consumers don’t go past the first page of Google search results, so if you want to acquire leads and develop your business, you need to rank.

The Google Guarantee Badge is more beneficial than a standard PPC ad since it delivers peace of mind. Potential customers will see that your company has achieved Google’s seal of approval. This also indicates your ads have the potential to steal significant traffic from businesses on the first page of search results.

Local SEO Will Do Wonders For Your Local Business Site

And this is guaranteed! Provided that you followed the tips that we’ve provided.

This local SEO guide was as straightforward as promised. While it may seem obvious to complete your Google Business Profile listing in order to be noticed by Google, a startling number of local businesses have yet to do so. An incomplete listing will appear in fewer local search results, resulting in fewer customers and feedback.

The tips in this article will assist you in improving your local SEO ranking, increasing your chances of being included in Google’s Local Pack, and, most significantly, assisting your customers in finding you.

If things are ever too overwhelming for you, we provide a free local SEO audit along with a SEO solution for your business. We’ve got your back! This way, you can focus on more important things, such as expanding your local business and managing your incoming clients.