The Local SEO Guide: How to rank in your area

Local SEO Guide

When your local business is optimized for local search, it pays off. Almost half of the searches done on search engines are done by users looking for local businesses.

If your local business isn’t set up to be at the top of those local search results, you’ll be missing out on potential customers who are ready to shop in your area for the products or services your local business provides.

We’ll go over some local SEO tips and tools you can use to ensure your local business is a top competitor in your area.

We’ll show you how to optimize your local business to reach its full marketing potential when it comes to local SEO efforts.

What do we mean by local SEO?

Local SEO

When we talk about local SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, we are talking about the process of improving the visibility of local sites to people in your area who are looking for the products and services you provide.

These tips and tools are primarily for those with brick-and-mortar locations. Local businesses can improve organic search results for potential customers who are in the area.

When search engines are gathering information for a local query, they will rely on signals such as content that is geared toward a specific location, links, social network profiles, and citations to ensure that the results shown are the most relevant to the searcher.

By optimizing for local SEO, businesses can use this knowledge to position themselves higher in search result ranking for those who are searching for the products or services their business provides.

Tips for Local SEO

Local SEO tips

Optimizing for Google My Business

When it comes to local search, Google My Business is the best way to ensure that you are doing all you can to rank at the top of local searches.

Google My Business

Google has been the most trusted search engine for quite some time now, and to stay that way, they make it easier for local businesses to rank on relevant searches.

Relevancy is king for Google, so by using Google My Business, you’ll be off to a great start.

In order to use Google My Business, you’ll need to do a few things:

  • Create and verify a Google My Business page.
  • Encourage your customers to leave reviews of your business online
  • Use Google Posts within your account
  • Respond authentically to reviews, and be sure to mention location, such as “We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with us in the [city,state]. We value your opinion and will use it to continue to improve our offerings. Thank you from the [full company name] team.

If Google is able to verify that your local business is authentic, the search engine could potentially reward your business with a sidebar space in a local Google search.

Place yourself in lead positions with local search results on search engines

It’s important that your mindset as a local business owner isn’t to do these things solely for the purpose of local SEO.

By keeping your reviews and business information such as contact info and operating hours (including holidays) up-to-date, you will be improving the experience of your current and potential customers.

It’s important for consumers to be able to find current information, now more than ever.

Have an active presence on social media and add your social media posts to Google My Business.

With the popularity of social media, Google considers the content shared on social media sites more important now than ever before.

Google My Business help local businesses rank higher for local SEO

Once you have your Google My Business page all set up, share it on social media to further cement the connection of social and search.

Make sure your important business information is consistent online

You can’t expect people to find you if you don’t make it easy for them.

local SEO tools for search engines

You need to make sure your name, address, and phone number with area code are all consistent, up to date, and included as crawlable HTML text on your site.

Don’t make the mistake of including this important information in an image.

That will make it much harder for search engines to get that vital information to users. Images cannot be crawled from search engines as HTML text can.

The most common location for this important information is usually the header or footer of the site.

Ensure online directories and citations are optimized.

For companies located within the United States, there are 4 data aggregators that are the main source of map data for Apple, Google, Bing, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and more. These are:

You’ll want to make sure that the data provided about your local business is consistent and complete with all four of these data aggregators.

Correct business listing information is essential for local businesses looking to get ahead in local SEO

Even something as simple as abbreviations, minor misspellings, lack of unit or suite number, or missing area code can be a problem.

This is because if Google is unable to determine which information found about your business is accurate, it may not show your business in the search results at all.

Coupled with this, you’ll want to make sure that you are removing any duplicate listings that you may find. A great bonus is to include a Chamber of Commerce membership in your community, which will garner you an external inbound link.

Perform a local SEO audit

Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, so to speak, it may be tempting to think that you are all set and you don’t need to do anything further. This just simply isn’t the case though.

Always look for ways to improve your local SEO rating

Local SEO is ongoing. You’ll want to perform regular and comprehensive local SEO audits to see exactly where your website stands and what you need to do in order to improve it. Your local SEO audit may include:

  • Google My Business Audit – Is the information found in the SERP, or Search Engine Results Page correct?
  • On-Page SEO Audit – Is your site optimized for local search optimization on-site by having all the elements needed to assist with high rankings?
  • Google Search Console Audit – Does your site have any errors that would hinder local search indexing?
  • Citation Audit – Are all of your citations correct within the top local business directories?
  • Website Audit – How well is your website performing?
  • Competitor Audit – How does your website fare against your competitors? What gaps are there? How are you doing in terms of content, design, positioning, and inbound links?

Consider your internal linking structure

While external links that point to your site are ideal, it’s also important to make sure that your internal linking structure is working in your favor to boost your local SEO rankings.

link building

Internal linking matters because it:

  1. Distributes ranking power and page authority among pages
  2. Supports navigation on your website
  3. Helps with information architecture and website hierarchy

7. Optimize content, headers, title tags, meta description, and URL.

Every page created on your site is a new opportunity to increase your chances of showing up in the search engine results pages or SERPS.

It’s a good idea to do some keyword research when trying to improve your local SEO and local business marketing. keyword research for local SEO

When you write a new piece of content, you’ll need to make sure the content is optimized for search engines by using high-volume keywords in several places including the URL, title, header, body, and meta description. If geo-targeted content is difficult to convey in your content, you can consider highlighting customer success stories and case studies.

8. Have a location page, or multiple location pages on your website

If you have multiple brick-and-mortar locations, you can create a business listing page for each one.

A location page will provide users with the name, address, phone number, store hours, descriptions, promotions, parking and/or transit information, and testimonials for each location your business has.

local business website

Make each location unique by avoiding cloning location content across multiple location pages. If you have a single location, you can create an About Us page that goes a little more in-depth for your local description. It’s also a great idea to add Google Maps to your website, whether you have one location or multiple locations.

9. Make local content

Google continues to improve all the time, which means that creators can now genuinely write with the user in mind first, not search engines. local link building increases local seo

While generalizing some of your writing will attract a wide audience to your content, sometimes the best idea is to zero in and focus on a specific industry, or local news to attract a local audience.

You can make yourself the local authority in your industry by promoting local industry news, gatherings, employee spotlights, and other educational content on your blog.

It’s important to think beyond the money-making portion of your business in order to be more well-rounded and successful.

For example, let’s say you are a local realtor, and you are wanting to attract new clients that are moving to the area.

Creating resources with neighborhood information such as safety reports, market reports, school reports, local shopping and service providers, as well as happenings in each neighborhood will help people to become better acquainted with your city and the surrounding areas, as well as help to secure you as a trusted source for knowledge about the place where they are looking to purchase a home.

10. Make your website mobile-friendly

The majority of local searches performed on Google are done so on mobile devices.

The common ways people will use your site when using a mobile device is to find your location, view contact information, and see reviews.

To illustrate this, think of how often you search for a keyword and include the phrase “near me” in your search. It’s become increasingly common to search this way for local businesses, or by searching a keyword followed by the city name.

local searches

By making your site mobile-friendly, you are not only increasing your local SEO score, but you’re making it a much more friendly environment for your potential and existing customers.

11. Use inbound links to boost your local SEO

Using inbound links is an incredibly important and powerful way to boost your local SEO rating.

Every time you add an inbound link that is relevant, you are solidifying your legitimacy with Google. Something that Google takes very seriously in local SEO.

local seo link building

Here are a few ways you can work on link building:

  1. Guest Blog Posting
  2. Scholarships
  3. Sponsorships or Partnerships

A great place to start is within your own personal network. This can include the Chamber of Commerce, licensing bureaus, trade associations, vendors, business improvement districts, as well as manufacturers, and other affiliates.

You may want to consider sponsoring a meet-up event or webinar or hosting a community event.

Use this opportunity to promote not only your local business, but something local that you love. You’ll be building relationships with prominent people and influencers in your area who can have a direct impact on your business.

This will also allow you to break the ice when it comes to reaching out to partners to see if they can feature you on their partner directory.

Being a guest blogger is another way to attract links. Talk to other people in your industry, and lift up other small businesses in your industry as well.

You will be acting as a resource provider in this regard for your community. By being an active participant in community conversations, your organic growth will increase as a buzz can be formed around what you have to say.

This will provide inbound links, media coverage, and social media growth. , which will further increase your local SEO ranking.

12. Be a part of your local community.

 

The more involved you are in your local community, the more digital PR you will receive.

By taking the time to volunteer with a nonprofit or campaign, or having a volunteer day within your organization, sponsor local events, or speaking with the local media, you’ll be gaining community recognition both in-person and online and will garner some inbound links.

Local SEO is a vital part of any SEO strategy for local businesses. By using the tips provided here you’ll be able to increase your visibility and success by helping your audience find exactly what they are looking for….you!

SEO

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