Many customers want to buy from local businesses, but getting eyes on your business is sometimes easier said than done. If you’re a small business whose clientele comes primarily from local areas, having a local SEO strategy in place will help you draw in foot traffic. In this article, we’ll go over some important local SEO ranking factors and how you can prioritize them.
What Is Local SEO?
You’ve likely heard of SEO, but have you ever heard about local SEO and wondered what the difference is? Local SEO refers to the process of optimizing your online presence to draw in your ideal, local customers. This is done by creating content that is relevant to local search traffic on Google and other search engines.
Local SEO works by increasing your website’s visibility for searchers in a specific area. In other words, it helps your website show up in the search results when people look for in-person customer service businesses or brick-and-mortar stores. An effective local SEO strategy involves a myriad of things such as content, on-site optimization, reviews, and digital PR.
What Are Local Search Ranking Factors?
The term “local search ranking factors,” simply refers to the factors that Google and other search engines consider when deciding where your business appears in the local rankings.
Some common local ranking factors include reviews, citations, an active Google Business Profile, and various on-page website elements.
Why Is Local Search Ranking So Important?
Google suggests that 80% of its users conduct online searches for local businesses, and nearly half of mobile device users doing local searches also call or go to the business within a day. The numbers speak for themselves; showing up online isn’t just important, it’s essential. And where you show up in local search results—your local search ranking—can have a huge impact on your business.
Local SEO is a bit different from other marketing where you run campaigns and see what works. With local SEO, you already know there is an interest, so you’re trying to win people’s attention and convert them into customers.
When you rank well on Google, you can become the go-to spot for your industry in your area. If you aren’t showing up in local search results, you might have to fight to keep consistent traffic.
How to Improve Your Local Search Ranking
So, you know you need to put some time into your local SEO strategy, but where do you begin? Here are a few pointers you can get started with to optimize your local search engine rankings.
Plan Your Content Strategy
If you don’t have a solid plan in place, you’ve set yourself up to fail with local SEO. It is critical to research and develop a local SEO strategy before you invest any time or money. Figure out what kind of content your customers are looking for and create content that positions your local business as the industry expert. Good content doesn’t just help your local SEO ranking—it also helps you gain the trust of customers and potential customers.
Consider Keywords or Search Phrases That Show Intent
A keyword that shows intent is a keyword that indicates that someone is interested in purchasing a product or service. When it comes to local businesses, this kind of keyword is pretty straightforward. Let’s say you own an Italian restaurant. Examples of keyword or search phrases that show intent to purchase Italian food include:
→ “Best Italian restaurants near me.”
→ “Italian restaurants in [city name].”
Get the idea? There will be a variation of the above when customers are looking for local businesses. There are different tools online that will help you generate a range of these phrases. Once you’ve compiled a list of keywords and phrases, you can start including them in your content.
Conduct Keyword Research
The above suggestions will help you get started with a list of keywords and phrases to use in your content, but you can come up with more if you know how to conduct local keyword research.
To get started, Google has a helpful feature that autocompletes and generates questions that are related to a search. Knowing what questions people ask when they search for a local business will help you figure out what local keywords you should add to your list.
So, in addition to the two keyword options we listed in our Italian restaurant example, you might also optimize for the following phrases:
→ Top 10 Italian restaurants near me
→ Authentic Italian restaurants near me
→ Best restaurants near me
→ Best Italian restaurants in [state]
→ Best Italian restaurants to fit my budget
Getting Started With Local SEO
While the above tips will help you boost your ranking in local search results, the following factors are also crucial. Every local business should consider these elements when putting together a local SEO strategy.
Google Business Profile
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to claim your Google Business Profile listing. This will tremendously improve your chances of appearing in relevant searches. It is as simple as going to google.com/business and registering, then verifying.
Once you’ve claimed your Google Business Profile, make sure to optimize it by:
→ Making sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate.
→ Carefully selecting your hours, categories, and payment types.
→ Using good-quality photos of your business and products.
→ Filling out the Questions and Answers section.
Local Citations (NAP)
Every online mention of your business is a citation. These all help your local SEO efforts. When your NAP is mentioned, it counts as a citation. Be careful in your efforts because if your NAP is not consistently used, it won’t help your ranking. On the other hand, a consistent NAP is among the most important local ranking factors.
Link Building & Citations
Quality backlinks and citations can improve your local rankings tremendously. You should begin creating citations on sites like CitySearch and Yelp. After these, you should aim for around 5-7 other popular business directories. Do some research to figure out which business directories and relevant in your industry and start profiles there.
Check any local business directories and community websites and make sure your business shows up there. Don’t forget the Chamber of Commerce and similar sites. If there is an opportunity with local news agencies, consider getting listings or reviews there.
You can also use citation tools to help you if the concept of citations is overwhelming or foreign to you.
You can even consider taking your link building game to the next level by getting inbound links.
You can get inbound links by writing guest posts on other blogs or trying to appear in news articles. Just make sure that the linking domain authority for websites you backlink to is high. Backlinking to a non-reputable website can make your business appear spammy.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Local business owners must stay on top of their website game. Most local searches are performed on a phone or other mobile device and are purposeful. Because of that, having a website that works well on mobile is absolutely necessary. If someone finds your website for the first time but can’t view it properly on mobile, they might never come back to it.
Add Localized Content to Your Website
You can tell search engines that you are relevant to specific searches and phrases by adding content that incorporates those phrases to your website. This will help search engines keep your website contextualized to the niches and services it provides.
You should also add an interactive map widget to further improve your local SEO ranking.
Some companies include a news section on their site and post content related to local events that are relevant to their industry. This can also help your organic local SEO ranking.
Online reviews are the bread and butter of turning a viewer into a customer. The majority of people nowadays use reviews to form their opinions of brands, products, and businesses.
Google Business Profile reviews are critical for your local SEO. You will need a minimum of five reviews for Google to start showing your reviews.
Once you’ve established a good base of Google reviews, turn your eyes to Facebook reviews. They are the next source online users turn to for trustworthy reviews.
Some local businesses may find it difficult to get more reviews. While an influx of positive reviews likely won’t happen overnight, there are a lot of things you can do to increase your number of reviews. Consider trying to:
→ Solicit on-the-spot reviews to sites such as Yelp or Zomato and offer an incentive such as a discount for their doing so.
→ Use email marketing with links for reviews and offer incentives such as coupons.
→ Use social listening tools like HootSuite and get alerts for business mentions.
→ Consider online reputation management tools.
You can even up your review game by embedding reviews on your website.
Your Local SEO ranking is important. If you haven’t come up with a local SEO strategy yet, it’s time to change that. First, spend some time creating a solid keyword list and then work on creating content that incorporates those keywords. Increase your number of backlinks and citations and start encouraging your happy customers to leave you a review.
You don’t have to be a local search marketing expert to get started. There are plenty of tools and guides that can help you get the ball rolling.
Many customers prefer local businesses and are willing to go out of their way to buy from them, but if people can’t find your business, that won’t happen. Making sure your online business visibility is good will help you grow your customer base in no time.