In 2020, 97% of people learn about a local company online more than anywhere else.
And 92% of searchers will more likely pick businesses on the first page of a local search result.
And even more convincing, its forecasted that by 2021, mobile devices will influence more than $1.4 trillion in local sales.
With this information we came to the conclusion that is A LOT of sales.
And as a small business, you’ll want to put your business in the forefront so it can be a part of this powerful statistic.
But that means getting in front of qualified customers who are looking for your business’s products or services.
If you are struggling to get visibility from customers from local SEO, even after claiming your local listings, then you’re just in the right place.
Even if you’re just starting out or simply struggling to get results, this blog will help cover all your bases and dominate your local search.
Great SEO doesn’t have to be out of reach for your local business. With this guide, we’ll inform you about everything you need to know about local SEO and how it can help your local business thrive!
Let’s go ahead and start out by defining the basics of local SEO.
What is local SEO?
Now there are lot of technical definitions used to define SEO, but for the most part local SEO is the process of optimizing your website to drive more local search traffic.
Local SEO gives your website more visibility on search engines when your prospective customers search for topics relevant to your business.
For instance, if you perform a search for “social media agency in Atlanta,” then you’ll find multiple search results for agencies in the city of Atlanta.
Here you can see that our agency is populated in something called a “local 3-pack.” The local 3-pack is a prominent search result that Google deems as most relevant to the search query.
It is probably the most influential position your business can organically attain.
That’s because it is what you will see before the typical organic search results that you’re used to seeing when you perform a search.
Being included in the local pack allows your business to receive more quality exposure from searchers.
So if you’re serving a specific area or located in a specific area, then you have to start thinking about what your potential customers may be searching for.
That’s where SEO can help you. With local SEO tools, you can actually identify what keywords your audience is using in their searches and include that in your content to attract them.
Because we want to help you get more prospects to your website and into your business, we’ve got some powerful SEO tips for you to use to boost your marketing efforts.
That said, let’s get into our 5 tips for local SEO.
5 Tips for the Best Local SEO
Step #1: Create and optimize your Google My Business listings
If you already have a Google My Business account–good, if you don’t, then now is the time to make one. This is the foundation of your local SEO strategy and without a listing, people will struggle to find you.
As a small business, GMB can really help your business reach your audience instantly. You don’t want people to be unable to find your business when they’re looking for it. That’s a missed opportunity.
Fortunately, setting up a Google My Business is super easy.
All you have to do is go to Google.com/business. Then, create an account or sign into your account and start following the prompts on the page.
If you have a business with multiple locations or even a franchise, then you can start typing in the business name to find your brand.
At the moment, if you’re an independent service provider like a videographer or any other type of local freelancer, your typical client meetings might happen in their office or a local meeting spot.
If that’s the case, you can use your home address, check the “I deliver goods and services” checkbox and choose to hide your address.
Then, you’ll want to choose a simple category that is most comprehensive of your business. The most important part is to focus on what your business is and not what it has.
After your complete your setup, you’ll still need to update a few items to make sure your listing is fully optimized.
You can click the info section to add more categories, update your hours of operation, add helpful website links and add photos of your work or location.
Furthermore, you can use a post to signal to Google that your business is still operating in 2020. This will be very helpful information for searchers when they come across your business on Google.
You can add if your business is open, if you require masks, or even if you’re doing temperature checks.
After your Google listing is live and optimized for local SEO, then you can move on to step #2.
Step #2: Do some local keyword research
There’s always the obvious keywords you want to rank for. For example, if you serve pizza, then you’d want to rank for “pizza near me” and your brand name.
You should also look to answer questions related to search. So, if someone is wondering what kind pizza you serve, you may want to optimize your listings for your brand name and the keyword “menu”
Maybe someone is looking to reserve a table. Then, you may want to optimize for your brand name and the keyword “reservation.”
The key here is to think ahead about what questions your potential customers may have and then optimize for it!
Once your brand name is optimized for local SEO. then you’ll want to research keywords with new opportunities. This is how you will continue to penetrate different markets.
The first thing that you need to do is take a look at the competition.
You can do this by going to Google and running a search like “pizza near me.”
Afterwards, you can use a tool like SEM Rush to take a look at the keywords they are ranking for. You’ll want to take your local competitors URL and plug it into SEM Rush.
This will breakdown their keywords, banks, and some paid ad spend.
You should repeat this process for at least your top 3-4 listings. Then run new searches for the keywords that you’ve already identified.
Doing this exercise will start giving you a comprehensive understanding of your local searches and competition.
This brings us to the next important part of SEO, the technical side. More specifically–On-page SEO.
Step #3: On-Page technical SEO
Now if you’re not familiar with on page SEO, in simplest terms, On-page SEO is the process of helping your website talk with search engines.
To receive awareness from search engines, your website needs certain elements on it so that Google knows what the site is all about.
This way, Google is able to categorize how your website should be ranked. When you make it easier for Google to rank your pages and include relevant content, you can guarantee higher rankings.
So let’s look at some of the most important on-page tactics for local SEO.
Firstly, you want to make sure your website is mobile friendly.
This is especially important because 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase.
Shortly, people who run a local search on mobile devices are extremely qualified prospects. You could say that they are already in line at your shop and are just waiting to be served.
If you aren’t sure whether or not your site is mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s mobile friendly test tool. Just enter your URL and Google will tell you if your page is mobile friendly or not.
In addition, it will provide a few quick suggestions for changes.
Embed a Google Map
The next big tip is to integrate a map with your business location on your website.
This can help Google easily reconcile your website with your Google My Business listing which should give your on-page SEO a big time boost.
To do this, simply go to https://www.embedgooglemap.net/
Type in your address. Determine the dimensions of your map. Then get the HTML Code to embed. Done!
Use Normal On-Page SEO Rules
Local SEO is not much different from regular SEO. Therefore, all the normal rules of on-page SEO still apply. You want to still use H1 tags, meta descriptions, and alt tags with your keywords.
YOAST makes it super easy to do on-page optimization for WordPress sites. Just enter your keyword and follow the steps they guide you through.
However, with all these factors that help Google understand your site, you may still get outranked by your competitors.
That’s why you also need Off-Page SEO.
Step #4: Off-Page SEO
So now that Google knows what your website is about, it has to decide how it wants to rank it among the competition because there could be hundreds or even thousands of websites that can fit in the same category.
Search engines like Google use off-page signals to determine what is called “Domain Authority.”
Domain Authority is a simple score most marketing experts use to determine how strong your website is.
For example, in SEMRush, you can check your domain score and comparison with your competitors, just to give you an idea of how much work you may need to do.
The best ways to increase your domain score for local SEO are with citations and backlinks.
Citations are basically directory listings on sites like Yelp, Facebook, or Yellowpages. This can help show search engines that your business is active and credible.
Then you have backlinks. They are arguably the most important factor.
And since we’re talking about local SEO, ideally, we’re referring to local backlinks.
When a very high domain authority website links to your website, it can help dramatically boost your domain authority because it shows that your website is credible.
It’s kind of like hanging out with a celebrity. If you’re hanging out with them, then it can signal to other people that you must be important as well.
Therefore, having backlinks is very important for your local SEO.
Okay, you may be wondering, “how do you get backlinks?”
Well, that starts with figuring out how to provide value to their audiences.
If you’re a pizzeria, perhaps you can reach out to a chef’s blog about how to cook your pizza at perfect temperatures.
But even reaching out to different blogs can be a lot like cold calling. So our favorite approach is to start a blog of your own.
When you start blogging and writing great content using SEO best practices, then you’ll start getting some inbound traffic more organically.
And because your content is great, people will naturally want to link to your blog because they want to share your credibility. When they do, most people will cite you as a source and leave a link.
So it’s a win-win approach.
Having a blog also helps to increase the amount of pages you have on search engines, which increase your chances of being seen by your prospects.
Ultimately, when you start getting more traffic to your website, you can earn more backlinks!
But there is a dark side of backlinks.
If you are getting low quality backlinks from spammy websites, they will not only hurt your website, but they could also get you completely delisted from Google.
And after all your hard work, you surely don’t want this to happen.
That’s why it’s important to focus on white hat strategies, like earning PR or giving away good content.
Let’s move on to the next step!
Step #5: Keep your listings updated
This one is pretty straight forward. If you want to give your business listings a fair chance, you have to keep them up-to-date.
Remember from earlier when we talked about how Google uses your listings, citations, and website to categorize your locality? This all still applies as you move forward.
So if you make a change, say a phone number change or move to a new location, remember to update ALL of your listings because if you fail to do so, then it can decrease your domain authority.
Really just do your best to organize all your listings and stay on top of things.
But there is even more you can do to help perfect your local SEO strategy. That’s why we’ve included one more tip for you…
Bonus tip: Build for engagement
Remember, your biggest competition in local SEO are the people at the top. Your goal should be to take what they are doing and do it even better.
To do that, we recommend you build for engagement.
This is because we are starting to see Google using engagement as a ranking factor. These engagement signals are stuff like time on site, bounce rate, and click through rate.
Now you can use Google Analytics to measure what your engagement metrics are. You can take a closer look at what your competitors have on their page and try to be even better at it.
One easy way to increase engagement is to add a video to your page, but if your competitor has a video, then yours needs to be more polished and maybe a little longer.
In conclusion, local SEO is a no-brainer if you are competing locally because there are less people to compete with than on a national scale with SEO.
However, local SEO usually means lower search volume and, if you can, a national approach will have more upside.
But it really is up to you what route you want to take and what makes sense for your business specifically.