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Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website and online presence to rank higher in search results for local searches. This means that when potential customers search for businesses like yours in their area, your website is more likely to show up.
The significance of local SEO is particularly pronounced for small businesses and entrepreneurs, as it empowers them to compete effectively against larger enterprises with more extensive resources. By adhering to the recommendations below, you can enhance your local SEO efforts and draw in a larger customer base. Moreover, local SEO also holds value for small businesses with a physical presence, as a strong presence in local search results can drive more customers to your store or office.
1. Create a Google Business profile
Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool from Google that allows you to create and manage your business listing on Google Search and Maps. Your GMB listing includes important information about your business, such as your name, address, phone number, website, and hours of operation. Optimizing your Google My Business profile is a crucial aspect and one of the key ranking factors for local SEO, emphasizing the need for a well-executed strategy in this domain. You should also claim and verify your listing, and add photos and videos to make it more appealing to potential customers.
When everything has been correctly implemented, the final look of your knowledge panel should be like this:
2. Get online Reviews
Reviews serve as social proof of a business’s products or services and play a crucial role in consumers’ decision-making process. Firstly, reviews contribute to a business’s visibility in local search results. Google and other search engines consider reviews as a ranking factor, with businesses having a higher number of positive reviews often ranking better. Moreover, reviews on platforms like Google My Business can directly affect a business’s appearance in the coveted “Local Pack,” the top three local search results displayed prominently. Positive reviews signal to search engines that the business is reputable and relevant to local search queries, thereby boosting its chances of appearing higher in search results.
3. Review Incentives with QR codes
By implementing an incentive program, such as offering perks in exchange for reviews, businesses can actively engage customers in leaving feedback while fostering a positive relationship. For instance, envision a scenario where a coffee shop owner strategically places QR codes on tables or receipts, prompting customers to leave a review about their experience. In return for their time and effort, the shop offers a reward—a complimentary cup of coffee during their next visit or a generous 10% discount on their subsequent purchase.
This approach not only motivates customers to share their thoughts but also creates a sense of appreciation and value for their opinions. Positive reviews act as social proof, influencing potential customers who rely on these testimonials when making purchasing decisions. Moreover, with search engines considering reviews as a ranking factor, an increased number of positive reviews can significantly boost a business’s visibility in local search results, potentially landing them in the coveted “Local Pack.”
4. Build Citations with Agencies
Citations are a fundamental element in local SEO, serving as references to a business’s name, address, phone number, and essential details across diverse online platforms. These references validate a business’s legitimacy and presence within a specific location, significantly impacting its visibility in local search results. BrightLocal is a valuable platform offering citation-building services that streamline the citation process, saving time and effort for businesses aiming to establish consistent and accurate citations across multiple websites.
Citations from authoritative and relevant websites not only signal credibility and trustworthiness to search engines but also reinforce a business’s local presence, improving its visibility in local search results.
Example websites that BrightLocal provides citations from include Google My Business:
- Yellow Pages
- Bing Places…
These platforms offer substantial exposure, validation, and credibility for businesses’ local presence, contributing significantly to their visibility and trustworthiness within the local community.
Here are additional examples directly presented in the ‘citation building’ dashboard:
5. Digital PR campaigns and Link Building
Through Digital PR, businesses can establish their local brand authority by securing mentions, positive reviews, and features in local publications or news outlets. These endorsements not only enhance credibility but also elevate trust within the local audience. Furthermore, Digital PR efforts such as participating in local events, collaborating with local influencers, or securing features in local publications generate invaluable backlinks from high-authority local sites, significantly amplifying online visibility within the local community. Positive PR stories, customer testimonials, or reviews shared through local channels bolster a business’s reputation, influencing local search rankings positively.
Simultaneously, effective link-building contributes extensively to local SEO by boosting search rankings and domain authority. Quality backlinks from authoritative local websites signal to search engines the credibility and trustworthiness of a business within the local area. Strategies like submitting accurate business information to local directories, fostering local partnerships, creating localized content, and engaging in outreach efforts all contribute to natural link acquisition, thereby strengthening the local SEO footprint. In essence, the synergy between Digital PR and link building not only enhances visibility but also solidifies a business’s authority, credibility, and reputation within the local community, ultimately leading to improved rankings in local search results.
6. Create Social Media Profiles
Social media serves as a potent tool for businesses to connect with their local audience, boosting visibility and establishing trust. Here are all the aspects of a social media profile that help with Local SEO:
- Business Address
- Homepage URL
- Working Hours
- Phone Number
- Price range
Moreover, active engagement on social media allows businesses to interact with the local audience, respond to inquiries, showcase products/services, and encourage positive reviews and ratings, all of which contribute to building a positive brand image and influencing local search rankings. Google emphasizes user experience, favoring well-optimized GMB profiles with accurate information, images, updates, and positive reviews, leading to higher rankings in local search results.
Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) across social media profiles synchronized with GMB validates the business’s existence and relevance in a specific location, ultimately enhancing local SEO efforts and increasing the likelihood of appearing prominently in local search results. In essence, social media, especially GMB, serves as a vital asset in enhancing visibility, trust, and engagement within the local community, thereby improving local search rankings and bolstering the overall local SEO strategy. You will be able to see if your social media is properly implemented, by scrolling down your knowledge panel, below the reviews segment.
7. Make Sure You’re Website is Mobile-Friendly
Having a mobile-friendly website is crucial for bolstering local SEO due to its significant impact on user experience, search engine rankings, and local search visibility. Google, among other search engines, prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in its ranking algorithms, especially for local searches, acknowledging the growing trend of mobile device usage.
In Google Search Console, under the Mobile Usability Report, you can glean the performance of your mobile pages:
The impressions showcase the number of times these pages were exposed to attention by mobile device users.
Positive user experience contributes to lower bounce rates, longer session durations, and higher conversion rates, all of which are factors that search engines consider in determining a website’s relevance and authority.
Regarding local SEO specifically, mobile-friendly websites are crucial as many users conduct local searches on their mobile devices while on the go. Google recognizes the importance of delivering relevant and useful local results to mobile users and therefore gives preference to mobile-optimized sites in local search results.
8. Use Local Keywords on Your Main Pages
Local keywords help align your content with specific geographic locations, making it more relevant to local search queries.
For instance, including phrases like “best coffee shop in downtown Chicago” or “plumber near me in Los Angeles” helps businesses target users searching for products or services within their locality. These localized keywords assist search engines in understanding the geographical relevance of your business, increasing the likelihood of your website appearing in local search results when users look for related services or products in that particular area.
Additionally, local keywords contribute to establishing relevance and authority within a particular locality. When a website consistently integrates localized keywords across its:
- Meta title
- Meta description
- H1, H2 headings
- First paragraph
- Alt text
Search engines acknowledge the geographical focus of the site, enhancing its relevance for local search queries.
Furthermore, local keywords are pivotal for optimizing content for voice search. With the rising trend of voice-enabled searches, people tend to use natural language and include location-specific terms when conducting voice searches on mobile devices or smart speakers. Incorporating these local phrases into your content increases the chances of your website being featured in voice search results, thereby enhancing your visibility to potential local customers.
9. Use Local Schema Markup
Local schema markups are crucial for local SEO for several reasons. First, they provide search engines with structured data that makes it easier to understand your business information, including its name, address, phone number, and other relevant details.
This, in turn, enhances the accuracy and consistency of your online business data, which is a key factor in local search rankings. Second, schema markups help in displaying rich snippets in search results, such as star ratings and working hours, which can make your listing more appealing to users and potentially increase click-through rates.
Here’s what a healthy schema markup for a local business looks like:
Lastly, schema markups also contribute to your business’s overall credibility and trustworthiness, as search engines see this structured data as a sign of reliable and well-organized information, leading to improved local search visibility.
10. Track Your Results
It’s important to track your local SEO results so that you can see what’s working and what’s not. You can use Google Analytics to track your website traffic, and you can use Google Search Console to track your search rankings.
By tracking your results, you can identify the local SEO tactics that are most effective for your business. You can then focus your efforts on those tactics and improve your local ranking over time.
One way to track your local organic performances using the ‘Performance’ report in Google Search Console, and filter out traffic by local keyword, e.g. ‘Roma’:
The results will show your traffic for this location, as well as the impressions, and position in SERP:
Mastering the realm of Local SEO is an indispensable strategy for small businesses and entrepreneurs aiming to thrive in today’s competitive market. These nine tactics collectively serve as a roadmap, offering a comprehensive approach to enhance visibility, credibility, and engagement within the local community. The significance of these tactics lies not only in their individual contributions but also in their interconnectedness, forming a robust ecosystem that fortifies a business’s presence within the local market.