Local SEO - A how to rank process to local search
What do you search on Google when you want to find the restaurants around you? It may be something like ‘restaurants around me’ or ‘restaurants near me.’ This is exactly what local SEO is. Local SEO optimizes a website to appear on local search results. It is a process that emphasizes content and on-page optimization to appear on local search results.
- Benefits of Local Search Engine Optimization
- How does Local SEO work?
- Step-by-Step process to optimize your local business to rank
- 4 Local SEO and Listings Management tools that will make your work easier
Benefits of Local Search Engine Optimization
One out of every three searches is conducted just before arriving at a place. Let us take a few examples to understand the benefits of local SEO.
- If you want to consult a dermatologist near you, you can either ask your friends about it or simply take out your phone and search ‘dermatologist near me.’ You get the list of dermatologists with just one click. This is not all; you can book a call with them by clicking on the ‘Call’ button available below their addresses.
- People are not the only thing you can search for; even if you want to search the restaurants or any other places around you, you can do that. You get the contact details, directions, and all relevant data. All this is possible due to local SEO.
How does Local SEO work?
Before understanding how Local SEO works, let us first understand the differences between SEO in general and Local SEO. SEO is a broader term that includes Local SEO also. While SEO focuses on ranking your web pages without the local component, Local SEO emphasizes the geographical location to make more sales.
Not every business needs a worldwide reach to make more sales because a café located in the streets of California would be benefited only when people of that area know about the existence of this café. So how does Local SEO work? The first thing you are going to do is add the right LocalBusiness Schema markup on your website. This will make it clear to Google that you have a local business.
After that, you can use a Local SEO plugin to make it easy for you. These are the factors that Google uses to rank local search results:
- Presence of Google My Business
- Keywords used in GMB profile
- Google Maps rating
- Online reviews
- NAP citations (Name, Address, and Phone Number)
Step-by-Step process to optimize your local business to rank
Now that we are aware of the basics of Local SEO and how it works, we shall see the process of doing Local SEO. This will give you more clarity on the working of Local SEO and how you can go forward.
Optimize for Google My Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps Listing
You can do this by creating and verifying a GMB page. Before that, go on Google and search the name of your business. If it is available, you may see an option of ‘own this business?’. You may click on that and follow the further steps. Encourage your existing and everyday customers to share reviews online. You should respond to these reviews by specifying the location in the comments. Once your business is verified, your business would be shown on the sidebar of the Google search whenever people search for similar services.
Social Media Engagement
Engage on social media with your audience and add posts on Google My Business. When you have a social media page on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, and you consistently post on those platforms, you are creating social proof and loyal customers. Encourage your audience to like, share, and comment on your posts. An easy way to do that is by introducing giveaways or giving offers every time a customer promotes your business on social media platforms.
Make sure that your business name, address, and phone number are consistent on every social media platform and GMB. to set up your NAM, include a crawlable HTML text on your site. Here is the catch: it cannot be crawled if you include your NAM details within an image.
Consistent online directories
Make sure that Express Update, Neustar Localeze, Factual, and Foursquare data aggregators have consistent directories for your business. These four are the major map data providers in the US for Apple, Google, Bing, Trip Advisor, etc. Avoid misspellings, abbreviations, and wrong phone numbers because if Google finds these mistakes, your business will not appear at all in the search results.
Local SEO audit
You may think that all the steps you followed until now are enough to get your business ranked on search engines, but this is not true; we have just done the bare minimum. You should regularly keep an eye on SEO because it is an ongoing process. A local SEO audit includes the following:
- Google My Business: where does your GMB appear in the SERPs, whether the information is correct, ranking
- Google Search Console Audit: does your site have errors that may hinder the indexing of your page?
- On-page SEO Audit: your site should recommend all the on-page SEO elements that help in ranking in the search engines
- Competitor Analysis: what is your competitor’s rank? How do they rank higher(if they do)? What is something that your competitor is doing better than you? Is their content or design better than yours?
- Citation and Website Audit
Internal linking structure
This step is more of an on-page SEO. all your blogs should be highly optimized. This may be done by doing proper keyword research. Use high-volume keywords everywhere; title, header, body, meta description, and in the URL as well. Every blog that you publish is a new indexed page, and you can use them to target a geographical location. If you find a hard time with location-targeted content, include customer success stories on your pages. Use this opportunity to rank in the search engine result pages.
Add location on your website pages
You may have multiple shop openings at various locations. Create location pages consisting of information like the name of the store or business, address, working hours, phone number, promotions, etc. If your business is single-location, create an About Us page with similar details as the multiple-location stores. Google loves it when you add a Google Map to show the exact location of your store on your websites.
Create local content
As mentioned in the example above (cafe in California), some businesses would do better only when their focus is on local people. Your focus is not to focus on a huge crowd by writing on general topics but on the people who are your potential customers.
Let us understand this with an example: a cafe based in California talks about the coffee beans they use from Brazil and the method they use to prepare their bestselling coffee. Which of the two blogs do you think would bring them more sales? Of course, the second one is specific to that particular cafe, and the local people can relate better to it.
Educate your audience about your industry and build authority. When you write blogs on some broad topics, you attract more people to read them, increasing your ranking on SERPs.
Create a mobile-friendly website
A recent study showed that mobile devices account for 61% of organic search engine visits. This makes it very important for you to keep these majority people in view while creating a website. How do people use sites on a mobile device? Let us take the cafe example again. Anyone in your locality would search ‘cafe near me’ before visiting a cafe. The next thing they would do is read the reviews of the cafes that appear on the SERP.
Let us assume your cafe ranks number 1, then the viewer will look for the directions to reach your cafe. In other cases like that of a Hospital, you may want to call the hospital to book an appointment or know the availability of the particular doctor that you want to see. So we may conclude that a viewer normally looks for reviews, directions, and contact information of a local business before arriving.
Build authority with inbound links
Do you know the importance of inbound links? This leads to boosting your local SEO and domain authority. How can you get inbound links? Simple. Start guest blogging and collaborating. The more you show your face to the audience, the more people will trust you. If you are running a business, you would know people among your friend circle who do a similar type of work or have connections with such people.
Participate in your local community
This is another great way to create awareness about your business. Consider sponsoring free samples at a local event, host a community event, or even organize competitions, as it always draws the attention of a lot of people. Focus on consistently building relationships with influencers and other local business owners.
Did you know that the journalists of local newspapers have a drought of information to publish in the newspapers? Yes, that is true. Each time you organize an event, inform these journalists beforehand so that they can cover your event and get published in the newspaper, reaching more people.
The next thing that we are going to discuss in this guide is about making your marketing easier. Yes, you guessed it right, we are talking about using some tools that will help you manage your business online and offline in the long term.
4 Local SEO and Listings Management tools that will make your work easier
- Whitespark: this tool tops the list each time we talk about tools that help to find citations. Its most popular tool is the ‘Citation Finder.’ other services offered by Whitespark are:
- Local Rank tracker: this is similar to Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker. It uses your business’ exact location and gives insight into its SEO performance. It also lets you know how you rank in different result types. You may monitor and track your social activity also.
- Review monitoring: want a tool to alert you whenever you get a bad review? It is here; it does the same so that you can take action accordingly.
- Reputation builder: nothing to do with the name. Reputation builder helps you in reminding your customers to share a review on your sites.
- Yext: the next tool that we will talk about is Yext. The best part is it gives a lot of services that will help you from A to Z. Let us see some of the best tools offered by Yext:
- Next Pages: updates listings, integrates with Knowledge Manager to give customers more information about your business.
- Knowledge Manager: it is a source of all the common questions asked by your customers like your store hours, location, and offers.
- Yext Listings: use this feature for scheduled and real-time updates, analytics, and set up integrations with other tools. Yext App Directory integrates with HubSpot, Zapier, etc.
- Next Reviews: this generates reviews from your customers, and you can easily add them to your website. You may monitor and respond to reviews.
- Moz Local: this is one of the oldest players in SEO Software games. It sends your listings data to major search engines, apps, and directories. Like the previous two tools, you also get an alert whenever there is a new review on major platforms. Moz Local also synchronizes with Google My Business; isn’t that cool? Not only that, you can directly respond to Google reviews. It also gives you reports that help you track your growth, specifically of your location. These reports will help in tracking growth and determining the key consumer interactions on your listings.
- Local SEO Checklist: all the tools mentioned above do almost similar tasks, but none of them can fix technical local SEO issues on your website, but this tool can. This tool is powered by Synup (another local SEO tool) and offers the following:
- Whether or not your website has the right schema markup for content
- Whether or not your Google My Business listing follows the correct guidelines
- Audits how your business listing appears across different websites for free
This brings us to the end of this guide. We hope all your doubts got cleared, and you are ready to dive in. We understand that these may seem overwhelming at the start, but as you start, things only get easier.
We introduced you to the idea of local SEO, how it is different from SEO in general, how it can benefit your business and eventually lead you to the process of optimizing your local business for search engines. Again, applying all the steps that we mentioned may be daunting, but you don’t need anything else to get done other than these.
About the author
Dennis Hoinkis has been working as a web developer and in online marketing since 1998. After building up a marketing agency and the exit in 2013, he consulted international groups as a freelance consultant. Since 2020, he and his team now offer staffing services in this field.
Dennis Hoinkis CEO, FSOM Group Corp.