Local SEO is a critical component of digital marketing for businesses of all sizes. According to Google, 46% of all searches are local, and 72% of those searches lead to store visits. If your local SEO is not up to par, you could be missing out on a significant number of potential customers.
To help you improve your local rankings and attract more business, we have put together this comprehensive local SEO guide. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to optimize your online visibility and increase your local traffic.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website and online presence to improve your visibility in local search results. It focuses on improving your ranking for searches that are location-specific, such as “lawyers near me” or “best realtor in downtown Los Angeles.”
Why Local SEO is Important
Local SEO is crucial for small businesses that rely on local customers to drive their revenue. In fact, 89% of people search for local businesses on their mobile devices at least once a week, and 58% do so daily. If your local SEO is not up to par, you could be missing out on a significant amount of traffic and revenue.
What are the Top Local SEO Ranking Factors?
According to a report by Safari Digital, the top local SEO ranking factors include Google Business Profile signals, such as keywords and backlink profile, as well as user reviews, website structure, and local citations.
How You Can Improve Your SEO
To improve your local SEO, there are several steps you can take. Here is a step-by-step guide to upgrading your local SEO:
Optimize Your Website for SEO
The first step in improving your local SEO is to optimize your website for search engines. This includes ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly, has fast load times, and includes high-quality, relevant content. You should also create a contact page, make phone numbers clickable on mobile devices, add a map to your website, and include testimonials and schema markup.
Conducting an Audit for Local SEO
Performing a local SEO audit can help you identify areas for improvement on your website and identify your competitors' strategies. Use free tools like Semrush to get a detailed overview of your website's current status and what you can do to optimize.
Finding Strong Local Keywords
Targeting strong local keywords is essential for improving your local SEO. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends to identify relevant, high-volume keywords that are specific to your business and location.
Claim Your Google My Business Profile
Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business profile is one of the most important steps in improving your local SEO. This will ensure that your business appears in Google's local search results, maps, and knowledge panels.
Build Local Citations
Building local citations is another crucial step in improving your local SEO. These are mentions of your business's name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other websites, such as directories and local blogs. The more high-quality citations you have, the higher your chances of ranking well in local search results.
Prioritize User Reviews
User reviews are a critical factor in local SEO, as they signal to search engines that your business is trustworthy and reliable. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business profile, Yelp, and other relevant review sites.
What Does Local SEO Look Like in Practice?
Let's say you own a local flower shop and want to improve your website's ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). Your website probably contains many high-volume keywords like "florist," "flower shop," and "flowers for sale," but you're unlikely to beat out national flower providers like 1-800-Flowers and Sam's Club with those keywords alone.
The goal of local SEO is to optimize your website with local keywords that target your specific town or city, zip code, or surrounding areas within 10 or 15 miles of your business.
For example, instead of using "flowers for sale" throughout your website, consider using more specific, local terms like "flowers for sale in [city or zip code]" or "[city or zip code] flowers for sale."
Create a Dedicated Contact Page
Make sure your website's contact page includes your business's name, address, phone number (NAP), and email address. Displaying your NAP consistently across your website can help improve your local search rankings. If you have multiple locations, consider including all addresses in the sitewide footer element or creating a separate page to showcase each location with pictures and hours of operation.
Ensure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
Since most smartphone users conduct “near me” searches, having a mobile-friendly site is crucial for local businesses. A mobile-friendly site should have responsive page display, readable fonts, proper text formatting, and optimized media display. Additionally, use mobile-friendly content that includes short paragraphs, white space, subheadings, a summary, images, lists, and styling. Many website platforms offer mobile-friendly themes and overlays, so look for “responsive” options.
Add a Map of Your Locations
Including an interactive map of your business's locations can make it easier for potential customers to find you. Consider adding a map to your website, especially since 86% of people look up a business's location on Google Maps. You can also build tools that can help your local community and increase brand awareness.
Optimize Your Page Structure
Optimizing your page structure can enhance your content and improve your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Use title tags, headers, meta descriptions, and URLs correctly to improve your local search rankings. By doing what your competitors are not doing, you can get ahead of them and attract more local customers to your business.
Make Phone Numbers Clickable on Mobile Devices
It's no secret that mobile devices have become increasingly popular for local searches. According to recent studies, about 30% of mobile searches are location-related. Therefore, it's essential to optimize your website for mobile devices. In addition, 76% of local searches result in a phone call. This is why it's crucial to make sure your phone number is clickable.
If someone finds your website on their mobile device and wants to call you, it can be frustrating to switch between apps to type in the number manually. So, it's critical to make your phone number clickable.
Adding testimonials to your website is an excellent way to improve your local SEO. Google considers testimonials to be a trust signal, and they help potential customers feel confident that you're a legitimate business. You can include reviews, customer feedback, and case studies as testimonials.
Collecting and displaying testimonials from local customers is an excellent way to improve your local SEO. It helps to build trust and confidence in your business among potential customers in the local community.
Adding the Appropriate Schema for Local Businesses
Adding the appropriate schema markup for local businesses to your website can help you improve your local rankings. By using schema markup, you’re telling search engines that you’re a local business, which can help you stand out from larger, national brands. To make this process easier, Hall Analysis has created a tool to help you create your Schema markup. Simply fill in your information and copy the code on the right-hand side of the page. Next, paste the code in the <head> section of your HTML document or website builder.
Testing Your Schema Markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
After you’ve added your schema markup, it’s important to test it with Google’s structured data testing tool. This tool will pull out your information and show it on the right-hand side of the page. By testing your schema markup, you can make sure that it’s working properly and that search engines are able to understand your content.
Claim Your Online Profiles
In addition to optimizing your website with schema markup, it’s also important to claim your online profiles on review platforms like Google Business Profile, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Facebook. By claiming your online profiles, you can manage your presence on these platforms and make sure that your business is properly listed.
Google Business Profile: A Good Place to Start
Filling out your profile on Google Business Profile is a good place to start. This profile allows you to manage your presence on Google’s search engine. By filling out your profile completely and collecting reviews, you can improve your ranking. Google Maps will also show searchers a detailed profile of your business, which can help you attract more customers.
Any Local Listings
In addition to Google Business Profile, it’s also important to claim any local listings that are relevant to your business and location. You can find these listings by searching for keywords like [target location] reviews or [industry/niche] [target location] reviews.
Set Up Social Media Channels
Setting up social media channels can also help you optimize your website for local SEO. When setting up your profiles, be sure to follow social media best practices and engage with your customers to make your community feel heard and respected. Focus on the social profiles that are most conducive to your business and grow your audience there.
Blogging is Essential to SEO
Blogging has become an essential part of SEO for businesses of all sizes. By consistently creating high-quality content, businesses can improve their online visibility and attract more traffic to their website. Furthermore, a blog can help businesses build relationships with their customers by offering valuable insights, advice, and tips that they can't find elsewhere.
If you haven't already created a blog on your website, now is the time to do so. Your blog should be hosted on your business's domain for optimal SEO benefits. By hosting your blog on your website, you can drive more traffic to your website and improve your search engine ranking.
The Importance of Local Content
One of the most effective ways to improve your SEO is by creating local content. Local content refers to content that is specifically tailored to your local audience. By creating local content, you can establish your business as a trusted source in your community and attract more local customers.
Stop Talking About Your Products and Services
When creating blog posts, it's important to remember that people don't care about your products and services. Instead, they care about themselves. Therefore, you should focus on creating posts that help and benefit your reader in some way. By offering valuable insights, advice, and tips, you can establish yourself as a trusted source in your industry.
Aim to Become a Trusted Source in Your Industry
Becoming a trusted source in your industry should be your ultimate goal. By consistently creating high-quality content that helps and benefits your readers, you can establish yourself as an authority in your industry. This will not only improve your SEO but also help you build relationships with your customers.
Build Backlinks for your Business Blog
One of the easiest ways to start building backlinks is to join conversations on other local business blogs. Look for complementary or related businesses in your community and engage with their blog posts. Leave thoughtful comments and add value to the discussion. You can also mention and link to their posts on your blog, which can encourage them to reciprocate with a link back to your blog.
Another effective way to build backlinks is through guest blogging. Look for authoritative blogs in your niche and reach out to them with a pitch for a guest post. Make sure the blog has a good reputation and a significant following, as this will increase the visibility of your blog and improve your search engine rankings.
Create High-Quality Content
Creating high-quality, valuable content is one of the most important things you can do to attract backlinks. When you publish content that is informative, engaging, and useful to your readers, other bloggers and websites are more likely to link back to your blog. Make sure to use relevant keywords and optimize your content for search engines.
Share Your Content on Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your blog and attracting backlinks. Share your blog posts on your social media channels and encourage your followers to share them with their networks. The more exposure your content gets, the more likely it is to be shared and linked to by other bloggers and websites.
Participate in Local Events and Sponsorships
Participating in local events and sponsorships is another great way to build backlinks. When you sponsor an event or participate in a local charity, you can often get a link back to your website from the event or charity website. This can improve your search engine rankings and increase the visibility of your blog.
Customer reviews give a local SEO boost
Customer reviews are crucial to a business's local SEO strategy. Research shows that 81% of people read reviews and check ratings before making a purchase, and 97% say customer reviews factor into their buying decisions. Therefore, businesses must encourage their customers to leave positive reviews and respond professionally and personally to any negative reviews. Google reviews are believed to have the greatest impact on Google's local rankings, so businesses should focus on building their reviews on this platform.
Building citations for local SEO
Citations are mentions of a business's name, address, phone number, or website (NAP+W) anywhere on the web, even if there is no link to the business's website. Citations are important to a local SEO strategy because those signals make up 11% of local pack-ranking factors. Businesses can build citations by listing their businesses on sites like Yelp and Hotfrog and making sure their business is listed in as many relevant, quality local business directories as possible.
Learn more about the SEO mistakes that are hurting your business here.