What is local SEO? It is the optimization of a website to bring traffic from the local community. With local SEO, your target audience is a local community or nearby customers searching on local search engine results pages (SERPs). Many people use local SEO to find nearby stores, clinics and bakeries to fulfill their needs on an urgent basis. 

With good local SEO, one business’s physical location will get more foot traffic than another. However, Google has some set rules for optimization, and for local SEO, there are three main conditions Google focuses on:

  • Distance: The approximate distance between a user and a relevant business plays a role in local SEO rankings for small businesses and large enterprises. Therefore, as a local business, you must place your exact address, contact number, email and any other necessary details in the Contact Us folder. It will help your website rank, and all this up-to-date information should also be in other internet directories or records.
  • Relevance: Your relevance to a searcher’s queries helps your rank higher. If a person is searching a food chain nearby and your business profile has an updated address, Google would be more likely to serve your business up as a relevant answer. To make this happen, ensure your Google My Business (GMB) listing is accurate and updated.
  • Prominence: The last thing Google will look at is the prominence of your business among the community. This can be determined by checking your reviews and the number of orders that get placed on your website. For Google, the star rating and overall reviews matter the most in ranking a local business.

Local SEO: Step-by-Step Instructions

No matter what type of business you are, effective local SEO requires a few standard steps.

Step 1: Make a List of Keywords You Want To Rank For

First, make a list of concise terms that best represent your services. A real estate company, for example, could select “builders,” “real estate” and “property.” After you’ve compiled a comprehensive list of relevant keywords, create your profile on a Google Ads free account.

A Google Ads account also helps you make use of the free Google Keyword Planner tool. This excellent tool allows you to enter your desired keywords according to your niche to make your website rank when users search for these particular keywords.

After running a thorough check on the Keyword Planner tool and selecting all of the relevant, high-volume keywords your audience is searching, you’re ready to finalize your list.

Step 2: Optimize Your GMB Profile

Here’s some key advice: Your Google My Business profile, which will be instrumental in boosting your business presence locally, must be optimized independently with the keywords you have chosen. 

Consider your business profile created on GMB to be a mini version of your brand that will display on Google Maps. Whenever a user is searching for a local keyword related to your service, your business would be among those to reflect in the Google listing. Give a quick overview of your business so users can find out more about you quickly.

The crucial thing to know is that Google My Business pages, being part of Google itself, appear when a local keyword related to your business is searched. Google recognizes that when users search for a hospital or a cafe “near me,” they are expecting local results. As such, Google offers GMB profile results above standard website results ranked on the first page.

Evidently, your GMB listing is a critical factor for local SEO, so fill in all the information and the ins and outs of your business, such as:

  • Name
  • Website
  • Business description
  • Category
  • Attributes
  • Opening date
  • Photos
  • Address
  • Service area
  • Hours of operation
  • Holiday hours

You can also include relevant images with detailed alt text in your profile to make your local SEO even stronger.

Step 3: Use Social Media To Drive Website Traffic and Add Posts to GMB

Once you have established your Google My Business page, the next step is to build a connection between your website and social media audiences. Sharing the content of your website on social media is critical for off-page SEO optimization. It will bring more clicks and impressions, and in turn, improve your local SEO.

Step 4: Improve Your Online Citations and Local Directory Listings

Google tends to view high-quality directories as factual and up to date. Directories will generally have business information like address, contact number and other details. Discrepancies like wrong phone number, wrong address, misplacing and misspelling on local directories can cause problems for your website. Also, Google does not show your website to searchers if there is a duplicate address or number present. To optimize your website, keep all the information clear and remove any duplicate listings.

Step 5: Invest in a Local SEO Audit

It might seem like you’ve covered all your bases, but in a local SEO audit, you can truly establish your position and find out where you need to make changes for better results. Your local SEO audit can include:

  • Google My Business audit
  • On-site SEO audit
  • Google Search Console audit
  • Competitor analysis
  • Technical SEO audit
  • Citation audit
  • Overall site audit

These all will help in achieving your local SEO goals as a large enterprise.

Step 6: Optimize your site URLs, Headers and Content

Next, focus on the content of your website and individual pages. Conduct keyword research and optimize your content by adding keywords in the URL, title tags, headers and meta description. 

You can also create content targeted at your local audience. Google is innovative and can understand the worth of content, so if your content is of help to users, it will rank. Users are, after all, Google’s first and foremost priority. So, for local SEO, analyze your market and determine the areas that you’ll focus on, then create content that speaks to your ideal audience.

Step 7: Ensure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

People nowadays browse websites and Google Search on mobile, so making your website mobile-friendly is a local SEO best practice. With a mobile-friendly website, you will attract a larger audience and your local optimization will automatically improve.

Step 8: Respond to Reviews

When your customer rates your product or service as either good or bad, the best practice is to give them a response – this will show your credibility and honesty and in turn boost local SEO. If you are a large enterprise struggling to stay ahead of your reviews, it might be a good idea to work with a reputation management company. 

Local SEO has never been more vital than it is today. Now that you’ve learned the top eight local SEO techniques, it’s time to put them into action and improve the overall search rankings of your company.

Perhaps you’ve already implemented some of these local SEO strategies only to find that your competitors are still ahead of you. If that’s the case, contact a digital marketing strategist today to help you figure out what’s keeping your company from coming out at the top.

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By Margaret Blank

At the moment I am an expert-analyst in the field of search engine optimization, leading several projects and consulting on website optimization and promotion, I am actively involved in various thematic seminars and conferences.

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