If you thought SEO was something that only benefited national brands, think again. In fact, statistics show that almost 46% of Google search queries are looking for local information. This means if your business isn’t optimizing for local search, you’re likely missing out on a lot of potential customers. Put bluntly, local SEO is critical to the success and growth of your business.
What goes into local SEO, though? How do you get your business the organic visibility you want? To help demystify the process, we’re looking at 8 local SEO tips to improve local search results you should start implementing now.
What Is Local SEO?
First off, what is local SEO? If your business hasn’t spent much effort towards optimizing for local search, then chances are you may be unfamiliar with it as part of your overall marketing strategy. To understand local SEO, you first need to learn what local search is and why local search results are so important.
Local search is when a user is looking for local businesses, services, products, or information about a specific location using a search engine like Google or Bing. Examples of these kinds of queries include things like “wedding venues near me” or “painting service in San Diego.” In other words, local search is not only searching the internet for information, but information within a certain area. Some local search statistics that should have you immediately recognizing the value of local SEO tips include:
- 97% of search engine users looked online to find a local business
- 86% of consumers rely on web searches to find a local business
- 76% of mobile searches for something nearby result in store visits within one day
- 78% of local mobile searches result in an in-store purchase
You can see how a local business can use local search results to their advantage to gain visibility and boost sales! So if that’s local search, what is local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing online visibility to show up in local search results. There are a number of local SEO tips you can use to do this. While SEO is a long-game strategy, it has the potential for a very high return on investment (ROI) when executed effectively as well as yielding long-term results. The most common goals of following local SEO tips is to increase local brand awareness, drive traffic to your location, boost online visibility, and increase conversions (sales, services, etc.).
Local SEO Tips to Boost Your Business
The importance of local SEO for your business cannot be overstated. All too often, however, business owners undervalue local SEO as part of their overall marketing strategy, missing out on results it can yield. To get ahead of the rest, some local SEO tips to improve local search results that you can start on to help grow your business this year are:
- Claim and optimize a Google My Business listing (GMB)
- Optimize your site and GMB for mobile search
- Create local content to boost local search results
- Start building local backlinks
- Shore up any NAP issues for consistency
- Reference your location strategically throughout your site
- Implement Schema’s geographic markup
- Build reviews online, especially on Google
Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
If you follow no other local SEO tips, then you should at least claim and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) profile. Arguably the most essential tool for your local SEO strategy, registering an account with GMB is the equivalent of listing your business on the Yellow Pages of the internet. In years past, Moz has labeled free GMB listings as one of the top factors for local search results, features snippets, and local snack pack inclusion with Google.
A Google snack pack, also called local pack, is the boxed area listed above organic search results that contains 3 local results related to the search query. This coveted position can make a huge difference in local search results as they’re the first things users see before scrolling to regular organic results. The information in your GMB listing will be shown here, making optimizing your GMB profile an obvious choice for local SEO.
Your Google My Business listing should include:
- A full and correct business name
- The address for your business
- Your exact location on Google Maps
- Your business category so users know what you offer
- A phone number and website
Once you’ve filled out your GMB listing, you’ll have to verify it either with a phone call or postcard with a verification code. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to add photos, provide business hours, and optimize your listing further to help with local search results.
Learn How to Optimize for Mobile
Next on our list of local SEO tips is to learn how to optimize for mobile. Not just for local SEO, but SEO in general, optimizing for mobile search should be a priority. For Google, all sites created after July 1, 2019 are set to mobile-first indexing by default while it rolls out mobile-first indexing to all other sites over time.
What is mobile-first indexing? Simply put, it means Google is using the mobile site as the primary site for indexing. This makes sense as the number of search engine queries from mobile devices continues to grow year over year.
It makes sense, then, that optimizing your site and GMB listing for mobile-first indexing would make any list of local SEO tips. Not only should you ensure your site is fully responsive to adapt for mobile devices, but you should also consider smart implementation of Call To Action (CTA) buttons on your site and GMB listing to improve user experience. Google has published that 60% of smartphone users have contacted businesses directly using search results (e.g., “click to call” option on GMB).
Publish Local Content to Boost Local Search Results
If you’ve heard anything about local SEO tips, then you’ve probably heard the phrase, “content is king.” No doubt content is a powerful tool that your business should be using to boost local search results–but how?
Adding local content to your site can help increase the number of high-quality leads you’re getting. In addition to the opportunity to build brand authority and awareness, integrating targeted SEO keywords with local modifiers could give you an edge in your local market when it comes to organic visibility.
Start Building Local Backlinks
Building up local backlinks takes its place on our list of local SEO tips to improve local search results because it cements your business within the community, provides organic local visibility, and can build brand trust.
The easiest place to start for building local backlinks is to submit your site to high-quality local directories. Oftentimes you’ll find these opportunities with a Chamber of Commerce or trade association. Other popular, trusted local directories in your area may also build visibility for your business in local search results.
Beyond directories, building local backlinks by getting your business mentioned on local news sites, with local events, from other local businesses, and more make for great local SEO tips, as well.
Maintain NAP/Citation Consistency
We can’t mention building up local backlinks and directory listings without adding NAP/citation consistency to our guide to local SEO tips. NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. It’s important to make sure your NAP matches across all listings such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Bing Maps, and on your website. Keeping the information identical across each platform makes sure you get the most from scaling up SEO efforts.
Reference Your Location Throughout Your Website
More than simply adding in keywords with local modifiers or embedding Google Maps, the next item on our list of local SEO tips is to reference your location strategically throughout your entire website. This can be achieved by organically placing your business’ location in places like:
- Site copy
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Site footer
You don’t want to go overboard when it comes to adding your location to these areas, but adding them in a way that reads easily and supports user search intent can be a great way to boost local search results. Something as simple as your city name or neighborhood (if it’s very prominent or unique) will suffice.
Bonus: Consider adding your location within a URL for pages when appropriate for a little boost there, as well.
Use Schema LocalBusiness Markup
Adding Schema markup to your website is wise whether you’re doing so as part of our local SEO tips or with SEO generally in mind. This code helps search engines better understand your website and even allows them to display more information (such as ratings, pricing information, etc.) when appropriate within the search results.
Schema LocalBusiness is a structured data markup code you can add to your business’s website making it easier for search engines to identify what type of business you are and what you do. It lets search engines (and users) know more about your business location and can have positive implications for your business when it comes to local search results.
Build Online Business Reviews
Last on our list of local SEO tips to improve local search results that you should start thinking about is building online business reviews. Recent statistics have shown that a reported 91% of 18 to 34 year olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations while 93% of consumers say online reviews have influenced their purchase decisions. This means if your business doesn’t have recent reviews, you could be missing out! Having positive online reviews (especially recent ones) shows that others have vouched for your business, adding social proof and boosting local search results.
We hope our guide to local SEO tips to improve local search results has been informative and given you an understanding of what you may be missing out on. Improving local SEO is critical to help your business stand out from the rest. As one of the most important parts of your digital marketing strategy, SEO services can help take your business to the next level following the best practices based on experience and deliver results.