Nobody can afford to overlook local SEO.
It’s for every small town restaurant that wants to get out-of-towners to their tables during tourist season.
Local SEO is what builds your online presence. It tells people where you are and what you do.
And, if you do it right, you’ll outstrip all of your local competitors!
Why Local SEO Matters
Nowadays, when you want to locate a product or service in your local area, the first thing you do is search for it online. Right?
Every second of the day, people are searching for things locally using the internet. They search by typing in phrases like:
“hardware store in Akron Ohio”
“best restaurants in Burlington, Vermont”
“dentist in my area”
For this reason, local SEO is just essential.
Without it, tons of customers might never be able to find you. Or, even worse, they’ll find your competitors and head their way instead.
This isn’t just a playground for pop-up shops to exploit, but a field of rich opportunities every business can snatch.
How Google displays local results
Many entrepreneurs have realized this following the introduction of the Pigeon update in 2014, when reaching the top of the SERPs became even harder. By that time, it was evident that local SEO was on a roll, and that it was becoming an indispensable tool in inbound marketing.
Again in recent years, Google started to make local SEO rankings harder by reducing the size of their “local 5 pack” to a “local 3 pack.”
All this means is that, when you search for a term and local options appear in Google, there’s a box that contains three main local results. (It used to contain five, so it used to be easier to beat the competition and appear here.)
With the right SEO strategies, you too can have your business listing appear in Google’s local 3 pack.
Of course, those of you who have already gotten started with local SEO will know this—now you just need to make the effort to strengthen your local SEO further and stay ahead of the curve.
Local SEO: The Full Guide to Building Your Online Presence
Why Local SEO? Two Sides of the SEO Coin
A website is like the second location of your business.
It’s one that may even overshadow your “real world” premises.
The majority of people use the internet for contacting businesses, pinpointing best offers and seeking clarifications and advice.
A shift towards local
Research shows that 86% of users actively search for companies, while 72% want to acquire data on local merchants. Even social media profiles have transformed into something much more than just instruments for wasting time and posting selfies.
This is the indication of shifting preferences and online habits of consumers. The surge in the mobile market has brought forth the change in search patterns, which are getting more and more local.
The searches on mobile platforms have exceeded the desktop ones, and now the wearable technology has also joined the party.
The staggering amount of 95% mobile users are on the lookout for local information, and a bulk of them triggers follow-up action. This should spur another trend, the rise of proximity-based searches and the growing importance of hyper-specific locations.
So, all these new devices are setting up a complex, geographically-relevant network of information, blurring the lines between the digital world and the physical realm. Businesses across the globe have taken notice, and the rising tide has lifted many small boats.
Staying ahead of the curve
This means that the competition is becoming even fiercer, making it harder and harder to cut through the noise and capture attention of customers. Consequently, owners are striving to discover smaller target niches and engage in local optimization.
Delivering the right type of content to the right audience is what allows companies to attract customers. However, you first have to figure out both sides of this equation, do you not?
If the website does not show up in the search results, it is like it doesn’t even exist. People can’t just stumble upon your pages, not with such an immense amount of competition on digital avenues. I
f people are to discover and interact with a brand online, the art of local search engine optimization must be put to good use.
How to Rank Your Site with Local SEO in 7 Steps
Targeting people who are geographically close to your premises or brick-and-mortar stores makes economic sense.
What’s more, the rich pool of evidence suggests that the benefits are felt in many areas of the SEO, and reaping them is what gives you a decisive competitive advantage in the market.
1. Know what Google really wants
One of the most important SEO techniques is the keyword research, and with the Google Keyword Planner, you can evaluate what phrases and words are all the rage. High search volume is essential, but so is the relevance of keywords for your business.
So, if you had typed the word “restaurant” a while ago, you would have received a plethora of results related to businesses across the globe.
Today, however, Google has gotten smarter and knows that people aren’t interested in dining on the other side of the planet. Hence, users are presented with local listings, right next to the regular results. Basically, search engines, after they receive input from users, go through their databases and look for websites with matching keywords. Then, chosen sites are ranked based on their authority and relevance.
The goal of the digital deities is to provide searchers with personalized results and shape the impeccable online experience around them. Take the example of being logged into a Google account, something that enriches search results with your history and geographical location.
So, it’s of the utmost importance to note that there’s no taking shortcuts here. We have many free tools such as Analytics at our disposal, and we’re empowered to take the visibility to the next level. All that’s left is to get a hold of the basics and come up with a solid SEO strategy.
The optimization which targets the local business market is pretty straightforward, although it does take time and funds to get tight.
Some people like to look at local SEO as a voting in a democracy: Authoritative links to your website serve as votes in favor of your business, ones that help you move in the polls, or in this case — Google rankings.
Now, the inconsistencies in posted information can lead to splitting of these votes and cracks in your SEO strategy that bring a wide array of negative consequences across the internet.
2. Go beyond keywords
There are many factors that affect the outlook of your online presence, and one has to look beyond keywords.
In general, webmasters dedicate a great deal of time to ensure that directory listings are uniform across the internet, pursuing branding uniformity and consistency.
However, when taking a look at a local arena, we see quite a bit of information inaccuracy and duplicates floating around. A long-term deterioration of the local aspect creates a big mess, and going down this rabbit hole is something you want to avoid at all costs.
Fixing how the information about a business is listed online is something that takes time, especially for organizations that have not taken local listings as a priority. So, access the situation and start taking steps towards listing your business accurately.
3. Build a local profile online
Encourage customers to visit these sites, add photos, write reviews and give other feedback.
The goal, of course, is to maximize the amount of positive reviews and incline others to check out your offerings.
4. List business information consistently
On every site where your business information is present, you must ensure that all the information is consistent.
The address, phone number, images, description and more must all be the same. Make sure all contact information is up to date at all times.
All the business information here must be accurate and formatted appropriately across platforms.
Even the slightest inconsistencies between multiple sources could induce plummets in ranking.
Moreover, you should keep updating as often as possible. Add new photos. Get new reviews from friends, family and customers. Constant updating of content is paramount to letting people know about changes in the product palette, new promotions and services.
5. Don’t forget the visual element
Also, uploading high-quality images and videos is something that pleases both search engines and internet users.
You can’t afford to overlook visual elements such as logo and head banners, and demonstrate that you are a legitimate business. Show the building you’re in, the street you’re located on, pictures of the inside of your store, pictures of employees and customers, pictures of your products. The more you show, the more trustworthy and professional you look.
At last, this approach should help you build trust with customers and improve conversion rates.
Don’t succumb to the temptation of overstuffing the pages with text and keywords, as this isn’t seen in a positive light by Google.
6. Link your way to local SEO success
After verifying that everything is in order, you should proceed to locally-optimizing your content on your own website.
And, even more important, you need to build local backlinks.
Link building campaigns have diverse goals and can span over several months. That being said, do not think you need to hoard thousands of links in order to make an impact.
The steps taken on the local domain do not deviate from the roads paved by industry-based link building. The only difference is that tactics do not gravitate around the certain niche, but location.
It is crucial to understand that one can get the best of both worlds and kill two birds with one stone.
What you need is a sustainable approach which is aligned with the best SEO practices. High link velocity is no match for a strategy which cultivates process of building meaningful links, ones that make sense for your business and brand.
The successful campaigns most often encompass the following aspects:
- Identifying 404 Pages and link reclamation
- Competitor analysis
- Fresh mentions
- Finding new link prospects, as well as nurturing past and current relationships.
Articles including local events and related information are a perfect place to carry out campaigns, while local blogs make excellent targets for link building.
The purpose is to add real value to people in your area and see if you can produce some community resources, such as guides, calendars and maps.
Whatever road you choose to follow, remember that encouraging clients to get active locally goes a long way in ensuring new link building opportunities.
Now, it is not a shame to feel overwhelmed by technical jargon and the abundance of tools. If that is the case, do not hesitate to reach out your trusted SEO expert and ask for clarifications.
7. Track your progress with local SEO
Once you’ve built a link profile by using different techniques, you’ll need to keep track of your backlinks to see what’s working and what’s not.
Beyond that, you’ll want to see when your site is ranking in Google, when competitors are beating you in specific areas and when new backlinks pop up (or disappear).
Monitor Backlinks is the best tool for beginners to the backlink and SEO world. It’s designed for ease of use, and your dashboard will tell you everything you need to know about your rankings and more.
Monitor Backlinks will make sure you always know where you stand in terms of SEO, keyword rankings and backlinks. When you’ve got a Google 3 Pack ranking for a keyword, you’ll be the first to know!
Here, you can easily see what’s ranking in the Google 3 Pack for both your own domain and for your competitors’ domains. If a page is ranking in Google 3 Pack for a keyword, then its 3 pack ranking appears one row beneath the regular rankings with a little map icon (see above).
Monitor Backlinks even displays if one page is ranking in the SERPs and another page is ranking in Google 3 Pack for the same keyword.
Apart from that, you’ll get a full, comprehensive overview of all of your backlinks. It will even let you do more advanced things like remove bad links that are killing your rankings and spy on your competitor’s good links.
The competitor spying allows you to replenish your links based on the link building activities of the sites in your niche. You’ll be able to easily see which backlinks are giving them power in their own search results rankings, so you can then make a plan to create better content and snatch their rankings.
If this sounds like just the right tool to get you in the SEO and backlink game—and to make sure you’re finally ranking in the Google 3 Pack!—we invite you to take it for a spin. Click here to try Monitor Backlinks free for one month!
Act Locally, Reach Globally
Confidence and trust are the foundations upon which solid link building takes place. Partnerships between local companies and organizations always aid in setting up a framework for achieving dazzling business success. You do share the same market and customers with websites in your region, but aspire to keep good relations. Links do wonders for social sharing, and once that happens, crucial signals indicating your popularity are sent to search engines.
Local meetings, events and other happenings present opportunities for something like this to happen. Entrepreneurs must never abandon the endeavor of discovering clients that help in business growth.
Also, understand that accounts on social networks serve as a means of having a broad public conversation with the community. Many are notes oblivious to the fact that even a small hint about the local intention of your business will not fly under the radar of the almighty search engines. You simply must not let such incredible business opportunities slip through your fingers.
Alas, even when dealing with a small marketing stage, it is possible to get lost in the process and waste precious time and resources.
To make your life easier and improve the efficiencies, opt for a link prospecting tool capable of singling out proper targets for guest blogging and citations. The latter term refers to mentions of your brand and address on other sites. They can have the link included, but that is not a hard rule: Take the example of online Yellow Pages where you are listed, but not linked to. Other common cases are the mentions on local business associations or chamber of commerce pages.
Without links, these components still influence the algorithms, and ultimately, your ranking.
In fact, some webmasters claim that citations are the biggest factor which determines the authority of a certain website. Keep an eye on the competition and remember that you need to gain an edge over them in rankings.
If others are investing in the local SEO and stepping up the game, so should you. Missing out opportunities for greater brand visibility and acquisition of traffic could be a business-sinking mistake. SEO is becoming a necessity more than anything, and any organization with potential local customers must stay on top of roaring online trends.
Optimum Local SEO Performance for Maximum Profit
The effects of localization can be felt throughout the SEO landscape and are spilling over into the business arena. The growing importance of the local aspect cannot be stressed enough: Getting listed in the top spot on SERPs is a Holy Grail of digital marketing, as it powers up the brand messages and expands exposure.
Thus, attend to all online listings and do not put yourself in a position of having to dive into the local SEO cleanup. Google is getting more sophisticated and is constantly raising the bar with new algorithms. As that was not enough, users crave for even more individualized results and finding solutions to their problems in an instant.
Initiate local going-on, and launch a new business idea relevant to the community. Fill your pages with significant, timely information, as well as keywords. Pay special attention to local link-building, a potent, yet often untapped resource.
Leverage relationships with local organizations and businesses and stay on the same page with them. Those who fail in grasping the importance of local SEO leave themselves vulnerable and open to the usurpation of rankings.
It is high time to bring an army of new customers into your business and see it flourish both in the digital shape and off-line.