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Local SEO Strategies to Improve Ranking

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    Boosting Business Visibility: Mastering Local SEO Strategies

    When consumers are searching for local businesses to support, their decision-making process is heavily influenced by Google’s search engine results pages, particularly the local pack of results. Given Google’s dominance with over 92% market share in search engines, customers rely on it for current and precise information to guide their choices. For business owners, this underscores the importance of mastering local SEO strategies to convert Google searchers into customers.

    Local SEO strategies are crucial when consumers use Google to find “near me” goods and services, indicating their readiness to make a purchase. To capture these sales, your business needs to rank high on Google, ensuring visibility to potential customers. This demands a deep understanding and implementation of effective local SEO strategies.

    Local SEO, or the practice of optimizing your online presence for visibility in local search, can even help your business gain a competitive advantage over larger competitors.

    However, to achieve a coveted spot in the local “map” pack or the top of the results page, there are critical steps every business owner should take to improve their local SEO and implement in their local SEO strategies.

    Understand Customers’ Needs with Keyword Analysis

    The first step in enhancing your local SEO strategies is to comprehend the search patterns of your potential customers. By identifying the common queries they use, you can tailor your keywords to effectively guide traffic to your website, ultimately boosting your business.

    For instance, when looking for services, many people tend to type phrases like “haircuts + location” or “haircuts near me” into search engines. During this initial phase of comparison shopping, their focus is usually on local options rather than specific businesses.

    Therefore, as a business owner, it’s crucial to grasp the nature of these searches. This knowledge enables you to appear in response to generic queries on Google, ideally securing one of the top three positions in the local search results, known as the “local pack.” This approach is a key component of local SEO strategies.

    Below is the search result for “haircuts Atlanta, GA.” You can see that the top 3 businesses are shown with their locations from Google Maps. This is the local pack, and this is where every business owner should strive to land when a potential customer is doing a local search for related services. 

    Atlanta, Georgia Local Map Pack Example from Google Search

    Keep in mind, the results can vary drastically based on the physical location of the user. The local pack can be different when the same search is performed just a few blocks away.

    Research Keywords to Drive Local Search Traffic

    There are many tools and strategies for finding the common search terms used by potential customers as well as the physical location where those searches come from.

    Keyword Analytic Tools

    To enhance your Local SEO Strategies, you can use tools such as SEMRush for in-depth keyword analysis to discover what users are searching for. These tools simplify the process of keyword research but require a subscription.

    If you prefer a more cost-effective approach, Google Analytics is an excellent starting point. It helps identify the top keywords and phrases linked to your website, which is beneficial for refining your local SEO strategies. With this information, you can broaden your reach and attract a larger audience.

    Google’s “Related Searches”

    When typing in a search query, Google will return a list of related searches that are also popular for the same keywords. This is valuable (free) information to help you better understand what people are looking for. 

    Many times, you can use these related searches to help determine local queries and how actual consumers are searching for the local services you provide. A quick search for “haircut near me,” for example, will return these related searches:

    Gaining inspiration from Google search, you can identify potential long-tail keywords to target highly-specific local queries.

    Use Keyword Targeting Strategies to Improve Local Pack Ranking

    Once you grasp the key terms and frequent search queries related to your industry, you can begin implementing local SEO strategies by focusing on those specific keywords. Knowing which keywords to aim for allows you to incorporate them effectively in your website’s titles, meta descriptions, blog articles, social media updates, advertising campaigns, and more, enhancing your local online presence.

    Note that there is a big difference between keyword targeting and keyword stuffing. Focusing on strategic keywords makes it possible for searchers to find relevant content, which Google rewards.

    Keyword stuffing, on the other hand, involves haphazardly placing keywords into the content, often resulting in awkward sentence structure and uninformative content. Google’s algorithm is trained to recognize this artificial attempt to inflate ranking, and so keyword stuffing can actually hurt your rankings more than it helps.

    Claim and Maintain Your Google Business Profile

    This is, by far, the most important component to your local SEO efforts. If you only do one thing from this list, make it claiming, regularly updating, and managing your Google Business profile (previously known as Google My Business).

    What is a Google Business Profile?

    Google Business Profile is a free tool that acts as your official business listing for Google searches. It contains your business website and location for Google Maps. Using your Google Business Profile account, you can interact with your customers and update your page with relevant, interesting details to help searchers learn more about your business.

    The more complete your Google Business Profile is, the better it will perform for ranking. Your Google Business Profile helps tell Google that your business is trustworthy, legitimate, and relevant to local searchers.

    How to Claim Your Google Business Profile

    Claiming your Google Business Profile is an easy task that you can do yourself, but keeping it updated will be an ongoing effort. While managing your profile does require time and focus, the benefits far outweigh any time investment.

    Keep these considerations in mind when claiming and completing your Google Business Profile profile:

    Consistency is key

    Any information on your Google Business Profile should match your listings elsewhere on the web (social media, website, business listings, etc).

    Inconsistencies in your profile are a red flag to Google. They make it difficult for the search engine to tell what information is correct, and because Google wants to give users the best experience possible, it will favor businesses with more consistent information.

    Be as detailed as possible

    For each area that you complete, get as detailed as you can to improve rankings. For example, Google will force you to choose a high-level category to describe your business, which will directly impact where you show up for certain search queries. However, many businesses neglect to choose secondary categories.

    Taking the extra step to better define your business will help you rank under more queries/keywords while also boosting your profile in Google’s eyes.

    Update often

    It’s important to remember that a Google Business Profile is not like the phone books of the past. The expediency of the internet means that people expect live, up-to-the-minute information at all times. Outdated information can not only cause a customer relationship to sour, it can also hurt your ranking efforts.

    That’s why it’s so important to set aside time regularly to check and update your Google Business Profile. Review user suggestions for accuracy, and always update your hours of operation if there is a change.

    Maintain NAP Citation Consistency

    Local SEO Strategies involve making sure your business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are consistently listed across the web. This basic yet vital information helps potential customers locate and reach out to your business.

    How often and accurately your NAP appears online greatly affects your visibility on Google. Google aims to present reliable and accurate results to its users. When your business’s NAP details are accurate, current, and uniform across various platforms, it tells Google that your business is credible and reliable. 

    How to Find your NAPs

    To ensure that you’re adhering to Google’s standards in managing your NAPs, you need to find all the places your business information is mentioned on the web, including your Google Business Profile, website, review sites, and business listing directories. There are tools available to do this for you, like Moz Local. 

    Another (more time-consuming) option is to manually scour the web for all of your business listings. You may have to search different keywords to find them all, but it’s well worth the time investment. If you find inconsistencies, you need to correct them or contact the website owner to request for the information to be updated.

    Remember, this isn’t a one-time process, you’ll need to periodically check for change. Many business listings will accept “user submitted updates,” meaning anyone (not you) can add inaccurate information to your listing and create inconsistencies in your NAP citations. 

    Manage Your Online Reviews

    Online reviews significantly influence consumer choices, with 62.7% of shoppers considering them “important” or “very important” when choosing a local business. This insight is central to Local SEO strategies, as Google uses local review scores and star ratings as important metrics for ranking in local search queries.

    Attaining more positive reviews is challenging yet vital for better placement in local search results. Focusing on this aspect is not just about improving rankings; it’s also an opportunity to foster stronger customer relationships both online and in the physical world.

    Here are a few strategies and considerations to get started managing your online reviews:

    • Incentivize customers to leave reviews by offering discounts or special offers in exchange for a review.
    • Be prepared to respond to negative reviews constructively. Don’t ignore it or respond in a negative or passive-aggressive way. Responding to negative reviews shows customers (and Google) that you’re willing to address any concerns or issues that occur.
    • Take the opportunity to personalize your business by putting a name and a face (yours) to the business name. People tend to trust and respond more positively when they can connect with a real person (not just a faceless business) to resolve their complaints.

    Recent Trends in Local SEO Strategies

    In the dynamic world of SEO, keeping up with the latest trends is crucial for businesses, especially for those focusing on local SEO strategies. Here’s a rundown of the most impactful trends in easy-to-understand terms:

    Artificial Intelligence in Search Results

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing how search engines work. For example, Bing now uses AI to create direct answers to user queries. This means when someone searches for something, they might get a complete summary right at the top of the search results, saving them the trouble of clicking on websites. While this is great for users, it means businesses have to work smarter with their content to still attract clicks. It’s all about providing detailed, useful content that makes people want to learn more, even if they get a quick answer first.

    Voice Search’s Growing Popularity

    Voice search is getting more popular, thanks to tools like Google Assistant and Siri. This trend is particularly important for local businesses. People often use voice search to find services and shops near them, so it’s crucial to have your online content match the way people speak. According to reports, about 7 out of 10 people (71%) would rather use voice search, like talking to their phone or smart speaker, instead of typing out a search the usual way  For instance, someone might ask their phone, “Where’s the best pizza place nearby?” rather than typing “pizza near me.” This means businesses should include conversational, natural language in their content to show up in these voice searches. This can be a massive difference maker for your local SEO strategies and provide a leg up on your competition.

    Visual Search Gaining Traction

    Visual search is another big trend. This lets people use images to search for things online. If you’re running a local business, this means you should have clear, high-quality photos on your website. For instance, if you sell products, having good images can help your items show up when someone does a visual search. Make sure your images really represent what you’re offering, as search engines are getting better at understanding and matching images to searches.

    Featured Snippets are Changing

    Featured snippets are those little boxes at the top of Google’s search results that try to answer questions right away. They’re great for businesses to get more visibility. The way to get your content in these snippets is to answer questions clearly and concisely on your website. Think about the common questions people might have about your services or products and answer them directly on your site and implement featured snippets into your local SEO strategies. Google might pick this up and feature it at the top of the search results.

    User Experience as a Key Factor

    Finally, how your website performs – its user experience – is becoming even more important for SEO. Google’s looking at things like how fast your site loads and how quickly people can interact with it. For local businesses, this means having a website that’s easy to use, fast, and works well on mobile devices. If your site takes ages to load or is hard to navigate, you might not rank as well in search results.
    In summary, to stay on top of local SEO strategies, businesses need to adapt to AI in search engines, optimize for voice and visual searches, aim for featured snippets, and ensure their websites provide a great user experience. These trends are shaping the future of SEO, and embracing them can really help local businesses stand out online.

    Maximizing Business Success with Local SEO Strategies

    Using local SEO strategies is crucial for any business looking to succeed today. Every day, people search online for products and services near them, but many businesses don’t realize how this affects their visibility and profits.

    Small businesses, even without a big presence on Main Street, can get ahead by fine-tuning their online details for local searches. Nowadays, customers like to look online before they shop, making it crucial to apply local SEO strategies and ensure your business shows up in these searches.

    At the end of the day, having accurate and helpful information about your business online doesn’t just help you rank better in local search results; it also strengthens your relationship with customers. Remember, if customers find wrong information on Google, they tend to blame the business, not Google.

    While it might not seem obvious, the online world is closely linked to actual customers visiting your store. Effectively managing your online presence and focusing on local SEO can really make the difference in drawing customers away from competitors and towards your business.

    Local SEO Strategies FAQ

    Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of optimizing your online presence to increase visibility in local search results on Google. It's crucial for businesses because it helps them appear in searches when consumers look for "near me" goods and services, directly impacting their ability to attract local customers.
    The 'local pack' refers to the top three business listings shown on Google Maps in search results. Securing a spot in this pack is vital as it significantly increases visibility to potential customers searching for local services and can vary based on the user's location.
    Keyword analysis involves understanding common search terms used by potential customers. By identifying these queries, businesses can tailor their content to appear in response to these searches, enhancing their chances of appearing in the local pack.
    Tools like SEMRush and Google Analytics can be used for in-depth keyword analysis. They help identify popular search terms and phrases linked to your business, guiding your SEO strategy.
    Online reviews are crucial as they influence consumer decisions and are used by Google to rank businesses in local search queries. Positive reviews can improve your placement in search results, while negative reviews should be addressed constructively.
    A Google Business Profile is a free tool that serves as your business listing on Google Search and Maps. It's important because it provides essential business information to potential customers and helps improve your local search rankings.