Local SEO is important but also frequently overlooked. Understanding the ins and outs of local SEO can have a big business impact, and in many ways, it’s easier to manage than general SEO.
In simplest terms, local SEO means that you create an online profile that’s conducive to you being found in local searches relevant to your business.
Sometimes the main difference between local and organic SEO is described as intent.
Basically, with local search, there is a local intent that Google or another search engine can pick up on.
Google is increasingly good at uncovering intent and context and matching people with local companies when their search query seems to indicate that’s what they’re looking for.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business or you want to appeal to customers in a certain geographic area, you need to focus on local SEO.
Additionally, if you want to rank in Google Maps, you’ll also need to put local SEO best practices in place.
This is important because nearly 90% of people use the listings they see on Google Maps to find businesses they’re going to visit.
With the pervasive role of mobile devices in many of our lives, it’s easy to see just one more way that local SEO is important.
People use their mobile devices to find what they need wherever they are, and local SEO can put you front and center on mobile searches.
So, what factors are relevant for local SEO, and how can you improve your ranking?
01. Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is simple and also an extremely important part of local SEO. Most people will initially find your business because of your My Business listing.
To optimize in terms of SEO, claim your listing as owner-verified.
Then, you can fill out the necessary information that will help customers find you and decide you’re the business they need to work with.
You can claim your business simply by searching for it using Google My Business. If your business isn’t there, make your own page.
Then, add photos, and from there, you can work on getting customer reviews.
Reviews build a sense of trust in your business, and many people say they rely on online reviews and trust them as much as they would a recommendation from a friend or family member.
Your listing should include all the information people will need to know, such as your hours of operation, address and contact information.
When you’re claiming and creating your listing, you only get 750 characters, so be smart with them.
When your listing is live and well-optimized it will start showing in local search.
02. Use Proper Keywords
Keywords are a pivotal part of SEO, and this includes local SEO.
You want to include keywords on the page you want to rank, and when you’re looking for keywords for local SEO, look for long-tail options. Long-tail just means they have more words, including location-based words.
Long-tail keywords are valuable because they show intent, and people who are using location-based keywords tend to be more motivated customers.
Also, long-tail keywords might have a lower search volume, but they’re also less competitive than shorter keywords.
You can use local keywords in your headings and body copy but also your meta descriptions and title tags. Just be careful that you don’t go overboard because this can actually lead to a penalty on Google.
03. Link Signals Make a Difference
Link signals have been confirmed by Google as one of the most important ranking factors for SEO.
When you link out to trustworthy sites, and trustworthy sites link to your content, it can show Google that your content is high quality enough for people to do so.
There are inbound links known as backlinks that point from one website to another site. Getting backlinks is somewhat like building your online reputation and establishing your authority.
There are also internal links that connect internal pages found on the same domain to one another.
Linkbuilding should be done with EAT in mind. EAT is an acronym that stands for expert, authoritative, and trustworthy.
When it comes to local SEO and link building, community sites, local news sites, and industry sites can be the best sources of backlinks.
04. Reviews Are Important
Reviews have been briefly touched on, but they are one of the most important ranking signals for local SEO, so they’re worth discussing on their own as well.
Three of the main platforms for reviews from customers are Google, of course as well as Yelp and Facebook.
There are also industry-specific review sites you might want to focus on.
Some business owners shy away from thinking about reviews because it makes them nervous and feels out of their control, but the reality is this is an attitude that’s going to leave your local SEO strategy lacking.
First and foremost, you do control reviews. You are in charge of how your employees interact with customers and the experience customers receive when they work with your business.
If you can build strong customer experience, then you can likely shape customer reviews that reflect it. This starts with hiring. You need to hire employees who are a good reflection of your business and who always provide the best service.
You also want to create a business that values feedback and even complaints from customers.
This is because when customers feel comfortable voicing opinions at the time, you get the chance to fix the issue rather than having it turn into a bad review.
You want to be a business that encourages reviews and interacts with them, even if they’re negative.
For example, if someone leaves a bad review, don’t react in an angry way or try to delete or hide it. Use it as a chance to show your business values feedback and utilizes it to improve what you do.
Finally, ask your customers for reviews. You might personally ask when a transaction is completed, or you could hand out a card or send an email that encourages customers to leave reviews.
Remind your customers how important reviews are to you.