Local search is a powerful tool to help you create an out reach and awareness about your business in an online world. Four out of five consumers use search to find local information, which means if your business isn’t optimized for local search, you could be missing out on 80% of your potential customers.
So how do you go about this? Well, in this article, I have gathered 10 in-depth local business SEO strategies to help you completely out rank and beat your local competitors, no matter what type of your business that you do. Without further ado, let’s get started.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of affecting online visibility of website when people search for a particular keywords or phrases in search engines like Google, Bing etc. through various optimization methods.
Now, how will the results show up or which websites the search engine will display depends on it’s own algorithm. The purpose of the algorithm is to display the best searched results possible to the users. So, in order for your web page or site to show up, your site or page should be “qualified” enough, the more qualified your site is, the better ranking you get.
For more in depth strategies related to SEO in general, you can check out my 7 best SEO strategies for 2019. In this article, I’m going to just talk about local SEO in specific.
10 Local Business SEO Strategies
1. Set up Google My Business
This is the first and most important step of local business SEO. Google My Business (GMB) is a free tools for local businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Goolge, including Search and Maps.
The above image is how GMB would display the search result above other result in the form of snippet listing related to location. For example, “Restaurant in Los Angeles” or “Plumber near me”. This involves the name of your business + location or location detected by Google.
How to sign up/claim your business for Google My Business
- Visit https://www.google.com/business/ and click “Start Now”.
- Select or create the Google account you want to use and sign in.
- Search for your business in the prompted area by name and address.
- Once you have found or created your correct business location and type, click on it.
- Google will need you to verify your business so click on “Mail me my Code”. Your code will be sent to your business location. This usually take around 2 weeks.
There you go! Congratulations, you have your business listed in GMB. (Don’t forget to send me the screenshot of it 🙂 ) After that, start optimizing your account. Consistently post any updates or news related to your business. GMB has this option in the post section.
Add your business’s images, fill in opening-closing hours, your service/products price etc. Make it as useful to your customers as possible. Don’t forget to add your website as well!
Now, how Google ranks your business in the snippet is uncertain. Sometimes, lower number of reviews can out rank higher number of reviews as well. However, many sources said there’s a strong correlation between the quality and quantity of reviews you get and your ranking position.
So higher the number and quality of reviews may not always guarantee top position but this will definitely have an impact when it comes to customers’ choice. So you would still want to focus on reviews as your top priority.
2. Create local listings
In the past few years, Google have been focusing on relevancy and reputation of the websites/businesses more than ever before. Reputation has become a huge ranking factor and the stats really shows that.
Creating local listings is like signalling to Google that your business is well reputed and is trustworthy. It is highly recommended to go for other local listing websites for getting more citation for your business. Yelp, Citysearch, Manta, etc. are some of the good local listing websites.
Don’t forget to have positive reviews and your business’s information as well. Google needs them 🙂
3. Optimize website content
Now that you have external factor setup, next in local business SEO strategy is to focus inside your content. This process involves what we call on-page SEO technique.
The whole idea here revolves around ‘keywords Research’. Keywords research is one of the process in on-page SEO, which requires you to publish and optimize your contents to meet users’ search intent.
Basic steps for keywords research
- Identify sub topics related to your business. For example, if you run a restaurant business, your sub topics would be something related to types of cuisine.
- Make a list of keywords related to your business. Come up about 50-150 at least. Use tools like Ubersuggest and Google related search to generate keywords and related keywords idea.
- After that, you should filter out the useless keywords and focus only on keywords which have high search volume, low search difficulty and high cost per click (CPC)
After you have your final list of keywords, start creating content around it. You would want to focus on one keyword per content/blog post. Use related keywords (also known as LSI keywords) as well in order to ensure that your web page grabs the eye of the search engine and get more sales in the end.
4. Improve website loading speed
Believe it or not, this is another important factor in local SEO as well as SEO in general.
Don’t forget that search engines’ intent is to deliver the best results possible to users
If suppose a person encounter a slow, laggy website, they are going to close the browser before they even read the first sentence right? According to an article by Unbounce, 46% of people say waiting for pages to load is what they dislike most about browsing the web on mobile.
An ideal website loading speed time is 3 second or below. However, making your site fast doesn’t mean you will get ranked higher, but it guarantees you that your site will not drop ranking ( if your other factors are correct and that your site deserve to be at that particular position).
This also ensures that you will not lose your customers who would get frustrated by your site’s speed.
Basic steps to improve site’s speed
- Make sure you have good quality hosting – My recommendation is Hostinger, because of their price and quality. (This is not an affiliate link, so don’t worry)
- Optimize your images – If your site does not use WordPress, use online service like TinyPng and CompressJPG. If possible, use JPEG instead of PNG as they are lighter.
- Implement CDN system – For example, Cloudflare.
- Use caching plugins if your site is using WordPress.
To test for your site’s speed, use tool like PingDom.com. It’s my favourite one. How you go about here is take loading speed of your site in different area and find out the average.
5. Make sure your site is mobile optimized
Who does not use mobile! We people adapt as so Google. Google clearly mentioned in their article that they will give preferences to websites which are optimized for mobile devices.
The term “Mobile Optimized” does not mean it should be able to support just mobile but also it should be able to adjusts/resize to different devices’ width – whether it’s different sized tablet screen, smart TV etc. In web development, we called it “responsive website”.
So how do you know whether your site is responsive or not, use this free tool by Google. If your site is mobile friendly or optimized, well and good. If not, do consider upgrading it.
If right now your site is not responsive and ranking well, then there are strong chances that the mobile-friendly websites which are currently ranking after yours, might overtake you in the meantime.
6. Analyze your competitors
The old school method in business also applies well to local SEO. In fact, it’s also another important strategy, especially if you’re new to online marketing as a whole.
This is useful as to give you an idea of what type your competitors are putting out, what keywords they are ranking for, what type of content is expected from the users ( Can be seen by analyzing types of contents show up in search result), average words used by your competitors in an article etc.
Another advantage of this is to see collaborators that your competitors have collaborated with. This could be related local businesses who are collaborating with your competitors or websites which link to your business ( This is known as backlinks and can have a huge impact on SEO. Will be covering in upcoming point)
How to effectively analyze your competitors – By Neil Patel
7. Use schema structured markup
Now I don’t want to get into some fancy technical but to simply explain this, schema markup was founded at Schema.org, is a form of microdata. Once added to a webpage, schema markup creates an enhanced description (commonly known as a rich snippet), which appears in search results.
The yellow highlighted portions are what a schema structure would do. It displays small snippets on search results, which this can make your site stand out.
Types of schema
- Businesses and organizations
There is, however no strong evidence suggesting that applying schema to your website will directly improve your search ranking but this does surely can make your site looks impressive and ultimately increase the clicks and indirectly increase your ranking.
Let me explain why.
This is because the factors which really influences your ranking is CTR or click through rate and dwell time (amount of time your visitors spent on your site/pages).
If a visitors see your site in the search result, click on it and spend quite a decent amount of time on your site, without clicking on other search results after exit, Google will think that your site has an answer for the visitor and it should be ranked high.
The opposite is also true. If a visitor bounce out from your site as soon as he enters or just for few seconds, it means your site is not worthy enough and that Google should pave way for a better result.
For in depth details on how to apply it to your site, click here.
8. Get some backlinks juice
Backlinks are citation or links from external sites to your web page. Out of all the factors in SEO, this is the most powerful, yet the most difficult to get and can do good and harm to your site.
How does backlink work?
You can compare backlinks to votes. In SEO, this is known as authority. The more backlinks you get on your site, which means the more votes you get, the higher authority your site will be and ultimately your ranking.
Now there are two types of backlinks – Do Follow backlinks and No Follow backlinks. Do follow backlinks come from general websites for example a blog and no follow usually comes from sites like social media, web directories etc. What you should be focusing on is links from do follow sites, as Google only count them.
When getting links from external source, make sure the sites are relevant to your site, otherwise they will not affect much.
How to acquire backlinks?
As mentioned, it’s the most difficult factor in SEO, as a result, many people have tried using different tricks to acquired backlinks as easy as possible. This may includes using PBN (private blog network), buying links etc, which are all what we called black hat SEO.
Since it’s called black hat, I guess you already know it, Google don’t at all like that. They want the links to come naturally – external sites willingly to link out to your site.
- Create valuable contents that people would like to link to
- Do some reach out and ask for links
- Get on podcast and they will link out to you
- Do some collaborates with related business owners
Remember, if you do some black hat stuff and Google ultimately catch you ( and they will), you will get some penalty and your ranking may drop drastically. If you cannot get links ultimately, do not worry, focus on creating great content and Google will award you for that.
9. Submit site to Google search console
This local business SEO strategy may seems to be small and easy to do but can really create a difference. Since SEO in general is a continuous process of tracking and improvement, this strategy is all about that.
What is Google search console?
Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. It’s main purpose is to submit a sitemap of your site – Like a blueprint of your site to make crawlers understand it’s structure.
Without submitting a sitemap, sure your site will be displayed in searched result but your desired page may not show up, some of the pages are missing, updates are not showing in the searched result etc. This is because Google hardly have any information about your site unless you explicitly instruct them about it – and that is through sitemap.
How to submit your sitemap to search console?
- Go to https://search.google.com/search-console/about
- Click “start now” and you will be prompt to a sign up page, where you will use your Google account to sign in
- Click “Add site” on search console and enter information about your website – make sure you enter the exact URL, for example: if your site contains “www”, enter it as well. Search console treats them separately.
- Verify your site’s ownership – This can be done by various ways, but the easiest method is using a meta tag which you will find the option and instruction there.
- After you have completed, you will be prompted to the search console dashboard. Initially, it takes about 2-3 days for the system to process your site. So right now it should be showing – “please come back after few days”.
- Click on “sitemaps” on the right hand side of the dashboard. You will be prompted to a page to submit your sitemap.
- Locate your sitemap URL– Site maps are usually XML file. If you are using Yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress, the URL is “https//yoursite.com/sitemap_index.xml”. If your website is not WordPress, first you would want to generate XML online sitemap generator, then upload the file to the root folder of your website.
- That’s all for the process, simple right? Lastly, don’t forget to update your sitemap whenever you update your content. If you are using Yoast SEO plugin, this is automatically done for you, if not, you have to manually create sitemap every time and upload it to your hosting.
10. Implement social shares
Everyone is on social medias! After you have followed step 1-9, now your site is SEO optimized and ready. All you have to do is wait for the result. By implementing social shares and connecting your site to social networks, this can help boost the process.
Although links from social medias are not counted for SEO, it can however, help signalling to Google that people are interested in your business. The more shares, comments and people talk about your business on social medias, the more importance you site will be to Google’s eyes
This concept is again related to how reputation affects SEO – same to what I have explained above.
Which social media platform should you focus on?
Well, it does not matter which platform you should focus on. But I would recommend Facebook. This is because if you see from searched results, Google like to index Facebook results more than any other platform. My Facebook page, which is relatively newer than my Instagram, is on the first page whereas Instagram is on second.
Another reason is that Facebook is suitable for both B2C and B2B businesses. So it’s surely on the safe side if you would want to focus a bit more on Facebook than other platform.
As a word of thanks to those who stick around till the end, here I have 2 local business SEO bonuses for you which are easy to implement but so many local businesses miss out.
1. Get your site SSL certificate
SSL certificate ( things which make your site appear “https” in the URL) is what I commonly see local business owners neglect it. This is because it usually does not come along with domain and hosting package and has to be purchased separately.
In the past, the cost of it used to be high. But nowadays, it has become part of standard website and many hosting companies started including for free in their plan or sell it at a very cheap price. If you are using Cloudflare CDN, you get universal SSL ( which is also applicable) for free.
SSL certificate may not play a huge role in SEO but it can give you a slight edge over your competitors. This is because as I mentioned, Google’s job is to deliver the best searched results and experience to users and if your site doesn’t have SSL, it will be labelled as “Not secure” ( you can notice this on Chrome browser on top next to URL bar).
Since many local business owners don’t have SSL, you can surely take an advantage of this.
2. Get on local forums or Q&A platform
This is another way of helping you gain reputation in an online world. By being on online communities like forums, you not only increase traffics to your site by citing your site’s address but also open doors to meet like minded business owners who could be your collaborators both in online and offline.
My large source of traffic outside Google is Quora. I do not only earn traffic from there but also have helped countless number of people solve their problems. This way, it really motivates me and I do time to time get helped by people there as well. So no doubt this opens a way new portals for my business.
So do not be shy. Get on these platforms and start connecting!
And that’s all for the complete in-depth strategies for your local business SEO. Many local businesses still undermine the values of this. What I mostly see is they have that old-minded fear that getting your business a website is costly. But this is not true!
With the competition in hosting companies and domains, you can get your business a website in a very cheap price. WordPress is a free open source platform to build a website and it’s free and very easy to use. There are numbers of YouTube WordPress tutorials out there.
Another reason that I see why local businesses are not interested in local SEO is that they don’t see results. SEO in general takes time initially but once the ball starts rolling, the hustle is worth it! You cannot imagine how organic search can help your business in the long run, better than any type of ads. So do not quit too soon. Be patient and results will surely show up if you put in consistent work.
So let me know the results after you have applied the tips listed above in the comment section below. Any question, do not hesitate to ask me. I will be happily to answer them all.
I’m just an ordinary guy with passion for web development and online marketing. Let’s stay connected!