Four out of five consumers use search to find local information, which means if your business isn’t optimized for local SEO, 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 16 in-depth local SEO tips and guide 2019 to help you completely outrank and beat your local competitors, no matter what type of business you do.
To fully understand SEO, check out my full SEO guide for beginners here.
- What Is Local SEO?
- What Is The Difference Between National SEO & Local SEO?
- Why Is Local SEO Important?
- 20 Local SEO Tips & Strategies
- 1. Set Up Google My Business
- 2. Create Local Listings
- 3. Maintain Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
- 4. Get reviews
- 5. Optimize Website Content For Local Keywords
- 6. Amplify Local Signals On Your Site
- 7. Create Location-Specific Pages
- 8. Make it real and legit
- 9. Start A Blog
- 10. Optimize Title Tag, Meta Tag For CTR
- 11. Improve Website Loading Speed
- 12. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile optimized
- 13. Analyze Your Competitors
- 14. Use Schema Structured Markup
- 15. Get Some Local Backlinks Juice
- 16. Submit Site To Google Search Console
- 17. Implement Social Shares
- 18. Get Your Site SSL Certificate
- 19. Get On Local Forums or Q&A Platform
- 20. Get Feautured On Local Press And Media
- Other Resources:
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is defined as SEO done on your local business website to increase the online visibility of your business on search engine results locally, with the ultimate goal of driving in organic traffic and convert visitors to customers.
What Is The Difference Between National SEO & Local SEO?
The 3 main differences between national SEO and local SEO are:
- Local SEO, you’re targeting local areas whereas, with national SEO, there’s no area bound.
- With local SEO, you’re essentially competing with local businesses whereas, with national SEO, you’re competing against both national and local businesses.
- Local SEO utilizes the same strategies with national SEO, with some additional strategies like local citations, consistent NAP, etc.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
Local SEO is important because:
- It helps you generate leads from search engines, the place where people are actually looking to spend money (Quality Leads)
- It helps build an online reputation, brand credibility, and trust
- It requires just a one-time investment. Once your business is ranking, you don’t have to really spend much on it. It helps in generating “free” traffic.
So now you’ve understood the basics, let’s dive right into how to rank locally on Google.
20 Local SEO Tips & Strategies
1. Set Up Google My Business
This is the first local business SEO tips I have for you. Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool for local businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.
The above image is how GMB would display the search result above other results 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.
Check out my restaurant SEO article to learn more.
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 takes 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/product price, etc.
Make it as useful to your customers as possible. Don’t forget to add your website as well!
2. Create Local Listings
Reputation has become a huge ranking factor and the stats really show that.
Creating local listings is like signaling to Google that your business is well-reputed and is trustworthy.
Don’t forget to have positive reviews and your business information as well. Google needs them 🙂
3. Maintain Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
After you have created a Google My Business Listing and local citations, next is to make sure you have maintained a consistent NAP throughout these listings.
So how do you go about this? Well, very simple here. Maintain the same information on every local listing, your site and each and every place where your local site is mentioned – make them all the same as your GMB.
This is to ensure that your business is trustworthy and credible enough in Google’s eye. In fact, you need to be careful here.
Since Google is just a mere machine, you need the information to be 100% exactly matched. For instance, if your business’s name in GMB ends with “LTD”, then you should not forget to mention this as well in every mention.
4. Get reviews
So you have your GMB and local citations set up next is to encourage people to leave reviews on your listings.
According to Moz, reviews are one of the important ranking factors for local SEO. Besides, over 88% of consumers trust a business with real legit reviews.
One of the best ways to get reviews is to politely ask your customers after the service or once they received the products.
You might want to give something valuable away for free in exchange for a genuine review.
Respond to each and every one of them, even if it might be negative. This shows that you’re actually caring for them and that you would improve next time.
5. Optimize Website Content For Local Keywords
Now that you have an external factor setup, next in local SEO tips is to focus on your content. The goal is to create content around the local keywords.
Local keywords are keywords related to your locality. There are 2 types of local keywords, i.e. “Near Me” keywords and generic location keywords.
“Near Me” keywords are everything that starts with your type of business + “Near Me”.
For example: “Plumber Near Me”
Generic location keywords are keywords that have the location name associated with your type of business.
For example: “Plumber in Los Angeles”
To optimize for the “Near Me” keywords, I will discuss it after this point.
Now let’s dive into how to research the generic location keywords.
Basic Steps For Keywords Research
- Identify sub-topics related to your business. For example, if you run a restaurant business, your subtopics 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 ideas.
- 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)
Once you have a list of qualified keywords, next is to create content around each keyword. The trick here is to focus on one keyword per page/article.
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.
6. Amplify Local Signals On Your Site
This local SEO tip is not quite discussed and it’s one of the secrets to your SEO success.
Besides leveraging GMB, local listings and optimizing your content around local keywords, you would want to amplify the local signals on your site, to really convince Google about the site’s location.
This is also how you optimize for “Near Me” keywords. This type of keywords is served based only on the location of searchers.
For example, If I live in LA, and I search “Plumber near me”, I will get only the list of sites located in LA, not somewhere else.
5 Tips To Amplify Local Signals
- Have the exact match (same as GMB) information of business name, address, working hours, contact details on each and every page of your site – you can utilize the footer area.
- Embed your business location’s Google map location on the homepage and wherever it makes sense.
- Try mention about your full business location on every page
- Link out any local sites where you are mentioned – For example, your chamber of commerce profile.
- Link out to your location’s external page – For example, you link out to Wikipedia’s Los Angeles article.
And that’s all there is it. From now onwards, Google should be able to recognize your site’s location much better.
7. Create Location-Specific Pages
If you operate in different areas locally, you would want to create different location-specific pages, targeting those locations.
Use the main keywords (your business keywords) + Locations
For example, if you’re a local business based in Edmonton, Canada, and you operate in other nearby areas like Leduc and Sherwood Park, Besides your Edmonton page, you would create similar pages for these 2 locations as well.
Remember! Don’t copy-paste the exact description on each and every location on your site as this may lead to duplicate content, which Google doesn’t like.
Make sure each location page is different. keep them similar, but not exactly the same.
8. Make it real and legit
Since anyone can easily create a local business website and Google My Business listing, there are lots of fake businesses out there.
Google is smart enough to filter through this. The key here to convince them that your business is real and legit.
This can be done very easily – By having real signals on your site.
Real signals here include things like your real business’s office images, team members, achievements, videos, reviews, etc.
Have these elements across various pages/sections of your site, especially your homepage.
9. Start A Blog
A blog is a great way to demonstrate your expertise in the field, provide users knowledge and information, drive traffic, and most importantly, convince Google that your business is trustworthy.
When writing a blog, make sure you focus on providing values. For example, provide how-to knowledge, let your users know about your business achievements, local news, etc.
Small tip: Internal link your homepage, with the main focused keyword from each of your blogs, to further strengthen the SEO signal.
Internal links are one of the best ways to help flow the authority of your site, thus making the overall site rank higher.
10. Optimize Title Tag, Meta Tag For CTR
A title tag is an HTML tag that gets displayed on the search engine results.
A meta tag or meta description is what gets displayed below the title tag. It essentially gives users an idea of what your page is about.
Ranking high on Google is useless if no one actually clicks through to your search result.
So in order to increase this, make sure you optimize your title and meta tag to increase the CTR (click-through rate). Make sure you include your target keywords in both the places and modifiers which makes it interesting.
For example, use strong adjectives like “best”, “cheap”, “awesome”, etc. to enhance the CTR.
In your meta description, make sure you explain in brief what your visitors going to get out from your page. Add call-to-action message like “click here”, “view products”, etc.
11. Improve Website Loading Speed
This is one of the most important local business SEO tips for local businesses.
Don’t forget that search engines’ intent is to deliver the best results possible to users
Suppose a person encounters 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 seconds 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 deserves 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 The Site’s Speed
- Make sure you have good quality hosting – My recommendation is Hostinger, because of their price and quality.
- Optimize your images – If your site does not use WordPress, use online services like TinyPng and CompressJPG. If possible, use JPEG instead of PNG as they are lighter.
- Implement a CDN system – For example, Cloudflare.
- Use caching plugins if your site is using WordPress.
To test for your site’s speed, use tools like PingDom.com. It’s my favorite one. How you go about here is to take the loading speed of your site in a different area and find out the average.
12. 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 that are optimized for mobile devices.
So definitely this local SEO tip is for every business out there.
The term “Mobile Optimized” does not mean it should be able to support just mobile but also it should be able to adjust/resize to different devices’ width – whether it’s a different sized tablet screen, smart TV, etc.
In web development, we call it a “responsive website”.
So how do you know whether your site is responsive or not? – Use this free tool by Google.
If right now your site is not responsive and ranking well, then there are strong chances that the mobile-optimized websites which are currently ranking after yours, might overtake you in the meantime.
13. Analyze Your Competitors
The old school method in business also applies well to local SEO strategy. 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 to local businesses that are collaborating with your competitors or websites which link to your business.
How to effectively analyze your competitors – By Neil Patel
14. 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, which 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 can make your site stand out.
Types of schema
- Businesses and organizations
There is, however no strong evidence suggesting that applying a 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 influence your ranking are CTR or click-through rate and dwell time (amount of time your visitors spent on your site/pages).
If 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 higher.
The opposite is also true. If a visitor bounces out from your site as soon as he enters or just for a 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.
15. Get Some Local Backlinks Juice
As you have probably known that backlinks are one of the main ranking factors for SEO and getting local backlinks are essential to the success of any local business.
How To Acquire Backlinks To Local Business Website?
There are a number of ways you can acquire links for your local business website.
This may include using PBN (private blog network), buying links, etc, which are all that we called black hat SEO.
Since it’s called black hat, I guess you already know it, Google doesn’t at all like that.
To succeed in with SEO in the long term you need to go for white hat SEO, and some of the ways are highlighted below:
- Have your website listed on local directories
- Create valuable contents that people would like to link to
- Do some reach out and ask for links
- Get on the podcast and they will link out to you
- Do some collaborates with related business owners
- Collaborate with other local business owners
Besides the steps listed, you can also consider purchasing a white hat link building package from local SEO agencies such as guest posts, blogger outreach, etc.
16. Submit Site To Google Search Console
This local SEO tips and tricks may seem 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 The 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.
Its 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 the 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 has any information about your site unless you explicitly instruct them about it – and that is through the 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 signup 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. The search console treats them separately.
- Verify your site’s ownership – This can be done in 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 a 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 an 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 a sitemap every time and upload it to your hosting.
17. Implement Social Shares
Everyone is on social media! After you have followed steps 1-9, now your site should be 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 media are not counted for SEO, it can, however, help to signal to Google that people are interested in your business.
The more shares, comments, and people talk about your business on social media, the more importance you site will be to Google’s eyes
This concept is again related to how reputation affects SEO – the same as 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 the searched results, Google likes 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 safer side if you would want to focus a bit more on Facebook than other platforms.
18. 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.
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 the 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 labeled 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 advantage of this.
19. Get On Local Forums or Q&A Platform
This is another way of helping you gain a 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 online and offline.
My largest source of traffic outside Google is Quora. I do not only earn traffic from there but also have helped a 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 for new portals for my business.
So do not be shy. Get on these platforms and start connecting!
20. Get Feautured On Local Press And Media
Featuring on local press and media helps you leverage brand awareness and business credibility.
Google looks at local promotion as a sign of real business. Besides, getting words around locally in your area helps you create a strong online presence.
In SEO, we called this a press release. It’s worth a while to spend money on media to build the authority needed to strive with local SEO.
And that’s all for the complete local SEO tips and tricks in 2019
Local SEO is sometimes being undermined by many local business owners. There are many reasons for that.
One of the main reasons that I see is because they don’t see the result. 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 and tricks listed above in the comment section below.
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