Local SEO Guide 2020: Strategies To Rank Your Local Business

With the rise of the internet, businesses are adopting the new era. From local shops to big corporations, everyone wants to have an online presence. Having an online presence is not an option anymore.

Millions of searches are being performed in search engines like Google, Bing, etc. for local queries. According to research, 46% of all Google searches are related to local information.

Another research shows that search term containing “Near me” or “Close by” grew by more than 900% over two years.

These data are too big to ignore.

To appear in local search related queries you need to focus on local SEO. In this post, we would discuss some of the actionable tips to stand out.

So let’s get started.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO (Local Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing your website or online presence to increase organic traffic, leads and brand awareness from local search.

There are various things to do to get featured in local queries. So let’s discuss them one by one.

How Does Local SEO Work?

When it comes to SEO, it works almost in the same way as it does in normal. As the search engine is based on the crawling and indexing principle, local SEO also works under the same principle.

When someone performs a search on Google, it scans their indexed database and serves the best and most appropriate results.

As you know already, Google has many ranking factors to analyze a website and place in the SERP. For regular search queries, you need to focus on on-page SEO and off-page SEO to get a higher ranking.

But local SEO is special and Google uses different ranking factors for this. 

Local SEO Ranking Factors

These are some of the ranking factors specially considered in local SEO.

  • Location of the searcher
  • NAP (stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number) citation
  • Google My Business listing presence
  • Online business directories listing
  • Listing on reviews sites like Yelp and Glassdoor
  • Number of positive reviews on Google business listing
  • Number of “check-ins” at that location
  • Mobile-friendly website
  • Shares on social media

Things To Do Before Starting Local SEO Optimization

Before you jump into the optimization process make sure that you have done some pre-requirements.

You would optimize the website for all the ranking and local SEO. So make some checks before optimization.

First and one of the most important things is, make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. As you know most of the users use mobile devices for performing searches related to local.

So you might wonder how can I check whether my site is mobile-friendly or not. Well, you can use Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. Just paste your URL and the tool shows you whether it is mobile-friendly or not.

To put more emphasis on this, a few years ago Google has announced the Mobile-first indexing. This means Google uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.

Another thing is the user interface. No matter how much effort you are putting, if you are website is not attractive, then no one will contact you. The user interface is the first thing that puts an impression on visitors. So make sure that you have a modern and dynamic interface.

In the era of blazing fast internet, your website should load within 3 seconds. Every one-second delay will cost you a 20% loss in organic traffic. No one wants to wait for a website to load.

You can check the speed of your website using some free tools like:

If you found your website is loading slowly, then take action to decrease the loading speed.

Keyword Research For Local SEO

Need not to say that keyword research is also important for local SEO. Although it is not like the traditional one as we do for blogs, and find a lot of low competition keywords.

Instead of targeting a whole country, we have to research a city or town. There is a format in all the local searches.

It’s called service in location (SiL).

Let’s say you are a wedding photographer based on Bhubaneswar. Do you know how people are searching for this on Google?

Well following are some search queries examples:

  1. “wedding photographer in Bhubaneswar”
  2. “Best wedding photographer in Bhubaneswar”

You can use the Google Keyword Planner to generate more keyword ideas around this. There are also several keyword research tools out there to know various stats like monthly search volume of that keyword, keyword difficulty, etc.

1. Google AutoComplete

Google autocomplete is considered as the gold mine for related keywords. Once you start typing on the search bar, Google starts suggesting long-tail variations of the keyword.

For example, I searched for a query and hear’s how Google to autocomplete shows me results.

local seo

Based on your location and business niche, you can perform similar searches and get various related keywords. This shows that people are also searching for these keywords in Google to find a business like you.

So optimizing your site according to those keywords would provide you some additional traffics.

You can go one step further and search keywords at the bottom of the Google SERP. The section also shows you many other related searched keywords.

You can repeat this process as you have done earlier for other locations or keyword variations and get more related keywords as well.

2. Yelp Suggests

Yelp is also a good place to find local keywords. As you know Yelp has a massive list of local shops and services, you can get some ideas here.

3. Use Craigslist For Keyword Ideas

Craigslist can also help you to find various keywords. Many people list their service here. Just go to their services page, select your location, and enter a keyword. Then you would get a list of results providing the same service. You can get an idea from them and also find various keyword ideas as well.

4. Keyword Research Tools

To make the keyword research process quick and effective, you can use keyword research tools. There are many tools available there. But I recommend going with KWFinder and SEMRush for this.

5. Competitors Analysis

One of the easiest and effective ways to find many keywords is through competitor analysis. As your competitor is ranking for certain keywords, you can steal them.

Put the domain of your competitor on SEMRush. It would show you all the keywords the domain is ranking for. SEMRush has a unique feature named Keyword Gap.

This feature allows you to compare up to 5 domains with your domain and find keyword opportunities. This shows you all the keywords that your competitors are ranking but you are not.

This way you can focus on new keywords and optimize your site accordingly.

Best Strategies & Tips For Local SEO

1. Google My Business

Google My Business listing is one super important for local SEO. Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool designed for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google platforms like search and map.

  1. First, you need to set it up. Go to this page and then fill all the required details. Some important things to fill correctly is the business name, address, and phone number. Another important thing people often miss is the category.
  2. After that, you need to verify the business listing. This is usually done via phone or postcard. Choose a top-level category that matches your business. There is also an option to add the second category. This has a direct impact on keywords and searches.
  3. Once you are verified your listing is ready to show in the SERP. But you should not stop here and keep updating your information.
  4. Define your opening and closing hours correctly. Also, keep updating the holidays.

Encourage people to leave reviews on Google. This also shows in the listing and impact on viewers. Whether you got a positive or negative reply to every comment.

To get more reviews, you can generate a review link. Log in to your Google My Business account and find the option “Get more reviews”. This will helps you to generate a short URL and you can share it with your customers.

2. Other Listings

Similar to Google My Business, you should make list in Bing Places, Apple Map, Yelp listing and wherever possible.

Google matches your GMB (Google My Business) data like website and NAP citations around the web. So you need to put the same information in all the places.

When Google finds that your business information is the same in the GMB, your website and other listing sites like Yelp then Google realized that the business is legit.

But when Google found your business information is not equal in all the places, it passes a negative signal.

If you recently changed your business location, phone number them update the new location on Google My Business and all the other places. As Google collects data from various places, you should update it in all the listing sites.

Another thing to take special care is the way of writing the business address. Write the business address in the same way in other listings, as you have written on Google My Business. The short form of a place might be understandable for humans but not for Google.

3. Local NAP Citation

NAP citation is very important for local SEO. NAP data should be 100% correct in every place like Google My Business, on your website, local listing sites, and any other places that mention your business online.

You might be thinking why the NAP citation is so important?

According to Moz’s study, citation signals coming from various websites are one of the top-ranking factors for local SEO. And another thing is that not all people search in Google for business. Those business directories and citation sites help you to get more customers.

There are many citation tools and services out there. I recommend Loganix and WhiteSpark. First, you need to check the existing listings. In another way, you can call it a citation audit. Moz Local is also a handy tool for this. If you found any wrong information then fix that one first.

During your research, you would found that there are two types of NAPs. One is the citations that you can change (like NAP on Yelp) and citations that someone else has to change.

For the first type, you can choose services like Yext. For the second type, there is no shortcut available. You need to reach out one-by-one and send a friendly email like this.

You can use the same competitor analysis formula here to find NAP opportunities. I recommend using the Link Intersect feature in Ahrefs. This allows you to enter some competitor’s domains.

To enter some of your competitor domains here. You can also enter any business in that area to get started. Because they have build citations from local business directories.

After analyzing the tool will show you a list of sites that are links to your competitor or other local business. Head over to each site and find citation opportunities or link opportunities.

Don’t worry about the nofollow links here. Because your goal is to get your NAP on the page. If you got a link (with nofollow tag) then it is a bonus for you.

4. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is also important here as in the traditional. If you want to rank in a different location in a city or state, then you need to create dedicated content.

If you want to rank in different locations, you should create different landing pages. This does not mean you should create a landing page for all the cities present in your state.

Don’t create multiple pages for the same locations. This creates confusion for Google and it can’t decide which page should rank.

Make the short and meaningful heading of your pages. You can smartly use keywords in your titles as well with your service or business name. This type of results makes people click and you would get additional organic results.

In addition to that describe your business and all the aspects as well. As you have done keyword research already in the beginning, add those keywords in your page content. Don’t be spammy and add many keywords just sake of it. 

Try to add those keywords naturally so that visitors found helpful. You can also link to your other pages or service page as well.

5. Local Link Building

As you know backlinks are an important ranking factor of Google.

The easiest and effective way to build backlinks for local SEO is through directories and local listing sites. These types of sites are made to give links to local businesses and services. So you can reach out to them and ask them to list your site. But most of the listing sites provide nofollow backlinks.

Creating and promoting useful resources in your niche might drive quality links. Let’s say you are in the gardening niche. You can create an awesome post on topics like, “Most Creative Gardening Design Ideas” or something around this niche.

You can also create step by step guide to educate your audience. Attractive infographics can increase the chance of getting backlinks. Once you publish it on your site, then share it on social media platforms like Facebook.

When people see it and find valuable, they would share it with their families and friend circle. This way your content would be reached to a larger audience and get more backlinks.

Another recommended way to get authoritative links is through local guest blogging. For this, you can reach out to local publications and blogs. Send them cold outreach emails and let them know about your guest post.

You can also find backlink opportunities through competitor analysis. As your competitors have already done some hard work and got backlinks.

For this, you can use tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to know the sites linking to your competitor. Once you have the list of sites, you can reach out to them and ask for a backlink.

Some Other Tips & Strategies You Can Implement For Better Result

In addition to the above tips, you should follow these tips to get the most out of it.

If possible organize some local events around your service. If you are in the photography niche, then you can organize an event where you will shot phots for free or give training of professional photography. This spreads brand awareness and more people will know about your service.

Local media houses or PR agencies always in search of the latest and attractive news. So your event could be published in their news sites and you would get backlinks and brand mentions.

Google Maps provides a hustle free way to reach anywhere. So make it available on your site so that people can reach you.

You can get embed map code from Google My Business. Paste that code on your website’s About Us page. Once you successfully embed the code in your About Us page the map would be visible inside the page.

Google My Business provides a nice interface for business owners to manage various things. After setting up the GMB you might be thinking that the work is over.

But you need to do regular visits to your GMB dashboard regularly. Respond to customer or client reviews regularly. This shows your service’s sincerity.

You might have seen a “Suggest an edit” option just below the business listing card view. Anyone can change the information listed on the panel without notifying the business owner. So you need to check it regularly and make sure everything is still accurate.

For local sites, the homepage is important. So make the homepage title short and local keyword focused. Mention your service name and the locality name as well.

You might know that the meta description is important for improving organic CTR. Add your targeted keywords in the meta description and keep it natural. You can get some ideas from Google Ads description copy. Keep the description under 160 characters.

Conclusion

So these are some of the things you need to consider when you are optimizing your site for local SEO. First, ready your site for local searches. Then set up your Google My Business profile and also add your service to other listing sites. This helps you get more costumers/clients for your business.

Bibhu Prasad Bal is a content writer at BloggingForge and a tech-savvy guy. In spare time you will find him watching Ancient Aliens and exploring the web. Contact - bibhu@bloggingforge.com

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