Optimizing your website for local search is integral. You can do all the link building and off-page optimization you want. However, if your website isn't locally focused, you won't rank in local search.
It's that simple. Local search targets customers in a specific neighborhood, city, or region. In a nutshell, it's where small businesses focus on improving their visibility and rankings in local search results like Google's Local Pack or Map Pack.
That means helping your business listing appear more often and rank higher on Google in response to the volume of searches for local businesses like yours. Google's mission is to deliver the best answer to a searcher's intent, which means finding the businesses that are physically closest to the searcher.
If you're not appearing in local search results, you're missing out on valuable leads and customers. Here's how you can make sure your website is optimized for local search so you can dominate the competition.
Be Mindful of the Local Ranking Factors
Google keeps its ranking algorithms a secret, but we do have some insight from patents, studies, and experimentation. According to Google, three primary factors seem to be the most important for ranking in Local search:
Prominence refers to how well-known or popular your business is. If you have lots of positive reviews, or if you're a well-known brand, you're more likely to show up higher in the search results.
Distance is how far away the searcher is from your business. If someone is searching for "pizza" from their home, and your shop is the closest, you're more likely to show up first.
Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. If your business is a pizza shop in New York, and someone searches for a "pizza shop in New York," your business is more relevant than a pizza shop in Los Angeles.
So, those are the three primary factors that Google looks at when ranking Local businesses. But how do you optimize for them? Let's take a look.
Local Ranking Factor: Prominence
Prominence is perhaps the most complex and challenging of the three local ranking factors to influence. Unlike relevance and proximity, prominence can't be improved by adding or changing the information on your website. Google defines prominence as "how well-known a business is."
To improve your prominence, you'll need to focus on building brand awareness and generating backlinks. Creating informative blog content and distributing it through social media and other channels can help increase your website's visibility and, as a result, your prominence.
Generating backlinks from high-quality websites is another excellent way to improve your prominence. Google uses backlinks as a signal of the quality and popularity of a website, so the more backlinks you have from high-quality websites, the more likely you are to rank higher in local search results.
There are a few other things you can do to improve your prominence as well, such as:
- Creating social media profiles and regularly posting engaging content
- Getting listed in directories and review sites
- Sponsoring local events or donating to local charities
- Creating informative and keyword-rich content
As you can see, there's a lot that goes into improving your prominence in local search results. However, if you focus on creating informative and engaging content, as well as building backlinks from high-quality websites, you should see your website start to rise in the rankings. And, as your website's ranking improves, so will your prominence.
Local Ranking Factor: Distance
One way to optimize your site for this ranking factor is to include your business's physical address on your website, Google My Business page, and other online directories. You can also use Google Maps to list your business and help potential customers find you.
By doing so, you're telling Google that your business is located where you say it is, and this can help improve your ranking in local search results.
For example, if someone searches for "local SEO companies near me," Google will use the searcher's location to find a nearby SEO company and rank them accordingly.
If your business is further away from the searcher than other pizza places, you may not rank as highly in the results. However, if you include your business's address on your website and other online listings, you're more likely to show up in the results for searchers who are looking for a business like yours.
Another way to optimize for this ranking factor is to add structured data to your website. Structured data is a code that you can add to your website to help search engines understand your content.
You can use Schema.org to find the right code for your business's location and other information. By adding this code to your website, you're helping Google understand your business and its location.
Another way to optimize for the distance ranking factor is to embed a Google map on your website. By doing so, it will be easy for people to find your store, even if they're not familiar with the area. Plus, you can enjoy better rankings in local search results.
If you have multiple business locations, you can also list each one on your website and include the respective addresses. It will help Google understand that you have multiple locations and could potentially rank you higher in local search results.
You can create multiple landing pages for each location and include relevant content such as the address, phone number, and a map. Use geotargeting to let Google know what each page is for.
Local Ranking Factor: Relevance
There are a few things you can do to make sure you're as relevant as possible to Local searchers. But it's important to make sure your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) is consistent across the web.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many businesses have different versions of their NAP across the internet.
It can signal to Google that your business is unreliable, and as a result, you will be ranked lower. You can use a service like Moz Local to check your NAP consistency.
Another way to show relevance is through citations. Citations are mentions of your business on the web, even if there's no link to your website. The more citations you have from high-quality websites, the better.
Google looks at citations as another sign of trustworthiness and relevance. You can use a service like Whitespark to help you find citation opportunities.
Make Your Site Mobile-friendly
Mobile phones are everywhere, and people are using them to research services and products while they're out and about. The results are automatically local. For example, if you search for Korean restaurants, even without a geotag, your mobile browser will display search results for restaurants near you.
Although this is useful for the searcher, it's typically underused and overlooked by businesses. There are many benefits of local mobile SEO. For one, about 88% of mobile searches directly contact the company from the search results, and 61% are ready to buy. Also, Google now requires responsive web design.
So, how can you optimize for mobile users? Here are some tips:
- Use localized keywords.
- Ensure your correct business NAP is listed on the website.
- Use a responsive design on your website.
- Opt for a clean and easy-to-use mobile site design.
- Make sure your website loads quickly on mobile devices.
- Use images that are optimized for mobile.
- Add click-to-call buttons on your website.
Creating Localized Content
SEO (search engine optimization) has changed significantly over the years. Google has penalized websites that use questionable practices or keyword stuff to increase traffic. Still, content marketing is going strong because it adds value, and Google loves it.
One of the best ways to dominate local search is by creating localized content. That means creating content that is specific to your city or region. It could be a blog post about the best places to eat in your city or a guide to the best hiking trails near you.
To ensure that your content is effective:
- Create a great headline. Remember that the headline is what grabs the attention of the internet searchers. And since it's one of the first things people see in the search results, it must be able to convince them that your content is worth reading.
- Know your target audience. Do your market research to know what type of content will most appeal to the people you want to reach. For example, if your audience is college students, you'll want to write about relevant things, like the best places to study on campus or the best cheap eats around town.
- Post varied content. Don't always create the same kind of content. Change things up from time to time. Suppose you usually write blog posts. Why not try creating an infographic or a video instead?
- Include a call to action. What do you want your target audience to do when they finish reading your content? Buy something? Sign up for an email list? Or share the content? You need to tell your visitors what you want them to do next.
Most local business owners find themselves too busy to create localized content. If that's the case for you, consider working with us, a local SEO marketing company. We can help you with creating quality content and ease the workload for you.
The Key to Local Digital Marketing is Online Reviews
Online reviews are the social proof that customers need to see before they're willing to do business with you. Nothing is better than a review from a satisfied customer, and when it comes to local search, reviews can make or break your business.
Reviews from satisfied customers make other potential customers feel more confident about doing business with you, and they're also a key ranking factor for local search. In fact, the more positive reviews about your business, the higher your chances of getting into the local carousel or local pack.
Don't be afraid to ask your customers for a review. Remind them to share their experience with you on Google, Yelp, or wherever they prefer to leave reviews. You can also offer an incentive for leaving a review, like a discount or a freebie.
Of course, the best way to encourage people to leave positive reviews is to provide incredible service that they can't help but recommend to other people. If you're consistently going above and beyond for your customers, they'll be more than happy to leave a review that reflects that.
Moreover, while there are thousands of websites where people can write about their opinions of businesses, some are more important than others when it comes to local search. It includes:
- Google My Business (GMB). Local businesses should have a GMB page. It allows businesses to add citations to their website, which can help with organic search engine results pages ranking. We can help you create and optimize your GMB listing.
- Yelp. About 33% of Americans use Yelp to either check business information or post reviews. Therefore, this website is vital for businesses that want to take advantage of top reviews. Also, Yelp is usually featured in Google's local search results. Hence, it is crucial to have a good Yelp rating.
- Blog Reviews. Another excellent source for reviews is through blogs. When a blogger writes a review about your product or service, it helps increase your website's domain authority and gain additional publicity.
Expand Your Reach with Directories
Directories are, unfortunately, an underused resource for businesses. However, listing your company with a few well-chosen directories can help to improve your chances of being found in searches.
The most important factor for website directories is your NAP. They should be consistent with what's on your website and other directory listings. However, like most SEO efforts, adding your website to directories can be slow, boring, and tedious.
The good news is that there are several tricks for speeding up the process.
- Spend a day searching for relevant directories, and then send your listings over a few weeks.
- Save time by using an auto-fill plugin.
- Be patient. It takes time for directories to process new listings, and Google takes a long time to index them.
A Vital Part of Local SEO Marketing is Social Media
The internet is highly interactive, and social media has become a big part of that. And it has now become necessary for companies to have a social media presence as part of their marketing strategy.
For local companies, this is especially important because potential customers are more likely to find them through a social media search than a traditional one. And to maximize your reach, post on various social media channels like Twitter and Facebook from time to time.
Also, engage with your followers because the more activity there is, the less you need to promote your business. Your followers will do that for you.
You can hold contests, ask questions, respond to comments and messages, share testimonials, or post photos and videos. Anything that gets people talking about your business is good for local SEO marketing.
Don't forget to include links to your website and blog on your social media profiles. It will help potential customers find you quickly and improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results.
You can do plenty of things to cement your place in the local search results. By ensuring you have a strong presence on Google My Business, maintaining consistent NAP information, and building up your reviews and ratings, you can send a clear signal to Google that you're the business they should be recommending to searchers.
While it takes some effort, a little elbow grease can go a long way in helping you dominate the local search results. We're one of the Best SEO Services in Los Angeles, CA, and we can help you take your business to the next level. So give our SEO consulting agency a call today, and let's chat about how we can help you grow your business!