The fact that you are reading this article about local SEO tips suggests that ranking for local search terms relevant to your small business is important to you...and it should be!
"Local search terms" are things like:
When you search for terms like this Google picks up your geo-location (city, state, etc.) and voila - you've got a list of relevant locations in the area you want. You just had a first-hand experience on how local SEO really works.
Local SEO is very important to local small businesses because IT MAKES IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO FIND YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS ONLINE!
Local searches, especially on mobile devices, tend to have very high intent. What's this mean? It means a lot of local searches are from people who are looking and ready to make a purchase!
Local searches tend to be from people who are looking and ready to make a purchase. Don't forget about #localseo.
MOZ published a local ranking factor report in 2017. Although there are a ton of local ranking factors, you can see the most important ones in the image below.
I like to follow the 80/20 rule and focus on the 20% of tasks that will yield 80% of the results, so our local SEO tips are centered around the main local ranking factors you see below.
Let's jump into the heart of the matter...
Creating a Google My Business (GMB) profile can improve your local SEO by providing customers with local business information that they need when they need it. Customers are given information such as the name, address, website, phone number, and online reviews.
Remember that when people get what they’re searching for, they’re more inclined to use the search engine. Search engines favor websites that are able to provide information in a timely and consistent manner.
Here's a sample of a Google My Business (GMB) profile...
Have you experienced searching for a brand or a company in Google and then getting a lot of duplicate results? Duplicate GMB listings happen when someone else has claimed your business or you have previously created one.
The photo below is a good example of a duplicate Google My Business profile...
Not only do duplicate Google My Business listings annoy consumers, it also decreases your chances to rank higher in local search results. Creating duplicate listings is against Google’s terms of services too.
It's not enough to just create your Google My Business page, you want to include as much information as possible. Many businesses don't take the extra steps to do this and when you do, it can make a difference.
Take advantage of features like videos, posts, and photos on your GMB page. I'd recommend posting new content on your page at least twice a month. Not only does this present a more meaningful profile when you show up in searches, it shows Google you are an active business.
Consistency in business information is another key to improving your local SEO ranking. Google compares the information listed on your website and the information on your Google My Business profile page.
It’s very important that your business information like the Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are listed as text and not just as an image. Google reads and verifies your contact information and they can’t do that if it’s listed as an image.
For local businesses, I would recommend placing your NAP info into the footer of your website so it displays on every page of your website.
In relation to tip #4, your NAP information should be 100% consistent with Google My Business, your website, and other online directories.
Google compares the contact information on your website to information listed on other websites across the entire world wide web. If anything is inaccurate, it can hurt your local SEO ranking.
It is so common for local businesses to have inaccuracies in their directory listings and most of them aren't your fault...but they need to be corrected.
You can manually update and manage directory listings, but it's about as fun as banging your head against a wall.
I'd recommend using services like Yext, Brightlocal, or Whitespark to do this if you want to handle it yourself. If you don't have the time or inclination to do it yourself, there are plenty of marketing agencies that will handle and manage this for you.
HOW IS YOUR BUSINESS LISTED ONLINE?
Take advantage of our free listing scan to find out. Instantly see how your critical location data appears across the web.
Online reviews promote business growth. However, most business owners struggle to get them from customers due to a number of reasons.
Reviews help improve your local SEO because Google likes them and customers use them in making purchase decisions.
How do you get more customer reviews? You must put a system in place to consistently ask for and monitor your online reviews.
If you don't have the time or know how to do this, pay someone to do it for you. We take care of this for a number of clients and so do many other marketing consultants and digital marketing agencies.
Any solid local SEO plan MUST include content marketing. Local SEO depends on the quality and quantity of your content.
Produce content that educates and adds value to your ideal clients. For example, if I was a plumber I might write some blog posts about how to hire a plumber or plumbing 101.
If you aren't producing consistent, high-quality content your local SEO will suffer.
Don't know what type of content to produce? You might find these helpful...
When you produce great and consistent content it will attract visitors. It also attracts links back to your website (aka backlinks) which is another SEO ranking factor.
Even better yet for a local business, are links from other local businesses in your area. This sends local signals to Google which are really helpful for local SEO.
For many years, marketers have assumed that social media impacts local SEO.
Google’s Matt Cutts said in a 2014 Youtube video that social media metrics such as Facebook likes and Twitter followers DO NOT AFFECT search rankings.
If that's the case, then what really matters?
Engagement on your social media pages is what matters. Social signals such as sharing your posts, commenting on posts, and liking posts is what really matters.
Is social media a pain and hassle for you? If you want to boost your local SEO it will be important to focus on social media as part of your plan.
Creating a social media marketing plan that works and learning how to manage social media well will impact your local SEO rankings in the long run.
Google wants to make sure searchers have a solid experience and find what they are looking for. If they send a mobile user to a website that is not mobile friendly that results in a poor experience.
For this reason, Google favors mobile-friendly websites in searches. You MUST have a mobile-optimized website at this point....there is simply no choice.
In July 2018, Google started marking non-HTTPS websites as not secure.
The last thing you want a visitor to see on your site is this in the browser:
With a secure site, it's believed that you'll also get a slight boost in ranking for doing so. My guess is over time your site won't necessarily benefit from being secure but it will be penalized in search results if it's not.
Just get an SSL certificate for your website now. Many web hosting platforms are offering free shared SSL certificates from Lets Encrypt to make it really easy for you.
Make sure that your on-page content is optimized with relevant keywords and your location information.
Pay particular attention to these on-page and on-site items:
I realize some of these terms may be a little more technical than you'd like. If you want an in-depth look at these items MOZ has a great on-site SEO guide you can check out to learn more or you can hire an expert to help you.
And it's a wrap! Those are some proven local SEO tips that can catapult your rankings to greater heights.
You don't have to tackle all of these local SEO tips at once. Start with one at a time and work your way through them. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step....take your first step today!
I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below and share.
Header image courtesy of Pixabay.
Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Mobile Marketing. At Rialto Mobile Marketing we create marketing systems to help small businesses achieve simple, sustainable growth. We help small businesses differentiate themselves from the competition, work with more ideal clients, command a premium for their products and services, and make marketing easier with consistent, repeatable results.