What is Local Search Engine Optimization or local SEO?
Local SEO (Local Search Engine Optimization) helps businesses be found by local customers when they’re looking for your type of product or service. Local SEO uses search engines like Google and business directories like Yelp, Superpages, and MerchantCircle to promote your business.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
Local search SEO can work wonders for your business if you show up in Google’s “local pack,” “map pack,” or 3-pack,” as the first 3 spots below the map are commonly called.
Here’s what that local search looks like on a desktop computer .
According to Google, 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to research local businesses, like yours.
What’s more, 82% of local searchers will call, visit a store, or make a purchase offline(TMP/comScore). And 61% of local searches result in a purchase (Search Engine Watch) — especially if they find you searching on their mobile phone.
So you want to do everything you can to rank highly in Google local search. You want to be found right below that map, in the first 3 spots … and you want to outrank you competitors when local customers do a search for your type of business.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
And here’s what that same search looks like on a mobile phone, which is even more important. Because roughly 58% of local searches are now done on mobile devices.
Again, appearing in the first 3 results of local search on mobile phones is critical for you.
According to Google, 50% of people who conducted a local search on their mobile phones visited a store within a day. And 18% of local searches on a mobile phone led to a purchase within a day!
The only question is, will those consumers buy from you or from your competitor?
How Can You Rank Higher In Local Search?
First, understand that local search depends greatly on prominence. How well known and trusted is your business? Because Google wants to send users to trustworthy websites. It just makes sense.
Three key factors contribute to your prominence: local citations, reviews, and links.
1) Local citations are any mention of your business on the web. They often include the name of your company, phone number, and address, aka NAP. The most common local citations are directories like Google+, Yellowpages.com, Manta.com, etc. But Google also counts citations found on blogs, newspapers sites, event listing sites, etc.
2) Reviews are critical. What are people saying about your business on sites like Yelp, CitySearch, MerchantCircle, etc.? Google counts the number and quality of reviews to help determine your local search ranking.
3) Links to your site from well-established local websites are a final key component of search algorithms in Google. Because it’s hard to fake a link to a business from the Chamber of Commerce or a local networking group. So these are vital.
Now, for real tips you can use to meet all the criteria above, here are …
3 Strategies To Rank Higher In Local Search
1) How to get more local citations
First, be sure to get your business listed correctly on all the top online business directories, including Yelp, Merchant Circle, Citysearch, Yellowpages.com and Manta.com.
Second, get listed on trusted local directories, including your local chamber of commerce, newspapers, and networking groups (BNI, Meetup, etc.).
Third, get your business listed on relevant local blogs. How to find them? Search for “[your city] blog” or “[your neighborhood] blog” to discover good ones. Any blogs that show up in Google are worth a look, because they already rank high in search! Thus, if your business is listed on them, you will benefit from a local citation that is seen as trusted and relevant by search engines.
Finally, search Google for phrases like “[your city] business directory” to find more local citation websites to get listed on.
2) How to get more local reviews
Research shows that 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal referral. And 70% of customers will leave a review for a business, if asked to do so. What this means for you: You need to leverage the power of reviews by asking your customers to leave them for your business.
Two places where you want to get more customers reviews are your Google My Business page and your Facebook page.
Positive reviews on your Google My Business page are important because they appear in Google when someone searches for your business. They are among the first impressions people have about you in Google and can determine if future customers visit your website … or your competitors.’
Good reviews on your Facebook page can attract more new customers as well. Because a growing number of people use social media to see what others think about a business.
Google has said that “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility,” which implies that reviews are a factor to consider when aiming for better local SEO – especially if you want to appear in the local pack.
3) How to get more local links
Unlike local citations, it can be more challenging to get local links. But they’re just as important, because they can increase your local search visibility.
To get more links from local sources, here are 7 things you can do:
- Get local press coverage. Newspapers love surveys and practical tips, for example. If you can pitch a local TV, radio, or newspaper reporter on a story idea, they will almost certainly link to your website.
- Become a guest blogger on a local blog. Nearly every blog will agree to let you make guest posts that include a link to your website, because they all want new, unique content.
- Join your local chamber of commerce and link to your website from their membership directory.
- Join local networking groups, like BNI or the Kiwanis Club, and to the same thing.
- Host an event on Eventbrite.com and link to your website.
- Sponsor a local event. Search Meetup.com for a list of local events and ask organizers about sponsorship. You may be surprised at how easy and inexpensive this is, and they can link to you from their event page.
Offer discounts to local businesses in exchange for a link from their website to yours. The bigger and more authoritative the website that links to you, the better.
The Problem With NAP — And How To Avoid It
When it comes to local search, remember NAP.
NAP stands for Name of your business, Address and Phone. As mentioned earlier, every web page where your NAP is found on the web is a citation. And it’s vital that Google finds consistent mentions of your NAP in citations. Even little inconsistencies can add up to big trouble. For example:
- Differences in your business name (Ace Novelty Company vs. Ace Novelty LLC)
- Different numbers or spelling in street name (123 Third St. vs. 123 3rd Street)
- Listings pointing to more than one website for your business
- Suite number on some citations but not on others
- Different phone numbers and formats
Differences like these can “confuse” Google, which reduces trust in the data about your business, which can reduce your “prominence” and cause your site to rank lower in local search. And your customers will go to a competitor instead.
So, make sure your NAP is consistent in all directories, local listings, and other web pages. The major citation websites to check include Acxiom, Factual and Infogroup. Just like cleaning up a bad credit score, this can be an exhausting process, but it’s worth it.
Bottom line: Yes, you can rank higher in local search. The rules are simple. Give Google and other search engines what they want, and they will send local search traffic to your website.
We’ve done it for years to help our clients.
However, the rules change every time Google updates its algorithms, which is nearly 600 times a year. That’s why getting your website to rank high in local search is a painstaking, never-ending process.
3 More Local SEO Mistakes To Avoid
These 3 mistakes could ruin your efforts at local SEO. Avoid them!
1) Missing contact information
Visit your website’s contact page and confirm all of your information is complete and accurate: the business Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) should be listed as text, not an image. This ensures that Google can index and verify the accuracy of your contact details.
2) Ignoring Negative Local SEO Factors
There are negative factors that can hurt your local search rankings. These include the following:
- Listing your business in the wrong category in your Google My Business page can negatively impact your local SEO.
- Listing a false business address for vanity purposes can seriously damage your rankings. Stick to real addresses (no PO boxes) for real locations.
- Malware on your website can cripple your local SEO, and you may never know it. Be sure to scan your site regularly to make sure it’s clean.
3) No Customer Reviews
If you’re struggling to get customer reviews online, don’t feel bad. You have company. But that’s no excuse for not having them.
Short of investing in software or hiring a service to do it for you, the quickest way to get more customer reviews is to ASK. Start by sending your customers an email with directions, along with links to your Google My Business and Facebook pages. The easier you can make it for customers to give you reviews, the more reviews you will get.
If You Do Nothing, You Will Fall Behind
Just as the rules for web design have changed, forcing you to create a mobile-friendly website or be penalized by Google, the rules for local search have changed too. The bar has been raised.
Just a few years ago, most businesses did nothing to optimize for local search. As a business owner, you’re now learning what it takes to rank higher in Google local results. But you’re not alone. Your competitors are learning too.
What happens when all of you start using the search optimization tactics? Can you see the problem? You have to start running even faster to keep your current position. Or you’ll fall further behind.
Whoever wins in local SEO wins the lion’s share of local customers. Is that fair? Probably not. Is that reality? Yes.
How Can We Help You Win At Local SEO?
From attorneys to high-tech firms … carpet cleaners to locksmiths … consultants to retailers —
we’ve helped more than 1,000 clients rank higher in local search since 2006.
If you qualify, you’ll benefit from our unique 5-Step SEO System, available only from Over The Top SEO:
Step 1. We LISTEN, to know your business and define your local search needs.
Step 2. We BUILD a customized Local SEO plan for you. Because no other business is just like yours.
Step 3. We LAUNCH your Local SEO campaign with our proprietary tools, tested and proven since 2006.
Step 4. We IMPROVE your rankings in Google local search by adjusting and improving your website content and links.
Step 5. We PROTECT your higher rankings by adjusting to Google’s daily updates. This is how you get more local customers — and keep them!
Now take the next step. Request your Free SEO Diagnostic Review to discover lost opportunities in your local search rankings. There’s no cost and no obligation.
We have proudly served well over 1000 clients from all over the world. amongst our clients are businesses of all sizes including Fortune 500 companies and small business owners.
Over The Top SEO is a leader in online marketing and utilizes the biggest advertising platforms including Google, Bing, Facebook, and Linkedin to shape the online advertising industry as we see it today.
Clients include but are not limited to: