How To Rank High In Local SEO

Search Engine Optimization

In order to get local attention, small businesses need to focus on raising their local SEO rankings. Ranking high in local SEO will allow your business to pop up in local SERPs when users search for your vertical within your geographic area. Unfortunately, just being in the same vicinity as a user does not guarantee that you will appear in the SERPs. Here are some local SEO ranking factors that can help you improve your standing.

Start with Google My Business

When you sign up for Google My Business, you can find your listing and claim it as your own. During this process, it’s crucial that you make sure that your name, address, phone number, hours, and website URL are all accurate. Additionally, adding photos and a logo will make your listing look even more legit and professional. Once your account is up and running, make regular Google posts every week that highlight your services, products, events, sales, etc.

How Does Local SEO Work with GMB?

Proximity is a huge factor in whether your GMB will show up for users. Unfortunately, a business in Tigard won’t get much traction in Portland due to its physical address. And I know what you’re thinking, but using “near me” keywords won’t get you around that because Google always knows where everyone is… all the time. Yikes.

Despite this, maintaining your GMB is your best shot at how you can optimize for near me searches. Having an up-to-date GMB is still the best way to have more control over your info, and keeping it optimized will increase the chances that it appears for nearby users.

Emphasize Reviews

Review signals are important across relevant search directories within your industry. Why? Businesses need consistent reviews! Fresh reviews are important for businesses to stay relevant in important search directories, otherwise, it looks like people aren’t visiting your business. These reviews can be seen on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Houzz, or Avvo, etc. depending on your vertical. 

Make sure that reviews are regular and not entered all at once—getting a handful of reviews all at one time looks really sketchy so please don’t do that. Ever. Besides, Google also looks at the actual text of your reviews to get a better feel for your business, so it’s more than just the number that counts. 

The Higher the Better

Maintaining high ratings is crucial. For example, Brightlocal states that “businesses without 5 stars risk losing 12% of their customers… Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars… Consumers aged 55+ are least likely to forgive a low-star rating.” But not having 5 stars isn’t the end of the world, it’s actually what more people expect and sometimes prefer. A perfect 5-star rating can actually seem fishy. It’s really when you drop below 3 stars, that you start to see significant losses.

When you get negative reviews, it’s important to respond in a timely manner with a level head—try to listen to feedback while presenting your side of things. New customers are reading how you respond to the bad reviews, so make your business look good and professional.

Don’t Sleep on NAP Consistency

Separate from Google My Business, ensure that your business’ information is 1000% accurate on all other major data aggregators. One tiny mistake in your online business data will be crawled by data aggregators and spread like crazy. Don’t let that happen! 

Ok, so how do you keep track of all the information out there on your business? There are monitoring services out there that will push your correct information, for example, Moz Local will help you stay on top of your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) accuracy.

What is This, 2010?

If you have messy citations, you need to spend time cleaning them up. Building citations in directories is less important today than it used to be, but it’s still important if your directory info is straight-up incorrect, because it’ll confuse both people and bots. Check the NAP consistency across top data aggregators and use a pushing service like Moz to tell them what’s up.

Pour That Link Juice

Link building is valuable in all SEO applications, especially in a local SEO strategy. Google analyzes links to your website from external sources. The goal with link building is to encourage relevant, higher Domain Authority sites to link to you. While you should always try to target The Big Boys, sometimes it’s more attainable for small local businesses to be linked by local websites—community sites, local news organizations, local bloggers, event pages, and other local business partnerships. 

Being linked by other local organizations shows Google that your business is embedded within that community and that you speak to your nearby audience. Even a link from a local business with a lower Domain Authority will help your rank because they might have a higher DA than you.

Don’t forget to also link between your own pages! This distributes page authority and passes along “link juice” to help users and bots navigate relevant anchor text related to pages on your site. 

Improve On-Page SEO

Make sure that your good ol’ on-site SEO is solid. This involves strategically placing keywords in your headings, titles, internal anchor text, and accessible contact info that also matches your consistent NAP. Here are some on-page SEO tricks to help you rank high in local SEO:

  • Talking about local events related to your industry
  • Hosting or partnering with local organizations
  • Creating resources for your area, like blogs
  • Writing a city or neighborhood guide
  • Building landing pages for specials or sale events
  • Answering local questions about state laws that might affect your potential customers
  • Compiling a resource list of businesses and putting yourself on it

When building local pages, make sure that you stay away from spammy and thin copy—long content and high-effort will always prevail so don’t just inflate your site structure without a plan.

Add Location Pages

If you have multiple physical locations, each one should have its own page with unique NAP info and a map. As I implied above, adding a review widget will really give your business listing some traction—don’t forget to also add hours and any other relevant information. Make sure your listing is totally solid before you call it a day. You can also think about adding JSON-LD markup schema to your location pages. Schema feeds accurate data about your business to the hungry bots of the interwebs. NOm noM.

Every Word Counts

Keyword research is the backbone of SEO and when it comes to local SEO, it becomes even more significant. Adding geolocation modifiers to your keywords will result in more dramatically localized engagements, making it easier for locals to find your business. For example, instead of just ranking for “brewery,” try aiming for “brewery in Portland” or “Portland brewery.” Make sure to put those location modifiers in your page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and content so that Google can find and crawl you easier.

Cater to the Local Masses

Making content relevant to your geographic vicinity can also help you rank higher for local SEO. If you have a blog, work some local-targeted content clusters into your content calendar. Catering some content to local communities is a great way to get recognized and rank within and around them. 

Make it Worth it

On-page optimization, user experience, and site design improvements will all contribute to how people interact with your site, so make them memorable! Google pays attention to click-through rates in search results, so double-check that your titles and metas are compelling. You can use tools that monitor user activity to help inform your updates and improvements—consider looking into heatmaps, CRO (conversion rate optimization), and A/B testing. If your website and its content does not match the user’s expectations as set by the SERP they clicked on, they may bounce.

Fix Your UX, Bro

Google pays attention to your website’s bounce rate. Like a frickin hawk. Visitors may bounce for all sorts of reasons:

  • Site content does not match user expectations
  • Site navigation is challenging
  • Website takes an eternity to load
  • Abrasive colors and branding
  • Outdated design
  • Confusing service pages and poor writing
  • Pop-ups
  • Broken links and buttons
  • Bad mobile presentation

Don’t Forget About Social Media

Social media is a huge part of local SEO now, and each channel can attract all sorts of attention from different sources. Using social signals will help you track how local users are interacting with your GMB, Facebook, Yelp, etc. Stay active on your social platforms to promote your content, events, sales, etc. Local users interested in your brand—and thus social presence—will show Google that they may also be interested in visiting your site, which will give you a ranking boost.

Local SEO Made Easy

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all of your SEO and data tracking, and local SEO can be an even trickier beast because of its reliance on specific local content and keywords. So why not hire local SEO experts to maintain all of it? 
Researching local keywords, claiming GMBs, monitoring user experience, link building etc is part of our specialty here at Intuitive Digital. Call us up to learn more about our local SEO solutions and how they can help you increase your organic traffic exponentially!

About the Author

Nick Footer

Nick Footer is an entrepreneur and founder of Intuitive Digital, a national award-winning digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. With over 15 years of experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses improve their online presence through search engine optimization, paid advertising, and website design.

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