Local SEO tips: how to boost your local rankings

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22 Jan
2024
23 Nov
2023
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SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, comes in many forms, and local SEO is crucial for the success of regional businesses. Understanding the trends and principles of optimization related to local searches is a priority for both e-commerce and offline companies. And in this article, we’ll explore the mechanisms behind local SEO and provide tips on how to optimize your website for local search results. 

What is local SEO?

When a business finds it challenging to rank for non-regional keywords, focusing on geographical SEO can provide a valuable lifeline. This approach gives companies the opportunity to attract traffic from searches specifically related to their location.

Local SEO services help companies rank higher in search results relevant to their area. This involves optimizing for search queries that reference your location, such as including your city or using phrases like near me and close by. For instance, if someone searches for buy a car in New York, effective local SEO can significantly improve your chances of appearing at the top of the results.

Local promotion should be a priority for the following businesses:

  • retail stores, banks, cafes, beauty salons, tourist companies, and other businesses with physical locations;
  • companies operating in a specific geographic area, such as delivery services, bakeries, or fitness centers;
  • online stores that have pickup points or physical sales locations.

It’s worth noting that users who arrive via location-specific queries are more likely to convert, as evidenced by Google research.

Google’s local search results page

15 local SEO tips for business success

Local search trends are continuously evolving, and today, it’s crucial for business owners to leverage local promotion methods to attract their target audience. While standard SEO and local SEO have a lot in common, there are distinct differences between the two.

When it comes to optimizing a website for local search, key considerations are as follows:

  • adding detailed company information, including the postal address, zip code, phone number, and other data;
  • semantic markup for About us and Contacts pages;
  • optimizing the semantic core for key clusters, considering geography in the page content and meta tags.

1.  Prepare a local SEO audit

A local SEO audit involves evaluating your website’s search engine ranking and identifying opportunities to enhance its position, ultimately boosting revenue and conversions. This type of audit helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of your website, allowing you to make effective changes to attract more visitors.

It is worth remembering that local audits can be conducted independently or as part of a comprehensive SEO audit service. We recommend analyzing the following:

  • Google My Business — check if all information is correctly listed and review how your site appears in search results.
  • Google Search Console — ensure that Google is indexing all important pages of your website and that there are no issues.
  • On-page SEO — check whether all SEO elements are present on your website for optimal search ranking.
  • Off-page SEO — go over your backlink strategy, analyze the number of inbound and outbound links on your site, and compare the data with your competitors.
  • Competitor analysis — identify similarities and differences between you and your competitors and understand the improvements necessary to outrank them in search results.
  • Technical audit — assess the technical health of your website using parsers (which we’ll discuss later).
  • Citation audit — gain insights into your current citations and any incorrect NAP (name, address, phone number) information that might be online.

<div class="post__style-link">If you’d like to know more, discover the main components affecting your traffic in our detailed SEO Audit Checklist article.</div>

2.  Find local keywords

Local keywords are queries that include phrases specific to a particular location, such as buy sneakers nearby. They help attract users and play an essential role in the local search optimization strategy.

To illustrate, let’s take an example of local and non-local queries:

  • Non-local query: buy headphones;
  • Local query: buy headphones in New York.

This doesn’t mean that you should abandon non-local keywords, however, with local ones, it might be easier to start and then move on to more frequent queries.

Go ahead and research the queries of your competitors using Ahrefs. Just enter the domain of your competitor, go to the Organic keywords page, and you will see the queries that bring traffic to their site.

Screenshot of the Organic keywords report in Ahrefs

When collecting a semantic core during the analysis of the website and its niche, it is essential to understand the potential of your business in both local and global search results. In composing it, you should add phrases with toponyms or combinations such as near me, nearby, and others. This approach will increase your chances of attracting more local customers searching for products or services in specific locations.

Understanding how your customers search for the products or services you offer is the foundation of local SEO.

Screenshot from Google Trends

3.  Optimize title tags, meta description, and URL

Your title and description tags must be optimized for local search results. As search engines analyze these meta tags to understand what a page is about, you should include key phrases with location names. For example, if you’re a plumber in New Jersey, the main queries for your homepage would be plumber New Jersey and cheap plumbing service in New Jersey. With that in mind, we can create the following Title: “Plumber in New Jersey — Cheap Plumbing Service in NJ | Jamie & Co.”

At the same time, tags should be unique and not replicate titles or other page elements. Identical meta tags across multiple pages can confuse search engines when selecting the most relevant page for search results. This can also make it difficult for users to distinguish between pages in search results, potentially harming click-through rates. In addition, pages with duplicated meta tags may compete with each other or fail to appear in search results for key terms, and a website may lose search traffic as a result.

Also, it is better to choose higher-frequency keywords to attract more people to your website, and you can include a mention of the city in the website’s URL. Search engines will be able to read its text and see the keywords if they are present.

4.  Create local content

It is also important to use key phrases with toponyms in a website’s content because this helps search engines understand that you have an answer to a specific user query. Users often seek to not only discover a product or service but also purchase it in a specific city. Therefore, add such phrases to the contact page, payment and delivery conditions page, services page, homepage, and so on.

An example of toponyms being used on a flower shop's main page

You can also create a blog to publish articles with embedded keywords. But we will talk about this later in the article. Just remember to integrate keywords into the content as organically as possible so that they fit the meaning and do not stand out from the overall theme.

Understanding how your customers search for the products or services you offer is the foundation of local SEO.

While optimizing your website for local search results is paramount, it’s equally important to steer clear of some common pitfalls, such as:

  • Filling a page with non-unique content. It’s important to realize that Google will not index non-unique and unhelpful content. At the same time, original content, combined with an analysis of the local market and the addition of unique location-based keywords, will help raise your website’s ranking.
  • Targeting the wrong keywords. You must refrain from using general search terms for your industry, hoping to overcome the competition. Prioritize local and long-term keywords that more accurately match the search query. For example, the buy flowers query is a general request, while buy flowers near me is a local one you should pay attention to.
  • Using outdated content. What is relevant today may become false in a week, month, or year, so make sure you not only update obsolete content but also add information that retains its relevance regardless of the dynamics of your industry.
  • Don’t water down your content. Trying to cram more keywords into the text will likely affect it negatively. Remember that your materials should be interesting, readable, useful, and created for the users, not just to improve your positions in local Google searches.

5.  Find local links

Examine the backlinks of your competitors and negotiate placements with webmasters on suitable, high-quality resources. This can be done using the ahrefs.com service (Referring domains section). Take the websites from the TOP-10 and check which sources you don’t have yet.

Screenshot of the Referring domains report on Ahrefs

In addition, you can place links to your site on local authoritative websites. These can be various catalogs, aggregators, portals, news blogs, etc.

Participate in various city events or act as a sponsor, and write about it on your site — this can help with external links, too, as local authoritative sites may link to your news page. They are always in search of topics and may agree to write about you. Sure, it’s not that simple, but such links will be high quality.

You can also negotiate with webmasters of local sites and create guest posts (with backlinks to your site), aiming for the best coffee shops in Los Angeles query, for example.

When it comes to anchors, do not use too many keyword entries and the brand name in them. Instead, make a balanced anchor list:

  • ensure that 50% of the anchor list is comprised of non-anchor links and non-commercial anchors;
  • have about 10% of anchors mentioning the brand/shop name;
  • dilute anchors containing commercial queries (change the case, word form, add words).

6.  Add local listings

When customers search for a product or service your company offers, naturally, you would want them to find it quickly and easily. Online listings help you appear in targeted searches within a localized area, ultimately enhancing your accessibility thanks to search engine optimization.

Screenshot of the Top 10 restaurants on Yelp

Every time you create a structured listing for local businesses on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or elsewhere, you fill out a form with a specific set of fields:

  • Company name;
  • Address;
  • Phone number;
  • Website address;
  • Categories;
  • Description;
  • Slogan;
  • Social profiles;
  • Images;
  • Additional media;
  • Alternative phone numbers;
  • Fax number;
  • Certificates;
  • Brands;
  • Accepted forms of payment;
  • Attributes;
  • Other options.

To find sites that match your business and location, search for keywords:

  • [target location] reviews
  • [industry] [target location] reviews.

7.  Get customer reviews

Google states that high-quality positive reviews from your customers can improve the visibility of your business, and they are the second most important ranking factor in map results, according to a 2020 BrightLocal study. Naturally, receiving positive reviews can help you, while negative ones, in turn, will harm your business. So, it’s essential to actively manage your online reputation, engage with customer feedback, and take steps to resolve any issues that may arise.

Google reviews for a yoga studio

How can you receive more reviews? Simply ask your clients. However, you must be careful because offering incentives in exchange for reviews contradicts Google’s terms.

Reviews, complemented by the owner’s response, demonstrate consumer trust in the company, a fundamental ranking factor. It is believed that Google considers three types of reviews: Google-based reviews, reviews published on your website, and third-party review sites (Yelp, Zagat, TripAdvisor, etc.).

8.  Use structured data

Rich snippet content is a reliable way to gain advantages in search results. The attractiveness of your website’s appearance in search and the display of additional data is ensured by micro-markup. Despite the obvious benefits, many surprisingly still continue to ignore this effective CTR optimization tool. Once implemented, micro-markup can create a long-term advantage, significantly distinguishing your website in the search results, among others.

Optimized review in Google search results

One option for marking up local sites is the Local Business schema — a type of structured data markup code you can add to your company’s website so that search engines can more easily determine what kind of organization you have and what you do.

The main content areas you to focus on include:

  • type;
  • image (type of banner image);
  • telephone;
  • name (of the company);
  • logo (company emblem);
  • description (of your company and your offerings);
  • opening hours;
  • URL;
  • sameAs (this is the place for a list of other social networks that support your business);
  • geo (your longitude and latitude coordinates);
  • contactPoint (contact information);
  • address (physical address of your location).

From the perspective of local SEO, it is also important for snippets to include the physical address of an organization, a phone number with the option for a quick call, as well as the rating and reviews of a company.

9.  Create a Google My Business account

Every company can claim a free profile on Google Business, which serves as a local listing with information about your business. Once you set up your profile, the information you add can appear in Google web search results and Google Maps. You can verify your business profile through Google My Business, solidifying your online presence and making it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

Screenshot of Google My Business display in search

Here is how you can do it:

  • Go to Google My Business;
  • Select Start;
  • Log in to your Google account;
  • Search for the name of your company;
  • Select the correct company;
  • Choose Start.

After claiming your business, Google My Business will provide the tools to manage your business profile effectively — here, you can add a wealth of details and optimizations. To keep it simple, let’s consider the five most important optimizations you should make:

  • Choose the correct business type. Google divides companies into electronic storefronts, service areas, and hybrid companies. The text you enter on the Information tab determines how Google sees your company. If it only serves customers at your business address, as in the case of a hairdresser or cafe, specify your address and leave the service area field blank. If your company primarily provides services to customers at their locations, such as plumbing services or pizza delivery, and you don’t have a physical storefront, clear the address and specify the service areas. If your company operates in both modes, add the address and service areas.
  • Choose the right business category. There are many options here, some of which are similar (e.g., accountant and certified accountant). Take a minute to review them all and choose the most appropriate one.
  • Add working hours. People won’t visit or call your company if they think you’re closed, so it’s important to specify the business hours. This is also necessary for holidays, so people know whether you’re open and when.
  • Add photos. According to Google, companies with images receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more clicks to their websites. So, don’t forget to add at least a few photos.

10.  Monitor trends

In our rapidly evolving world, staying vigilant is key, so keep a close eye on Google Trends. It helps understand changes in search interest and behavior around relevant keywords and topics for your brand and industry.

Screenshot from Google Trends

Analyze the most valuable key queries for your business and see their search trend. Then, track the effectiveness of your website to understand how users are converting at this time and update forecasts and reports to consider the impact of global events.

11.  Improve the structure of internal links

Improving your website’s internal link structure is a crucial step for enhancing your SEO ranking. But what makes them so important? Essentially, there are three primary purposes: they support site navigation, assist with the website’s architecture and hierarchy, and help distribute page authority and ranking power among various pages on the site.

When it comes to building an internal linking structure, there are two main approaches you can take. The first option is to parse a website using a tool like Netpeak Spider with a Site Structure report feature. Alternatively, you can develop an internal linking structure manually. This may be time-consuming, but it will give full control over the links you create and where they point to, allowing you to strategically build a network of links that boost your website’s SEO performance.

An example of a hierarchical structure

<div class="post__style-link">You can learn more about website architecture in our article “Website structure — how to build a search-friendly site.”</div>

12.  Create a contact page and a map

Whatever the goal of local search engine optimization, one necessity is clear: customers must be able to find you, look at, and purchase your products. For this, your website must include the following elements:

  • Company name;
  • Geographic address;
  • Phone number and email address.

The best thing is that this is useful not only for users but also for search engines, which attach particular importance to such data within the geo-dependent search.

Screenshot of a quality contact page

13.  Learn who you’re targeting

Want to make your content hit the mark? First up, take a moment to figure out and identify who you are targeting. Knowing your audience is the key to creating messages that resonate and engage. From demographic data to values, every detail of the puzzle will help you better compose a portrait of the ideal customer.

How to create a buyer image? So, you need to conduct a survey among your customers, then give that persona a name, add an avatar, and fill in the following data:

  • Demographic data — it is worth specifying age/gender, income level, place of residence, family status, and education;
  • Professional status — position and field of activity;
  • Psychographic data — professional/personal goals, views, and values;
  • Pains and challenges — the most acute challenges/pains, rational/irrational fears;
  • Sources of influence and information — favorite blogs, social networks and websites, media and influencers, events and conferences;
  • Purchase process — what role they play in purchasing, how often they buy a product or service, what stops them.

14.  Include NAP

NAP is an acronym for the name, address, and phone number (with area code) of a company. Your NAP should be scannable HTML text on your website so that Google can better display it in accordance with search results based on location.

Screenshot of NAP usage in Google Maps

It’s important to avoid including NAP in images, as search engines cannot scan them. A common and effective practice is to place vital information in your website’s footer or header, making it easily accessible and visible to both users and search engines. Moreover, don’t forget to include your NAP on your Contact Us page, building your business’s presence and credibility online.

15.  Start a local blog

Typically, starting a blog for a local business, as well as any other one, is a good idea. However, there are several types of enterprises that struggle to benefit from blogging, such as:

  • companies with a small number of potential clients who do not read blogs (for example, B2B companies);
  • firms that are limited in their service area (for example,  a small business focused on a specific area);
  • enterprises with exclusive clients who need to be approached individually (for example, a niche business, such as personal trainer websites).

Having a strong online presence is crucial, and what better way to connect with your local community than through a blog? Such an online platform is a dynamic way that allows you to showcase expertise and foster a sense of trust among your audience. Blogging offers several benefits for local businesses, such as:

  • attracting additional informational traffic for a website;
  • increasing the number of potential clients;
  • supporting your presence on social media through reposts by your audience;
  • building trust and authority for your brand;
  • expanding your reach to broader markets;
  • contributing to the expansion of your email mailing list.
An example of a website with high blog traffic

Writing articles that focus on your business niche, as well as highlighting news about the company, are great ideas for blog content. For instance, in the floral industry, people frequently seek information on topics like tips for transplanting plants or the best flowers to gift on a date, among others.

It’s important to understand that maintaining a blog won’t help a business whose services/products can’t be delivered or aren’t scalable. Since the biggest advantage of a blog is that it opens up new potential customers for you, they mustn’t be beyond the reach of your business.

If you, for example, operate a small café in a specific Los Angeles neighborhood without any plans for future expansion, maintaining a blog will consume your time and resources without achieving the desired effects.

Local SEO tools

Now that we’ve looked into the intricacies of local SEO, let’s explore some practical tools that can help boost your local ranking.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is the go-to tool for backlink analysis. Backlinks, essentially votes of confidence directed at your website, are paramount to establish its authority. It offers a treasure trove of features, including competitor insights, keyword research, and understanding the anchor texts that other websites use when they link back to yours.

Netpeak Spider

Netpeak Spider is a comprehensive tool for swift SEO audits, error detection, systematic analysis, and website parsing. The software evaluates over 70 parameters for each page. This allows you to gain a comprehensive understanding of your website’s technical health, identifying any flaws that may be hindering its performance.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is a convenient and free tool that provides valuable insights into a website’s performance in search results. With its help, users can access and track a vast array of data essential for various purposes, including local SEO.

The primary objective of this online service is to monitor a website’s productivity and operational efficiency. Notably, the tool views your platform from the perspective of a search engine. It encompasses a suite of metrics associated with search optimization and user experience.

The Performance tool within Google Search Console is especially noteworthy. By analyzing queries using indicators like Clicks, Impressions, and Position, one can identify terms under which our site is visible on Google and subsequently elevate prospective queries to higher search result positions.

Screenshot of the Google Search Console report

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the analytics service from Google designed to give valuable insight into website traffic and performance. By installing a specific tracking code on a website, this tool gathers detailed statistics about its visitors. Despite being free, its functionality is robust enough to address large-scale tasks.

Screenshot of the Google Analytics interface

Google Analytics processes data from the website and showcases it in reports detailing metrics like visitor counts, conversions, geolocation, Internet service providers, traffic sources, and operating systems among others. The service boasts dozens of filters, nearly 100 types of reports, and various options, making it customizable for projects of any complexity.

Google Trends

Google Trends is an invaluable free tool that provides insights into the latest search trends on Google. By utilizing this tool, you can monitor the popularity of specific topics and see how they fluctuate over time. This information can be crucial in understanding the relevance and timeliness of your content.

In addition to tracking search trends, Google Trends is also an excellent resource for discovering new keyword queries. By exploring the tool’s data, you can uncover popular keywords related to your topic and come up with fresh ideas for content that resonates with your audience and current trends. This can ultimately help you improve your website’s SEO and attract more visitors.

Conclusion

In the world of business, standing out from the competition is more important than ever. Local SEO serves as a golden ticket to enhancing rankings, strengthening reputation, and increasing revenue for your business. By targeting a local audience, you provide customized products and services that truly resonate.

In this guide, we’ve unpacked 15 expert tips to elevate your local SEO game, underlying the importance of a thorough audit, the identification of relevant keywords, and the necessity of establishing a Google My Business profile.

The takeaway here is clear — a robust local SEO strategy is beneficial and essential for any business striving to make a mark online. So, leverage these insights and watch as your local rankings soar, bringing you one step closer to your business goals

Writing team:
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