Local SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide to Higher Rankings

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By Elaine Bennett

Source: Pixabay

Research says that 46% of Google searches are local. Moreover, 88% of local searchers call or visit the business they found online within 24 hours.

However, to get your small business noticed in the overcrowded SERPs, you need to optimize your website for local search. Local SEO is what helps you stand out from your rivals down the street. It increases your online exposure, drives qualified local traffic to your website, and gains people’s trust.

Here are a few practical steps you should take.

Handle the Technical Website Issues

Your online presence starts with an error-free, easily indexable, and highly functional website. Here are a few things to pay attention to:

  • Create a “Contact Us” section featuring your business name, address, and phone number for each location.
  • Use Schema markup to add context to your pages and help Google understand your site information.
  • Place NAP information for each location in the footer of your pages.
  • Invest in NAP accuracy, making sure this information is used consistently across all channels you use.
  • Make sure your phone number is easily clickable on mobile devices so users can call you directly from your site.
  • All location pages should be linked to properly from your navigation menu.

Target Keywords Relevant to your Location

Local keyword research is the nerve center of your online presence. They dictate the creation of your content and help you appear in front of the right audiences.

Apart from some traditional keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, Ubersuggest, or SEMrush, you could also use alternative resources that help you understand search intent. These could be Google Trends, Answer the Public, Buzzsumo or Google’s Autocomplete – any tool that tells you what your customers are searching for.

It’s important to diversify your keywords, given that online users have different searching habits. For example, if you’re a plumber in Brisbane, opt for “plumbers in Brisbane,”Brisbane plumbing,” etc. Also, don’t limit yourself to your exact location. Instead, optimize for specific areas like “plumber in South Brisbane” or even target your entire area/state, as in “plumber in Queensland.”

In addition to the traditional exact-match and long-tail keywords you use, you should also optimize your site for conversational phrases that are used by mobile searchers. Mobile users now use voice-powered searches to conduct natural search queries, based on entire questions and sentences. For example, instead of googling “plumbers Brisbane,” they will use phrases like “What are the nearest plumbing services?”

Local keyword research can be extremely overwhelming for marketers just entering the world of SEO. Your goal is to target the right local keywords and optimize your pages strategically so they can address your search intent at every stage of the buyer journey. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to consult an agency doing SEO in Brisbane that already understands the needs of your local market and can tailor your website optimization strategy for them.

Claim your Google My Business Listings

Google My Business is Google’s free service that lets your business profile appear in front of the people that search for your business or businesses like yours. According to the 2018 research study by Moz, it’s the #1 ranking factor in Google’s Local Pack and Local Finder, helping you appear high in the local search.

First, go to google.com/business, fill out the form, and verify your listing. If you have multiple listings, you need to verify each of them separately. This is immensely important, given that only a business owner can claim a GMB listing.

Once you create your business profile, you need to optimize it to the max. When starting out, Google will ask you some basic questions about your business, including the details about its name, location, address, phone number, website, description, and business hours.

You will also need to pick your business category to inform a user about the type of your business and its role. Moreover, you can even add some additional attributes that will grab the attention of the right local audiences. For example, if you own a pet-friendly store or a coffee shop with free wi-fi, why not emphasize these benefits?

Just like I’ve mentioned above, make sure your business information you add is consistent, accurate and up-to-date.

Claiming GMB listings is an ideal opportunity to implement your local keywords to make your local business more findable. Still, don’t stuff your listing with search phrases, as Google explicitly forbids this kind of behavior.

Finally, add visuals to your GMB listing. You can add a profile picture, as well as a cover photo and a video. Google also lets you feature user-generated photos on your Google My Business profile, which is a great way to build trust with your users.

Build Relevant Citations

A citation is a mention of your business name, address, phone number, and website on a certain website. Citations are an integral part of your SEO strategy, as they’re Google’s important local SEO factor. Now, it’s important to know that a citation can be built for physical businesses only. Virtual offices don’t count.

Now, there are different types of business citations, such as:

  • The abovementioned GMB listings that the basis of your online presence.
  • Core-structured platforms, where almost every business can be listed. These are Bing, Apple Maps, Yahoo, Foursquare, Facebook, and Yelp.
  • Geo-specific and industry-specific platforms. For example, businesses in the hospitality industry will focus on relevant sites like TripAdvisor, while lawyers will register on FindLaw.

Earn Authoritative Local Backlinks

Backlinks are still among Google’s most prominent ranking factors. They’re a key part of Google’s Local Pack, too.

Now, there are numerous ways to build local links.

I mentioned above local business directories like Angie’s List or BBB that serve as reputable backlink opportunities.

You could also leverage influencer marketing and guest blogging. In other words, you need to identify local influencers that share the same passions and target the right audiences. You could ask them openly to promote your local services, send them your products and hope they will review them on their blog and social networks, or simply contribute to their blog with original and content. This is an amazing opportunity to position your local brand as a relevant source of information, get yourself noticed by wider audiences, and build trust with local customers.  

Finally, your website content can also serve as an outstanding way to earn local backlinks. Namely, high-quality content that brings value to your target audience will earn loads of social shares and increase your online exposure. Above all, it will put you in front of the most authoritative names in your industry and inspire them to share and link to your blog post as a valuable online resource.

Over to You

Remember that there is no uniform local SEO strategy. Do your research, see what aspects of your online presence you can fine-tune, and keep growing your online authority. Even though these long-term SEO practices take time to deliver the desired results, they really pay off. And, I hope these tactics will help you.

About the Author
Elaine Bennett is a digital marketing specialist focused on helping startups and small businesses grow. Besides that, she’s a regular contributor for Bizzmark Blog and writes hands-on articles about business and marketing, as it allows her to reach even more entrepreneurs and help them on their business journey.

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