Local SEO Secrets
Forty-six percent of all searches on Google are made by people looking to find businesses in their area.
Local SEO is an extremely crucial element for location-based businesses. Find out how you can easily transform people in your area from locals to loyal customers.
What Is Local SEO?
Users search online for localized terms–the name of your city, county, or notable street names–when they need to find a local business. While some users may have a specific business in mind, these searches are most often unplanned as people look for food, drinks, products, or services in the moment.
The more search engine optimization (SEO) factors you integrate into your digital presence, the more likely it is that your site will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).
You don’t need to go to impossible lengths to stand out in a crowd. Learn how to take advantage of local SEO and let Google’s algorithm do the hard work for you.
Snacking on Google’s Snack Pack
To be seen effectively on Google or other search engines, you’ll have to compete with Google’s “Snack Pack.”
The Snack Pack is a sampler of local businesses that pops up prior to any organic content that Google might share with its users. This boxed area lists the top three businesses that make use of the keywords a user just entered. The Snack Pack also works in tandem with Google Maps and can draw users in with easy-to-access information and road maps.
Say you’re on a roadtrip and suddenly craving cupcakes just like mom used to make. You’ll search “Cupcakes Near Me” on your way through Toledo, Ohio.
Cue the Snack Pack.
- Cake Arts Supplies isn’t a bakery, but it’s a baking shop, and likely one of the most popular in the city.
- Bakery Unlimited specializes in all kinds of tasty treats, including cupcakes.
- Eston’s Bakery is another bakery with great advertising and ready-made cupcakes that are calling your name.
This display is great for you as a cupcake-craver. As a business owner, you’ll note it’s difficult to attract much attention when these three big names are in the way.
Your competition–and your goal–is that Snack Pack.
While it’s difficult to break into this arena, the success of the Snack Pack’s top three businesses is indisputable. The use of organic keywords by these businesses allows them to garner an audience without the use of advertisements. You can do the same and find yourself sitting pretty in the Snack Pack as a result.
Cracking the Snack Pack & Mastering Local SEO
Here are some tips to help you squeeze your way into the Snack Pack.
Local SEO Secrets #1. Claim Your Google Business Listing
Google has a service known as “Google My Business,” which lets you fill in important information about your business’ hours of operation, locations, and the products you have available.
When you claim your business, you’ll make it easier for Google to offer curious users a map to your location via Google Maps. You’ll also rank higher in SERPs for your efforts.
You can claim your business via Google My Business in 10 easy steps:
1. Search for “Google My Business”
2. Sign in to your Google account, or create an account that you’ll return to
3. Enter the name of your business in the first prompt box
4. Enter your business’ address in the next prompt box
5. Choose whether you want your business to appear on Google Maps when searched
6. Enter your business’ address – different than your location
7. Choose a category for your business
8. Enter a phone number or website URL that Google can link users to
9. Click “Finish”
10. Verify your sign-up through your Google account
Local SEO Secrets #2. Ensure Your Content Is Mobile-friendly
Because the vast majority of local SEO searches are conducted via mobile, your platform needs to be mobile-friendly. In fact, 33 percent of mobile users who find local businesses first search for the location itself.
You can check to see how your site appears on a mobile phone using Google Inspector.
Local SEO Secrets3. Make Friends Out of Neighbors
After you’ve claimed your business, you should consider your content and find places where you can naturally interweave the name of your city, county, or region. Including your phone number and address along with any other business information is one way to build local SEO, but others include:
- Mention the weather in “blustery Toledo” in an introduction, or comment on a business partnership with a local zoo.
- If your business has different outlets throughout the city, you can create different pages on your site that note the location, hours, and details of each storefront.
Remember: The more you mention your location, the better you tell Google where to target your content.
If you happen to partner with a business to expand your audience, be sure that you have it include your business’ address, phone number, and full title in its content. These local citations—meaning the sharing of your business’ information on pages not on your own website—garner organic traffic and provide your content with an extra layer of authority.
Local SEO Secrets #4. Network, Network, Network
To make the most of SEO localization, you can even reach out to different local organizations on social media.
- Mention the local zoo in one of your posts.
- Back one of the zoo’s events financially to get your logo and link featured on its site.
Local networking increases the number of keyword affiliations on the internet that can link your business to your city. Even better, it helps you develop a backlink network and boost your credibility in the eyes of Google’s SEO algorithm.
Local SEO Secrets #5. Build a Reputable Backlink Network
Authoritative backlinks will make Google’s SEO algorithm sit up and take note of your content.
In terms of local SEO, you’ll want to backlink to local businesses, newspapers, or bloggers. Doing so will more effectively tie your name to the nearby area.
You can find authoritative backlinks (links to other sources in your area) on any SERP with your location’s name in it. The best backlinks piggyback on the SEO ranking of other content.
Assess where the content falls on a SERP. The higher up on the list the content is, the more authoritative Google and other search engines consider it. Use this to determine whether linking that content in your own content will strengthen your backlink network.
For example, TripAdvisor’s post on the best bakeries in Toledo ranks higher than the Bakery Unlimited website because TripAdvisor, as a site that addresses the value of individual businesses all around the world, is a greater authority.
The first and second sentences of each of your paragraphs are great places to utilize backlinks. While you don’t want to flood your content with links, using a few to highlight industry statistics or authoritative quotes will do wonders for your SERP ranking.
Local SEO Secrets #6. Research Your Core Keywords
Core keywords are single words or extensive phrases that users online type into search bars to find their content. These keywords can be specific and vary by industry, so using a keyword research tool will help you identify which keywords are most commonly used in your category of business.
Where can you find keyword research tools? Here are a few of our favorites:
- Google Trends: Shows an incredible amount of detail about keyword trends by date and location
- Google Search Console: Tells you which keywords are already sending traffic your way
- Answer the Public: Mines Google Keyword Planner and Google Autosuggest to provide common user questions in easy-to-interpret visualizations
- Adword Keyword Generator: Generates keywords and related key terms, which is great for local SEO
- KWFinder: Specializes in long-tail keyword research
Once you’ve found your best keywords, you’ll want to use them in your:
- Page titles and headers
- Meta tag descriptions
- Formatted text
- Links as anchor text
- Domain names
- Alt text
- Image file names
Variations on your core keywords will lead you to different authoritative sources, and you’ll be able to take advantage of the backlink networks each individual piece of content has already established.
In the search below, both “Cake in a Cup” and “Glass City Cupcakes” take advantage of local SEO to appear in area-specific cupcake searches.
If you were creating content for a site advertising homemade cupcakes, these pages would be your competitors. However, you should consider browsing rival websites. You’ll be able to see what links they’ve used to climb the ranks of this particular SERP and determine if those links are worth using for yourself.
Local SEO Secrets #7. Backlink Effectively: Questions to Ask
- How does the page I’m backlinking to use its own SEO factors effectively? Am I establishing a strong connection by pursuing this link network?
- Does this backlink lead to a website that houses content comparable in topic to my own?
- Does this backlink direct my audience to an industry giant or influencer?
- How much content is on the page I’m backlinking to?
Local SEO Secrets #8. Use Reviews for an SEO Advantage
The reviews and rankings that your business collects in Google’s “Google My Business” contribute 15 percent of the organic SEO traffic your website attracts. These elements offer data to represent user experience when interacting with your business. Google’s algorithm regards that data highly.
So, how do you get reviews? You need to engage with your audience.
Encourage your in-store customers to find you online, or collect email addresses to send receipts (and review requests). Follow up online orders with a discount offer if your consumers review their purchases. Invite visitors to rate your business anywhere, including: