You want to grow your local business in 2017. And you know that local SEO can help, but you’re not sure how to get started. Or you’ve already gotten started with local search engine optimization, but you’re not getting the results you expected. And you have no idea what you’re doing wrong, or how to improve your efforts further.
In this post, you’ll learn 20 of the best local SEO tips to improve your local search rankings in 2017, boost visibility, and increase traffic to your website. These tips will help you figure out a local SEO strategy for achieving a higher local search ranking for your business website.
- Conduct Local Keyword Research
You’ve heard it plenty of times. Keyword research is a crucial step in any SEO strategy. For local SEO, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find top-ranking keywords in the city, or location you’re targeting. All you need to do is enter the main word or phrase related to your product or service and include the location you’re targeting, (as shown in the screenshot below).
The Keyword Planner will then generate keyword ideas related to your product/service, and specific to your target location. From there, you can make a list of keywords with high search volume, and low competition.
- Optimize Your Meta Content
The keywords you’ve shortlisted are your target keywords. You need to use them to optimize your meta content, which includes the title tags and meta descriptions. For local SEO optimization, make sure you combine your chosen keyword with the name of the city or location you’re targeting. This is crucial because your meta content is one of the first things people will see in the search results.
The idea is to ensure that your meta content is relevant for searchers, so that they will click on the link to visit your website. The screenshot below shows a few good examples of optimized titles and meta descriptions.
- Create Local Keyword-Optimized Content
Your page content should also be optimized with relevant keywords, and location names. This will help search engines determine whether or not your page is relevant to users’ search queries. Make sure the content is high-quality, and makes sense, instead of being stuffed with keywords. Otherwise, Google could penalize you, and your local search ranking could suffer.
- Include A Virtual Tour
There may be no official statement that time on site directly improves search ranking. But according to Moz, there is a significant correlation between the two. So the more time people spend on your site, the better your chance of improving your search rank. This means you need to engage your website visitors effectively to get them to stay on your site longer.
If you are looking for tactics to engage your visitors, you could try including a virtual tour of your facilities. The University of California, San Diego website offers a virtual tour of the campus. Visitors can get a 360-degree view of the campus, and can go on an interactive tour of the facilities. This is a great way to engage potential students, and their parents, who are checking out the university through their website.
- Ensure A Consistent NAP
Your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) should be accurate, and consistent across your Google My Business profile, website, and all online citations. Any inconsistencies could negatively affect your rank, according to the local search ranking factors study published by Moz.
- Verify Your GMB Listing
Currently, paid ads show up first in local search results, followed by Google business listings, and then organic search results. If you take a look at the screenshot below, you’ll see an example of what Google displays when you search for, “flower shop Orlando.”
So for higher visibility, you need to ensure that your business is listed in the Google My Business directory. But before your business can show up in Google maps, and local search results, you need to verify your listing. There are several ways to verify your listing, (including by postcard, phone, and email), based on the type of business you own.
- Complete Your GMB Info
After verifying your GMB listing, you need to start updating all the details about your business on your GMB profile. When Google ranks businesses for local search results, they consider the relevance of the listing to the search query, and the distance of the business from the searcher’s physical location.
So you need to make sure that every single detail about your business is accurately updated for Google to rank you correctly. To complete your Google My Business listing, you need to update the following details about your business:
- Business name
- Physical address (P.O. boxes not allowed)
- Phone number
- Business hours
- Business categories
- Business description
The following screenshot shows how your info will show up in the listing. As you can see, searchers can learn a lot about your business from this listing. And the accuracy of the information you include will help Google display the correct information.
- Optimize Your GMB Business Name
Your business name on your Google My Business page should match your actual business name. Avoid adding unnecessary information, which could result in your listing getting suspended. For example, your real-world business name is, “Bob’s Pizzas.” That’s the name displayed on your storefront, and website. So, your GMB profile should also say, “Bob’s Pizzas,” not, “Bob’s Pizzas – The Best Pizza Joint in Town.”
- Optimize Your GMB Description
Your Google My Business description could either be your best friend, or your biggest enemy. This is the section where you describe what your business is all about. In order to rank for local search, make use of relevant high-ranking keywords within the description. To make your description more readable, keep the paragraphs short, and try using subheadings, and bullet points wherever possible.
- Include High-Quality Images
Images can make a big impression on people. And when you include high-quality images of your business/services on your GMB page, it can help you entice searchers to check out your website. You need to include at least 3-5 images of your business in action – whether it’s a picture of an amazing dish you’re serving, or a picture of customers being served. Notice how the images make the listing pop in the following screenshot.
- Create Local Citations
The previously mentioned local search ranking factors published by Moz also stressed the importance of citations for local search ranking. Citations help search engines better identify, and categorize your business for search.
For local SEO, you need to focus on getting citations from authoritative portals like Superpages.com, Yellow Pages, and Yelp. You can also try getting listed in niche-specific local citations. And make sure your business info – including your NAP, and website URL – are accurately updated to match your GMB listing.
- Connect With Local Publications
Inbound links coming from high authority websites are a great way to boost your search engine ranking. For local link building, try getting in touch with local news publications, and magazines for a chance to get featured. Do you have some interesting news to share with the community? Connect with local publications to see if they will write about your business, and link to your website.
- Partner With Local Businesses
If there are any local businesses related to, but not in direct competition with your own business, see if there’s an opportunity to partner with them. This could be a chance to get featured on their website as a preferred partner. Which means more links, and more opportunities for increased traffic. Shady Brook Farm, for example, has an entire web page dedicated to their local partners. As you can see in the screenshot below, they’ve displayed the logos of their local partners, with a link that takes visitors to the respective websites of those partners.
- Get Involved In The Local Community
One of the best ways to earn local links is by getting involved in the community. You could participate in a charity drive, donate to a local charity, or give back to the community in one way or another. These activities give you the opportunity to get featured in local publications, and on charity websites, earning you valuable local links.
- Sponsor A Local Club Or Organization
For more opportunities to earn local links, you could try sponsoring a local sports team, or a local club. These clubs or teams could then mention you on their websites as a sponsor, which means more local links to your site. Do some research to find out if there are any associations, or sports teams looking for sponsorship in your target location.
North Park Little League, for example, has a dedicated page on their website that lists the local businesses that have sponsored the team, (as shown in the screenshot below). They have properly updated the addresses of these businesses, and linked to the official websites of the businesses that have a website.
- Participate In Local Awards
Many communities host annual awards for local businesses. You could try participating in one of these events, to get links from local websites, or publications talking about the award. And many of these awards have official websites, where you could get listed as a nominee, or participate, with a link to your site.
- Host or Sponsor Local Events
Another excellent opportunity to build local links is by hosting, or sponsoring a local event. Maybe you could have an annual event celebrating something, or maybe you could play host to a seasonal celebration, like St. Patrick’s Day, or Christmas. Either way, the goal is to get the event mentioned on local websites, and news publications to earn local links.
For sponsoring an event, you could get mentioned on the official website for the event, with a link back to your site. In the case of the San Francisco Small Business Week, there’s a separate web page, (shown below), dedicated to sponsors of the event.
- Create Local Content
When you’re striving for effective local SEO optimization, the goal is to come up as one of the top results when someone searches for the location name. This means you need to create quality content focusing on your target location.
One option for doing so is to write a, “Best of,” or, “Top 10,” list noting some of your favorite businesses operating locally, and relevant to your own business.
Let’s say you’re a wedding planner in Sacramento, California, and you want to create a list of local businesses that sell wedding-related products, or services. You could compile a, “Best of Sacramento,” list of your favorite florists, bakeries, designers, and photographers in the area.
When creating local content, try making use of the city, or location name as much as possible, without making it sound unnatural.
- Build and Optimize City Pages
If you’re targeting more than one city, or location in your local SEO efforts, try to build a unique landing page for each of the different cities you’re targeting. Make sure you optimize each of the pages with keywords relevant to the city name. The URL for each of the pages should also contain the respective location name.
Roto-Rooter, for example, provides plumbing and drain cleaning services across the nation. And they have built a separate landing page for each of the different cities within their service area. Below, you can see the landing page for Amsterdam, NY. The content, heading, and URL are properly optimized with the city and state.
If you look at the landing page for another city, like Albany, NY, the content, heading, and URL for this page too is optimized with the respective city and state, (as shown below).
Creating separate landing pages for each location helps ensure that searchers from different cities can locate your business in the search results, regardless of which city name they have entered in their search query.
- Get More Reviews
The previously-cited study, (published by Moz), on local search ranking factors found that review signals play a significant role in a website’s local search ranking. This means you need to optimize your efforts for earning reviews from your customers. Maybe you could send them an email, asking them to leave a review about your business on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Superpages, or other review sites.
These local SEO tips can effectively help you improve your ranking in local search results. Try applying them today, and watch your local ranking improve with your own eyes. Got any questions about the local SEO techniques mentioned here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.