Are you looking to rank your local business high in search engine results?
Well, you’re in the right place, because today’s guide is all about local SEO.
You’re about to learn everything about local search engine optimization, from what local SEO is (and how it differs from traditional SEO) to nine local search engine optimization strategies you can use to dominate the local pack and organic search results.
- How to dentify the right keywords for local search
- How to optimize your Google My Business listing right
- How to produce local-focused content that ranks overnight
- On-page SEO practices that work great for local websites
- Effective local citation strategies your competitors dont know about
- How to win quality local backlinks
- How to leverage local search ranking signals for higher rankings
- How win local reviews at scale
- Advanced local SEO hacks a try
Let’s get started.
DOWNLOAD: A free PDF checklist that contains the nine essential local SEO techniques you need to dominate local search this year.
What Is Local SEO and Why Is It so Important?
Local SEO stands for “local search engine optimization” and is a set of practices used to optimize your business’ profile on the web and attract valuable local customers via search engine results.
Like traditional SEO practices, local SEO employs several technical and creative strategies (which I will cover later) to convince search engines that your business should be shown prominently for relevant local search queries.
Several factors determine which local companies appear at the top of Google’s organic SERPs. The core components of Google’s local search algorithm that determine local rankings are relevance, distance, and prominence.
Let’s next take a look at what local search results look like.
Deciphering Google’s Local Search Results
If you are anything like me, after a long hard day in the office, you could get easily tempted by a slice of perfectly charred, doughy, thin-crust pie.
A search of local pizza joints near me shows the following results:
As you can see, the search result display more than a set of blue links.
What’s different from local search results to traditional ones is the appearance of Google’s Local Pack.
The local 3-pack (or “snack pack” as it’s otherwise known) is a collection of local listings relevant to a user’s geo-location. This boxed area gets displayed on top of regular organic listings when a search query has local intent.
But wait, how do you define local intent?
Search queries with local intent typically include the “near me” search term like “barber shops near me” or a town, city, or suburb name (e.g. hotels los Angeles).
But, not always:
Despite the lack of local keywords, Google determined in the above example, I was probably looking for a service near me, thus featuring the local pack before organic results.
So, keep in mind that not every localized search query must contain localized keywords.
If Google determines the query may have local intent, they will display a result featuring local businesses.
What Is the Difference Between SEO and Local SEO?
In my last post, I defined organic SEO as “the practice of using white hat SEO strategies to increase your website traffic and improve your site’s presence in non-paid search engine results.”
To a certain extent, local SEO could also be viewed similarly. After all, it uses white hat SEO practices like keyword research, on-page optimization, and even link-building strategies to improve site visibility and increase search rankings.
A local approach to these best practices is how local SEO contrasts itself from traditional organic SEO.
Take keywords, for example. If you were an event planner, your keyword list would include areas you work in. Some search terms would be:
- london event planner
- event coordinator london
- london party planning
- best event planner in london
- wedding planner london
The keywords you generate would then be used in critical sections of your website like HTML heading tags and metadata.
Now that you’ve got a clearer understanding of what local SEO is, let’s help your business create its local SEO strategy.
What Do You Need to Start Local SEO?
Before diving into local search activities, we need to understand the basics. The three tips below will help your business lay the necessary foundation to give your rankings a nice boost in localized search results.
Understand Google’s Guidelines
To succeed on Google’s playground, you need to know the rules of the game.
By studying Google’s guidelines, you reduce the risks of search penalties like loss of rankings or deindexation.
In my previous post on organic SEO, I provided a quick overview of Google’s webmaster principles.
Many of the same rules, like adopting search-engine-friendly URLs or making links crawlable, still apply to local SEO.
But, there are some specific policies and guidelines for local search, namely, how you represent your business on Google’s platform.
One of the central policies to consider when determining if your business qualifies for local search results is eligibility.
As Google describes it:
“If your business either has a physical location that customers can visit, or travels to customers where they are, you can create a Business Profile on Google.”
In other words, if your business does not have the availability or ability to interact with customers offline, it is ineligible for a Google Business Profile. In this case, your efforts will be better rewarded with traditional SEO strategies.
If you’re still unsure if your business qualifies for a Google Business Profile, here are the ten industries that can maximize their presence in local search.
Be sure also to bookmark Google’s guidelines. The rules change from time to time, so it’s helpful to refer back to Google’s policies periodically to ensure you’re not violating any of them.
Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility for local search, let’s look at auditing your general business information to help boost your local SEO.
Ensure Accurate Business Data
Having consistent business information across numerous local directories and websites will help to improve your ability to appear high in location-based searches.
Moz’s State of the Local SEO Industry Report found that the “proximity of searcher to the place of business” sits in the top three local ranking factors.
If you recall, Google displays local search results based on relevance, distance, and prominence.
And looking at Moz’s local SEO report, if your business listing has discrepancies in its business data, Google can’t accurately determine your proximity to a potential store visitor.
With Google focused on delivering accurate information to its search users, these inaccuracies can negatively push your local ranking down in the SERPs.
This is why it’s so critical to audit your company’s business info before employing any local SEO strategies. Skipping this process can doom your local search campaigns right from the start.
To avoid any trouble later down the line, make a note of all of your business details.
Several spreadsheets like this business datasheet from Ahrefs will help you keep track of your company’s information.
You can use the spreadsheet to track business information variations that exist out there in the digital sphere. Previous business names may live in a local citation or an old phone number that was never updated.
Once you’ve inputted your data, there are several ways to uncover if there are any local listings with incorrect business information.
Tools like Moz Local and Semrush Listing Management can detect any incorrect business information out there.
(Assuming you are in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, or Germany that is).
On the other hand:
If paid SEO tools are out of your budget, you can simply perform a few Google searches.
Just search for pertinent business information like company name, number, and city. If there is outdated information online, you’ll find inaccuracies very quickly.
Just note what you see in your spreadsheet:
After you’ve got a list of business data, you can start correcting these errors.
Many local directories that list your business will have a claim and verification process that will allow you to make manual suggestions to contact information. Just be sure to periodically follow up with these local directories to ensure that your edit suggestions have been accepted.
Once there are no more discrepancies with your company’s data, let’s do a quick analysis of your business model.
Identify Your Business Model
It may be challenging to know where to focus your efforts if you’re new to local SEO.
Analyzing the market and assessing demand is essential to a successful local search marketing campaign. By clearly identifying your business model, you’ll be in a better position to fulfill local needs and maximize search visibility.
There are several business models to consider for local SEO to ensure your business is eligible for a Google Business Profile.
When categorizing your business for local SEO opportunities, don’t game the Google system.
Trying to extend your business reach by setting up ineligible business models like virtual offices, P.O. boxes, or vacation homes (sales offices are eligible) violates Google guidelines. And it comes with a risk of suspension or penalty – something you should want to avoid.
Now that you’re armed with Google’s rulebook, canonical business data, and model-based local SEO knowledge, let’s talk strategy!
9 Local SEO Strategies to Dominate Local SERPs
Whether you own a brick-and-mortar store or operate within a service area, these powerful local search marketing strategies will help your business appear in more relevant local searches.
(1). Pay Attention to Local Search Ranking Factors
Before you start building out local search marketing campaigns, it’s helpful to know what affects local rankings.
Because of the unique layout of local SERPs, there are two ranking signals to consider:
- Local pack ranking factors
- Local search ranking factors
I’ll cover each below.
Local Pack Ranking Factors
As covered earlier in this post, the first set of results you see in Google’s local search listings is the Local Pack.
One of the most critical signals from Google’s local search algorithm that determines which businesses appear in the local pack is proximity.
Google confirmed this in late 2021, and the local search algorithm update was nicknamed the “Vicinity” update by Sterling Sky’s Joy Hawkins.
Not only did local pack search results put more prominence on proximity, but Google also devalued the companies that keyword-stuffed their business name.
Outside of proximity, Google Business profile, reviews, and on-page signals were considered the most crucial local pack ranking factors.
As you can see from the graph, there has been a progressive decline in citation, personalization, and social signals.
But, don’t completely ignore the importance of citations. They still play a role (albeit a smaller one) as part of your local SEO optimization efforts. (I promise I’ll elaborate more on this later!)
Local Organic Ranking Factors
When it comes to the traditional ten blue links you see below that link, and on-page signals stand head and shoulders above the rest.
That’s clearly where your effort should be spent.
Now that you know where to concentrate your time and energy let’s shift our focus to the wide range of optimization tasks you should prioritize to dominate the local SERPs.
(2). Know the Right Keywords for Local Search
To help your business drive targeted local traffic to your website, you need to provide content that fulfills users’ search intent.
This is where local keyword research comes into play.
Local keyword research is the process of finding search terms with local intent that people use to find local products and services on search engines.
To find the right local keywords for your business, begin with your business category and products or services.
For example, if you were an electrician, your list might include:
- electrical installations
- electrical repairs
- electrical wiring
- electrical maintenance
- lighting installations
You can probably see where this list is going. While your primary keyword may be “electrician,” search users will also be using various search terms to discover your company’s services in the search results.
At this point, you should also create a list of cities, towns, or suburbs you provide your services. As an electrician, you’ll presumably have a Service Area Business. Examples of your location modifier will look something like this (location modifiers are in italics):
- Electrician new york
- Electrical wiring brooklyn
- Lighting installations queens
- Commercial electrical safety inspections manhattan
- Electrical repairs near me
This initial local keyword list is an excellent start to a keyword database. But, you’ll be selling your business short if you stop your local keyword research here.
To be competitive in local search, you need to identify as many relevant local keywords as possible. To uncover even more potential keywords to target, you should use a keyword research tool.
Let’s brainstorm some more electrician keyword ideas with Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.
First, we plug our existing keywords into the keyword tool:
Then inspect the “Matching terms” report. For a local electrician, these are some more potential keywords to target with on-page SEO best practices and localized content.
You can also uncover more local keyword opportunities by doing competitor keyword research in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Plugin your competitor’s site and navigate to the “Organic Keywords” report:
These basic keyword research strategies will help your local SEO campaign get off to the right start.
If you’d like to learn more detailed keyword strategies, we have a guide that examines how to perform intelligent keyword research.
For now, let’s see how these keywords can be used on one of Google’s main local ranking factors.
(3). Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
In late 2021, Google announced significant changes to its Google My Business (GMB) platform.
What is Google My Business and why do I need it?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool provided by Google to help businesses and organizations generate a business profile for Google Search and Maps.
This free tool gives businesses more oversight on how they appear in the local SERPs.
Instead of running your local search profile through the dedicated GMB app, your business listing can now be managed directly from Google Search and Google Maps.
The new features that can be managed directly in Google Search and Google Maps include:
- Claiming and verifying your Google Business Profile
- Call history (available only for select businesses in U.S. and Canada)
- Messaging is available directly through Google Search or the Google Maps app
Fortunately, besides these features, much of the Google Business Profile remains the same.
How To Manage Your Google Business Profile For Local Search
When using any of Google’s free tools or platforms, pay attention to Google’s rules and guidelines.
I covered how you can best represent your business on Google earlier in this post, so we won’t go much into it again.
It’s important to remember that your Google Business Profile can be a community-driven tool. Meaning anyone with a Google account can submit user-generated content like reviews, Q&As, photos, and much more.
I recommend that you frequently check any submitted content to ensure that it portrays your business in a positive light and helps to build searchers’ trust.
If you want to learn how to improve your Google Business listing for search rankings, read our complete guide on Getting Your Business on Google.
Speaking of content, let’s look at several techniques you can use to rank in local SERPs with local-focused content.
(4). Produce Local-Focused Content
Like traditional SEO, content is key to ranking high in local search.
But the type of content you produce for local SEO should be relevant, practical, and honed to attract your local audience.
Here are five quick content ideas you can start creating to grab your local customers’ attention.
If you want to start a conversation with local customers, few publishing channels are better than a blog.
Having an active blog on your site allows you to compete in the SERPs for local-focused search queries and generate high-quality, white hat backlinks.
You can leverage several types of content on your company’s blog. These include, but are not limited to:
- Location announcements (e.g. new store openings)
- Product announcements (e.g. address how products resolve user pain points)
- Interviews & Testimonials (e.g. customer testimonials to show your products in action)
- FAQs (e.g. best time of the year to buy a new car)
- How-to posts (e.g. how to fix a leaky faucet)
- Industry-specific content (e.g. beautiful bouquets for weddings)
But before you start building out a blog for your site, make sure you have the right resources and bandwidth in place.
Not writing regularly-scheduled articles can make your blog look more neglected than lively.
If you don’t have the time or the ability to publish blog content, consider engaging an organic SEO agency that specializes in optimized, search-friendly content.
Local Events & Experiences
While there may not be as many mass gatherings in some cities as there once was, local events are still a powerful way to broaden your reach in your local area (and draw in relevant audiences).
What does this look like exactly?
Let’s say you’re a baker who wants to organize a food drive for a local food bank. As part of your event content marketing strategy, you can:
- Interview the food bank on how this event benefits them
- Write testimonials from volunteers who are participating in the event
- Publish content highlighting the benefits of the food drive
- Write a blog post informing the community where and how they can donate
- Leverage guest posting to promote the event
By taking a multi-tiered approach to your local event content strategy, you’re able to generate several keyword-optimized blog posts or landing pages.
Promoting your content on several marketing channels like email newsletters or social media may generate PR opportunities or online mentions that drive significant ready-to-buy traffic to your site.
Here’s how a Florida-based credit union showcases how they actively engage with their local community.
Location-Specific Landing Pages
If you’re a single-location small business, this next content marketing tactic isn’t applicable to you.
But, on the other hand:
If you manage multiple locations or identify as a service area business, then this strategy is one you are going to want to employ.
To maximize the local presence of each of your company’s locations, rather than creating separate websites for each location, consider building out location-specific landing pages on one single domain.
Doing so consolidates link equity (making it easier to rank) while providing the ability to target location-specific search queries with relevant content.
The famed outdoor co-op retail store REI does this well with its store locations.
Here’s a city-specific landing page for REI’s flagship store in SoHo:
As you can see from the page, not only does REI provide the basic content info a potential customer might need to visit the site, the page is also filled with location-specific services, events, and experiences.
REI’s location page even offers a clear call-to-action inviting customer feedback and data capture via email subscription.
“Best of…” Guides
Listicles or list posts are list-based articles that focus on a specific theme or given subject.
Creating list posts that highlight the features and activities of your neighborhood can help generate local buzz and some highly relevant backlinks.
And the best part of a “best of” guide is your business can rank for popular travel search queries like “best [topic] in [city].”
Say, for example, you run a boutique hotel with several locations in New York City. You could add curated “best of” lists to your blog showcasing the different activities near your hotels.
These lists can vary but can include topics like best restaurants, best parks, best shopping malls, etc.
If you don’t have strong writing skills, “best of” guides are excellent articles for your blog. Each list post typically highlights 10-20 items and discusses each experience or activity as a short summary.
And because listicles are made for people in a hurry or those with a short attention span, you don’t have to dig into too much detail for each item in the article.
Now that you know what local-focused content to write about let’s turn our attention to optimizing the page elements around your content.
(5). Don’t Forget About Traditional On-Page SEO Practices
While localized content plays a foundational role in ranking your website in local search results, content is just half of the puzzle.
The other important puzzle piece is traditional on-page SEO.
By applying on-page SEO best practices to your web pages, you optimize your content for readers and search engine bots alike. This results in searchability improvement, which attracts traffic to your website.
Just remember that local keyword research still applies here.
Aside from traditional SEO approaches, there are some local-focused tactics you can apply as well.
Let’s go through three quick strategies right now.
Rank Multiple Local Landing Pages With Your Website Structure
If you run a small business that services multiple locations (like an HVAC repair company), you’ll want to have separate landing pages for each of these locations.
By giving each location its landing page, you give your site the chance to appear and rank for location-based search terms like “heater service [location]” or “boiler repair [location].”
When building out your site structure for these local landing pages, structure them like so:
For our HVAC friend here, if he operated out of New York City, his URL structure could look like:
But to fully maximize the search effectiveness, don’t just stop at your site’s URL structure.
The headers on each landing page should also be location-focused, as should the page’s HTML meta tags.
Don’t forget about SEO-optimized images as well!
Each landing page should also provide unique content. While you may provide similar services across all locations, copying and pasting the same content to each page is a major no-no.
This can cause duplicate content issues, decreasing your site’s overall search rankings.
Add Structured Data To Your Pages
Add relevant Schema markup to your landing pages to improve your appearance for local search terms.
Schema markups can vary by industry but can include:
- Local business
Note: Don’t splatter organization Schema markup on every page of your website. As Google’s John Mueller points out, adding organization schema on every page is “not a good practice.”
Instead, add organization Schema to your homepage OR contact page only.
If you want to learn how to add Schema markup on your site correctly, we have a complete Rich Snippets guide that will walk you through all steps.
Focus Your Homepage On Your Core Location
Even if you provide services across different cities (or even states/provinces/territories), your homepage should be optimized with your primary location in mind.
This might seem counterintuitive as you may already have location-specific landing pages and don’t want to restrict your homepage traffic to one location.
But particular service – or product-based queries tend to favor homepages of internal pages on a site.
Take a look at the search term “drain cleaning” (note the lack of location modifier) for example:
The first result that Google provides is the local 3 pack.
Then after the People Also Ask box, the majority of the organic search results are businesses that have localized their homepage with on-page SEO.
This shows that your homepage should target your central location to compete for local search results.
When optimizing your homepage for local SEO, best practices like local keyword research, on-page SEO, local schema markup, and social proof like testimonials or reviews.
Note: If you have several locations, don’t display your Name, Address, Phone (NAP) information in the footer. Each local landing page with a brick-and-mortar location should provide its respective NAP information. If you don’t have other physical locations, add your NAP to the site’s footer.
With your website now optimized for local search, let’s shift to one of the complex parts of any local SEO strategy – citation management.
(6). Find More Local Citation Opportunities
To maximize the effectiveness of this local SEO strategy, you would have needed to ensure your online business data is consistent.
If you have yet to run a NAP (Name, Address, Phone) audit, go through the “Ensure Accurate Business Data” and populate the accompanying spreadsheet(s) with all of the business data you find online.
As mentioned, there are several tools to help you gather this data into one central location. Aside from Semrush or Moz, you can also use Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder or BrightLocal’s Citation Tracker.
Having this data on hand will allow you to find any outdated business information and request the site owner to update it for you.
As you can see, incorrect NAP information can cause potential customers to leave even before they step through your door.
Let’s work on fixing that issue now.
Find and Update All NAP Information
After you’ve scoured the internet all of your NAP information, it’s time to address any inconsistencies.
There are two types of NAP citations:
Structured citations: Your business listing on a business directory like Google Business or Yelp. Here’s an example of a structured citation using our Clutch profile.
Unstructured citations: Mentions of your business in a local guide or an online news article. Here’s an online mention of our business on a personal blog.
To efficiently manage structured citations, I recommend using a citation tool like Semrush, BrightLocal, or Yext. These tools will search many industry sites and local directories and clean up any existing NAP inaccuracies.
If you want, you can also claim each of your listings manually and update the data once you confirm ownership of that business profile.
Reach out to the site owner or webmaster for unstructured citations with a friendly outreach email.
Here’s a sample outreach email from our friend Brian at Backlinko.
Using a targeted email increases the likelihood that the site owner will update your address on their site.
Once you’ve updated all of your existing NAP data, let’s find some ways to gain some new ones.
Build New Local Citations
There are several resource guides that include local citation sites by industry. The main ones include:
- BrightLocal’s Top 50 Local Citation Sites
- Whitespark’s Best Citations by Category
- Moz’s Citations by Category
If these online directories don’t quench your citation thirst, you can also find citation opportunities with some competitor research.
For that, we can use Ahref’s Link Intersect tool.
In short, Link Intersect allows you to identify the links your competitors share – but you do not.
Once you know those websites, you can approach them for yourself.
So not only are you finding new citation opportunities, but you also get to win a backlink in the process.
To use the tool, plugin 2-3 competitor URLs.
Once you submit your list of domains, you’ll be presented with a list of potential sites to win citations (and backlinks) from.
Here’s an example of a potential site from the report from which we could claim a structured citation.
Once you’ve sorted through this report, you can continue using the tool to find more citations in your local area. You don’t even need to use direct competitors in the tool as you’re looking for citation opportunities rather than backlinks.
But killing two birds with one stone isn’t a bad idea either.
Besides local citations, there are other ways you could also generate local backlinks to your site. We’ll cover those tactics in the next strategy below.
(7). Build out Quality Local Links
Getting more local links to your website essential to build site authority and boost your search rankings.
But, acquiring inbound links is easier said than done.
If you’re looking for ways to build out your local link-building campaign and you’ve already started on local citations, then here are two other tactics you use as part of your link-building strategy.
Local PR can be an absolute gold mine when it comes to local link building.
I’m sure you would agree, local news sites and local press love to shine the spotlight on businesses in their local neighborhood.
If you’re a small business doing an exciting event (like a grand re-opening), you can probably reach out to a local beat reporter who will give your business a mention.
One of the best ways to generate brand mentions like this for your business is Twitter.
Many local journalists and reporters use Twitter to find sources for their articles.
To find these local PR opportunities on Twitter, you can use the search string #journorequest + “area”.
Here’s what I came across when I used New York City as the area.
Try out other search string possibilities like #PRrequest + “area” or #journorequest “small business” to uncover more PR opportunities.
Sponsor or Host Local Events
Being heavily involved in your local community is not only a great outlet for connecting with people, but it’s also a great way to build backlinks for your website.
Consider supporting initiatives that are important to you or relate to your business. If you run a bakery, for example, donating baked goods to a food drive or bake sale can win you positive brand mentions that bring your site a lot of local relevant traffic.
If you’d rather host local events, much local news and government sites have event calendars that get a lot of visitors. Simply getting mentioned in these local event guides can bring referral traffic as well as backlinks pointing back to your site.
Regardless of which local link-building strategy you test out for your business, the core takeaway here is relationship building.
So focus first on connecting and building a lasting relationship with these individuals before asking for that oh-so-precious backlink.
Note: Don’t be tempted to cut corners when it comes to link building. If you’re thinking about buying backlinks, consider reading our guide on paid backlinks first.
With link building sorted, let’s turn our attention to brand reputation management.
And one of the best ways you can accomplish this for your business is through local reviews.
(8). Create a Comprehensive Local Reviews Strategy
Every brand understands the importance of customer service.
The type of customer service your business provides can determine your brand’s reputation. But more importantly, it can also positively and negatively impact your local search rankings.
No local SEO strategy is complete without an online reviews management plan.
Online reviews are so critical 87% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase.
But that’s not all.
Here are some significant findings from the latest Local Consumer Review Survey:
Having positive reviews on local review management sites like Google Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and others can give your business a significant boost in local search.
With this data in mind, let’s formalize how you can ask your local customers for some reviews.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, use in-store elements like banners, business cards, and receipts to request reviews. Interactive media like apps or QR codes can also encourage customers to leave a positive review.
And don’t forget about in-person feedback.
Engaging satisfied customers at the point of sale can earn you some great customer reviews on targeted review management platforms.
Just be sure to use discretion when requesting a review. Employees should be encouraged to ask for a review when a rapport has been established with the customer. Otherwise, constant badgering can just be off-putting.
Ask With Emails
Emails are a powerful tool for collecting reviews.
Not only is email a quick way to request reviews, but it’s also very accessible for a business.
If your customer is willing to provide you with their email address at the time of service, be sure to follow up with that customer within 24-72 hours.
Contacting your customer shortly after purchase means the shopping experience is still fresh in the customer’s mind. If it was a positive experience, the customer might be more inclined to leave a review.
If you don’t have an email review template in hand, here’s one from our friends at Brafton:
Use Your Email Signature
If you use email marketing to send out newsletters, confirm purchase orders, or general business announcements, you can use your company’s email signature to include a link to your targeted review site.
While this may not be as high-impact as the other two tactics above, this is a low-effort approach that you can simply set and forget. And from time to time, you may get some responses from your customers.
Regardless of which tactic or set of techniques you use to receive customer reviews, be sure to respond to every single one you receive.
Whether the review is positive:
Responding to each shows you listening to their feedback and striving to be a better business for your customers.
(9). Give These Advanced Local SEO Hacks A Try
With the basics all covered, let’s go through some actionable advanced local SEO tactics that you can start using today to help your search marketing efforts go that extra mile.
Localize Your Metadata
Your page’s metadata is your chance to make a memorable first impression in the SERPs.
When your metadata is correctly optimized for local search, more users will be inclined to click on your search listing, improving site traffic and engagement rates. This, ultimately, contributes to better search ranking performance.
So how do you optimize your metadata for local searchers?
You incorporate localized keywords into your metadata.
But, there’s a strategic way to add localized keywords to your metadata without encroaching on keyword stuffing territory.
Localized Title Tags
Consider optimizing your title element around several related keywords for your page’s title tag.
This local roofing company in Queens, NY, for example, has optimized their homepage for the search terms “roof contractors queens” and “roof repairs queens”.
As you can see above, this roofing company has done so well optimizing their homepage for these business-relevant search terms that they rank in the top 3 for both search queries. They even outrank high-performing local listing sites like Yelp and HomeAdvisor.
Localized Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are also not immune to the keyword stuffing bug.
But like title tags, there’s a way you can create locally-focused meta descriptions without ever falling prey to the keyword-stuffing trap.
The best way to write local, keyword-rich descriptions is by following Backlinko’s fantastic description writing formula:
We are [company type] based in [area] who [what you do]. Click here to learn more.
For a kitchen remodeling company, a meta description example they could use is:
We are kitchen remodeling contractors in New Jersey, specializing in full-service luxury kitchen construction. Click here to learn more.
If you feel like you’re not a strong writer and need more meta description writing inspiration, have a glance at the Google ads featured in your search results.
Words like “free estimate” and “experts” are active and motivating words that compel users to act.
Just be sure your web page matches your description copy. If your search listing states “free estimate” and there’s no estimating tool or contact form for free estimates, you may see users bounce out of your site and onto your competitor’s.
Speaking of page content, our next tactic will cover just that.
Optimize Your Above The Fold Content
As we’ve already discussed the importance of on-page SEO, I won’t get much into that.
But I will explain what “above the fold” content is.
Because most searchers are looking for quick answers or information to their problem, it’s critical that your above-the-fold content immediately grabs their attention and convinces them to stay around.
If your above-the-fold content doesn’t make it instantly clear how your business will remedy the problem, searchers will leave your site and look elsewhere.
Consider using your core local-focused keyword in your page’s main header to best “hook” readers in and drive them to your page’s call-to-action.
Look at how this painting company organized their above the fold content:
The content is well-presented, and the page includes the service area that the business works in. Not only does this provide a clear UX signal, prospective customers see within seconds that the company operates within their location.
The painting company also does a great job of including a CTA directly in the above-the-fold section of their location page, allowing search users to engage with its services without having to scroll down.
Finally, the above-the-fold content also includes another relevant keyword, “house painting services bronx”, wrapped in an H2 header.
And a quick Google search for the term “house painting bronx” shows the fruits of their labor.
Don’t Forget About Bing Places & Apple Maps
While Bing may not get as much search traffic as Google, it shouldn’t be ignored.
Bing receives 1.08 billion unique monthly visitors and sees a monthly search volume of 12 billion search requests, with the majority of these searches coming from the United States.
These numbers represent potential audiences that can convert in your local area.
Like Google Business, Bing has its own accessible business listing platform, Bing Places.
To get started with your own Bing Places listing, visit bingplaces.com.
You’ll receive a prompt to log into your existing profile or claim your business listing.
If you’re a new user, you’ll be given the choice of importing your business details from Google My Business or creating a new business profile on Bing. Assuming you have your Google Business Profile optimized, select “Import from Google My Business now”.
Follow the prompts (you’ll be asked to log into your Google account to verify that you own the business listing on Google), and you’ll soon have access to your profile and be in your dashboard.
Similar to your Google Business profile, your dashboard allows you to edit your information, add photos, and include social profiles. This data should be included in your dashboard if you imported it from Google.
You can also create offers (similar to Google posts) and gather reviews for your listing.
While you’re claiming your Bing Places listing, you should also take the time to claim your Apple Maps profile.
Like Bing, Apple Maps competes with the dominant Google in the navigation app space. Still, there are over 1.5 active Apple devices and 1 billion active iPhone users.
To add your business to Apple Maps, you must:
- Create an Apple ID (if you already don’t have one)
- Search for your business on Places on Maps
- If your place name doesn’t exist, select Add the missing place
- Enter your business details
- Verify your business number
Once you’ve received the phone verification confirming that you can legitimately manage the Apple Maps listing, you’ll arrive in the Apple Maps dashboard.
Unlike Google or Bing, there’s quite a limit to what you can do on Apple Maps. You can literally edit only your business information like name, address, business categories, website URL, hours of operations, and social media links:
You can’t upload photos or gather reviews on Apple Maps as that content is sourced from listing management sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor.
After you’ve verified your both listing platforms, let’s move on to the last advanced local SEO technique that will further improve your local search presence.
Tap Into Local SEO Tools
Because local SEO has become so competitive, managing local SEO on your own is like swimming up a creek against a swift current.
To outperform competitors in local search it’s not enough to update your Google Business profile or earn some local citations. Maintaining a well-optimized local online presence requires assistance from local SEO software.
What’s more, local SEO tools assisting your local search marketing campaign, you’re able to:
- Track search rankings
- Monitor local search performance
- Gain competitor insight
- Research locally-focused keywords
- Monitor and respond to customer reviews
Here are five local SEO tools to try out with all these benefits in mind.
Google Ads Keyword Planner
Despite being used for search advertising primarily, Google Ads has a surprisingly powerful SEO feature: Keyword Planner.
If you’re looking to uncover new keyword opportunities for your site but don’t have the budget to pay for a comprehensive SEO suite, then Google Ads is your friend.
By inputting your target keywords into the Google Ads Keyword Planner tool, you’ll be able to see how popular they are.
Just keep in mind that Google Keyword Planner will tend to overestimate actual search volume as it groups together search queries with similar meanings.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is another excellent tool to help you in your local search efforts. And like Google Ads, as long as you have a Google account, this tool is entirely free.
The main benefit of GSC is how it can help you track site performance. Search Console provides a ton of information about your site’s health, like indexing issues, structured data functionality, and mobile usability.
For local SEO, Google Search Console enables you to see what pages appear in search results, what search queries your pages rank for, and the number of clicks and impressions your pages receive.
Yext is a valuable local listing management tool. It can help your business manage everything from NAP information, local citations, and authentic first-party reviews.
Because of how robust Yext is, several packages and plans are available depending on your business requirements. Of the four pricing tiers provided by Yext, Emerging is the cheapest at USD 199/year.
Grid My Business
Are you looking to track and compare your Google Business performance against your top 20 competitors in your surrounding area? Then consider using Grid My Business.
This local rank tracking tool shows you how your business performs in the local SERPs depending on where a user is searching:
You also access competitor research, bulk search query analysis, and side-by-side comparison reporting.
A regular contributor to local SEO research and content, BrightLocal is one of the most robust local SEO tools available.
Like any other all-in-one SEO suite, BrighLocal comes with a host of local search features:
- Reputation management
- Citation tracking
- Local search audits
- Google Business Profile audits
- Local search rank checker
- Local search grid analysis
BrightLocal also has its academy to help you build and grow your local SEO knowledge. So if you’re not ready to invest in a comprehensive SEO platform like BrightLocal, you can still access BrightLocal’s site to master the local search marketing field.
Now It’s Your Turn!
There you have, nine techniques and strategies to not only kick off your local search campaign but also help your local SEO efforts reach the next level.
Which local SEO strategy have you tried in the past? Are there any tactics mentioned above that you’re excited to try in 2022?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
In the meantime, grab my local SEO checklist. It’s your on-the-go cheat sheet to increase local search rankings this year.