Local SEO Guide 2023: Look at these figures. Local searches make up 46% of Google searches.
89% of people who go online use their phones to look for local businesses, and 58% do this almost daily.
Isn’t that a lot?
So, if you don’t optimize your business for local SEO, you’re missing out on a chance to make money every time someone does a local search for products and services like yours.
Now, let’s go into more detail about local SEO, how it works, and how you can use the below tips to make your business more visible on search engines.
What is Local SEO?
Let’s start from the beginning.
Local SEO is changing your website to get more traffic, be more visible online, and make your brand more well-known. In other words, local SEO helps you rank higher in SERPs for local searches. With targeted local SEO strategies, you can get more qualified leads from specific locations and grow your business correctly.
Importance of Local SEO
The first step in Local SEO Guide 2023 is getting these leads is to make yourself known to people in your area. SEO helps you do precisely that.
Say you own a bookstore in New York City. That means that people in New York must be able to find your business when they search for “bookstores near me” or any other local search term for bookstores. Google says that 76% of people who do a local search on their phones visit a store within 24 hours, and 28% of those people end up buying something. The more people search online for information about your business, the more likely they will visit your store or trust your brand. It can help get more people interested in your business by making it more visible online. So, it is crucial for companies that want to grow their local customer base. Local SEO can do great things for your business if you know how to use it right.
How Does Local SEO Work?
Local SEO is the same as a typical Google search. When a user searches online, the search engine pulls the best results for that query from its database.
So, what is different about local SEO?
When doing a local search, search engines like Google use a different set of ranking factors than when doing a general search.
Some of these ranking factors are:
- The place from which a user searches for something
- Google Business Profile listing availability
- Citations for NAP
- The GBP profile has a list of keywords.
- How people feel about online reviews
- The words that online reviews use
- Rate of check-in at the place
- Shares on social media
If you pay attention to these things, you should be able to move up in Google’s Map 3-Pack, also called the Local 3-Pack.
But hold on. What does “Pack” mean? The Local Pack lists the top three search results for a specific query and a map of where they are from Google Maps. That’s where you need to look to get more local organic traffic and do well with local SEO.
How to do Local SEO Keyword Research?
From the above list you can see a list of ranking signals for local SEO, keywords are essential to how local search results turn out. So, if you want your local SEO to work, you need to do keyword research in a streamlined way. Local Keyword research can be done one time if you do it correctly. Below is what you should do to perform focused keyword research for your local SEO going forward.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is one of my first goto Keyword Tools to determine how often specific keywords are searched for in certain places. So, you can develop a keyword strategy that gets more attention and boosts your return on investment. If you already have a list of keywords you want to target, this tool can help you choose the best based on how often people look for them.
On the other hand, use the “Start With a Website” feature if you are starting with keyword research. If you enter, Google Keyword Planner will list keywords based on the URL of one of your competitors’ websites. *(Yes you can spy on your competitors keywords) You can also tell the tool to look at the whole site or just a specific page URL to find new keywords.
Yelp Suggest works just like Google Suggest.
Enter a keyword from your industry that a user in a particular city or town will use to find businesses like yours. Find “Bookstore” near “New York,” and watch the magic happen. This tool goes a step further and shows you relevant keywords that don’t include your search term but are still related to your industry. So, Yelp Suggest helps you find new keyword opportunities you might have missed.
Local Voice Searches
Voice search is a big deal right now in the online market. With Alexa and Siri everywhere in our lives, 58% of people who want to find a local business use voice searches. Voice-based searches use natural language more often than keyword searches. Long-tail keywords can help your business appear in searches done by voice. For example, if someone types “best restaurant Houston” into Google, they will probably use “best restaurant in Houston that’s open right now” when they do a voice search. That’s what sets them apart.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
Local SEO ranking factors can make a big difference, as you know. So, to do local SEO right and get the desired results, you need to get a bigger picture of these things. Let’s immediately look at the most important things to think about for local SEO.
Google Business Profile
Moz says that your Google Business profile is the most important thing for your local SEO ranking if you want to appear in the Local Pack. Your local business website, the content you put on it, and the backlinks you make are all important, but your GBP profile is the most important. This is where I start all my Local SEO Campaigns, Getting my client a GBP or optimizing the listing. I’ll talk in more depth about GBP optimization later in this article. For now, let’s focus on the other factors that affect local SEO ranking.
NAP Citations (aka Local Citations)
Local Citations are very important in ranking locally on the major search engines including Google. NAP stands for: Name, Address and phone Number and is what you have used on your Google Business Profile. Local Citations such as Yelp, Yellowpages, etc. listing must match your NAP everywhere on the www.
Google uses these citations to ensure the information about your business is accurate. The more citations you get, the more trustworthy Google thinks your business is. Because of this, it is more important than ever to get NAP citations on trusted sites and keep them the same.
The reviews you get online are another critical factor for local SEO rankings. Getting more positive reviews than negative ones would be best because they help you move up in the Local Pack. But don’t buy reviews, Google is not fond of that. On the other hand, bad reviews can hurt your business’s online reputation and keep you from ranking higher in local SEO. Even though it’s inevitable that your business will get some bad reviews, make sure you respond to them and do what you must fix what’s wrong. This act goes a long way toward building trust. Most of all Don’t Panic if you have a few bad reviews, that is business.
Usual SEO Practices
Local SEO uses all the other factors that Google uses to rank pages, like the quality of your sites content, local citations and the number of backlinks. “Your position in the web results is also a factor,” Google says. This means that SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization. That means that the higher you rank in organic search, the higher you rank in the Local Pack. So, ensure that your content and web pages are optimized for SEO and that you strengthen your link profile with high-quality backlinks to get a better ranking in both web results and local SEO.
GBP places a high value on consistency. It’s good if your GBP profile and website information are the same. That’s not the end, though. The information in your GPB profile should be the same as what is listed on your NAP on other sites. If you do that right, Google will think your business is trustworthy.On the other hand, if your business information is different in one or more places, that’s a red flag. This will hurt your rankings. So, make sure that you are always the same everywhere. BEWARE. Even the slightest mistake in the information about your business will significantly affect your local SEO.
Use All Possible Data Points
Based on how complete your GBP profile is, Google gives you a score. By filling in the basic information about your business, you should be able to get a good score. But you shouldn’t stop here if you want to rank for high-volume keywords in your industry. I’ll tell you what people often miss out on when they fill out data points. That will help you avoid making mistakes and be more precise about your business.
Let’s look at category choice. Google will ask you to choose the main category that best describes your business. You can’t make your primary category and only have a few options. But once you choose your primary category, Google lets you add any other categories.
Many people don’t fit into these groups. These other groups are VERY, VERY important. These categories directly affect the keywords and search terms your business wants to rank for. So, don’t forget to use more categories to improve your local SEO.
Also, put accurate information in the “Products” and “Services” sections. These parts tell Google and other people online what you’re selling.
Update Critical Business Data
Ensure your Google Business Profile has the most up-to-date information about your business, such as business hours, holidays, etc. This factor doesn’t have a direct effect on your local SEO.
So why should you care about that?
I’ll give you a real-life example. Let’s say a customer checks your store’s hours on your GMB profile and then comes to your store only to find it closed. The customer will go to one of your competitors instead of you. If customers are upset because you gave them false and outdated information, they will likely write a bad review about your business. That bad review can hurt your online reputation and your SEO ranking in your area.
Respond to Reviews
As I said before, online reviews are a big part of how local SEO works to rank websites. Make sure you answer every review. By doing this, you show your customers you care about them. Even though good reviews are what you want, you should also know how to deal with bad ones. Sometimes, you can even lessen the impact of a bad review by responding well to the heart of the problem. Not everyone takes the time to write their reviews. Because of this, you should ask your customers to write reviews. Also, make sure the process is quick and easy for them. No customer wants to spend time looking for a place to write reviews. Send a review link to your customers via email or text message. So, it should be easy for them. Have a button on your website to leave reviews for Google, Yelp, BBB, etc.
Okay. How do you link to a review?
My favorite way is to, log in to your Google My Business account and click the “Get more reviews” section and it will give you a link you can give to customers to go straight to your review section. Make sure you always ask your customers to leave a review. Don’t get upset if you are not getting reviews, this is one of the hardest things to do in my opinion. People treasure their time and don’t want to use it giving you a review.
Local SEO Tips
Now that you know more about local SEO, it’s time for some local SEO tips to help you make the best strategy possible.
Share on Social Media
Social media is a great way to spread the word about your business and make it more visible online.
Also, once you have a perfect Google Business Profile page, please share it on your social media accounts so your followers can learn more about your business. I always mention that according to research social media only accounts for about 5% of your rankings. So don’t get obsessed about posting everyday (3 times a week is fine) unless you are using Social Media to sell your product. The two important Social Media sites are Facebook and Instagram. Linked-in is great if you are doing Business to Business services/products.
Run a NAP (Local Citations) Audit
As I said earlier, your NAP citations should be the same everywhere, including your GBP, website, business directories, and local listings. Use a good citation tool like WhiteSpark or Brightlocal to find all of your current and past (if there are any) NAP citations so you can fix the ones that are wrong and ensure everything is consistent.
Why are Local Citations Important?
Local citations make it easy for people and search engines to find your business’s name, Address, and phone number online. What if your business is listed in two places with two addresses or phone numbers? Which one will the person using it rely on? NAP citations are an important ranking factor for local SEO, and Google doesn’t like information that confuses or misleads users. So, Google will think your business is untrustworthy, hurting your local SEO ranking. I know it’s a business owner’s worst nightmare.
To keep that from happening to your business and instead boost its credibility, it’s essential to make sure that all of your Local citations are exact matches. Also if the business changes it phone number you will need to go and change all the Local Citations you have. *Note: It is very important to make sure you keep all log-in information for your local citation accounts.
Optimize Online Directories and Citations
Any difference, like a misspelled word or an abbreviation, can mess up your local SEO. Use trusted data aggregators like Express Update, Foursquare, Neustar Localeze, and Factual to ensure your citations are consistent and improve them. Also, ensure you remove duplicate listings to avoid potential issues.
Perform a Local SEO Audit
SEO is a process that never ends. So, once you’re done with the basics of local SEO, you might want to do a local SEO audit. A complete local SEO audit includes a GBP, citations/backlinks, on-page SEO , Social Media, Loading speed report and in some cases competitor analysis.
Optimize On-Page SEO Elements
Optimizing your title tags, headers, meta descriptions, image alt-tags, and content for search engines is part of on-page optimization.
Take, for example, a new blog post.
It is a newly indexed page on your site that you can use to target a specific area by using keywords related to it. That makes it possible to move up in the SERPs for a specific search term. Right?
If you rank higher in organic search, you should also rank higher in the Local Pack.
This is the reason when you create new content, use keywords that get a lot of searches not only in the content itself but also in the title tags, headers, meta descriptions, Image Alt-Tags, and URLs.
If it’s hard to create location-based content, you can use customer success stories and case studies to help with your local SEO.
Add Location Pages to Your Site
Making separate pages for each geo-location to reach people in multiple places is a wonderful thing t do. You can give unique descriptions, addresses, business hours, holidays, and more for each location on these pages. You can also naturally use location-based keywords in your content when you have location pages. I use fresh plagiarism free content for each location page. Different layouts, maybe more information that relates to the location. I usually place a google map of the location on the page. On the other hand, if you only want to reach people in one area, make an About page that talks about that place (adding location-based keywords).
Create Local Content
Google likes content that its users want to read. So, you make content for the search engine and the people who use it. From a local SEO point of view, you need to become the local authority in your industry and include local news, updates, and other content attractive to the local audience. You want to sell your goods or services to people in your area. But first, you should win over the people’s trust in the area. This makes them return to you for more local information and see you as an authority. Making a campaign with a clear goal will turn these local visitors into valuable customers.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Google says that searches on mobile for “near me” have increased by 250% since 2017. As of December 2022 most of my clients were getting an average of 83% of their webpage visits from mobile devices.
Taking your time to make sure your website looks great and is user friendly on the phone is a priority. Another thing in this new “I need it now” world, the speed is one of the most important things when it comes to mobile websites. People will not wait for your site to load.
This is another reason to make sure you are ranking high locally on the major search engines. I find that if you can make the Top-10 positions on the Map and in the first 5 page listings. Of course you always want to shoot for that 3-pack on both the map and page for best traffic results.
If your current website is not mobile-friendly please get a hold of a web design/development company that do re-designs and can help your site become mobile-friendly.
Add Schema Markup
Schema markup lets you tell search engines exactly what your content is about when your business shows up in search results. Even though schema markup isn’t a ranking factor for search engines, it can help improve the user experience by giving them quick access to the information they’re looking for. You will most likely want to hire a company to do this for you. It looks complicated when you try to do it.
Focus on Your Internal Linking Structure
Both internal and external links are essential. External links help your SEO from the outside, while internal links do the same thing from the inside by spreading authority. By improving your website’s internal linking structure, you make it easier for your users and search engine bots to find their way around. Build internal links to your website pages, blogs, and contact pages to give your visitors more relevant information and improve your SEO rankings in your area. If you noticed this blog contains both external and internal links showing up in blue color links.
Local SEO Guide 2023: Link Building
As was already said, external and internal links are essential for SEO, which is also true for local SEO.Focus on building external backlinks and strengthening your internal linking structure to help your local SEO. Here are some ways to build backlinks to help your local SEO.
Develop Local Partnerships
Businesses in the same area often work together so that they can both benefit. A good relationship with other business can help you build links. Build relationships with businesses in a specific area. Start with the people you already know and slowly add more people to your network. Then, look for specific pages on their sites that you can link to yours. Since you already know these people, getting backlinks from their websites shouldn’t be hard.
Use Local Chamber of Commerce
A best way to get backlinks to your site is to ask for them in places where you are likely to easily get them. One of these places is your local chamber of commerce. One of the BEST things about a chamber of commerce link is that it often comes with a local citation. Talk to your local chamber of commerce today to get another powerful contextual backlink to your website.
Local Event Sponsorship
Sponsorships are often sought by people who put on local events. If you sponsor a local event, you will automatically get a link on the site. Also, sponsoring a local event helps you get to know other local businesses better, giving you more opportunities to build links shortly.
Local news sites are looking for exciting stories about businesses in their area. When something interesting happens near your local business, let these people know so they can write about it and turn it into a backlink. The best way to find good PR opportunities for your business in your area is to use social media.
Take Part in Local Communities
By participating in local community events, you can let other people in the area know you’re there and raise awareness of your brand. It gives you a chance to get the attention of local media and, in the long run, become a local SEO expert in your field. Once you reach that point, getting links from local online sources should be easy.
There are so many ways to boost your Local SEO. I’ve tried to touch on some of the very important things to perform while trying to rank you website. If you do not have time or what to learn something new there are SEO Agencies in your local area, statewide and even nationwide that can set up a campaign to get your ranked.