Search is a critical channel for finding new customers for any company that does business locally. Google queries with the words “buy” and “near me” grew by 200 percent between 2017 and 2019, with a further 28 percent increase in 2020.
Optimizing your website for local searches is a little different than traditional SEO. The following 8 tips for local SEO help your website rank higher so you can reach more customers.
1. Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Google My Business is a crucial component of a successful local SEO campaign. Google uses the information in your GMB profile when it shows information like your location, phone number, and hours of operation in the local results.
To optimize your Google My Business profile, take the following steps:
- Create and verify your Google My Business profile
- Use Google Posts in your account
- Ask your customers to review you online
- Respond to those reviews — good or bad — with authentic replies
This step isn’t only about the SEO value either. Providing this information also helps your customers find you.
2. Keep Your NAP Consistent Across All Websites
Three components of the information you provide in your GMB profile are especially important — your company’s name, address, and phone number. Together, these are known as your “NAP” for SEO purposes.
Your NAP needs to be consistent everywhere you post it online. If you use directories like Yelp and the Yellow Pages or add this information to your social media pages, make sure it’s the same in all of them.
Don’t use abbreviations in one place and not another and make sure there aren’t any typos in any of them. If there are any differences, it can hurt your search rankings since Google can’t be sure which information is correct. Rather than guess, it may show a different result with more trustworthy information.
3. Engage With Your Audience on Social Media
Your online reviews aren’t the only place you should be responding to and engaging with your customers. You should do the same on social media.
Google considers social engagement in its algorithm so more back-and-forth between you and your audience can help push your site higher in the local results.
You also provide a better experience for your customers by giving them another channel to reach you.
4. Improve Your Website’s Internal Linking
Links from other websites to yours are important for SEO but your internal linking structure also plays a part. There are several benefits of a good link structure, including:
- Easier navigation for your visitors
- Helps Google identify the information architecture and page hierarchy on your site
- You can direct page authority and ranking power to your most valuable pages
5. Add Location Pages to Your Website
If your business has more than one location, each one should have a separate location page on your website. This lets you optimize each page for a specific location so it has a better chance of ranking for local searches in that area.
When you create separate location pages, make sure you avoid duplicate content as it can hurt your search rankings. Customize each page using location-specific content and write a unique “about us” section for each of them.
Add a Google Map for each location to those pages as well since Google will display the map in the local results.
6. Use a Mobile-Friendly Website Design
Nearly two-thirds of all Google searches come from mobile devices and local searches are an even higher percentage. From 2017 to 2019, “near me” searches increased by 2.5x on mobile.
Your website needs to look good and be usable on various screen sizes. The most important content also needs to be visible on smaller screens like smartphones.
A responsive website design adjusts the layout automatically based on the size and resolution of the screen it’s viewed on. Make sure the website platform you use offers responsive layouts.
7. Build Inbound Links to Your Website
The basis of Google’s search engine was its PageRank algorithm. The idea was if a web page had a lot of links pointing to it, the page’s value must be higher than another one with fewer links.
Google’s algorithm has evolved in many ways over the years but backlinks are still one of the most important SEO strategies. For local SEO, those links are more valuable if they come from other local websites.
There are several effective ways to build inbound links, including:
- Sponsorships and other partnerships with local businesses
- Guest posts on blogs, newspapers, and other local websites
- Scholarships for local schools
When you work with local businesses and schools this way, they will often link to your website from theirs. Schools are particularly valuable because links from .edu websites have more authority.
8. Take Part In Your Community
Being active in your local community is a good way to help with several of the strategies on this list.
Taking part in local events and joining groups like the Chamber of Commerce increases awareness of your business. This can help you find partnerships for getting backlinks and increase traffic to your social media pages, for example.
Think of this as “digital PR” for your business. You could wind up getting mentioned in local newspaper articles or other coverage of these events.
Where to Turn for Local SEO Help
These 8 local SEO tips will help you improve your website’s search rankings but they will take some time and effort to implement. If you’d rather focus on your core business and leave the local SEO help to experts, Vuja Day Creative Digital Agency can assist.