What Is Local SEO and How to Improve Your Local Ranking

What Is Local SEO and How to Improve Your Local Ranking

Word of mouth and local advertising can be a great way to attract customers from your area. However, searching online can be just as effective, if not more powerful. According to Social Media Today, 97% of search engine users have searched for a local business online. And 46% of all Google searches were looking for local information.

So if a company doesn’t rank in local search results, it could be missing valuable traffic and customers. In other words, local SEO could be key to staying relevant and growing your business.

If you are new to local search engine optimization, you may have a lot of questions and you probably don’t know where to start with optimization. This guide will show you some key local SEO solutions and help you better understand the landscape. So let’s jump in right away.

What is local SEO and why do i need it?

To understand the local SEO definition, let’s first try to understand what local search means. Local search This is the case when someone is looking for a company, product, service, or additional information relevant to a particular location. You could search for “concerts near me” to find an upcoming concert in your city or “best painting service in” [location]”To find a paint shop nearby.

In other words, local search is more specific to a particular location compared to general Google search. And Local SEO refers to the process of trying to optimize your online visibility in order to appear in these local search results.

Local SEO is critical because it helps you:

  • Increase your online visibility
  • Bring more pedestrian traffic to your stationary location
  • Attract more targeted traffic, which will improve your conversion chances
  • Increase your credibility and build trust

Organic search results vs. local snack package

One of the ways that local SEO improves your visibility online is through the results of the local snack packages. Google divides local search results into three areas: sponsored, snack pack, and organic. While sponsored results If they’re prominently labeled “Advert” or “Sponsored” at the top of search results pages, they’re costing money.

Google's local SERP for the Seattle paint service and a red box that highlights the sponsored results

The Snack Pack Results Follow in a box that highlights the top three business listings for that particular search. This is shown more clearly than organic local search results. This means that visibility will be better if you are listed in the snack package.

Best of all, not every local search page has sponsored results. So your business could be at the top of the search results page as you can see below.

An example of Google's local snack pack results for shoe stores in Las Vegas.  These are the entries that will appear under the map.

The organic results are below among the local snack pack results. Even if you rank on the first page of local search results, you may not be featured as prominently as the companies that manage to get featured in the snack pack results.

An example of a Google SERP highlighting organic local results

The goal of your local SEO strategy should be to rank on the first page of organic local search as well as your local snack package. This ensures optimal visibility and improves your chances of attracting targeted traffic.

6 ways to improve your local SEO strategy

Now let’s get to the most important part – how to improve your local SEO strategy and improve your local search ranking. There are many aspects to this, so let’s focus on the most critical ones:

1. Request your GMB entry and optimize it

GMB or Google My Business is essentially the most important part of your local SEO strategy. You can use this tool from Google to create free business listings. According to Moz, this is one of the most important factors that Google will consider when ranking businesses in organic local search and snack pack results.

First, go to the Google My Business website to claim or create your listing.

Graphic from Google's site to claim your GMB listing

You will need to provide the following details for your GMB listing:

  • Your full and correct company name
  • Your physical business / office address
  • Your exact location on a map
  • Your business category
  • Your phone number and website (if applicable)

Once your listing is online, you will usually need to review it by phone call or postcard. How to optimize Google My Business after review:

  • Upload photos of your company. These can be photos of your shop / office or even the surrounding area.
  • Include your business hours.
  • Include additional categories that may be relevant to your business.
  • Provide additional phone numbers, if available.

You can further optimize your GMB profile by regularly sharing business updates and new content. And Sprout Social makes this easier with a new feature that you can post right on your GMB profile. Make optimal use of the Sprout GMB function to inform your customers about news and to exchange details about upcoming events. This way you can get in touch with your customers on a deeper level and improve your visibility in local searches.

2. Think mobile

With smartphones now becoming a part of our daily lives, it is only natural that many people use their phones to search for local information and businesses. Uberall commissioned a study that found this 82% of the respondents had used their mobile devices to do a search near me. This shows how often people use their phones to search locally.

Hence, it is important that you cater to these searchers by optimizing your website for mobile screens. Create a mobile-friendly website so that mobile visitors can easily navigate around it or find the information they need.

Don’t forget to add click-to-call buttons on your website and on your GMB listing. This could make a huge difference as 60% of mobile users contacted a company directly from search results.

3. Collect lots of customer reviews

According to the previously cited Moz study, review signals also play an important role in your local search and snack pack ranking. So having lots of authentic reviews, especially positive ones, can work wonders to increase your visibility in local searches and improve your reputation. That means you need to work towards collecting more authentic customer reviews for your business.

Continue to focus on sites that Google would expect companies to get reviews on. In addition to your website and GMB listing, reviews from consumer directories and social media are also collected. That said, you should focus on collecting reviews for Facebook, Yelp, Thumbtack, Foursquare, Angie’s List, etc., whichever is relevant to your business.

4. Focus on building local connections

According to Moz, connection signals like linking domain authority and quantity are among the most important factors affecting your ranking on local searches and snack pack results. Just like regular search engine optimization, local search engine optimization also requires link building to improve your link profile. However, the link domains should be more relevant to your target location.

That means you should target government websites in your target region. This can be anything from licensing offices and trade associations to the chamber of commerce to .edu locations.

Partnerships, scholarships, guest posting, etc. can be great ways to get valuable backlinks from local websites. For example, on the Attractions page, you can see the Connecticut College website, which links to several local facilities.

Attractions page on Connecticut College website pointing to local facilities

5. Ensure the consistency of the NAP and the quotation

Moz also found that Google considers citation signals such as citation volume and NAP consistency (name, address, phone number) in local search results. This means your information should be on major citation websites. Besides GMB, think of Bing Maps, Yelp and Facebook. Focus on directories with higher domain privileges than on smaller list directories.

Most importantly, make sure your business NAP is consistent across platforms and websites. Watch for misspellings, address and phone number drifts, duplicate entries and fix them to improve your local SEO.

6. Make the most of social listening

Social listening may have served as a primary source of marketing insights, but it has many benefits beyond. Knowing what insights to look for and how to get the most of them could even help advance your local SEO strategy.

Use social listening to find out what people are saying at your destination – whether it’s your business or general. You can even use it to gather information about audience interests, priorities, etc. Use this insight to find out how you can make changes to your strategy or even your products and services.

For example, you may have noticed people complaining about the lack of outdoor seating in your coffee shop. Maybe it’s time to introduce it to appeal to an even larger audience. You can then optimize your GMB SEO by, for example, sharing updates on your new seating arrangement.

Or maybe you have noticed that people who want your hair salon also offer manicure services. You can expand your service offering and release this update in your GMB profile.

In addition, your social listening efforts can help you better understand what types of local content your target audience may be looking for. You can then create a robust local content strategy that meets those needs. Plus, you might even be able to uncover long-tail keywords for your content optimization strategy.

Ready to Get Local?

These are the basic requirements to take your local SEO efforts to the next level. Remember that your local SEO efforts can span different locations. And you can even apply these ideas in your SEO for multiple locations if you address more than one area. Make the most of it to improve your online visibility on local searches and grow your business.

Don’t forget to download your copy of the Sprout Social 2020 Index for more valuable insights that could help you grow your business.