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September 26, 2022 (Updated: March 8, 2023)
Local SEO is crucial if you have a business with at least one physical location. Gone are the days when most of your local business came from foot traffic and advertising through local channels. If you want to get noticed in your town, you need to be online, and your company information needs to appear in the right search results. Today, we’re explaining how to improve local SERP rankings through details like:
Local SEO is the process of improving your website and content to appear on the right search engine results page (SERP). For example, if someone searches “pet stores Pittsburgh,” Google sources a list of the top local pet stores near that area and provides listings and a map pack in position zero.
These pet stores optimized their websites and content for that search term so that they show up when people inquire about that information. Here’s a test to see how well your business currently performs in local SEO. Google your brand industry plus your location, like “car dealership Pittsburgh” or “car dealership near me.”
What results come up? Does your company appear, or are you seeing information for your competitors? And if your brand content does show up, what’s the search engine positioning? Where your content currently falls on the SERPs shows how much work you need to do to improve your local SEO.
Related: Local Online Marketing: What It Is and How To Use It
If you want people to find your business, you have to care about local SEO. Consider how many other local businesses offer what your company does. Chances are, in your region, stores and services are abundant like car dealerships, plumbers, and grocery stores. Add to that any online businesses that can ship to your coverage area and don’t require people to leave the house, and your competition pool gets bigger.
If you want people to shop from or work with your brand, either online or in person, you have to become visible where they do their research: on search engines. Without that exposure, you’re missing out on potential customers simply by not putting yourself in the right online conversations.
As we said earlier, where your brand currently stands in local SERPs gives a clue as to how much work you have to do to improve your rankings. Everyone is aiming for either position zero or spot number one in search results. If your brand already ranks there, you may also need to tweak your optimizations to ensure you stay on top.
If your website or content ranks lower on the first SERP or doesn’t appear at all, you have more work cut out for you. Use these tips to improve your local SEO rankings and watch your content and brand rise to the top:
It might sound like common sense, but the best way to help your local SEO is to follow traditional SEO best practices. Some common SEO basics include:
Following SEO best practices sets your websites and content up to get off on the right foot, which you can improve with local updates to get better reach.
Google makes it easier than ever for local businesses to get their company information into its index through its Google Business Profile feature. Depending on what information is already available on the internet about your business, Google may create a profile for you, and display those details to searchers. The downside of a Google-generated profile is that the information sourced from third-party data and user-submitted content isn’t always correct.
Luckily, you can claim your business profile and update it with the right details. Customize the profile with the right contact information and media, and encourage people to leave reviews for your company. To find out if your brand already has a Google-generated profile, run a search for your company name and location or your business’s street address. For example, we could search “CopyPress Florida” to see if we have an automated Google Business profile.
If you find your company doesn’t have a Google Business profile, don’t worry. You can create one and update it with the right information. Use the Google Business Profile Manager to add or find your profile. The more accurate information you share on your Google Business Profile, the more legitimate your company appears to both Google and searchers. This legitimacy helps your content rise in SERPs.
Over half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. If you’re not putting a mobile-friendly user experience at the top of your SEO priority list, you’re going to lose those all-important on-the-go searchers. Thanks to mobile devices, people no longer have to plan what they’re going to do or where they’re going to go before they leave the house. If they get halfway to a birthday party and realize they forgot a card, they simply ask Siri or Alexa to “find a card store near me.”
If people run the search from a mobile device, that’s also where they’re going to browse the results. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly get passed over for the next result. These quick website visits and content closures raise your bounce rate. This metric tells search engines how valuable or helpful your content is to the audience. A high bounce rate means your website isn’t helpful. Google uses this data to prioritize the best content at the top of SERPs, pushing yours further and further down the list.
But when you optimize all your content and channels for mobile, you provide a better user experience that keeps people on your website longer. This behavior tells search engines that your content is helpful, and they should recommend it to more searchers for similar queries.
Related: 6 Tips To Optimize Your Content For Mobile Users
While all keyword research is generally the same, putting extra focus on local and mobile keyword research can help increase your local SERP rankings. To do the right keyword research for your local brand, you need to think like a searcher. What are they going to type into the search bar when your results should come up? Using the right keywords in your local content means incorporating the following information onto your web pages:
These are the key areas people search for when they’re looking for local businesses online. If you have a healthy balance of web pages and content that addresses these keyword topics, you have a better chance of ranking higher for local SERPs. But don’t try to trick the search engines to get your content to appear for more localized keywords. Avoid keyword stuffing, or shoving keywords into your content in an unnatural way. If the wording doesn’t sound right to you, it’s not going to sound right to searchers and cause them to bounce away from your pieces.
Another trick to avoid is over-listing your coverage regions and trying to appear in the search results for a bunch of individual towns. For example, if you run a plumbing company that serves the Greater Pittsburgh area, use that phrasing in your content. Don’t go overboard and list every suburb and town your team serves. Similarly, if your company has a storefront in a small town, list just that town as your service location, even if you sometimes pull in business from surrounding cities. Over-optimizing often works against you more than it helps.
Consistency in your contact information and other business details is key for improving your local SERP rankings. Inconsistencies in your business details can come from careless mistakes like typos. They also come from updating or adding things like website URLs, social media handles, phone numbers, or street addresses in certain online locations but not others. Most importantly, make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) information stays consistent across all channels. That means updating it in places like your Google Business Profile, website, social media profile, and online directories.
Check the spelling of your brand name and street address throughout your content. Additionally, make sure your product listings and general information about your business, like your product and service offerings or your mission statement are also consistent wherever they appear online. Not only does consistency help search engines identify that all the information relates back to your business, but it also makes your company look more credible and legitimate across all platforms.
Optimizing your website and content for local search intent helps increase your brand visibility online. There are four primary types of search intent users may way, including:
All four types of search intent can have a local bent. Different pages and content on your website target the different areas of search intent, based on what your audience wants to find. For example, your “Contact Us” page provides the navigational information your audience needs to find your store, while your blog provides informational content they have about industry topics.
When you create pages and content for all types of search intent, you have a better chance of ranking for more keywords related to your industry. You also have a better chance of ranking higher in local SERP results because you provide comprehensive help across your audience’s needs, rather than focusing on just one area of the marketing funnel.
Related: How To Uncover Search Intent for Local SEO
Word of mouth (WOM) marketing is critical for local businesses. Online, WOM marketing usually takes the form of social media posts and online reviews. The more genuine, positive reviews your business receives on sites like Yelp, or through Google reviews, the more likely search engines are to recommend your business to the right audience. According to Statista, the most important factor searchers use to determine if a business is worth their time is the overall star rating for a company.
With 62% of online users reading reviews before buying from or working with a business, you can’t afford to leave a review strategy out of your local marketing plan. There are a few simple ways to get more reviews from your satisfied customers, like:
It’s helpful to engage with both positive and negative reviews online to increase responsiveness and visibility. Responding to positive reviews shows that your brand is grateful for its customers and enjoys making them happy. Replying to negative comments shows that your brand has a commitment to high standards and providing the best customer experience, even if it takes a few tries to get it right.
Google and other search engines use backlinks to find out which companies and brands are the real deal in their industry. The more backlinks your website or content gets, the more authority your brand has with Google. Authority is simply industry clout. When you have it, search engines recognize that you know what you’re talking about and customers, clients, and your peers agree.
But it’s not just about how many backlinks you get. More importantly, building a backlink profile is about getting high-quality links from the right sources. When you’re working on improving your local SEO, that means getting backlinks from other relevant brands and businesses in your area. A few ways to build a better backlink profile for local SEO include:
You can also do competitor research to find out how your local rivals collect backlinks. CopyPress helps you get a head start on this research with our content analysis report. Learn more about your own brand content and how it compares to your top rivals in areas like keyword performance and backlink collection. Drop your contact information in the form at the bottom of the page below to get the report delivered right to your inbox.
Though backlinks are usually number one when we think about increasing SEO efforts, having an internal linking strategy is just as important. The easier it is for your searchers and search engines to navigate through your website and content, the better user experiences your brand provides. For example, if your heating and cooling company has a blog post about the benefits of updating ductwork, you could link to your services comparisons guide there. That guide could link to the landing page for requesting a quote for the services.
Internal linking helps move your audience seamlessly through the marketing funnel. These links also provide additional context for search engines about how all the information on your website works together to classify your business and help your audience. Don’t overlook creating an internal linking strategy to help boost your SERP rankings a few positions.
Though Google holds the keys to your rankings, optimizing for specialized types of search can also improve how people find your content online. Voice search is a popular feature with mobile and in-home devices like Alexa or Google Home. Rather than having to type content into a search bar to get results, these devices use voice commands to pull up information from search engines. People tend to use different keywords or keyword variations when using voice versus text search. They often use more long-tail keywords for voice search because it’s more natural to ask a question out loud.
It’s also important to consider how your audience uses your internal website search and what they’re looking for when they encounter your brand. This information tells you more of what your audience wants to see. If you’re not providing that information, you can create it to meet their needs. Though you’re doing it based on information from your internal site search, the pieces you create also help your overall SEO, which can increase your local SERP rankings.
Related: 5 Things You Need To Know About Internal Website Search
Though there’s debate on whether Google really uses signals from social media to influence SERP rankings, paying attention to how your audience reacts to your brand on social media can’t hurt. Using social listening online helps you learn more about what your audience likes about your brand and what they want to see more of. The more you know about what your audience wants to see from your brand, the better you can target those wants and needs with your website and your content.
When you’re providing what they ask for, that increases customer satisfaction. And with more customer satisfaction comes better SERP rankings, more WOM recommendations, and more sales. Even if this process doesn’t directly affect your rankings, the indirect efforts can still have a major impact on your business performance online.
If you’ve tried all the basics to raise your local SERP rankings and still aren’t seeing the results you crave, it’s time to invest in content marketing or scale up production. Engaging in content marketing gives your brand additional opportunities to rank in search. Not all of the potential ranking keywords for your brand fit seamlessly into your website content. But if you have a blog or an article archive where you can share informative pieces on those topics, you can still rank organically for the keywords.
Content marketing is a way for your brand to provide value to your audience outside of your monetary products and services. For example, maybe a potential customer in your coverage area wants to know the cost of a full bathroom remodel. If your plumbing company has a blog post on the topic, that person could find it through a search and learn more about the process. When they decide they’re ready to commit, they’ll remember the helpful article they found, and the company that created it. This helps you increase your conversions and sales without any direct selling.
CopyPress is committed to helping your brand create a variety of content marketing pieces for all industries. Interested in learning more about upping your content game? Schedule your first free meeting with our strategy team to discuss your goals and play your brand’s future.
What works to help your local SEO today may not help tomorrow. That’s because Google constantly releases algorithm and core updates that have the potential to change your rankings. The most recent, the Helpful Content update, won’t be the last. Make sure you’re prepared for everything the Helpful Content update throws at you by checking out our update hub and listening to our Helpful Content podcast.
Tune in and find out how to create helpful content that Google won’t flag. You’ll also discover how to recover from penalties and get ahead of the next trends in SEO and content marketing. Make sure you don’t miss an update by listening in so you get the most recent Google, SEO, and content marketing news.
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