As a local business owner, you know how important it is to get your business in front of as many potential customers as possible. And with the majority of consumers turning to the internet to find businesses near them, optimising your online presence for local search is essential.
Local search is a way for search engines like Google to provide users with the most relevant results for their search queries based on their location. When a user searches for a local business, Google will show them a map with local business listings, often referred to as the local pack, as well as organic search results.
So, how can you improve your local search rankings and get your business to appear at the top of the local pack and organic search results? The are some great local SEO methods for getting your website noticed by Google, here are the ten key ranking factors to focus on:
1. Google My Business (GMB) Listing
Your GMB listing is one of the most important factors that influence your local search rankings. It’s a free tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including search results and maps. Your GMB profile should include accurate information about your business, such as your business name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, and photos.
Not only does having a complete and accurate GMB profile help your business appear in local search results, but it also provides users with important information about your business before they even visit your website. It also free so get over to the GMB home page and sign up now!
2. NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) Consistency
Consistency in your NAP details across your website, GMB profile, and other online directories can improve your local search rankings. When Google crawls the web to find information about your business, it looks for consistent information across all platforms.
Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are consistent across all platforms, and avoid using tracking phone numbers or variations of your business name. Consistency in your NAP details will help Google and other search engines understand that the information they have about your business is accurate and reliable.
3. Reviews and Ratings
Reviews and ratings are an important factor in local search rankings. Positive reviews can help improve your rankings, while negative reviews can harm them. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your GMB profile, and respond to any negative reviews to show that you take customer feedback seriously.
When asking for reviews, be sure to follow Google’s guidelines and avoid incentivising customers to leave reviews or posting fake reviews. Genuine reviews from satisfied customers will help build your business’s reputation and improve your local search rankings.
If you’ve signed up for GMB (and you should have by now), go to your profile page and look for the ‘Ask for Reviews’ link. It makes it super easy to send your customers a link to leave you a review.
4. Website Quality and Content
Your website is a reflection of your business, and the quality and relevance of your website content are important ranking factors. Make sure your website is well-designed, mobile-friendly, and has high-quality content that is optimised for your target audience and relevant keywords.
Some best practices for website optimisation include:
- Using clear and concise headlines and subheadings
- Using relevant and high-quality images and videos
- Including internal and external links to relevant content
- Optimising page speed and load times
- Making your website easy to navigate with a clear hierarchy and menu structure
5. Local Keyword Relevance
Local keyword relevance is critical for local search rankings. Conduct thorough keyword research to identify the most relevant and valuable keywords for your business, and use them throughout your website and other online platforms.
When using keywords, be sure to use them in a natural and meaningful way that provides value to your users. Avoid keyword stuffing, which is the practice of using a keyword excessively on a page in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings.
6. On-Page Optimisation
On-page optimisation refers to the various elements on your website that can be optimised for search engines, including meta tags, header tags, and image alt tags. These elements provide context and information to search engines about the content on your website.
Some best practices
for on-page optimisation include:
- Including relevant keywords in your meta titles and descriptions
- Using header tags to structure your content and highlight important information
- Using descriptive and relevant image alt tags
- Avoiding duplicate content and creating unique, valuable content for each page
Backlinks, which are links from other websites to your website, are a key factor in search engine rankings. Building high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites can improve your local search rankings.
Some ways to build backlinks include:
- Guest blogging on relevant websites
- Creating valuable and shareable content that others will naturally link to
- Reaching out to other businesses or organisations to request a backlink
- Joining local business associations and directories that include a backlink to your website
When building backlinks, focus on quality over quantity. A few high-quality, relevant backlinks are more valuable than many low-quality or irrelevant backlinks.
8. Social Media Presence
Social media is not a direct ranking factor in local search, but it can indirectly influence your rankings by driving traffic to your website and improving your online reputation. Building a strong social media presence for your business can improve your visibility, engage with your audience, and improve your brand’s reputation.
Some best practices for social media include:
- Choosing the right social media platforms for your business
- Creating a consistent brand image across all social media platforms
- Engaging with your audience through comments and messages
- Sharing valuable and relevant content that your audience will find interesting
9. Local Content
Creating and sharing content that is specific to your local area can help improve your local search rankings. This includes sharing local news, events, and business directories. Creating local content can also help improve your online reputation and build relationships with other local businesses and organisations.
When creating local content, it’s important to focus on quality over quantity. Make sure that your content is relevant, informative, and engaging for your local audience. Conduct research on local events, news, and trends to ensure that your content is up-to-date and relevant. Use local photos and videos to make your content more visually appealing and shareable. And don’t forget to optimize your content for search engines by including relevant keywords and meta descriptions. By following these best practices, you can create local content that not only improves your local search rankings but also provides value to your audience and helps you build strong relationships with other local businesses and organizations.
Stuck trying to think up content ideas, try some of these suggestions for local content from the 3 Search Engine Journal.
10. User Experience
User experience is an important factor in both search engine rankings and the success of your business. A website that is easy to navigate, loads quickly, and provides valuable content and information to your users can improve your local search rankings and help you attract and retain customers.
Some best practices for user experience include:
- Making your website mobile-friendly and responsive
- Minimising page load times and optimising images and videos
- Creating a clear hierarchy and menu structure
- Using clear and concise language that is easy to understand
Improving your local search rankings is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and attention. By focusing on these ten key ranking factors, you can improve your online presence, attract more customers, and grow your business. If you’d like to learn more we’ve included loads of information, as well as links to expert posts and tools in our post ‘10 Proven Strategies for Boosting Your Local SEO and Climbing the Rankings‘. Good luck with your efforts…