It’s the Internet Age and even local mom and pop shops need to go digital. In fact, not having a great website can actually cause you to lose business.

Simply having a website isn’t enough, though. People need to be able to find it before they find your competitors’. That is why your website needs to be optimized for local search.

So how can you dominate local search? In this article, we’ll give you the tips you need to work your way up in the rankings.

But first, let’s discuss why you need to rank high in local searches.

Why You Need To Rank in Local Search

The internet is perhaps your most important resource as a business owner. That’s because 85% of consumers use an internet search when they are looking for a local business.

That makes the internet a dream for marketers. What other medium — TV, radio, newspapers, or billboards — gives you access to 85% of your target market?

But that doesn’t make things easy. Unfortunately, your competitors will be on the internet as well. Plus, Google updates its algorithms regularly, so you need to work consistently to stay on top.

When people search for local businesses or services, Google displays results from their city rather than one on the other side of the country. But, the majority of traffic goes to the first three results. In fact, 33% of traffic goes to the first result, and the number of clicks goes down from there.

This means, as a local business, you’ve got a large incentive to appear in local searches. And in those local searches, you want to rank near the top.

If you don’t, you will be leaving a lot of money on the table, as your potential customers go to your competitors who are easier to find.

So, how can you improve your local search rankings and capture more business? We’ve got some expert tips.

1. Add Location Information To Your Website

Does your website list your business address? If the answer is no, fix that as soon as possible!

If your address isn’t listed on your website, potential customers have no way of finding you. If a person can’t figure out your location by looking at your website, Google won’t be able to either. And if Google doesn’t know your location, it won’t be able to recommend your website in a local search, even if the person searching is right outside your door!

To be optimized for Google’s rankings, you should have a contact page. It should list your address, as well as a phone number. If you’ve got multiple locations, include the addresses for each location.

This makes the website easier for Google to crawl, and it also makes it easier for customers looking to get in touch.

2. Claim Your Google My Business Listing

When someone searches for your business on Google, a small panel appears on the righthand side of the page. It lists basic information such as your hours of operation, your address, your website, and your phone number.

This information also appears when someone searches for your business on Google Maps. It is a quick and easy way for customers to get all the information that they need to decide if they want to drop by your business.

You can claim your business’s profile through Google My Business. Once you have claimed it, you can fill in all the important information. Then, you will also get data from Google about how people are using your listing.

You can use this data to help you build your future strategies.

3. Build Your Business Profiles On Social Media

Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are ranked highly by Google’s algorithm. Therefore, you can use these website’s rankings to help move your own business up on the search results page.

Make sure to include all the necessary contact information that you’ve included on your website.

Having social media accounts is also a great way to stay in touch with your customer base and build your brand. You can engage directly with customers, and promote upcoming promotions. You can also make posts to give people an idea of your brand’s personality, which can build brand loyalty.

Just be careful not to commit any big social media mistakes. If you do, you might end up causing damage to your brand rather than helping it.

4. Optimize Keywords for Local Search

The content on your website is very important when it comes to optimizing for local search. There are a lot of ways that you can optimize your website to ensure it ranks higher on Google.

One of the most important things to focus on for local search is keyword optimization.

You need to determine what the most important keywords related to your business are. This should include your location. For example, if you are a home furnishing business in Topeka, important keywords would include “furniture, Topeka, home decor, couch” and more.

Do some research to determine what the most important keywords are for your business. Then, include them relatively frequently in the text of your website.

Just don’t overdo it with the keywords. This is called “keyword stuffing” and it actually damages your SEO ranking. Plus, it will make your website less readable for the actual customers viewing your website.

5. Keep Your Content Fresh With A Blog

One of the major ranking signals in Google’s algorithm is “freshness.” This refers to how frequently your website is updated, and how often new content is added.

It is too much work to do a complete overhaul of your website every few weeks just to increase your ranking. Plus, your customers wouldn’t get anything of value out of that. Instead, add a blog!

A blog allows you to add new content frequently. Having more content means there is more potential to include important keywords and increase your ranking for each of those keywords.

It will make sure that you get additional ranking points for freshness because you can keep adding new content.

Blogging also has another benefit when it comes to making your website easier to find. Each new page you add to your website is another opportunity for someone to find it.

Imagine each page on your site is an entrance, because each page can appear on Google or be linked to. If your site only has two pages, there are only two chances that people will find an entrance. The more unique pages you have, the more chances there are that people will enter your site.

With a blog, you are creating purposeful entrances. People will come to your website for the information on your blog. Once they are there, they are more likely to stick around and browse to other pages on your website.

And that brings us to the final benefit of adding a blog. You are providing valuable information to your customers. If you write about things related to your business, and you provide the customer with useful information, they will have another reason to return to your website.

This helps you build your brand, and build a loyal customer base.

6. Use Online Directories

Just like social media websites, online directories like Yelp and TripAdvisor also rank highly on Google. That means they have already done a lot of the SEO heavy lifting for you. Now, you just have to take advantage of that!

Claim all the listings for your business. This will allow you to make sure all the information is correct and up to date. It will also allow you to respond to customers, and keep on top of reviews.

Make sure to include a link to your website. These create “backlinks.” A backlink is a link from an external domain that leads back to your website.

These are important for Google rankings, especially if they come from websites that Google views as authorities. Because sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have such high rankings, the algorithm views backlinks from them to be positive ranking signals.

There are also other sorts of directories that your customers might not use to find you but still provide valuable backlinks. Does your community have a listing of local businesses? Get your information to them.

Business bureaus, community organizations, and more can all provide you with valuable backlinks. The more backlinks that you have from online directories, the more they will contribute to your ranking.

7. Get Reviews

Online directories like Yelp have another great purpose when it comes to local search engine optimization: reviews.

Customer reviews are an incredibly valuable resource. They give you insight into what people think of your business. Good reviews make people more likely to choose your business.

The majority of internet users trust user-generated reviews, even if they don’t know the person who wrote them. Positive reviews on websites like Yelp are a great way to build customer trust in your business.

Online reviews also affect local search engine results. They affect how high your business appears in Google rankings and which results turn up.

This means that getting good customer reviews is important to help build your local SEO.

8. Get The Word Out With Guest Posts

Once you have established your own blog, consider writing guest posts for other websites. This way, you can get even more valuable backlinks to help build your ranking.

Plus, you can show off your expertise, and put your name in front of a whole new audience. This can lead people to your website and potentially create new customers.

Make sure to partner with sites that are related to your business, but aren’t direct competitors. For example, if you specialize in pet grooming, you could write guest posts for local vets.

This will give you the chance to appeal to new potential customers while raising you up in the local search rankings.

9. Use Local Structured Data Markup

Local structured data markup, also referred to as schema markup, is a way of making your data more readable for web crawlers. It involves updating your code to include certain tags that will give the search engine more information about what your business offers.

This also makes the “snippet” that appears on Google’s ranking page more complete. A complete snippet provides potential customers with more information before they even click.

If this snippet shows that you offer what they are looking for, they’ll be more likely to go to your website rather than a competitor.

Google provides tools to help you understand structured data markup. They want you to use these tools because it makes things easier for their web crawlers.

If you properly use local structured data markup, you will increase your local search rankings.

10. Design With SEO In Mind

The actual design of your website can affect your SEO ranking, including for local results. Therefore, it is important to design your website according to SEO standards.

For example, a straightforward, easy to navigate menu design is essential for SEO. Google’s algorithm takes into account the ways that users interact with your website. If they get lost and leave the site, or bounce around unable to find the content that they are looking for, it will negatively affect your local search ranking.

A well-designed website is essential for SEO. The good news is, it also makes your website more appealing for your visitors, making more of them likely to stick around and become customers.

Wrapping Up

Appearing high in the rankings for any local search related to your business is essential to gaining new customers. The good news is that the strategies to improve your rankings also tend to improve the experience for your users.

These strategies make it easier for people to find the information they need, whether it is reviews, listings in directories, and your contact information. Using social media and a blog gives you new ways to build your brand and communicate with customers.

Focusing on including the right keywords, and using SEO strategies that appeal to Google’s algorithm — like building backlinks — will help you grow your audience.

Interested in learning more about building your local search strategy? Contact us today and see how we can help you climb the rankings.