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Word-of-mouth and local advertisements may be a great way to attract customers from your area. But online search can be equally impactful, if not more. In fact, Social Media Today reports that 97% of search engine users have searched online to find a local business. And 46% of all Google searches were seeking local information.
For instance, you might have noticed people complaining about the lack of outdoor seating at your café. Maybe it’s time to introduce it to appeal to an even bigger audience. You can then optimize your GMB SEO by sharing updates about your new seating arrangement, for instance.
The organic results are further down, below the local snack pack results. So even if you rank on the first page of local search results, you might not show up as prominently as the businesses that manage to get featured in snack pack results.
What is local SEO and why do I need it?
GMB or Google My Business is essentially the most critical part of your local SEO strategy. This tool from Google allows you to create free business listings. And according to Moz, it’s one of the top factors that Google will consider when ranking businesses in organic local search and snack pack results.
One of the ways that local SEO enhances your online visibility is through the local snack pack results. Google sorts out local search results into three sections – sponsored, snack pack and organic. While the sponsored results appear prominently at the top of search results pages with the “Ad” or “Sponsored” label, they cost money.
You need to provide the following details for your GMB listing:
Once your listing goes live, you’ll need to verify it usually through a phone call or via postcard. Here’s how to optimize Google My Business after verification:
With smartphones now being a part of our daily lives, it’s only natural that a lot of people will be using their phones to search for local information and businesses. Uberall commissioned a study, which found that 82% of respondents had used their mobile devices to conduct a “near me” search. This proves just how much people are using their phones for local search.
To understand the local SEO definition, let’s first try to understand what local search means. Local search is when someone searches for businesses, products, services or any additional information relevant to one specific location. They could be searching for “concerts near me” to find an upcoming concert in their city or “best painting service in [location]” to find a painting service nearby.
6. Make the most of social listening.
According to the Moz study cited earlier, review signals also play a critical role in your local search and snack pack ranking. So having plenty of authentic reviews, particularly positive ones, could work wonders to boost your visibility in local search in addition to enhancing your reputation. That means you need to work towards collecting more authentic customer reviews for your business.
If you’re fairly new to local SEO, you might have a lot of questions and you probably won’t know where to start optimizing. This guide shows you some essential local SEO solutions and helps you understand the landscape better. So let’s jump right in.
The snack pack results follow, appearing in a box that highlights the top three business listings related to that particular search. This shows up more prominently than organic local search results, which means there’s a better chance of visibility if you get featured in the snack pack.
So if a business doesn’t rank in local search results, it could be missing out on valuable traffic and customers. In other words, local SEO could be the key to staying relevant and growing your business.
6 ways to boost your local SEO strategy.
Social listening may have primarily served as a source for marketing insights, but it has many benefits beyond that. It could even help fuel your local SEO strategy if you know which insights to look out for and how to make the most of them.
Moz also found that Google considers citation signals such as citation volume and NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency in local search results. This means your information should be on major citation websites; besides GMB, think Bing Maps, Yelp and Facebook. Focus on directories that have higher domain authority than on smaller listing directories.
Or maybe you’ve noticed people wishing your hair salon also provided manicure services. You could expand your service offering and share this update on your GMB profile.
Local SEO is crucial because it helps you:
That means you should target authority websites in your target region. This could be anything from licensing bureaus and trade associations to the Chamber of Commerce or even .edu sites.
To learn more about using Google My Business, check out our full post here.
BrightLocal also offers client access and white-labeled reporting — making it a solid fit for agencies and brands alike.
BrightLocal is a comprehensive SEO tool suite specifically built for local business marketing needs.
2. Engage on social media and add posts to Google My Business.
BuzzStream facilitates earning local backlinks, which helps you identify and build relationships with local influencers by researching influencers, tracking conversations, and providing reporting insights into your outreach campaigns, team performance, and link placements.
If Google can verify your business as authentic, the search engine could potentially reward your business with a coveted sidebar space in Google local search.
If you want to improve your internal linking structure but aren’t sure where to start, check out Kissmetrics’ The Seven Commandments of Internal Linking for Top-Notch SEO.
You’ve got to make it easy for people and search engines to find you. To do this, set up your NAP, which stands for name, address, and phone number (with area code). This should be included as crawlable HTML text on your site.
The tool can help you generate and monitor reviews on local sites, understand your local search performance, and analyze nearby competitors.
Ahrefs helps with backlink checking, which is important as these links (which are directed toward your website) serve as an indicator of website authority.
Less expensive than most of its counterparts, Moz Local will ensure your business listing has been verified on Google and Facebook, and distribute your listing across the search ecosystem.
This desktop program crawls websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective. Curious if you have any 404’s? Wondering about missing meta descriptions or H1’s? Screaming Frog will analyze up to 500 URLs for free and offers an unlimited paid version for $200/year.
If Google can’t determine which information about your business is correct, it may not show your business at all in search results.
Consistency is key: verify that your citations are consistent and complete across these four data aggregators.
Citations matter because they help surface local businesses in online search, and when local businesses actively manage their citations to ensure data accuracy, it promotes trust of these online listings.
Additionally, be sure to remove any duplicate listings you find. Bonus points for emphasizing a Chambers of Commerce membership in your community, which will garner you an external inbound link.
Google My Business has become the creme de la creme of local search — since Google understandably feels most comfortable sharing content it can support and verify, Google My Business is their tool to help your business meet Google’s needs.
With local SEO, businesses can use this to position their products and services to local prospects and customers who are searching for them.
Now that we’ve covered how to optimize your business for local SEO, let’s explore some useful tools you can leverage to improve your ranking in the areas where it matters most.