SEO Terms Used in this article

Local SEO

Local search engine optimization has always had an important impact on any business. It holds even more importance for small local businesses and brick and mortar stores as more than 90% of the consumers use local search to find out more about a business. Without Local SEO your business will virtually be irrelevant. Since these customers use local search to find any service they require, it has become a necessity for any business to optimize for it. So, how do you optimize for local SEO? Here are some SEO tips and tricks that can help you enhance your business and optimize it to gain more local traffic.

What is Local SEO?

When you are running a business. Whether that is a brick and mortar store or an online store, you target people in a specific geographical area. Thus, it is crucial that you make sure your local business gains their attention. To gain recognition, you use local SEO. It promotes your page and the products to the local consumer base. There are many ways that search engines check and analyze the local SEO. Some main areas to focus on are the content of the page, the social media, links and citations.

All about the Local pack  

The map pack is the first 3 suggestions and maps you see for local businesses in your area. For e.g when you search for a flower shop the map pack will show the top 3 flower shops in your area, along with their address, phone number and timings.  

The map pack is an extremely important factor when you want to rank for local SEO because it appears on top, above the organic results. The local pack has its own rules and algorithms which need to be followed to score a chance. There are some similarities between the algorithms though. Some ranking factors like a strong backlink profile still hold importance when ranking in the map pack but the main factors to focus on are the NAP (name address and phone number).

One crucial thing to note is that the map pack only displays the top 3 businesses in the local packs. That means there is even more competition and a slimmer chance of getting there than in the regular organic search. 

When trying to rank for the local packs, many advise that your primary keyword should contain the city or state as well as the store. For e.g, if you are a flower shop in Toronto, you will need to include both in your keyword phrase.  Although that is the best route to go for, it isn’t always accurate. Some map packs are not location specific and appear regardless. In certain cases, Google assumes that you need more local results for your queries and guides you with local businesses. Thus, Rank by focus guides you with specific keywords as well as other ranking factors to make sure your business thrives.

How to analyze local Pack rankings 

Before you begin working on and improving your local map pack ranking you need to figure out where you stand. You do that by figuring out your current ranking and building on from there. There are many tools available like MOZ local.

They can help you find your ranking from Semrush to MOZ local and many more so you can choose your preference. Rank by focus uses these tools to find your current ranking and then proposes a plan based on the results. They develop a strategy that can efficiently improve the ranking on Map Packs in the quickest time. There is no point shooting In the dark hoping something works out. Finding out where you currently rank gives you an idea of how far you will need to Go and accomplish which is extremely important especially for a small business.

One thing to keep in mind is that the ranking can vary drastically from location to location. Some areas may have higher competition and thus despite all efforts, your ranking could be far behind. On the other hand, some areas might have virtually no competition at all and you might be able to land on the Map packs with little to no effort.  The change is so vast and that the Map Pack rankings can be completely different even as little as a mile away.  If you only measure your rankings in a vast city, you will be getting a small chunk of what the actual rankings look like. In some cases, the rankings might change order depending on where you are and sometimes you may get a completely different set of businesses, even a block away.

Therefore you cannot simply research your local Pack rankings in one particular area like Toronto. You have to measure them separately in the local area and even different streets.  Doing so will give you the most accurate representation of where your ranking stands. For a small business, you will be required to search your business in different areas to find favourable results. that way you can find where your business has a stronger chance of getting in the Map packs There are more specific tools like MOZ local that are made especially for this purpose but it can be a tedious task because you have to get into the nitty-gritty. That is why Rank by focus makes the job easier for you by streamlining the process and taking you directly to the results.

How to use the Map rank tracking tool 

Using the map rank tool is a daily simple process. First, you need to go on the tool and select your business. Most of the businesses are linked to Google maps so you already need to have a Google my business account set up. After that you select the keyword you are looking to check the ranking for. It’s best to put your primary keyword here and check the ranking for that first. As you start improving you can check and improve the ranking for other keywords as well.  After the keyword has been selected, you can then select your range. You can make this as large or small as possible to get a wide variety of rankings for your page. This can help you decide where you want to focus your improvement on and which ones have too high of competition. 

After the tool does it work, it should give you an interactive map of your ranking in the area you selected. If you chose a wider area you will notice a pattern of your ranking being high on the outskirts but getting worse as you come to the center. That simply means that there is more competition in the bait areas than away from the city. By clicking on the ranking you will be able to see which businesses are outranking out in a particular area. You can then click on their business and find out where they are located and other details about them that can help you improve your own ranking.

Don’t undermine the organic results.

As a local business everyone wants to get the coveted spot on the Map pack. In the process, they often overlook the extremely important organic local search results.  Many times the business in the Map packs has really strong commercial value so it can be tough to break into them. Therefore the organic results are a great option as well. Getting in the top 10 results for organic results is much easier to break into for small businesses and there is less competition than the 3 coveted spots in the local pack.  The best part about the local search results for search engine optimization is that the results are the same for all Google search engine result pages so it is much easier to optimize for it.

How to conduct local keyword research 

 

Keyword research for local SEO is a relatively easy process. you will have to conduct extensive research to find the correct ones and make sure they uplift your brand. However, you will not have to constantly come up with new keywords to rank for. All you have to do is select a few of the best keywords for your business that you want to rank for and then you are set. You might still have to change a couple of keywords every now and then but usually, they remain fairly consistent. So rank by focus can help you select a shortlist for keywords that you can focus on improving your local ranking.  they make the keyword research process less stressful with a complete guide and help implement those keywords as well.

Google autocomplete 

The most simple tool that you can use to gain potential customers is the Google suggest option. This is where Google search autocompletes your query. Google suggest is great for the SEO strategy of any business especially when it comes to local. it is pretty simple to use google suggest, you type in your business and see the related searches or the suggestions Google has made, you can get some ideas for keywords that you can potentially use. 

One thing you have to remember with Google suggest is that you can’t simply type in your business or industry that will bring a varying group of keywords that aren’t necessarily local. To make the suggestions local you will have to make it a little more specific to get the local keywords. For e.g if you are a business selling coats, simply typing in “coats’ ‘ and looking at the autocomplete suggestions will likely not get your local keywords. However, if you type in a letter after it like ” coats in ” you will most likely get more local searches for the keywords.

Yelp suggest 

Yelp suggests works like Google autocomplete where it suggests businesses based on different keywords. So you can find where your business ranks. 

The main feature that differs it from Google is that it sometimes gives suggestions that aren’t suited exactly with the keyword searched. Thus it gives similar results as well as exact keywords.  For e.g, the keyword you searched was “Chinese” as you are a restaurant selling that cuisine. Sometimes yelp will also include other similar keywords like Japanese and Asian in the suggested businesses as well. This is one very cool addition that gives you a greater opportunity for people to find your business or service area.

Start with google my business

This is already a well-known point in SEO, but optimizing for Google my business is one sure-fire way to attract a local audience to your page and find your business online. Google will likely promote content that is verified, so a Google my business listing essentially helps you meet the standard to get promoted. Google my business allows your page to end up on the google maps and potentially in the pack results to get better recognition.

To get google my business listing, you will first need a Google my business page, this will allow Google to verify your page and the details within. Secondly, you will have to build a reputation for your brand, you can do this by using google posts, and encourage your customers to leave honest reviews. You should also then reply to the reviews to further increase your reach.

Local Voice Searches 

Another great addition to your local SEO strategy is to use Google local voice search.  As technology is improving more and more SEO tools have come forth.  Since more than 20% of the searches are now conducted by voice, it is important to incorporate it into your strategy so you can rank in the top 10 on search engines.

one main aspect to note in Google voice search is to note the language used. when typing, people tend to form more structured, short and precise sentences. That is why it is much better to use precise keywords and get to the point quickly.  On the other hand, with voice searches, people tend to use a more conversational tone. This generally makes the sentence longer and the long-tail keywords fit best in the search results on search engines. 

To improve your local search rankings in the voice search you have to cater to the local customers. they will likely be searching for products or services near them that are open at the exact moment and won’t spend a long time searching for their query.  Thus, having exact information put as simply as possible will help grow your business.

Google Keyword Planner 

While developing an SEO strategy you have probably come across Google keyword planner.  A good tip to maximize local results is to use google keyword planner for local Search engine optimization.  The keyword planner gives search volume data separately for multiple locations.  This will help in finding the ranking of your business profile across different geographical locations. Here you can find data aggregators that give information for a specific keyword and also more keyword ideas based on that keyword.

Here you can find local data that will make it easy for you to plan your content around. you will be able to find the local search rankings of your business and you plan your strategy to make improvements in specific areas. Rank by focus helps grow your business by taking these factors into account and by keeping a close eye on them.

Make your website mobile-friendly 

The mobile-friendliness of your website can also have an impact on the local SEO. You may wonder why? That is because most of the people that are conducting a local search are doing so on their mobile devices. More than 90% of the local searches are performed on some sort of smartphone to check for address, contact info, directions etc. thus, you must make your website mobile-friendly so your potential customers can access it without any inconveniences. It can thus greatly improve your local SEO as well. With a mobile-friendly website, your page will reach a wider audience in the local search results and they can easily get access to all information about your business.

Consistent NAP ( Name address phone number) 

One way that your business may suffer is if your customers can’t reach it. This will not only reduce the customer but also affect the local SEO negatively. So, you have to make sure that your NAP or name address and phone number are correct and consistent on all platforms. One tip is to double-check the number and make sure it matches the area code you are operating in.

The name address and phone number should also be a clickable HTML link inserted into the website’s page. That makes it easily obtainable by any consumer. The HTML also allows for the search engine crawls to crawl the HTML and index it. If you insert an image with the NAP it won’t be crawled and indexed. The ideal place to insert your NAP is where it can be viewed easily by the audience, so they don’t have to search for it. Some common options are in the header or footer of the page itself.

On-site SEO for local businesses 

When you have the factors down for improving local SEO, it is then time to focus on on-site SEO. These are more intricacies you can do within the website itself to improve your local search ranking across the web. These improvements can attract customers and make it easy for them to view your website. Some changes like improving landing pages or optimizing the content can really help your search engine ranking.  Let’s get started with some of the ways on-site SEO can be optimized for local SEO.

Location-based content 

Having unique plagiarism free content for all your landing pages is extremely important when it comes to local SEO. you need to have specially curated content for each which will serve the local search rankings. While it is important to market your products and services locally, you can create landing pages for the location that you are not physically present in as well.

As long as you offer your products and services in that area, you can advertise your local business in the area. Not only will this get your business name in the local search engine ranking but it will also give you a chance to rank in multiple searches.  one note you still need to remember is that doing so will not land you on the Map pack. you still need to be physically located in those areas to get a spot there, however, you can still find local customers even while being further away through the content.

Go beyond Google’s limit 

Everyone already knows that you should use the location in the title tag to gain the most organic traffic to your website. One tactic that not many people employ is having an extended title tag. The trick here is to have a strong first part of the title. this will contain your business name, a strong statement and the products and services you offer. then you will extend your title beyond google limit so a ” …” appears. The key is to leave the title on a cliffhanger or an interesting statement that will make local customers want to click on your page.  This can work for any location that you are trying to rank for. Rank by focus uses this technique and various others to make sure your local search ranking is in the top tier across the web.

Nap citations 

Your NAP ( name, address and phone number)   data is of the utmost importance when it comes to local SEO. It is one of the dominant factors when search engines go through your page. However, like backlinks, NAP citations are difficult to build and can have a drastic effect on your search engine optimization strategy.

Step 1 

First things first, you need to know what you are working on. For that, you will need to conduct a NAP audit. Mainly you want to check for consistency in the NAP on all local search engine and all business directories that may contain your data. You also want to match the data back to your Google my business profile to determine if anything is left out. Essentially any place that mentions your local business online should have one NAP data. Preferably the one that matches your Google my business profile.

There are many SEO tools out there that you can use to conduct your NAP audit, some tools include loganix and Whitespark. At times this process can become tedious, trying to figure out all the inconsistencies. Rank by focus has a team of professionals whose main job is to run these NAP audits to make sure that you don’t miss out on any potential customers.

Step 2

Once you have your audit done, you can then go around one by one fixing the incorrect NAPs.  Some websites may contain older NAP data that may not be correct anymore. Thus, you will have to update the information. if you perform frequent checks and audits on your site, you will have less chance of incorrect  NAP data however if it is your first time, you will have a lot to correct. the NAP citations fit into 2 main categories:

  • citations that you can change
  • mentioned citations that someone else changes.

 Citations that you can change yourself is a relatively easy process since you are in charge you can change them without any real hassle. However, it can get quite annoying to manually change each and every citation yourself. Rank by focus solves this problem for a local business. They have professionals who can manage the NAP citations quickly and efficiently.

For citations that can’t be changed by yourself, the process becomes a bit longer. This data is mentioned on some other forum or business directories thus you will need to write a formal email asking them to update the data.

Find new citation opportunities 

We have already detained how important the NAP citations are for a local business, but there aren’t a lot of places you’ve heard of to cite your business. Some pretty well-known sites are Yelp, Foursquare,  Angie’s list etc but perhaps the best way to find citation opportunities is through local sites. local pages are able to give you a real boost in the rankings in search engines.

Since your citations are going to be more local and focused on a specific area, you are bound to have higher conversions as well. Now the main question arises, where can you find these local sites for NAP citations?  While there are many SEO tools available on the market, the “link intersect” feature by Ahrefs is especially great for a local business.

Reverse engineer competitor NAPS 

Similar to search engine optimization,  you can also use your competitor’s NAP data to your advantage. All you have to do is use your SEO tools for the NAP audit and conduct an audit on the competitor site. This will give you all the pages your competitor site is mentioned in. You can then work from there and try to get mentioned in the same pages.

Gain authentic inbound links 

Another way to build up your local SEO and increase local search ranking is through inbound links. They increase the authority of your page and tell google that your website is credible. Whether you are a brick and mortar store or an online website, building a strong backlink profile is necessary.  There are many ways that you can build up a strong backlink profile for your business. Some more prominent ones include:

  • Guest Posting
    This is a great way to reach a new audience and attract them back to your page. You can be an expert on a matter and provide information to the readers. You can get your business name and phone number out there and also refer back to your business and therefore gain authentic links and some traffic. Sometimes they may even promote the content on their social media pages which can redirect even more traffic.

  • Local PR 
    Different SEO tools and tactics can surely work to get in local traffic to your page but what works even better is the local press.  Local Newspapers and sites are always on the hunt for content and you can fulfill that need with your products and services.  For a local site, you can even add your Google my business page to the content to really increase your business presence.

  • Sponsorship and paid partnerships
    The best trick is to find an influencer in your respective industry and partner with them to promote your business on social media. They are important ranking factors on the google result pages. You can also sponsor their content in return for a promotion of their page, which can lead to massive growth in today’s social media-driven world.

  • Scholarships
    One tip that is largely unknown is that.edu links are great for domain authority. To gain some of these.edu links you can offer a scholarship in your area. Remember to keep this scholarship in your field. Then schools and other educational websites will link back to your page and you gain some authoritative links. The authoritative links can be non-follow ones from social media pages or follow ones from their websites, both of which can help your SEO.

Curate content for the locals 

Google search algorithms and ranking tools have gotten a lot smarter, and they take many factors into account to determine the local search rankings of pages. This allows website owners to create content that isn’t just search engine friendly. By writing on genre topics there is a higher chance to attract a wider audience. However, when it comes to improving the local SEO you also have to focus on topics specifically for the locals.

To gain the local trust you have to become the authority in the matter. This can be done by covering the local events, news or even educational content. You have to think outside the box to attract an audience through the content and once you have gained their trust, they will automatically be interested in your products and services.

An example would be if you sell coats in Canada or New York, you can create the best places to visit in the Canadian winter. This way the reader will gain some insight through your website, and they will be more likely in purchasing the products and services.

Advanced SEO tips and strategies 

Now that all the major strategies have been discussed to improve your search results, let’s get started with some advanced techniques that improve your standing in the local search engine.

Embed the google map on your site 

A great way to improve search results and enhance your business is by adding the google map location to your page. this helps customers see exactly where you are located and they can find your business without any inconveniences.

The first step to embed the map to your site is to find your location on google my business. Then you click on the menu on the top left corner and select “share or embed map”. By clicking on it you get an embedded code.  You then go to your page and insert that code where you want to add your location or on the contact us page.

Optimize Meta description 

Meta descriptions are an easy way to attract an audience to your page. It is one of the first things they read before even clicking on your website and reading your content.  However, this is one of the few places that businesses make the most mistakes for SEO. Local businesses often stuff keywords in the description which makes the entire text seem unnatural.

A pro tip is to look at the Google ads. The ads contain content that is proven to have a high click-through rate. You can get some key terms from their descriptions and incorporate them into your own.  What you still need to remember is to keep the copy natural. it should sell to the locals without being overstuffed with keywords. To keep on top of Local SEO try and mention your location in both the meta description and the title tag.

Have a double ranked Title tag 

This is an old trick in the book for SEO that can still be applied for local businesses. The trick here is to optimize your Title tag around 2-3 keywords instead of a single keyword.  Doing so will allow you to get more traffic to your page as it ranks for multiple keywords.

The reason why this tip works well for local SEO is that generally, local pages get fewer links to internal pages, thus it gives you the opportunity to rank higher for multiple keywords.

In the end, there are many additional ways along with these SEO tips that you can use to improve your website in the local searches. Improving your internal linking, optimizing URL, meta description and optimizing the directories are just to name a few. Together these with Google my business account can help greatly boost your local search engine optimization and promote your business in your geographical area.

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