Updated: Dec 1, 2020
As voice search through platforms like Amazon Alexa and Siri start to gain traction, the “near me” search is only getting more and more popular.
- 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information.
( GoGulf )
- 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles.
- 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the
business within 24 hours.
( Nectafy )
For businesses that rely on foot traffic and local patronage, local Search Engine Optimization is more important than ever.
Below, I will break down the 25 factors that will put your listing in the best possible position.
The Basic Local SEO Factors
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here are the bare essentials to get your business listed locally.
1. Google My Business
It only takes a few minutes to claim your Google My Business page, and it is completely free. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to start off on the right foot with your local SEO.
You can claim your page and get listed here, at Google My Business.
2. Google My Business Categories
For the best results within Google My Business, choose as few categories as possible and be as accurate as you can.
One mistake that business owners make is choosing loosely related categories in order to list for more searches. The truth is, your listing will carry much less authority if people click on it, realize it doesn't exactly fit their need, and leave.
Google ranks based on their perception of your authority in the market, and they prioritize businesses that show that authority.
3. Photos on Google My Business
Photos add credibility and likeability to your business. Seeing as your My Business listing will be the face of your company on "near me" or map searches, photos are an absolute must.
Not only that, but it is not uncommon for someone to search for a city that they plan to visit in Google images, click on a photo, and note the business for a potential visit.
It happens more than you might think, especially in the restaurant industry, and it could mean additional customers for you.
4. Bing Places For Business
While Google is by far the most used search engine, Bing still claims around a 33% market share.
Make sure you claim your business on Bing as well to account for the other third of traffic that may be searching for you locally.
5. Online Directories
Online Directories such as Apple Maps and Yellow Pages are important for SEO in general, but they are most applicable to local businesses. Make sure you have listed your business on these popular listing sites.
Tip: Search for smaller, local directories as well. Some of these listings will count as a "follow" link. Without getting too in-depth about backlinks, Google will index this local follow link and it will do wonders for your SEO. The more the merrier.
6. Review Sites
While reviews on your Google My Business carry the most weight, it is important that you claim a page on popular review sites. These include:
- Angie's List (if applicable)
Yelp is integrated with voice search platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Samsung Bixby. As we anticipate these platforms continuing to increase in relevance and influence, it's important to rank for the directories and sites that they use.
7. Number of Positive Reviews
According to Google, the number of positive reviews carries a lot of weight when ranking your business.
Therefore, it is very important to encourage your customers to leave a review on your Google listing.
Keep in mind that Google has policies in place to prevent buying reviews and other incentives. You can review Google's review policies here.
8. Reviews with Keywords & Location
Reviews that include relevant keywords and locations are an important factor for Google ranking.
There's not much you can do about the contents of a customer's review. I suggest encouraging customers to mention the city and the product when you ask them to leave a review.
Responding to a customer's review contributes to your local SEO as well.
Staying on top of every review can be challenging, but responding with a short and sweet "Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it." or "We're sorry to hear about that, we are working on a fix!" can make a big difference in your public image as well as SEO.
In fact, the percentage of negative reviews that are NOT responded to will influence your ranking as well. Be sure to give your feedback to each review!
10. Facebook Business Page
Not only do social profiles rank in a Google search alone, potentially giving you a separate search listing, but many people also search for local businesses on Facebook itself.
Keeping up a solid Facebook page for your business and interacting with the community regularly is a great source of customers alone and a great additional resource for SEO.
Google prioritizes accurate information. Be sure to keep consistent Name, Address, and Phone number info on your site, directories, review sites, and social pages.
For example, don't put Famous Burgers on one site and Matthews Famous Burgers LLC on another.
12. Mobile Responsiveness
Google's Mobile First indexing update is in effect, which means Google looks at your mobile site before your desktop site.
You can benchmark your mobile site with Google's Mobile Friendly Test.
The In-Depth Local SEO Factors
We have the basics, and your site is ready to be indexed by Google. Below we will take a more in-depth look at optimizing for the best possible rank.
13. Structured Data Markup
Briefly, SDM helps Google read and index information like hours, address, menu, etc. This strategy is highly recommended by Google and you can read more about it here, on the Google Developer Page.
14. Click Through Rate (CTR)
Click Through Rate is the ratio of users who click on your link (visitors) to the total amount of users who saw it (impressions).
When Google displays your site, it tracks this metric to see how appealing your site is to a particular audience. Of course, a higher click-through rate means that you will be shown more often.
To optimize for CTR, ensure that your meta titles and descriptions make sense, and encompass your site and content.
15. Localized Content
Creating articles, sharing news stories, and sponsoring/mentioning local events can help increase your local ranking.
A good rule of thumb is to be as involved in the community as possible on the internet. When people search for something locally, your content or shares may show as results.
16. On-Page Location / Keywords
First, make sure that your address is included on your homepage. It could be the header, footer, contact form, it doesn't matter as long as it's on the page.
Next, ensure that your city is mentioned in every piece of content. Like I said earlier, your content can and will show up as search results for your market and location.
This content not only gets a visitor to your page, but the value that they get from it establishes your business as a trustworthy source.
17. Quality Backlinks
Quality backlinks are the cornerstone of SEO. For local optimization, it is important that you establish a network of links with other businesses, news sites, and blogs.
Most importantly, these referral sites need to be local, and the blog sites in particular need to be relevant to your market.
I suggest establishing quality content that is relevant to your market, as that will be the starting point for one of the highest percentage methods of getting a local business blog to link back to your post.
18. Proximity to the Searcher
The only thing that you can do to help with this factor is to ensure that you have consistent NAP, as we discussed earlier in this article.
However, it's important that you are aware that this is naturally one of the heaviest ranking factors.
The importance of local SEO to a business that relies on foot traffic is absolutely paramount. This article should give you a detailed insight on where to go and what to do to fight for the highest rank.