Optimizing Your Website for Local Search Results

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Person using a tablet with a lot of local pins on a map - Local Search Website Optimization
Alex Corral
Alex Corral
August 25, 2020
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Category:
Search Engine Marketing

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UPDATED:
September 3, 2020

Local search optimization is one of the best things you can do for your business’s health. Whether you are launching a new product in the market or a brick-and-mortar business that is just going digital, it can benefit you.  It can help you get consistent traffic over to your website or through your doors. This steady stream of traffic could give you a base to work from. Whether you are a service area business or a brick and mortar company, there is a way that you can benefit from local search engine optimization.

Everything is going the way of mobile. You might not realize it, but there is so much power in the palm of your hand. Phone tech has gotten better and better over the years. This is the reason that people have begun to expect things from their phones. When someone is looking to answer a question that they may have, they turn to their phone. They might use their voice, or they might type their question into a search box. Either way, your business needs to be there to help them out. That is the essence of local SEO.

I say it all the time. You need to have your face-in-the-place. If you are doing local search right, you will get in front of people interested in whatever you are offering. There are times where your knowledge is going to carry you. Sometimes it will be your reputation. Whatever the case may be, you need to make sure that you show up during those searches. This way, you can either get people through your door or get them to contact you. So what is local search optimization, and how is it that you can make this happen.

What Is Local Search Optimization‍

Laptop with the words Local SEO

Local SEO is just what it sounds like—optimizing your business to show up for local searches. You will need to do things to your website that is similar to ‘regular’ SEO, but there are also other things that you will need to do that are locally specific.

A potential customer could be harnessing local SEO because they are interested in learning about the area. They might want to know what options they have around them because they don’t want to drive far or don’t have the means to get there other than on foot.  

I guarantee that you (or someone close to you) has performed a ‘near me’ search. It might have been a city + service type of search. Think hotels in Los Angeles or Plumbers in La Cañada likely, the results that were returned to you were done because they had good local search optimization.

Me-me-me! That is typically what is vital for most people. They want more personalized results. They want super-local results to where they are at, and they want them to be relevant! How can you get in front of them!

How Can You Do Local Seo‍

Tablet with a search engine website

If you have read anything written by me, you know I believe that SEO is mostly about quality. You need to give the searcher what they are looking for, and you need to be honest with yourself. You can do everything on this list, and you might rank for a little while, but if the quality is not there, it would just be a waste of your time.

Before getting started on this, make sure that your website’s content is of the highest quality. This could mean making sure that your product descriptions and pages are unique and helpful. Whether you are selling a physical product or a service, you need to ensure that they are thorough. Make sure that your service or product is excellent. Many people like me like to do a bunch of research before they make a purchase. If you have gotten this down, then implementing local SEO could give you a sustained advantage in your local area.

You need to understand what your potential customers are looking for and make sure that you are giving it to them when they need it. So, how do you know what people want? My favorite thing to do is simply search for a keyword that you might be interested in and see what comes up. Knowing what shows up can help guide you.

A while back, Google came up with what they call micro-moments. These are as follows:

  1. I-want-to-buy
  2. I-want-to-do
  3. I-want-to-know
  4. I-want-to-go

The critical thing to note is that Google will change the search results’ layout based on which one of these micro-moments searchers fall into. I-want-to-buy will typically trigger a product carousel or a local three-pack design. I-want-to-do has a lot of video content and step-by-step, meaning that schema would be helpful. I-want-to-know pulls the quick answer box, and optimization might mean layout and formatting. I-want-to-go could be the local three-pack where ratings and NAP would be super important. Where does Google get all this information?

Google My Business - GMB‍

Google My Business Logo

I don’t know if there is anything more important to the health of your local SEO strategy then having a Google My Business listing. This is where Google gets a bunch of information to feed the local search. It is the quickest way they can verify the information. Don’t get me wrong, Bing Places and Apple Maps are also relevant, but Google commands the market’s highest share. This means it is wisest to focus our efforts here.

It is a best practice to make sure that you fill out your profile as completely as possible. This will allow you to show up in as many searches as possible. This will also get you coveted search treatment. If you work on your Google My Business correctly, you will get a knowledge panel. These are typically shown on the right side on the desktop, and it is the first thing that you would see on mobile.

Many practitioners will tell you to put your local keyword everywhere possible, but that can come off as spammy and, frankly, is outdated. It is my recommendation that you put some localized keywords where they fit. You don’t need to force it. This can be a work in progress, but make sure that you are always checking in to see if they have added anything new to Google My Business.

Keywords‍

Laptop with a man typing Keywords

If you are serious about serving a particular area, you should target some local keywords. This could be city + service, or zip code + service type of keywords. I would not overdo it, but it makes sense if you invest in a particular area.

You could create content about your local area to show that you are knowledgeable. This could happen by targeting local keywords in blog posts. You will want to make sure that you have some of these local keywords on your home page, area page (if you have one), and an about us page. There are many ways to go about it.

Some companies do well by creating new webpages for specific cities. I’ve never been the biggest fan of this because it can lead to people getting carried away, but it does make sense if you do it for a few of your more important cities. If you want to go this route, make sure you create unique content and not create a template page where you just replace the city name. That could cause more harm than good.

Just make sure that you are mentioning these local terms, but that you arent being spammy. What else can you do?

NAP - Name, Address, Phone Number‍

Paper form asking for Name and Address

If you have those first two bases covered, you already have a solid base to work from. The next thing that you are going to want to do is make sure that your listings are correct and consistent. When web crawlers try to surface information about your business, it helps if it is consistent. If it is not, then they might have to guess on what to show the customer.

Common issues arise when there has been a name change for the business, the company has moved to a new location, or they have changed their number/are using an 800 number. You want to make sure that all of this information is consistent. Using a local area code also helps tie you into the locality. Using an 800 number doesn’t say much about your business’s physical location.

This same consistent information should be found on your website. We found that it has worked the best for us on the footer of every page. We typically put it near our social links to reinforce the association. When you add it to your site, make sure that it is added as text and not an image! You are rolling! Now you need to focus on the ongoing efforts.

Citations and Links‍

Person's hand clicking on a link button

Now that you have a consistent NAP, you need to get your citations in order. These could be structured (typically directories) or unstructured (mentions). These are important because four leading aggregators feed data to search engines. Neustar Localeze and Factual are two. Get listed everywhere it is pertinent to your business. A few critical directories would be TripAdvisor for hotels or Thomasnet for machine shops. Do some digging, and I’m sure you’ll find some for your niche.

Citations are a form of links that tie back to your site. This means that they help form a better picture of what your business is about. Since this is the case, it would make sense to get links from a local commerce chamber or regional associations. If you are a real go-getter, you could host local events. The press and mentions could help your local SEO cause.

Reviews‍

Now that you are correctly listed everywhere, what are people saying about you? Monitoring reviews is a big part of the local equation because they are a deciding factor for most people. What is it that people are saying about you? Better yet, how are you responding? Taking care of your reviews professionally can give your business credibility in the consumer’s eyes.

Laptop with a 5 star online review.

Typically, the higher the stars, the better the business, but only 5-star reviews might look fishy.  Contradicting or combative statements when responding to reviews is a no-no. The feedback that has been addressed could be useful for your business because it shows that you are human. Asking people for feedback is always a good strategy for your local SEO. If nothing else, it can help you to improve your business.

‍Schema/Structured Markup‍

Adding these bits of code to your website can help solidify the local-ness of your business. Depending on your site’s layout, it might just be a local business schema or maybe some events schema.

Closing‍

Focusing on these few things can get you going with local search optimization. We mainly spoke about some of the unique treatments that you could get in the SERPs. You need to understand that there are still paid ads that show up on the page first, and there are the regular organic results that show up beneath the local results. There is a whole industry dedicated to local search, but these few tips should put you in a perfect position to succeed. If you are looking for some tools that can help with your SEO for small business, give us a call or contact us, and we’ll share the tools that we use with you.

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