Search engine optimization is an essential part of building an online presence, growing visibility, and maintaining long-term growth. Businesses, especially local businesses, must actively work to raise the rankings for keywords and phrases. It can be tricky to compete against top national brands in a rapidly growing digital market as a small- to medium-sized business. Users like to see local results, and Google likes to provide those since they lead to a more positive user experience. Discover some of the main factors that affect your local SEO rankings.
Using Local Keywords
Using local keywords is essential for building local SEO rankings. Local keywords are also great for bringing traffic to your site. Rankings are great, but their purpose is to increase site traffic and warm leads that eventually turn into conversions. As long as a company’s website has references to its location within the page content, Google should understand where that business is physically located and which users to show the site.
Here are a few general rules of thumb to follow when using local keywords in your content.
- Put the keyword in the content early in the page or at the beginning—it’s rare that a page is about something that isn’t immediately mentioned.
- Use exact match, phrase match, and other variations whenever possible.
- Avoid overusing the keyword to the point where the reader becomes annoyed—this is also called keyword stuffing and is frowned upon by Google.
Getting Into the Map Pack
Getting your company listed in Google’s Map Pack is evidence that Google looks at your profile and site. As such, it’s vital to tell a cohesive story on your website and across multiple channels on the web. Getting into the Map Pack is one of the most valuable moves for a local business.
Pro Tip: It is vital to ensure your business information, such as hours of operation, address, and contact information, are all accurate and consistent across multiple sources on the web. Google cross-references these sources to verify business information and check inconsistencies in your Google My Business profile.
Showing up in the Google Map Pack and optimizing it for local searches is as simple as creating a Google My Business profile, then using the correct phrases that your target audience uses. Be sure to highlight any unique selling points customers care about in your listing in the Business Attributes section, such as women-led business, Black-owned business, veteran-run business, etc.
Getting reviews becomes imperative for increasing your position once you’re beginning to show up in the map pack. The next step is to link to your social media profiles with structured data or schema markup on your site. Treating your Map Pack listing like any other social media profile can lead to better positioning.
Many new local businesses or ones that just launched a website might notice they’re getting little traffic or few leads. This can stem from missing a fundamental part of SEO—indexing. This could be due to a technical issue with your website that prevents Google’s crawlers from finding or analyzing the pages correctly. If your site is not indexed at all, you will not have any rankings, as your site is entirely excluded from Google.
Where indexing can result in a lack of rankings for some pages, it is likely there is a meta tag telling Google to exclude a page or a few pages from the search results.
Ensure your site is crawlable, meaning Google can download, parse, read, and analyze the page in a reasonable amount of time.
Adding location pages to your website helps customers know that you provide services in their area. Google will also pick up on these local signals. These pages may not bring tons of organic traffic to your website, but it helps Google understand your service area and increase your site’s local relevancy.
Local pages are especially beneficial to businesses with one brick-and-mortar location serving multiple areas within a certain vicinity of that address. For example, if a company is based in a western suburb of Chicago but services that suburb and all of Cook County—Chicago downtown included—making a page for each town you service helps customers find your website.
As an added bonus, you can create highly targeted local ads [link to a different LP post about local ads] to drive paid traffic to these pages.
Backlinks and offsite references are vital in developing SEO, locally or nationally. When it comes to local businesses, gaining those high-value local backlinks can make a huge difference in local SEO rankings and online visibility.
Pro Tip: Get links from your chamber of commerce. It shows Google and users that your company is legitimate. Also, getting backlinks from top-level domains (TLDs), such as local government (.gov) or colleges/universities (.edu), is really powerful, as it’s typically more difficult and time-consuming to get referral links from these types of sites—they’re not handed out to just anyone.
Backlinks act as a digital reference from a trusted site. Therefore, getting a link from your local chamber of commerce and other local sources helps to find new customers and shows that your company is trustworthy and active in the community. Try partnering with your local government sites as well as sites that highlight local businesses in your area—many times, you can get a backlink out of the partnership.
There are many other factors that affect your local SEO rankings. When you set SEO goals for your business and find reaching them is a struggle, investing in professional local search engine optimization services can help get your company back on track to achieve those goals.
At Logical Position, we design our local SEO campaigns to benefit local businesses by increasing organic rankings and visibility in search results and the Map Pack. Contact us today for a free consultation.