Do you operate a local business, serving a local market? If so, you NEED to optimize for local search on Google.
What is local search?
It’s any web search on Google (or Bing) that includes a geographical region as a keyword.
Example: ‘Keyword + City Name’
Local search results are also often displayed on Google Maps (the map with pins displaying local businesses near you), directly in the search results.
Unless you sell a product or service that can serve a national market, your customers are searching with keywords that include their local city or region.
While you may read this and nod your head that it’s obvious, you’d be amazed at how many businesses forget to include their location as one of their keywords.
In this post, I’m going to share 5 simple ways you can rank higher on Google local search.
Step 1: Claim your listing on popular social networks and directories
Gone are the days of only needing a website. Having many online properties is not only a smart SEO tactic, but also a great way to reach potential customers where they already are.
Some of the key directories include:
Set up an account on networks that are appropriate for your business type, and fill out all the relevant information.
Tip: Beware of duplicates! Double check to ensure no one on your team has created accounts on these networks in the past. Duplicate listings will impact your ability to maximize your local search efforts.
Step 2: Keep information consistent
Google’s search algorithm is getting smarter every day. When Google determines how to organize it’s search results, it will compare your business properties for consistency. If you’re inconsistent, you lose points and your competitors will outrank you.
An easy one to look at right now is the formatting of your address.
Have you inputted your address exactly the same way on Facebook as you did on Google? Double check. You may be missing out because of something small.
‘123 Nineteenth Street’ is not the same as ‘123 19th Street’.
This also crosses over to your website. Consistency is key. Make sure your address and phone numbers are formatted exactly the same on all properties.
Step 3: Use a local phone number
Believe it or not, Google actually takes your phone number into consideration. That means if you have a 1-800 number, it’s better to keep that as a secondary option and put your local phone number as the primary method of contact.
Tip: If you have a Niagara phone number and are trying to outrank businesses in Toronto, you may want to register a different phone line.
Step 4: Review your website load speed
This one impacts more than local search. Even social media will de-prioritize your shared link if it takes visitors to a slow loading website.
There are a lot of reasons your website could be loading slowly. Some of the most common ones are:
- Unoptimized Images
- Bloated code (common on purchased ‘themes’)
- Slow Hosting Provider
Tip: Head over to Google PageSpeed Insights and run a test to see if your website is optimized for speed.
Step 5: Ask for customer reviews
Customer reviews are probably the most important factor when it comes to ranking on local search.
Positive reviews on Google My Business, Facebook and other profiles will win you additional search engine optimization (SEO) points. Plus, it increases the odds of a potential customer clicking on your business.
Think about the last time you searched for a service. Chances are you clicked on the link of the business that had several positive reviews, right?
Another thing to note is that Google is starting to display feedback from other sources on your Google My Business profile. That means if you have a lot of positive reviews on Facebook, they will also appear on Google.
Tip: When you complete a sale, ask your customer to write a quick review describing their experience.
We’re just getting started…
Like any form of SEO, the 5 items shared here are just scratching the surface of optimizing for local search.
Spend some time and review your online properties. Make sure you’ve crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’. Accuracy is extremely important.
Once you’ve completed each item, my next tip would be looking at building a content strategy for your business. I’ll share more on that later…
Have questions or need help?
Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. Hope over to our contact page and leave a message and our team will follow up with you.