Table of Contents
- 1 Local SEO Ranking Signals
- 1.1 1. Set up Google My Business
- 1.2 2. Incorporate Local SEO into Keyword Research and Landing Pages
- 1.3 3. Natural Link Building with High-Quality Local Online Publications
- 1.4 4. Ensure name, address and phone number (NAP) is visible and consistent
- 1.5 5. Encourage Customers to Leave a Review on Your Google My Business Listing
- 1.6 6. Optimise Your On-Site Content for Voice Search
- 1.7 7. Make Sure Your Business Appears on Relevant Local Online Directories
- 1.8 8. Improve Local SEO with Schema Markup
- 2 Local SEO Rankings Wrap-up
Local SEO is an important part of search engine optimisation, especially for businesses operating on a regional level.
While SEO in a general sense is focused on ranking in searches nationwide, local SEO is all about boosting your business’ online presence so that your website will rank higher when users enter geographically localised searches related to your services or products. By optimising your website for local search intent, you can better serve nearby leads and customers.
Local searches are, as expected, location specific: for example, “vegan restaurants in Liverpool”, “BMW repairs Oxford”, or “Pizza near me”.
As Local SEO ranking is important for finding customers in your immediate area, it tends to be more pertinent for businesses that operate in a more physical sense – salons, restaurants, and so on – rather than solely online.
Local SEO Ranking Signals
If your business is looking to boost foot traffic, there are several things you can do to make sure you are dominating local search results.
Here, we are sharing 8 local SEO ranking signals that you can focus on to ensure your business is ready to harness results on a local-level.
1. Set up Google My Business
We’re sure you already have this one ticked off the to-do list but it’s always good to start at the beginning.
Google My Business is a critical ranking signal for local businesses wanting to appear in local pack rankings.
Setting up your Google My Business page enables you to manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. It is a free service that allows businesses instant visibility – as well a listing on the right-hand side of a Google search results page with a wealth of information: ratings, images, phone number, address, website link, opening times and a chart showing busy times.
For example, if you run a gym based in Oxford, maintaining your Google My Business listing will be a powerful source of attracting new customers for your gym by making sure your gym appears in the local pack on Google.
Within your Google My Business profile, you’ll also gain a wealth of valuable data through the Insights for Business report. This insights report offers valuable data about your profile and the ways people find your business online, allowing you to make smarter local marketing decisions.
Not only does Google My Business provide information for users, it also aids in building brand authority. It is an easy way of showing that your business is real and can be trusted.
Recent research into Google My Business listings by BrightLocal found that the average business receives 1,009 customer searches each month, with 84% of these coming from discovery searches. So, if you haven’t already claimed your Google My Business listing, now is the time to do so.
2. Incorporate Local SEO into Keyword Research and Landing Pages
Keyword research is an important part of any SEO campaign and shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to improving your local seo rankings.
Keyword research tools are a great way to find out what people are actually searching for, and how much competition you’ll have when trying to rank for these searches. And you can hone it further to see which search terms people in your local area are using when looking for businesses within your niche.
The 2020 State of Local SEO Report by Moz highlights that website optimisation continues to lead the way as the most important ranking signal when competing for organic SERP visibility.
When it comes to ensuring your website ranks highly in both the local packs and organic search, you should focus on local SEO activities such as local content creation, local link building, and local keyword research to make sure your site is optimised for valuable keywords and local search intent.
Developing a local SEO strategy that prioritises keyword relevance across your entire site will make a huge difference to your local rankings. Ensuring that your location is there in your page title is a great first step, as is writing relevant content tailored to your local area. Further to this, including your location in the H1 and H2 tags will also help boost your on-site ranking signals for local SEO.
Internal linking can be another powerful way to improve your page authority for local searches. For example, if your business has multiple locations and you have a separate landing page for each area, creating an ‘Our Locations’ page which links to these would be ideal.
The content of your landing page should reflect your local SEO keyword research. Include as much relevant information as possible and build it around the keywords you have discovered, but ensure that it still flows well.
After all, as with any keyword research, you will want to make sure this is done in a natural manner.
3. Natural Link Building with High-Quality Local Online Publications
Link building is integral for any successful SEO campaign. Getting high authority links from location relevant websites will be beneficial to your local SEO ranking.
By publishing content on your website that is informative, entertaining and relevant, you will automatically have a page (or multiple pages) the other people and businesses want to link to. This is known as having ‘linkable assets’.
There are several link building strategies that you can undertake to improve your backlink profile.
When it comes to building local backlinks, cold outreach is one tactic that can prove successful for your business. You should reach out to local online publications, businesses, and even bloggers and other businesses in a similar niche to your own, to see if they want to link to your content – and therefore your website – in order to share this information.
When link building, make sure you take into consideration the anchor text used in the inbound link, ensuring this has been optimised for local SEO. When looking at local organic factors, The domain authority of the inbound link is another valuable linking signal that can affect your ranking.
In short, if you want to boost your local search rankings make sure local link-building forms part of your strategy.
4. Ensure name, address and phone number (NAP) is visible and consistent
While this seems like a no-brainer, it is so important to ensure you have NAP consistency.
These three simple pieces of information can be the reason someone finds and uses your business. Without them, you could be leading potential customers right into the arms of your direct competitor.
NAP mentions take many forms: your GMB listing, for example, and your Facebook page as well as your on-site content. You might be mentioned in an article or create an event page, and without realising you are collecting more NAP mentions.
Because NAP mentions exist in different forms and because it might not always be you creating the content, they can become inconsistent. It is therefore important for local SEO purposes and for building brand authority to ensure that your name, address and phone number are consistent across the web.
As part of your on-site local SEO optimisation, you should also set out to create specific landing pages for each of your business locations. Use these pages to include your business name, address, phone number, opening hours, and other localised information. Not only will this make it easier for people visiting your site to find the specific location they’re looking for, it will also impact local rankings for each of these locations.
Take some time to check your NAP consistency, and rectify any inconsistencies where possible.
5. Encourage Customers to Leave a Review on Your Google My Business Listing
The power of reviews should never be overlooked. Not only do they help build brand trust, but a positive review can also act as the springboard that turns visitors into customers. But on top of this, generating glowing reviews on Google My Business is a ranking factor in local SEO.
From having a high quantity of reviews to higher star-ratings and local keywords within the review, there are several ways that reviews can help you dominate local SEO rankings. According to the 2020 Local SEO Ranking Factors report by BrightLocal, online reviews are the second most important factor for local pack rankings – overtaking links.
If you are looking to increase the number of Google My Business reviews for your business, you could:
- Include your Google My Business review link in your email marketing campaigns, including transactional emails
- Integrate a custom Google review link into your website
- Use a review generation tool to streamline the review process
- Respond to existing reviews – both good and bad
- Provide high quality customer service
Remember, the more positive customer reviews you can garner, the better your business will rank.
6. Optimise Your On-Site Content for Voice Search
Voice search popularity is growing at an impressive speed. It is often faster and easier to use voice search, and it is fun as well as being much more accessible. To this end, it is important that web content is optimised for voice search, as well as traditional search.
As 58% of voice search users employ it to run local business queries, optimising your on-site content for voice search can harness powerful results for your local SEO ranking.
Many voice searches include the phrase ‘near me’ indicating users have local intent. Users of voice search will likely include drivers using a hands-free system to search for nearby restaurants, garages or service stations.
Key findings from the SEMrush voice search study noted that the main factors influencing Google Assistant’s responses were ranking in the top 3 organic search results, occupying a Featured Snippet position, and having a fast site speed. Research the keywords used for voice search in your niche, and optimise your content to reflect this.
When optimising on-site content for voice search, consider that voice search keywords are likely to be longer and more conversational. They will be phrased as a full question rather than snippets of a sentence as text searches tend to be.
By using schema markup and making sure your on-site content is easy to read, you will be able to naturally improve your ranking ability for voice search.
7. Make Sure Your Business Appears on Relevant Local Online Directories
While you might not think a web directory has much relevance in 2021, they haven’t faded into obscurity yet!
Local online directories are a great way to ensure your business shows up on the internet. Not only is this an obvious way for customers to find your business if they already use online directories, it is another way to build relevant links to your website and therefore improve your local SEO ranking.
Online local directories are a great source for building local citations that help nearby users find your business. The number of citations your business has, the accuracy of the data featured, and the quality of the online directory are all factors that can influence your rankings.
Managing your online citations can also help you ensure NAP consistency, having a two-fold effect on your local search rankings.
8. Improve Local SEO with Schema Markup
Coding and HTML may seem overwhelming at first, but it can be a great strategy for improving your local SEO ranking.
Simply put, schema markup is a semantic vocabulary of tags which can be added to your HTML in order to improve the way search engines read and represent your web page. Schema is recognised (and maintained) by Google, Yahoo!, Yandex and Bing.
Schema markup generates SERP display data that can help boost the visibility of your website in online searches such as star ratings, page publication dates, and event information.
Customer-facing businesses can use Local Business Schema Markup to enhance their local results. Using schema markup can help your business gain an edge over local competitors by providing browsers with more valuable information.
Local SEO Rankings Wrap-up
When it comes to local SEO, there are many ways to improve your rankings. While some of the strategies used can seem fairly obvious, others will take a bit more ‘thinking outside the box’.
Local SEO is a competitive field and ensuring your business takes the number one spot in local packs and search results relies on improving your marketing efforts across various aspects of marketing. In turn, executing an effective local SEO campaign can require the help of many experts from high-quality content writers to technical SEO experts and strategic data analysts.
Here at Common Ground, we offer local SEO services to support your in-house marketing team by devising a powerful campaign that ensures your business dominates local rankings so that you can connect with the right people at the right time.