How to Use Local SEO To Rank Your Business in the Search Engines

seo for local business

Local SEO For Your Local Business

1. ON PAGE SEO

A lot of so-called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) experts will wax lyrical about the need to embark on an extensive backlinking program.  But this is not necessarily so.  If you choose to rank for low competition keywords, it may be possible to cut backlinking activities – or eliminate them altogether dramatically.

In some respects on page optimization is more important for Local SEO than it is for broader, less geographically specific campaigns.  Therefore, it is important to maintain control of your on page activities.  Be warned – if you go overboard with keywords etc., you will get penalized by the search engines.

Here are key factors in your on page optimization program:

  1. Title Tags
  2. H1 – H4 tags
  3. Alt Tags (for images)
  4. Embedded Keywords (in the body copy)
  5. Outbound Link
  6. URL

 Location and Industry Relevance

 Here are two key issues to get your head around:

1.    Location Relevance

2.    Industry Relevance

Your website should include keywords that demonstrate to Google that your business is indeed local, and a player in your industry.

Location Relevance.  Include keywords for your state, city, town, and suburb.

Industry Relevance.  Feature all the things you do that’s relevant to your potential customers.  So make a list of all the services and products you currently offer and display them on your website.

It’s not enough to list them out in bullet point form.  You should expand the content for each of these services and products.  Ideally, you will create separate pages for some of the most relevant categories.  You can also establish a blog and create blog posts that feature each of the services/products you offer (one post per item).

So to sum up, the name of the game with Google is location and industry relevance.  So include as much information as possible.  Then Google has the right opinion about your business.

Prominence.  Prominence is another ranking factor.  Google will look for evidence that you are mentioned or featured in many other places too.  You need a multi-faceted web presence, including links, articles, videos and directory listings.

2. OFF PAGE SEO

Off page, SEO is about the various strategies employed off site to secure a ranking benefit. One of the primary strategies is called back linking.  Back linking refers to other pages that link back to you.

It’s a bit like trying to win a beauty contest – the most popular websites with the most backlinks win.  It’s quite a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea, eh?

But it’s not just about backlinks.  It’s also about Industry and location relevance as mentioned.  So Google will check other sites that may demonstrate that your business is what it says it is and that it is located where you say it’s located.

Various strategies are used to establish relevance and generate back links.  Here are the main ones:

  • Citations
  • Reviews
  • Social
  • Listings
  • Press Release
  • Partial Citations
  • Web 2.0
  • Blog Commenting
  • Buying links (be careful)

The following represents the main strategies used to win a ranking benefit in Google.

  1. GOOGLE MY BUSINESS LISTING

If you haven’t already secured your listing on the Google My Business listing platform, do it now.  You cannot win the local search game without it.  When completing your listing, you should include as much information as possible.  Don’t forget to add lots of pics too.

A lot of so-called SEO (Search Optimization) experts 

  1. CUSTOMER REVIEWS

But like most SEO tactics a mass market approach is not warranted and may be counter-productive.  So, do not indiscriminately plaster reviews all over the place.

Think it through and understand the factors that influence Google to rank content.

Here are some guidelines (please note they could change at any time): 

Review Age Counts.  Older reviews seem to have more influence than newer reviews.  Don’t have any reviews yet?  Get started immediately – in 6 months time, today’s review will carry more weight. 

Google Account Age.  If the person who is posting a review only opened their Google account yesterday, this is not as effective compared to someone who had an account established a year ago. 

Review Rating.  Consistency is also important.  So Google may compare other review ratings given by the reviewer for other businesses.

 Location Relevance.based in India and your business is located in Canada, the chance of Google taking much (if any) notice of the review is slim to none.

 Keywords Used.  Google wants relevance, so if you own legal practice, it is safe to assume that the review should include some of the keywords relating to ‘lawyers in XXXXXX’ (town).

 Quantity of Reviews.  Notwithstanding the above, the volume of reviews will also influence Google.

 Review Velocity.  If you don’t have any reviews and all of a sudden 100 of them, appear, Google may regard that as unnatural and suspicious.  So space them out over time.  Reviews should appear at a rate that is not markedly above the average for your industry.

 Average Number of Reviews.  If the average number of reviews in your niche is 5, your goal is to exceed the average.  Simple.

 Review Quality.  Longer reviews are better than very short reviews.  The review should include keywords and ideally will mention the names of people in your business, the nature of the problem and how it was solved.  Of course, all of these details should be on your website too.

 Other Factors.  Other factors could include cross checking the review to help ensure its bona fides.  For example, if the reviewer has an Android phone Google may check their location via GPS tracking.  They may also compare the type of review being left on your site versus other sites, as mentioned.

  How to Get Customer Reviews

If you’ve made it this far I know what you’re probably thinking: ‘this is well and good but how the heck do I get the customer reviews flowing?’

Well, you can incentivize your customers – give them a gift such as a voucher for a product if they write a review for you.  Alternatively, give them a discount off their next purchase.

But if you have a good relationship with your customer why not just ask for the review?  Do it in person or over the phone – most will oblige.

An Example

To illustrate the point here is an example of the effectiveness of reviews.  I typed in ‘dentists Perth’ in Google and checked the ‘3 pack’ results.  Take a look:

Local SEO - dental

Note that all three businesses have five star reviews.  But also note that the number one position was occupied by a business with 182 reviews.

Having plenty of valid reviews is only one of an array of factors that Google take into consideration.  However, it is clear that having reviews is way better than having none of them.

HOW BLOGGING WILL HELP WITH LOCAL SEO

When I shared the statistics with you earlier, I didn’t include the statistic that says that companies that blog, have 434% more pages indexed in Google. I guess Hubspot, who came up with that statistic is trying to insinuate that simply having more pages indexed in Google, helps SEO, but that’s not true.

Having more pages indexed, just means you have more pages on your website than others that don’t blog. That’s not very difficult to understand.

However, blogging can certainly help with SEO, just wanted to blast that stupid statistic before digging in further.

If you’ve been reading my pasts post you hear me mention all the time, it comes down to location relevance and industry relevance.

When you blog about something local relevant or industry relevant, it helps your entire site.

Whether the blog post ranks for anything meaningful or not, it still boosts your relevance.

Matt Diggity wrote a post about a year ago on establishing topic relevance. His experience is mostly on the affiliate SEO side of things, but he’s also had his fair share of local SEO clients.

He had a client, a surgeon in San Francisco and the client wanted to start ranking in Oakland as well. This is what he said he did:

All I did was throw-up 4 (random-ass) articles that talked about Oakland and linked them to his landing page.

  • Oakland Nightlife Review
  • Best Restaurants in Oakland
  • Budget Hotels in Oakland
  • Famous People from Oakland

Google knew his site was about his particular form of surgery.  They also knew his site was all about San Francisco because of the Schema, Title tags, About and Contact pages which all discussed San Francisco.

His site just didn’t have enough to do with Oakland, so I gave them what they wanted.  Even though the articles had nothing to do with his service, that didn’t matter.  He needed to establish topic relevance for the city of Oakland and that was all.

Now, I’m not sure I would recommend the random articles, but hey, he got results with it so who am I to judge? Results are what matters, despite what the BS gurus try to push your way.

The articles he added to the site, isn’t exactly the point here. The point is that he added supporting content in order to rank the client in the new city.

That is exactly what the power of a blog can do. It gives you so many options for content, and what you can write, that even if the blog posts aren’t ranking in search, it benefits your website as a whole.

Does that make sense?

If you have a client that does home remodeling, kitchen, bath remodeling, etc. and decided he wants to add a new service, and wants to rank for “Fence Contractor” in whatever city, you can add a page dedicated to the fence part of his business, and if that doesn’t stick, you add supporting content via his blog.

This isn’t rocket surgery or brain science… it’s pretty easy. (Yes, the phrasing was intentional, laugh with me lol)

Plain and simple… a blog, with supporting content will benefit your local SEO and organic SEO efforts. I’ve done it countless times, and most of the time have been able to rank with no additional link building or off page optimization.

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10 thoughts on “How to Use Local SEO To Rank Your Business in the Search Engines

  1. Hey,

    I actually just attended a webinar about local SEO and it’s really quite interesting!

    I especially loved your tips on how to narrow it down to your city that’s really useful. I was doing that on my previous website but since I travel a lot it’s hard to target one specific area.

    But maybe I’ll do it anyways!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Kim, this is an in-depth post for sure. I do believe optimising for local SEO is important, especially if the competition is tough out there. But then you hit instances where some of your competition might be paying top dollar for the top spot in the search engines. Like I said, it can be tough.

    Back linking is one strategy I haven’t done in over 3 years now, and in all honesty. I love how the the way people in this niche will naturally link back to you, if they value what you are offering.

    I personally believe that good on-page SEO backed with good genuine customer feedback and strong online presence will go a long way for any business.

    Great post mate, have a great rest of the week buddy.

    Regards, Fabrizio.
    Fabrizio Van Marciano recently posted…Surviving Your First Month Of Blogging: 7 Steps To Building A Solid FoundationMy Profile

    1. Hi Fabrizio

      Yes the game has changed so many/most of the backlinking strategies of old are no longer appropriate

      That said, for many offline businesses securing backlinks from credible sources still works quite well

      Thanks for dropping by

      Kim

  3. Hey Kim, I love your tips here.

    Weirdly enough, I was only thinking about optimising my site for local SEO a few days ago. So I picked up a few good ideas here. Location and industry relevance, I’ll keep that in mind.

    As for the backlink thing, I can’t remember the last time I made any effort to get backlinks. It must be well over 3 years ago since I went chasing for links. As for buying them, heck no.

    Most of the links I’ve gained over the years have been through guest blogging, content marketing, blog interviews and features, expert roundup posts, mentions from other authority bloggers etc.

    I loved all the other tips you gave for off-page SEO, especially customer reviews. I love the fact Facebook local business pages now give users the ability to add a review about a company and the service they received. That has certainly helped me out a few times this year.

    Great post Kim, keep well buddy.

    1. Hi Fabrizio

      Yes, for bloggers the method you mentioned are standard fare. But when I cast the net wider to traditional offline businesses, I see that it becomes all too much for them. Maybe they can outsource these activities, or perhaps just focus on local rankings, which are often easier to acquire

      Thanks again, Fabrizio

      Kim

  4. This is a quality guide to make SEO work better for local business websites.

    I got one local business site that has been trying its best to make it online – its really trying though.

    Thanks for this as I apply this to improve the conversion.

    Thanks once more

  5. Hi there,

    Good post indeed and relevant to me. The things to know for on page
    SEO is wonderful the key factors of on page optimization through title tags, outbound link, embedded keywords is new for me.

    It became easier for me to understand it more clearly going through the example on it. Thanks for illustrating it through example.
    A complete guideline to use a local SEO to rank your business in the search engine. Thanks for sharing.
    – Ravi.

  6. Hi Kim,

    This is so deep, thanks for the share Kim 🙂
    Actually people do fear, that if they are going for a local business, whether their SEO Rankins would be higher
    or in spite of putting lot of effort will they would pop up in the eyes of the google. The completion is really
    tough out there, likely you detailed post could cut down the hurdles and make the local SEO rank much better.
    Frankly speaking, the terms like tittle tags, embedded keywords is something I never imagined up to.
    Exactly having more pages in our sites doesn’t mean that we are blogging
    the quality matters over quantity. The examples illustrated by you made the things easier for me.
    Thanks for the share.
    Have a great week ahead.
    Shantanu.

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