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Pick Me! How to Rank Higher for Local Business Searches

Search Engine Optimization - 21 Mar 2024

Pick Me! How to Rank Higher for Local Business Searches

Rank Higher for Local Business Searches

Tips on how to optimize your local SEO to capture more “Near Me” traffic.

Local SEO is more than just another buzzword. If your business has a physical location ranking or caters to a specific geographical area local SEO is a crucial piece of your overall marketing strategy. Of the approximately 89.3 billion internet searches performed monthly, over 1.5 billion are for “near me” pursuits, including “shopping near me”, “store open near me” and “where to buy near me”, keywords have seen growth upwards of 250% since 2021. In all, local searches have grown a staggering 500% from just a few years ago which only highlights the impact local SEO can have on the success of your business.

Local searches are a particularly important category of internet searches. These searchers aren’t researching, they are generally ready to make a purchase, which makes it crucial for businesses to appear in local search results – and that is where local SEO comes into play.

What Is Local SEO?

How we use the internet in our day-to-day lives has evolved significantly over the past few years with more and more consumers relying on the internet to find local businesses and services. Local SEO is the secret sauce that helps position your business to capture more of this local traffic.

When someone searches for “the best sushi near me” they aren’t looking for sushi restaurants that are thirty-plus minutes away nor do they want suggestions for nearby pizza places. Search engines like Google understand the intent behind these types of queries and use this to deliver the most appropriate results. Local SEO is designed to ensure your online presence aligns with these types of searches.

How Local SEO Works

In addition to the usual ranking factors, Google’s search algorithm also considers proximity, prominence, and relevance when delivering results for “near me” searches. Based on these factors, Google will serve up a “local pack” of search results at the top of the SERP followed by a list of organic results just below.

How Local SEO Works

And Google will not only dispense results in this format for “near me” queries. If Google believes that the intent of your search is local it will display a local pack (or map pack) along with a list of organic search results.

How to Boost Your Local Search Ranking

So now that you know the why and the how we’ll drive into strategies anyone can use to increase their local SEO exposure and help drive in-store and online traffic. If your business has a national presence make sure that you are keeping your local SEO and traditional SEO separate; while there will inevitably be some overlap, they are two distinct strategies. Similarly, if your business has multiple locations, each needs its own local SEO plan.

1. Local Keyword Research

Keyword research will be the cornerstone of your local SEO strategy, playing a pivotal role in identifying which keywords your target audiences are using in their searches and allowing you to optimize your strategy accordingly. Professionals use many tools and tricks to help them identify which keywords to target (hint: it’s not always the highest volume). One of the most common is to find out what the competition is doing.

It’s always a good idea to know what your closest competitors are up to, and that includes what keywords they are targeting with their own SEO strategy; odds are if those keywords are relevant to them, then they’re relevant to you too. Tools like Semrush’s Organic Research tool, Ahrefs, or Google Keyword Planner can be used to identify the keywords your competition is targeting, along with their search volumes, ranking, and search difficulty for those particular keywords.

Local Keyword Research

Another easy and free way to get insight into what search terms potential customers are using when looking for a business like yours is Google Autocomplete. If you have ever typed a search query into Google you’ve experienced Autocomplete, a nifty feature that search engines use to help users save time by predicating what they are looking for.

Local Keyword Research 1

For example, if you are a local pet supply store that also offers grooming services, this would provide several commonly searched search terms. And if you stake it a step further by adding your location, you gain valuable local keywords to target.

Local Keyword Research 2

2. Optimize Your Google Business Profile

Your Google Business Profile is crucial for local SEO success. In fact, according to Google, an optimized Google Business Profile is one of the most important factors. This free business listing delivers web users crucial information about your business including your location, services, products or services, images, and customer reviews. Moreover, if paid ads are not in your budget, an optimized Google Business Profile increases your odds of landing in the local pack, which appears just below sponsored ads on the SERP.

Optimize Your Google Business Profile

To get the most out of your Google Business Profile make sure that all your information is accurate, up-to-date, and detailed. This includes:

Business operating hours
Business logo
Phone number
Street address
Interior and exterior photos of your business
Services offered
Website link
Service areas

However, it also pays to go above and beyond a basic profile by including and updating business hours to reflect holidays and closures and highlight various attributes that further differentiate your business (outdoor seating, family-friendly, gluten-friendly, free parking, etc.,), You should also encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your Google Profile as your star rating will feature in your listing and can influence your local search visibility.

3. Get Listed Locally and Keep All Your Listings Consistent

NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) citations include any mention of your business’s contact information online. These typically appear across various social media platforms and business directories and are important for several reasons. Firstly, NAP citations provide free visibility and the more places you are listed, the more opportunities you have to get found online, but more importantly, they can help boost your Google ranking and increase your odds of appearing in the local pack for near me searches.

Get Listed Locally and Keep All Your Listings Consistent

As we discussed previously, Google’s local algorithm aims to provide users with the most accurate information for their local queries, and one of the factors it uses to rank local businesses is proximity. Citations play a crucial role in establishing the credibility of a business’s NAP information and help Google verify location accuracy. Ensuring consistency in your business’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) citations across all online platforms and directories is not only vital for your local SEO but inconsistent information can confuse search engines and harm your local search rankings.

Get Listed Locally and Keep All Your Listings Consistent 1

Semrush has a free tool you can use to verify the consistency of your NAPs and it will also display missed opportunities of platforms of local directories where your information is not present at all.

4. Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews on Keyword Optimized Sites

Positive online reviews from satisfied customers not only enhance your reputation but also boost your local search visibility. Encourage customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook, and industry-specific review sites. These sites generally already rank well for terms related to specific services or products, like “best restaurant near me” or “top 10 best restaurants in Vancouver” so some of the work is already done for you. Earning positive reviews on these platforms will help boost your visibility in relevant search results, not to mention the traffic generated from the platform itself.

Leave Reviews on Keyword Optimized Sites

You can also leverage positive feedback from these platforms to drive traffic to your social media pages and website. Be on the lookout for keyword phrases in customer reviews that match keywords on your target list and share these keyword-optimized reviews to supercharge your local SEO.

Leave Reviews on Keyword Optimized Sites 1

For example, if your restaurant receives a glowing review mentioning “best steak in Vancouver” you can share these reviews on your website and social media platforms or write a blog using the keyword phrase and feature the review. Not only will this showcase positive feedback, but it will also improve the keyword rankings.

5. On-Page Local SEO Optimization

What you do on-page to support your local SEO is just as important as all the off-page elements we’ve covered thus far. Optimize your website’s on-page elements for local SEO by including local keywords, and location-specific information and ensure that your meta titles, descriptions, headers, and content reflect your local relevance.

One thing the pros frequently use is the title tag double-dip, a classic yet effective SEO strategy that remains highly relevant for local businesses today. It works like this: you optimize your homepage title tag around 2-3 targeted keywords to maximize its value and improve rankings for related search queries. This approach is particularly beneficial given the fact that local businesses receive the majority of backlinks to their home pages rather than internal pages. A similar approach can be taken with meta descriptions, just be careful not to go overboard with the keyword stuffing, instead focus on keeping the language natural and relevant.

On-Page Local SEO Optimization

By strategically incorporating multiple relevant keywords into the title tag and meta descriptions, your business can maximize the value on your homepage while increasing visibility for the local keywords you’re trying to rank for.

6. Include Local Business Schema on Your Webpages

Schema markup, and in this case, specifically local business schema, is a method of adding structured data to your website to provide additional information to search engines. This information typically includes details such as location, operating hours, and business type. While schema markup itself is not a direct ranking factor, it does help search engines understand your content better which can potentially lead to improved rankings and visibility in the local pack.

Implementing local business schema doesn’t necessarily require advanced coding skills, there are tools like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper that can help in generating basic schema markup. By choosing the “Local Businesses” option and inputting your URL, you can easily tag sections such as operating hours using the appropriate schema elements. The tool then generates the necessary JSON-LD script that you can add to your website’s HTML.

Include Local Business Schema on Your Webpages

But be careful, it’s crucial to follow Google’s structured data guidelines and to make sure you validate your schema markup before deployment otherwise you may be hindering, rather than improving, Google’s ability to crawl your site. The Schema Markup Validator from can help identify any errors in your markup and ensure that your schema works as intended. Other tools, like Site Audit, can provide further details into your site’s health, including any structured data or local schema markup errors that need attention.

7. Conduct Local Link Building

Building relationships with local influencers, businesses, organizations, and media outlets is the best and most effective way to earn quality backlinks from relevant and reputable sources, and unfortunately, there is no quick and easy way to get this done. Some of the local SEO strategies we’ve discussed, like claiming your business profiles on various directories and review platforms will contribute to your local link building, but other tactics may require more effort. Participating in local events, sponsoring local sports teams, joining your local chamber of commerce, collaborating with other local businesses, and guest blogging all present opportunities to earn local citations and improve your website’s authority in local search results, provided you’re willing to put in the work.

If you’re unsure where to start you can always check to see what your competitors are doing (we’re not calling it spying). Popular and readily available tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, SimilarWeb, and SpyFu can provide invaluable insight into where your competitors are earning their backlinks, which you can then leverage to refine your own local SEO strategy. If you are really lucky you may even find a broken link which you can then take advantage of by creating relevant content and reaching out to the local webmaster offering your content for replacement.

8. Create Locally Relevant Content

This brings us to our final local SEO strategy to develop and publish original, high-quality content that is relevant to your local audience’s interests, needs, and search intent. This could include a variety of mediums including blog posts, articles, guides, videos, and any other content formats that highlight local events, news, trends, and community involvement. You will then share with your audience through social media platforms, blog posts, email newsletters, and any other marketing channels you’re currently using. This type of marketing not only benefits the consumer by giving them what is hopefully valuable and engaging information but also positions you to be the one to sell them the solution they’re looking for. It’s a win-win situation!

Final Thoughts

While you can’t change where your business is located to target more traffic, you can optimize your online presence and marketing strategies to attract local customers effectively. Implementing the local SEO tactics covered here can help significantly boost your visibility in local searches and improve your chances of capturing more customers in your area.

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