If you fail to practice due diligence when it comes to local SEO, you're going to lose market share to competitors who take it seriously. You might even endanger your own livelihood.
In this article, we'll go over 27 important local SEO tips that will keep you on top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
1. Get Your Title and Description in Order
When it comes to the search results, you have just a brief bit of space to get your marketing message across. Use that space wisely.
Make sure your title and description promote your brand. Avoid generic terms in the page title that don't tell people about you business.
For example, you might see that the title for your home page is "Home." If so, that's what will show up in the SERPs.
Is that what you want people to see?
Remember: the title and description is often the first impression that people will get about your business. Make it a good impression.
2. Get Citations
If you want to rise to the top in the Google search results, you're going to have to make your name known across cyberspace. You do that with citations.
What are citations? They're listings of your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on sites that aggregate business data. The top tools for this are Yext and Moz Local.
But you want to be on sites as well.
Those sites include: Neustar, Infogroup, Factual, and Acxiom.
You should also get your NAP listed on other sites that are known for listing businesses, such as Citysearch, Yelp, and MerchantCircle.
3. Make Your NAP Consistent
Pro-tip: Make sure that your business address follows the exact same format across all sites. In other words, if your street address is 123 Main St. and you abbreviate the "street" part with "St.", then that's how it should be added on every single site.
4. Get on Google My Business
Sure, Google My Business is a directory just like some of the ones mentioned above. But it's important enough that it deserves its own section.
First of all: it's Google. The name alone is evidence of its importance.
To get on GMB, you'll have to go through a verification process that involves snail mail. Google wants to make sure that you're the business owner and not some impostor who's just claiming to be the business owner.
Once you've established that you're the owner, it's time to get busy on your GMB page. Add a description of your business, categories, hours, and other pertinent info.
5. Get on Bing Places for Business
Don't forget about the other search engine!
Bing has its own version of GMB, called Bing Places for Business. Make sure that your business is listed there as well.
6. Get Online Reviews
It's this simple: you need social proof to convince people to become your customers.
What's social proof? Online positive reviews and testimonies from people who've done business with you in the past.
Be sure to ask people who are satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your GMB page so that others can see them. That will help you attract new business.
7. Use Schema Markup
Schema.org markup is a way to give the search engines a little more information about your business.
It's possible that you can get the jump on some of your competitors by using markup because many websites, even this late in the game, aren't using it.
However, it will take some professional assistance if you're not a web developer. Adding markup to a site is a complicated process.
8. Get Local Coverage
Another way to get to the top of the Local SERPs: get local coverage.
Forge relationships with business journalists in the area. Talk to them about your brand and your mission. Let them know when you have something new to offer.
Local coverage will often get backlinks to your site. Those backlinks could give you a boost in rank.
9. Get Backlinks From Non-Competing Local Businesses
Speaking of backlinks, you should get some from other local business websites.
There are plenty of businesses in your area that you might work with on a regular basis. Those businesses probably have websites of their own.
Approach the business owner with a quid pro quo offer: you'll provide a backlink to his or her site in exchange for a backlink to your site.
10. Use Images on Your GMB Page
It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Several good pictures might be worth a thousand customers.
Let people know a little more about your business by including pictures on your GMB page. Put a "face" on your place.
11. Add a Virtual Tour
If you really want to pull back the curtain and let people peek inside your business, you can also add a virtual tour.
Virtual tours are easy to set up in this video-centric era. You can add the tour to GMB as well.
12. Get More "Time on Site"
Google's new artificial intelligence algorithm RankBrain looks at the time people spend on your site ("dwell time"). The more that people like hanging around your web page, the better your site will rank.
That's why you should post content that keeps people on your site.
Video content is a great way to make that happen. Just embed some YouTube videos that are at least a minute in length and offer valuable info.
13. Don't Forget the Tags!
In the "aboutme" section of your GMB listing, there's a place for tags. Use that section to list any and every keyword related to your business.
Don't rush that part. Meet with your team members and brainstorm up as many tags as you can.
You never know which tag will make the difference.
14. Link to Inner Pages
In the "about" section of your GMB listing, you have the opportunity to add links to your website.
Be sure to add links to your site's inner pages. That's an especially good idea if you offer a portfolio of products or services.
For example, if you're running a law firm, you can link to a page that describes the different specializations your attorneys offer (family law, patent law, business law, etc.).
15. Practice Content Marketing
Although content marketing is usually considered good practice for sites that are appealing to a much broader audience, it's still a great way to get some Local traffic.
Remember, people in your area are searching for answers related to your niche. Be sure that you offer them the right answers with quality articles that rank well in the search results.
16. Provide Outstanding Customer Service
One way that you'll win a lot of points in the community is by providing outstanding customer service. That positive buzz will spill over into cyberspace.
You'll have people singing your praises on social media and in reviews. That will help you rank.
17. Sponsor Local Meetups
Another way to generate good will within your area is to sponsor a local meetup.
You've probably heard of Meetup.com. It's a site that brings people together who share common interests.
Some of those meetups don't have a sponsor and they need one.
If you decide to sponsor a meetup, then guess what? You'll get a backlink from the Meetup.com website.
That should help with local SEO.
18. Blog About Local Events
If you want to get the attention of people in your community, write about things that are happening in the community and post them online.
Aggregate a few local news sources in your favorite RSS reader. Then, browse them and blog about items of interest that you think will attract the attention of local folks.
For example, if the local high school football team wins the state championship, write a blog post congratulating them.
Keep in touch with your community and your community will keep in touch with you.
19. Make Sure Your Site Looks Great on a Mobile Device
Google won't do you any favors if your site is user-hostile to people on a mobile device. That's why you need to make sure your site is responsive.
In case you're unfamiliar with the term "responsive," it means that the site adapts its display so that it's easy to navigate on any screen size.
If your site isn't responsive, hire a professional deliver to take care of that right now.
Check out the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your site looks great on a mobile device.
20. Make Sure Your Site Loads Quickly
Google also cares about speed. Your site needs to load fast.
Keep in mind, though, that a lot of people use mobile devices to perform local search. That's because they're looking for a place of business close to where they're located and mobile devices are location-aware.
However, many of those people aren't connected to a Wi-Fi router. They're using 3G or 4G.
As a result, their data speed isn't that fast.
That's why you should make sure that your site loads in a hurry for people who are using their carrier's data plan to surf the web.
Head over to PageSpeed Insights to give your website a mobile speed test.
21. Join the Local Chamber of Commerce
Another great way to generate some buzz about your business is by joining your local Chamber of Commerce.
You'll have to fork over some cash to make that happen. That's part of the cost of doing business.
In addition to real-life networking opportunities, you'll also get a backlink for your fee.
22. Select a Descriptive GMB Category
When you have the opportunity to select a GMB business category, be sure to select one that's specific.
Some people select "Consultant" as their business category. What does that tell potential customers?
23. Create Location-Specific Landing Pages If You Have Multiple Locations
If you're successful enough to have multiple locations for your business, make sure that you create landing pages for each one of them.
Be sure to include the NAP on each one and add sufficient, unique detail to all your pages so that none of them are flagged as duplicates.
24. Add Case Studies
Another way to offer social proof is to add case studies to your website. Case studies are also great content that can help drive traffic to your site.
Best of all: case studies usually involve local clients. That means local people reading your case studies might actually know the key players involved.
25. Use Regional Keywords
If you're trying to reach people in a specific town, city, or county, make sure that you optimize your site for regional keywords.
For example, if you want to reach people in Springfield, make sure that your relevant landing pages include the word "Springfield" in them. That way, when people Google something like "Springfield plumber," your listing is more likely to appear.
26. Use Long-Tail Keywords
You should also optimize your site for long-tail keywords related to your niche.
For example, if you're a plumber, optimize your site for longer search terms like "fix a broken pipe," "fix a leaky toilet," and "fix a garbage disposal."
27. Optimize for Voice Search
Tens of billions of voice searches occur every month on devices like Alexa, Google, Siri, and Cortana. Many of those searches are looking for local businesses.
That's why you should optimize your site for voice search.