How to Master Local SEO

Oct 31, 2022Listings, Reviews, SEO0 comments

How to Master Local SEO

For local businesses, their website is just as (if not MORE) important than their physical storefront. The website serves as a window for customers to see what your business offers and learn more about the experience they can expect. Investing in SEO gives your website the “curb appeal” it needs to continuously attract new customers, but SEO can be tricky. In this blog, we’ll identify the top local SEO ranking factors that can help your website get discovered.

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is a form of search engine optimization targeting local audiences. It’s the process of making your website more visible on search engines as it relates to your business, products, or services. When done correctly, local SEO can be extremely effective in generating more customers for local businesses. It allows you to compete with larger businesses by targeting a more specific audience with your message and offering.

Local SEO ranking factors
SEO tactics are constantly changing. Some estimates think that Google changes its algorithm up to 600 times a year. That’s almost 2 changes a day being pushed. For obvious reasons, figuring out algorithms and trying to game the system can be a futile exercise. However, research tells us there are steps you can take to optimize your website for more traffic. Here are the top seven local SEO ranking factors that can help drive additional traffic to your site.

1. Google Business Profile
Claiming your business listing on Google My Business (now known as Google Business Profile) is critical for SEO success because of Google’s popularity and reach. It’s estimated that 46% of all Google searches are for local information. Once your listing is claimed and verified, the most basic form of optimization starts by ensuring that your business information is up-to-date.
Be sure to include relevant keywords in your business description, add photos and videos that showcase your products or services, and include your website URL and contact info.

Bonus: You’ll automatically be listed on Google Maps after claiming your Google My Business listing.

2. Online citations
A citation mentions your business name, address, and phone number (sometimes called NAP – get it, name, address, phone?) on another website. Online citations can be found in things like directory listings, local news articles, or even mentions in the blog posts of other websites. The important thing is that your NAP information is consistent across all citations.
There are a few reasons why citations are so important for search. First, citations help search engines verify that your business is local. This is especially important if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location or you operate multiple locations. Second, citations help improve your visibility in local search results. If you have accurate citations, it sends signals to search engines that your business is legitimate. This can move your site up in the rankings.
Finally, citations also help generate traffic and customers to your website and business. When prospects see your business listed in various local search results or listings, they’re more likely to click through to your website or call you for more information.

3. Reviews
One thing remains constant with local SEO: it’s heavily dependent on customer reviews. A recent study found that 84% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and many won’t even consider purchasing from a business without reviews. That means if your business has compiled a good number of positive reviews, you’re more likely to rank higher because the search engines believe you’re relevant and will provide customers with a credible option. In short, when you rank higher in local search results, you’re more likely to get clicks and customers.

Think about your own buying behaviors. When comparing 2 businesses and one has hundreds or thousands of reviews and a competitor has 10 or 20, who are you more likely to lean toward?

4. On-page optimization
On-page SEO factors help search engines understand the context of your website and its content so that it can match visitors with your business. Here are a few site elements you can apply to all your website content:

Keywords – Keywords are the terms or phrases that connect your site and its content with searches. It provides search engines with context. Use keywords in the titles, headings, body content, URLs, and image alt text.

Heading tags – Often referred to as h1, h2, and h3, these tags provide hierarchy to your page and make it easier for search engines to crawl your website, as well as make it more readable to your visitors. The title of your blog posts and landing pages should be wrapped in an h1 tag. Subtitles should use h2 or h3 tags.

Images – Including images in your content helps break up the text for better readability. They also make it more visually appealing. Include keywords in alternate text fields and compress your image with tools like TinyPNG to improve page load speeds.

Bullet points – Breaking up content into smaller paragraphs and lists makes it easier for readers and search engines to scan and digest the information.

5. Links
Think of links from other websites like “votes” that say “this website has good information about this topic.” Search engines use these “votes” to determine which websites are relevant and should rank higher in search results. If you want your website to rank higher in local searches, you need to have a lot of high-quality links pointing to your website. The challenge is, getting high-quality links can be difficult.

However, there are some things you can do to encourage other websites to link to yours. First, create great content. By creating content that is helpful and informative for other website owners, you are helping people find the best information on a topic, and other websites will want to link to it. You can also reach out to other local businesses and ask if they would be willing to link to your website or trade links from your website to theirs. Getting just a few high-quality links pointing to your website makes a big difference in your local SEO ranking.

6. Visitors
The way visitors act when they visit your site can influence ranking. Things like click-through rate (CTR), time on site, and bounce rate show how engaged users are with your website. Search engines look at these visitor behaviors to understand if your content is valuable. If visitors click on your listing in the search results and then quickly leave your website, that’s a sign that your website isn’t relevant to their needs.
On the other hand, if they click through and download a guide, spend several minutes reading articles or schedule an appointment, that’s a good sign you’re providing the information they’re looking for. Search engines take these factors into account when determining local SEO rankings, so it’s important to make sure your website is engaging and relevant to your visitors.

7. Social media
Social media is important for local SEO. Search engines are now considering the activity and engagement of users on your social media platforms and your website. Google knows everything, and it knows that if a local business has a lot of positive comments, likes, and shares on social media, it is likely to be relevant to users and, therefore it is likely to rank higher than a similar business that doesn’t have as much social media activity.
Local businesses with a strong social media presence are also more likely to be seen as relevant and trustworthy by potential customers, which can lead to more website traffic and hopefully sales. Ignoring social media when it comes to SEO is no longer an option if you want to compete at the local level.

Benefits of local ranking factors
Whether you’re a single location or have multiple stores, ranking high on local search needs to be a priority of your marketing strategy. By optimizing your website, listings, and social media, you can:

Increase visibility – More people finding your business means more leads and more sales.

Show legitimacy
– A positive online reputation helps build trust and credibility for your business, which will attract new customers.

Highlight social proof
– Having positive reviews and a high rating proves to customers that they will have a good experience with your business.

Spend less
– This one speaks for itself, but by using a local SEO strategy, you can start ranking higher organically. This cuts down on overall advertising and marketing expenses.

What is the best way to get started with local SEO?
There is no perfectly right answer. It varies depending on your business, your market, and your goals. But there are some best practices for getting started. Optimizing your website for local search, creating a Google Business Profile, building social media presence, and completing local business profiles across other sites are the best places to start.

The local SEO ranking factors we’ve shared are straightforward – but in order for them to be effective, they’ll require continuous monitoring and updating. With LJA Reviews, you can manage all your online profiles, reviews, and social media inboxes from a single, simple-to-use platform.

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