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5 Ways to Optimize Local Search Results and Compete With the Big Guys

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How does your business stack up against the big guys in search results? It probably depends on a variety of factors. New research suggests that larger, more established websites are often outranking smaller business websites in areas such as highly competitive keywords. However, there are a number of ways that local businesses can compete with and websites for top spots in search results. Here are five tips to consider to improve your business’s visibility in search results local consumers are most likely to see. 

Related: Why Local SEO Is About to Become Even More Important

1. Own the local results on Google.

When a search engine detects local search intent for a type of business, it’s usually going to show a succinct list of relevant, optimized local businesses. In fact, Google just recently debuted a highly competitive Snack Pack or 3-Pack that emphasizes the three most relevant local business listings -- and not much else. This is one area where local businesses can really compete with bigger brands in local search results.

Optimize for Google’s local pack by claiming your business on Google My Business, and optimize your website for local semantic markup. By claiming and optimizing your business listing on Google, you're feeding the most accurate and up-to-date information about your business directly to the search engine. Also, make sure you've gotten the right local markup on your website and that your business details are 100 percent consistent and accurate across your web presence. Optimizing your web presence for local search results can boost your listing’s visibility in the local pack, which is displayed prominently in local search queries on top search engines. 

2. Use paid search ads + (SEO) to own more of the search engine results page.

Another tactic that businesses can use to compete against larger companies in local search results is to leverage paid search in addition to SEO. Research has shown that using paid search advertising along with SEO can drive incremental results. And within a paid search campaign, it's useful for local businesses to test and optimize their paid search against a large volume of long-tail keywords to help them drive qualified traffic that converts to their website or landing pages. Plus, with an integrated paid search and SEO strategy, you can leverage keyword insights from both efforts to inform each other. For example, you can take your top-performing paid search keywords and make sure you’re addressing and optimizing organic content on these keywords and topics.

Related: 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Compete With Giants in SEO

3. Create relevant onsite local content.

When creating content for your website or blog, focus on creating useful, relevant content that uses long-tail and geo-modified keywords and publish it on a regular basis. Long-tail keywords represent an opportunity for smaller websites to outrank larger ones in search, and geo-specific content also performs well for smaller, local businesses. So, a regular investment in publishing high quality, optimized content can be a good strategy for helping your business gain more visibility.

4. Leverage public relations and offsite content to boost your web presence.

In addition to developing relevant, local content on your own website and blog, you can increase the visibility of your business in search results by integrating your public relations strategy with a keyword-smart approach. By working with trusted local media outlets to provide your expertise in quotes, media appearances and stories as well as timely, relevant articles written by you or your staff, you can boost not only your business presence on relevant local media sites, but you may also build the opportunity for natural, high-quality inbound links that can also boost your website’s organic results.

5. Make your website mobile responsive.

To get more traction from your search engine marketing strategy, you need to go mobile with your website and landing pages. Local businesses often have more flexibility than many large business to quickly shift to a mobile-responsive website so that they can comply with Google’s "Mobilegeddon" algorithm update, which has started to de-emphasize websites that aren't mobile friendly in mobile search results. Other search engines are following this lead and also putting an emphasis on the performance of mobile websites. Since research shows that a large portion of mobile intent is local, ensuring that you have an entirely mobile-friendly website can help you get a leg up on the competition for local search queries. 

How does your business stack up when it comes to competing with big brands in local search results? Are you taking advantage of any of these tricks? What else would you add? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment.

Related: How Local SEO Works and Why It Matters for Small Businesses

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