Struggling in Local Search? Here's What Your Local SEO Strategy Needs to Compete in 2022.
A few small strategy changes can make a big difference for your local SEO presence and your bottom line.
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A good SEO strategy is a must-have for any business striving to stand out in search engines. But for the brick-and-mortar outlet that relies on local customers to survive, it's local SEO that makes all the difference.
Why? Because effective local SEO efforts are critical for dominating local search rankings and outshining competitors in your area. They provide the visibility lift your small business needs to reach a motivated local audience, potential buyers who are eager and ready to spend their money now.
If you're pouring time and money into local search optimization but still having trouble getting your brand above the fold, it may be time to make a few changes. Here are a few local SEO tips for bulking up your local business marketing strategy and putting your small business on the map.
Claim and control your Google My Business listing
Want to get Google's attention? If your goal is to gain traction in "near me" and other local searches on Google, claiming your Google My Business listing is usually the best place to start.
As the search engine's own local business tool, Google My Business (or Google Business Profile, as it's now known) offers a distinct advantage over other local search assets: automatic authenticity.
Once you verify your business and claim your Google My Business page, you have an online profile Google instantly recognizes as authentic, providing a baseline of credibility that's likely to boost profile visibility across Google local search results.
Claiming your Google My Business also gives you basic admin control of your profile, allowing you to upload photos; update your contact info, business description and business hours; and manage online ratings and reviews across the platform.
This not only supports your local SEO ranking efforts, but also helps improve the customer experience and drive more traffic to your website.
For brick-and-mortar businesses, managing GMB can also have significant local SEO upside when it comes to Google Maps. A Google-owned property and popular local business search tool, Google Maps provides potential customers an engaging, detailed display of your business pulled directly from your GMB profile. At the very least, optimizing your GMB profile is sure to have a positive impact on your Maps display, making it easier for prospects to locate and contact your business quickly.
Related: How to Set Up 'Google My Business' for Your Small Business
Update your business listings information
Inconsistent information across online business directories can be a killer for your local search presence. That's because incorrect and incomplete NAP details (name, address and phone number ), profile misspellings and even minor typos make it hard for Google to know which information it should trust. When Google can't verify which information is correct, it's likely to affect your local rankings, hurting online visibility for valuable local keywords.
It can sometimes be a tedious process, but claiming and updating your business name, location and contact details across online business directories and review sites is crucial to building the brand alignment the Google local algorithm is looking for. Ensuring accurate, consistent listings on online directories and major platforms like Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor (if applicable), BBB and others is key to improving your standing in organic search results.
Updating your information on niche review platforms and local directories can also help improve your local SEO, boosting your ranking and credibility on critical local search pages. Generally appearing among major platforms and just below Google's coveted three-pack, these local listings offer a great opportunity to increase visibility across the local community. Optimizing your business listing on local sites helps strengthen your authority with search engines, and it certainly doesn't hurt your position for locally relevant keywords.
Optimize your content for local search
Optimized content is the heart and soul of any SEO strategy. Quality blogs, articles and landing pages are what drive engagement and pull traffic to your site, signaling to search engines that your brand is relevant and providing information people want to see.
But if you're a local business owner looking to reach customers in your area, building a local content strategy is essential. Local businesses that create local content, creating blogs and landing pages that target local customer interests and needs, not only improve their relevance for "near me" and hyperlocal search queries, but they also reinforce and strengthen their position among those competing for the local pack and precious local search space.
In other words, the more authentic, high-quality local SEO content your business gears toward local audiences, the more opportunities you create to link and direct users to your website. And those higher rates of traffic generally translate into higher domain authority, better rankings and a more dominant business presence in searches with local intent.
No matter your business category, it's vital to infuse your local SEO strategies with content built with location search in mind. Creating content that is based on local keyword research and centered on local news, events and profiles offers an excellent opportunity to get your foot in the door and build a presence that targets more local searchers (and local leads) for important industry keywords.
Related: 10 Fundamentals to Understanding SEO
Create location pages on your website
For local businesses with multiple brick-and-mortar locations, creating unique location pages can be an effective way to amp up local SEO. Original, detailed pages dedicated to multiple locations and including accurate NAP and location information are powerful local SEO tools, helping you signal to the Google search engine that you belong in local results.
With each new location page comes a new online asset to rank in local pages and connect customers to your website. Combining those location-specific pages with a broader contact page — complete with a Google Map of every store location — can provide an even bigger local SEO lift that turns your site into a local search magnet.
If you do choose to add unique location pages to your website, be sure the contact and location details for each unique storefront are accurate and aligned with other listings across the web. It also helps to make each unique phone number clickable on mobile devices. This not only improves customer experience, but also makes your business easy to reach at a critical point in the buyer's journey.
Related: How to Make Your Small Business Website Really, Really Effective
Incorporating a few local SEO tips into your larger digital-marketing strategy can sometimes make a big difference, putting your business at the fingertips of a highly motivated local market. But as with anything SEO, it's important to keep an eye out for new developments and be ready to adjust your strategy when the time is right.