Google is constantly working to evolve their search algorithm in an attempt to refine search results and provide the best search experience for its users. As people are increasingly turning to Google for local advice and recommendations for restaurants, entertainment, and shopping, Google has recognized the importance of local SERP rankings and has made a substantial effort to improve the rankings of local businesses for local searches. SERP refers to any search engine results page that is brought up when a search query is made by a user, and you will want your website to appear towards the top of these rankings to obtain the most exposure and organic traffic for your business. There are numerous benefits that your business will receive by making use of local SEO, the primary of which is the fact that you’ll be able to more easily compete with larger firms who most likely have a larger presence. These local SEO practices can be just as important as standard search engine optimization and may allow your business to gain new customers that you otherwise may not have had exposure to.

What Does This Mean for Your Local Business?

The addition of a focus on local SEO in the Google search algorithm is nothing but great news for your local business, as you’ll now be able to compete on the search engine results page with larger firms that aren’t exactly local, but have the budget to maintain a presence regardless. In the past, when a user would search, they would typically be provided with results that primarily took the size of the business’s online presence and the contributions from their SEO efforts into account as opposed to how close the business was to the customer in regards to location, which made it difficult for local businesses to gain visibility on Google SERPs unless they were in the upper echelon of popularity. As a small business, you shouldn’t have a limited online presence because your business doesn’t qualify or have a budget similar to a large corporation.

With the current focus on local SEO by Google, the proper utilization of critical local website SEO can improve your search exposure for local search results and provide you with a leg up on competitors who previously were very difficult to outrank, which can pay dividends when taking your customer-base into account. This trend of an evolving local search algorithm is promising for any small business that’s looking to generate organic traffic and new business through various SEO and SEM efforts. Although it will take some effort to achieve, being able to rank on local search results alongside larger and more popular non-local companies will invariably bring in many more customers and may help to bolster the size of your search exposure.

As is the case with standard SEO, the sky is the limit with how much local SEO efforts you implement into your website. The more you use local SEO practices, the better your chances at competing in the rankings will be, although it’s also important that the local SEO techniques you make use of are effective. It is critical that you identify the right methods and techniques to use that will allow your website to improve in local rankings. Consider setting a goal on what you want your return-on-investment to be (can be measured with goal trackers and events via Google Analytics, SEM Rush, etc.) for local SEO and alter your optimization methods as necessary for the right mix of SEO for your business.

How Can I Rank My Local Business in Local Search Results?

If you want to rank your business in local search results, there are a variety of steps that you can take, all of which are necessary towards providing your website with a high amount of local search visibility. For one, make sure that you focus on establishing your brand online through an effective website that’s geared towards a local audience. You need to know what your audience is searching for and what they want out of your website. If you can offer this to them combined with a pleasant user experience, your site will become their go-to destination for whatever service or product you offer.

You should also create a local business listing with Google My Business in order to get your business on the map (Google Maps) as well as registering for Bing Places for Business (seriously). These business listings are entirely free and allow you to post updates and add photos to ensure that your listing is as appealing as possible to visitors online. One effective way to effectively use the Google My Business tool is by responding directly to any of the reviews that are left on your listing, which provides you with the means of making your customers feel as though they are important to your business, increasing the chances that they will return in the future and showing the world that you’re a business that cares. Of course, it’s important that all of the responses you make are articulate and well-written to articulate a clear message of professionalism and integrity. This tool can be effectively used across all devices, from desktop computers to smartphones, allowing you to update your listing no matter where your business takes you.

Another method of ranking your local business in local search results is by listing your NAP (name, address, phone number) on your website with proper schema markup and within local online directories, which includes your business name, address, and phone number. By listing this information on local online directories, you bolster your visibility in local search results. Some of the top online directories that you’ll want to consider include Yelp, YellowPages, Citysearch, and Foursquare (or all at once via MOZ Local). It’s important that this information is consistent across all of the online directories  as small differences caused by misspellings or abbreviation issues are enough to create problems in the Google search which may lead to your website being listed incorrectly or not at all among search results.

When optimizing your website for local search engine results, you’re also going to want to attempt to get backlinks from local authority websites. Backlinks are links within content on other websites that link back to your site, which shows Google that your website is reputable enough to be referenced by another website. Although this might seem like a small and unimportant method of getting your local business to rank in local search results, it’s highly effective due to the importance that Google places on backlinks within their search algorithm. By achieving this link relationship with another trusted website/brand — you are effectively telling Google that your website can also be trusted as a reputable source.

If you are able to obtain backlinks from local authority websites (government websites, local directories, schools, local businesses, etc.), your website will begin to see an uptrend in local search results. In order to get your link onto other popular local websites, you may want to engage in link building, which is a commonly used digital marketing technique that involves reaching out to other websites to attempt to get them to place one or more links in their content that will lead back to your website. These links can be obtained through a variety of methods, one of which is by e-mailing website owners for possible links, although you’ll need to provide a good and well-reasoned explanation to those you contact on why it would be beneficial for them to link back to your site in their content.

Similar to standard search marketing campaigns, you will also need to create content on your site that provides significant value for a local user. This content will determine how site visitors engage with your site and whether these visitors become loyal customers that continue to return in the future. Make sure that this content is centralized on each specific location that your business serves, although the exact manner in which you achieve this largely depends on what type of business you have. For instance, if a plumber in Los Angeles is looking to create content on their website that’s valuable to local customers, they should create separate content for a particular community of LA which they service. The Google search algorithm can be very specific, which is why you should always make an attempt to create separate content for each of the local areas around your business for which you provide service to.

Local Search Considerations For the Future

As Google’s search algorithm evolves, it’s impossible to predict exactly what they’ll do to improve this algorithm, but we can assess some of the current trends in order to position a website to succeed in the direction that Google’s search algorithm is moving. Now that local SEO is a large area of focus with Google, it’s essential as well as highly beneficial that your website adapts to these changes and also implements a local SEO strategy.

Google’s search mantra has always been to focus primarily on providing value to the end user. When it comes to local search, this means that you’ll need to gear all of your content to provide the most value to a local user and find ways that you can effectively drive traffic to your website through valuable and high quality content with a seamless user experience. It’s not always going to be easy to adapt to these changes, but the rewards that your business can obtain are numerous. You’ll be able to garner higher visibility on search engines for local results, which will help you bring in new business at a cost-effective ROI. If you maintain high quality content on your website as well as a user experience that’s functional and easy-to-use, there’s no limit to the benefits your business could attain with a local SEO strategy.

Once you start to generate organic traffic and the users begin to flood in, it’s important that you find a way to effectively convert these visitors into leads (or sales), which is what a well-designed web strategy will allow you to accomplish. If your website provides the visitor with a clunky user experience that’s marred by unorganized content or slow page load times, your local SEO marketing efforts will have all been for naught, feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss how we can help you successfully implement a local SEO strategy for your business.

Author
Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller is an entrepreneur and web enthusiast specializing in web design, development and digital marketing. He is currently attending the fully-employed MBA program at the University of California, Irvine. Feel free to send Bryan a message here.

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