If you have a locally-based business or one that services multiple local areas, then developing a local SEO strategy is, by far, one of the best methods to grow your brand and increase revenue.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website and your online presence by using key practices and increasing metrics that search engines use to measure the authority of your website.
Implementing a local SEO strategy is a lot easier than it sounds. As long as you have some basic technical knowledge of how to use the internet, some web design skills (or at least how to use a web editor like Wix or WordPress), a good SEO tool like Rank Tracker, and rudimentary SEO skills, you can do your own SEO.
In this post, we’ll cover all of the basics you need to know to get more foot traffic, more phone calls, more website visits, and truly grow your brand in your local area.
The only question is, are you ready to rank?
Unless you live in a single-stoplight town, your potential customers should be able to easily find you online. If they can’t then you could be missing out on untold amounts of business. In today’s rapidly evolving economy, word-of-mouth is no longer enough to ensure continued success.
Just think of how often you open your phone or Google Maps to search for a store or restaurant near you… every single person in your city also does the same thing, often multiple times per day. If you’re not in their top results, then they’ll go somewhere else or hire another service provider. That’s not us trying to scare you; it’s just the cold truth of the matter.
But fret not!
All you need is the right knowledge of how (and where) to apply your SEO skills combined with Ranktracker’s Full-Fledged SEO tool suite. With these tools and some basic SEO knowledge, you’ll be able to do what you would otherwise pay an “SEO Professional” hundreds or thousands of dollars per week for!
Along with using tools like Ranktracker’s Keyword Finder and SERP Checker, many of the tips we’ll provide you with below don’t require any special tools or technical skills in the least! So, whether you want a full local SEO strategy or you’re just looking for some free and easy local SEO tips, we’ve got you covered.
Nope. Local SEO applies to any business that operates within a certain locale. Obviously, the most obvious local businesses are brick-and-mortar locations like restaurants, shops, garages, gas stations, etc. However, local services like mobile detailers, landscapers, and even mobile merchants can also use local SEO to connect with more clients!
Marketing ultimately comes down to one thing and one thing only: being seen.
Throughout history, businesses have marketed themselves in places where they could be seen the easiest; local markets, city squares, sporting events, and posters have been used by businesses to market themselves since the days of ancient Rome.
Today, however, people aren’t looking up as often as they’re looking down. Today’s freeways are so busy, that many drivers never stop to look up at road signs. TV commercials are often ignored or skipped, and magazines are just a tabletop novelty. Even major athletes are losing endorsements to the wider, more affordable “influencer market.”
The point is, if you want your business to be seen, then you need to show up where they’re looking the most; their phones, tablets, and computers.
The easier you are to find online, the more customers you’ll get to your store, the more clients will call you about your services, and the faster you’ll make it into your city’s “Best Of…” list (that’s the real goal, right?).
Hopefully, we’ve done a decent job of convincing you why you should be investing more time into a local SEO strategy… If not, then go back and re-read the last section (wink, wink).
If you’re ready to start ranking higher within local search engine results, building your business and want to see more customers and clients than you’ve ever had in the past, then you’re in the right place!
In this section, we’ll give you a full breakdown of all of the best SEO strategies and tips that you can use to improve your local ranking. From improving your website design to optimizing your Google My Business page, and marketing on Facebook, we’ll cover it all. Don’t forget to bookmark this page, in case you ever need to look back at
First, let’s start by covering some SEO basics. These are simple practices that you can start employing today to ensure that your website gets ranked higher within search engine results, gets recommended to more local search engine users, and results in more traffic to your website and business.
The latest Google search engine ranking algorithm ranks websites in three core areas, known as E‑A‑T:
Expertise: Does your site stay on topic and feature well-written, relevant content?
Authoritativeness: Do other websites link to you? Do social media posts link to you? How much traffic does your website get?
Trustworthiness: Is your website content original? Is the information on your site well-researched and backed by valid sources? Is your site secure and does it use SSL/HTTPS?
Essentially, you want your website to rank high in all three of these areas. If it does, then you can ensure that your site will be among the top-ranking competitors, no matter what niche you’re in.
The first thing you should do as soon as your business website is complete is to get it indexed by Google. If you’re using a modern website builder like Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, etc., then there’s a good chance that your new pages and posts will be automatically indexed.
However, if you’ve recently made changes to your site or you’ve created a site manually, then you may need to manually request Google to index it (or re-index it, if you’ve updated it). To ask Google to index your site, simply enter your site’s URL into the Google Search Console. This will initiate a Google “spider” to crawl through your website and index it in its system.
If your website is not indexed by Google, then nobody will be able to find it within Google search results, so this is a pretty important thing to check.
Keywords are easily the biggest factor in your site’s overall SEO strategy. These are the key search terms that other Google users will use to find your website or business listing, in the first place.
If you’re new to the concept of keywords, then your best bet is to use Ranktracker’s Keyword Finder tool. This tool allows you to enter a primary keyword into its search bar and will display a list of top-ranking keywords and search terms related to it.
For example, if you own an Italian restaurant, “Italian food” might be a primary keyword.
The Keyword Finder tool will then show you a number of related secondary keywords that are used by search engine users as well! After searching for “Italian food,” you might be presented with a list of related keywords, such as:
Italian food near me.
Best Italian pasta [insert city name].
Italian food delivery.
Italian food to-go.
… and others.
These are all important primary and secondary keywords that you should include throughout your website’s main pages and content.
In addition to targeting primary and secondary keywords, you can also benefit from targeting some long-tail keywords in your website content. Long-tail keywords are so named due to their longer, more specific length.
In accordance with the “Italian food” keyword above, some possible long-tail keywords could be, “Italian food restaurants that deliver” or, “Best vegan-friendly Italian restaurants.”
These long-tail keywords may not be quite as popular or widely used as the primary and secondary keywords above, but they’re a great way to get targeted traffic and highly motivated leads. If your business can satisfy these long-tail needs, then there’s a good chance that you’ll be at the top of the searchers’ lists.
Luckily, Ranktracker’s Keyword Finder tool is designed to display all of the best long-tail keywords as well as primary and secondary keyword options!
Aside from the keywords you use throughout your site, you also need to develop a strong link profile for your website. In short terms, the more high-quality backlinks (links from other sites to your site) your website has, the higher you’ll rank within Google search results.
The reason why it’s important is that it’s a good metric of how trustworthy and authoritative your website is. For example, would you rather visit a restaurant that you have no idea about, or would you prefer to visit a restaurant that all of your friends and family have been raving about?
The more backlinks that your website’s main pages and pillar content have, the more Google’s algorithm tends to view your site as an authoritative, widely-referenced site.
So, how does one go about building links?
Well, the easiest way is to “steal” your competitors’ backlinks. Here’s how to implement this ingenious strategy:
First, open Ranktracker’s SERP Checker SEO tool and enter your primary keyword into the search bar. Local businesses should add a local term such as their city or state on the backend of the keyword (i.e., “Italian food NYC” or, “Italian Food Brooklyn”).
This will display all of the top-ranking competitors for that specific keyword. These are the guys you gotta beat (or at least outsmart) to make it to the top of your local rankings.
Now, make a list of your top competitors that the SERP Checker tool shows you.
Next, open up another useful tool called Backlink Finder (comming soon!). This allows you to scan any website on the web and spy on the backlinks they’re using!
One by one, go through each of your competitors and scan them for backlinks. Take note of how many backlinks they have, as you’ll need to match or exceed this.
The great thing about Backlink Finder (comming soon!) is that they show you the exact website URL of each backlink. If your competitor got a backlink from the site, this means that there’s a good chance that you can too!
Here’s where you may need some help. Go through each of the viable backlink sites and try to contact the webmaster or site manager. This may involve sending emails, making phone calls, or submitting your info via a contact form on the website.
Tell your link prospects that you are interested in getting a backlink from them. In return, they may want you to link back to them or they may request that you include your backlink in a piece of original content that you write for their site. They get free content and you get a link, so it’s a win-win situation. In some cases, they may just want money for a placement!
Remember, Google’s latest algorithm uses Trustworthiness as a primary factor in deciding your ranking. So, what do you think the Google algorithm will do if it catches you using a bunch of plagiarized content on your website?
Before you can ask, yes, Google’s algorithm can (and does) check every piece of content on your site and cross-reference it with its database of other websites.
Even though you may not be purposefully plagiarizing content, you could also be doing so without your knowledge. There is so much content on the web, that accidental plagiarization is a lot more common than you may think.
To be sure that your content is 100% unique, we recommend running all of your webpage content through www.copyscape.com. This website allows users to create free accounts and charges a minimal amount (around 10-15 cents per 1,000 words) to scan your text and ensure that it’s not plagiarized.
If any plagiarized content is found, it will be highlighted in the text along with a link to the original content that it copies. This will allow you to make quick, easy fixes to your content to ensure that everything on your site is 100% original.
Your meta titles and meta descriptions are what are shown to search engine users. It’s the webpage title along with a short meta description that’s around 50 words. The meta title (your page title) should optimally have one primary or secondary keyword contained within it. For example, our primary keyword used in the meta title of this article is “Local SEO.”
By default, your meta description will be the first 50-ish words of your webpage. However, most website editors allow you to customize your meta description. This is the perfect place to write a short, keyword-optimized description of why a visitor should check your page out and what they’ll find.
Your website’s SILO structure is another important aspect of overall SEO that you should stay on top of. Although it's often discussed in more advanced SEO guides, it’s actually not quite as complicated as it sounds.
Simply put, your SILO structure is the tier-ranking system of your website. A well-optimized site should realistically have several top-tier pages that serve as pillar content for the entire site. These might be your homepage, your ‘About’ page, your ‘Contact’ page, and your Blog’s main page.
The smaller pages underneath these main pages are like the roots of a tree, showing that your main pages have more authority. For example, your main “Blog” page may be at the top of a SILO, underneath which lay 100 smaller blog posts.
The main idea is to create a clear separation between your main pages and your sub-pages. The clearer this distinction is and the deeper (as opposed to wide and shallow) your website goes, the more authoritative it appears to Google’s search engine algorithm.
Again, this is something that most professional website editors encourage naturally; so, you may not have to devote too much extra thought to it. Still, it’s a good thing to keep in mind and is a good reason why you should keep your blog updated and continually add new sub-content to your website’s major pages.
If you’re a Ranktracker subscriber, then you can use the Web Audit tool to perform a quick, detailed scan of your entire website. One of the key metrics that this tool tracks is your site’s SILO structure and backlink profile.
Alright, now that we’ve got some of the more technical SEO aspects out of the way, it’s time to get back on track with some more specific local SEO tips.
One of the best tips, by far, for increasing your business and website traffic is to ensure that your business is ranking within Google Maps results. After submitting your business and its location to Google or Apple, you’ll have a registered business that will appear in Maps results (Google Maps or Apple Maps).
However, just because your business is listed in Maps doesn’t mean that it will necessarily be seen by users (especially if there’s a lot of competition in your area). If you want your business listing to get more views and rank higher within Maps search results, then you’ll need to create a fully optimized business listing.
For simplicity’s sake, we’re just going to go over optimizing your Google My Business profile. However, the same principles also apply to optimizing your Apple Maps business listing as well. So make sure you’re doing both.
Completing and optimizing your business profile pages will do two things:
It will help your listing rank higher within Maps results.
It will help Google search engine users find your business easier.
With that in mind, here’s how to create a complete, well-optimized Google My Business profile.
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Aside from your business name itself, these three items are the most important to fill out. Your My Business listing should include the complete, accurate name of your business along with your business phone number, and the address where your business is located.
If your business doesn't have a physical address or you have a home-based business, then you can create a service radius. This will display that your business provides service to specific counties, cities, or towns, so you’ll still be able to rank in location-specific searches.
If you don’t have a dedicated phone number for your business yet, then you can always create a free phone number using Google Voice. This will allow you to send and receive calls and texts from your third-party phone number managed by Google.
You should also create a well-written, informative, and easy-to-read bio/about description of your business and its services. Within this description, make sure to include several primary and secondary keywords that you identified using Ranktracker’s Keyword Finder tool.
Pictures are a big deal for Google and search users. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes… If you were comparing local services to hire, would you contact the service that had tons of pictures of previous jobs completed or the one with no pictures at all?
It’s a no-brainer, right?
The more detailed your pictures are, the better. Take high-quality photos of your business location, projects you’re working on, products you sell, and any promotional posters and content that you think would draw attention.
In addition to adding permanent images to your business profile, Google also allows users to create short-term posts that stay up for 30 days at a time and are visible to search engine users. These posts are a great place to showcase a special product or service your business is offering. Along with posting a picture or video, you can also write a short description. Fill your post description with primary, secondary, and long-tail keywords.
The biggest ranking factor (aside from a complete profile) is the number of reviews that your business listing has. The more you can amass, the better. If most of the reviews are 4 and 5-star reviews, then you get extra brownie points for being a popular, desirable business, which ensures that you’re more likely to show up within Google and Maps search results.
To make this possible, you’ll need to encourage as many of your customers to write a review as possible. There are several different ways that you can go about this:
You can contact previous customers and send them a link, asking them to give you a 5-star review along with a short post about their experience.
You can encourage new customers to write a review by offering an incentive, such as a coupon, a free product, a raffle entry, a discount, etc.
One of the best ways to encourage new reviews inside of your brick-and-mortar location is to utilize QR codes. For many customers, there’s simply too much work involved in manually searching for your business and navigating to the reviews sections.
However, if you post an easy-to-scan QR code in a conspicuous location (i.e., by your register), then all they have to do is scan it and they’ll be automatically redirected to write a review for your site!
Although the primary goal of the above guide was to show you how to optimize your Google My Business listing, you shouldn’t forget the others as well. Although Google is, by far, the most used search engine, it’s not the only one.
For example, Apple users across the world use Apple Maps instead of Google Maps to search for businesses. Another thing to consider is that Apple Maps works alongside Yelp! and links Apple Maps locations to their Yelp! profiles.
According to a recent study, 53% of all smartphone users in North America have an iPhone, which means that half of your target leads are probably using Apple Maps over Google Maps.
Bing also offers a business listing platform. However, Bing only accounts for 7% of the global search engine market (in contrast to Google’s dominating 87% market share). This means that Bing should be more of an afterthought after you’ve fully optimized your business listings for Google, Apple Maps, and Yelp!
Good local SEO isn’t just about your business listing and site SEO; your overall web design could also be positively (or negatively) affecting your local SEO rankings. If your website has a poor user interface, has slow loading times, or doesn’t have an optimized homepage, then it might be down-ranked by Google’s algorithm when it scans your site.
So, here are some areas to double-check so you can ensure that your website is operating smoothly and helping your local SEO efforts.
First, let’s talk about the overall development of your website. This kind of relates to the above section where we discussed SILO structures. In addition to your SILO structure, though, Google’s algorithm also wants to see that your website code is clean and well-organized.
If you’re using a professional website editor, then this will likely be done for you by default. However, if you’re building a site from scratch or implementing custom code, then you’ll need to make sure that your site structure follows best practices for coding organization.
When visitors first come to your site, you want them to have a positive experience, right?
This is why your site should appear as clean, modern, and easy to use as possible. Make sure that you have clear navigation links to primary pages and pillar content from your main page. Your site should have large images, large text, and contact forms should be easy to find.
If you’re not sure, just ask a younger friend or family member. Show them your website and ask them how easy and user-friendly it is. Take note of any improvements they might suggest and consider implementing them.
This is another area where you can really benefit from using a simple website editor that comes with pre-installed themes. This allows you to create simple, clean websites without having to do any custom coding.
Your website should load quickly. These days, with attention spans and patience at an all-time low, if it takes longer than half a second, then it’s too long. If your website is loading slowly, then it’s likely due to problems with your web host or due to too much “heavy” content on your pages.
In general, your site should be clean and lightweight. There’s no problem with some embedded images and a few videos here and there, but your main homepage should load quickly and shouldn’t have too much media content.
When we were discussing SILO structures above, we mentioned that it’s a good idea to start blogging so you can ensure that your site is deeper and appears more authoritative.
In addition to making your site look better to the Google algorithm, though, blogging also has several other key advantages:
It allows your site to rank for secondary and long-tail keywords.
It ensures that the Google spider is constantly re-indexing your site.
It builds trust and confidence with your customers.
It shows that your business is a true expert in your field.
If you’re looking for topics to write about, use Ranktracker’s SERP Checker tool to “spy” on your competitors’ sites. Look at top-ranking competitors in your niche who operate out of larger cities (like New York, LA, London, etc.) and see what they’re writing about in their blog posts.
You can use this as a basis for creating your own blog topics or writing your own spin on it. As long as the content you write is unique and not directly plagiarized, there are no ethical or technical issues you’ll have to worry about!
In addition to merely writing and posting blogs, though, you should also implement a sharing strategy. Make sure that your blog posts have social sharing buttons to allow yourself and other readers to easily repost the link to their social profiles.
This brings us to our next point, sharing and promoting shared blog posts on social media. For instance, you can share a link to a blog post on your Facebook page, and then pay $5 (or more) per day to promote it, so it will be seen by a wider audience.
This is a great way to get some local website traffic and promote your business among local social media users and groups.
If you really want to take your local SEO to the next level, then you can’t go wrong with social media advertising. The one exception to this rule is if you’re selling a “grey area” product, such as vaping/tobacco products, masks and PPE equipment, or herbal products that aren’t approved by the FDA.
While they’re not impossible to advertise, they’re a lot more difficult to advertise on social media, due to the platforms’ safety regulations.
Assuming that you don’t run one of these “grey area” businesses, though, social media is an amazing way to get some local, highly targeted leads for your business. This is because platforms allow you to target specific groups with your ads. You can target users by their geographic location, age range, interests, education status, and more!
This ensures that you’re not paying for uninterested people to view your ads, and allows you to maximize your advertising budget.
In addition to paid promotion, getting a little bit of free, organic traffic is a good idea as well. The best way to get free exposure on social media is to join local groups of business owners or the local classifieds pages for specific towns, counties, neighborhoods, and cities.
As long as you’re not spammy and annoying, local groups are a great place to connect with local homeowners and residents. This allows you to build rapport, slide in promotions for your business, and network directly with potential leads and customers.
A proper local SEO campaign (and SEO in general, for that matter) requires webmasters to make data-driven decisions. Search engine optimization is a never-ending process that you’ll need to constantly stay on top of. If you’re not constantly adapting your strategies and updating your site, then your competition can easily knock you off and take your place, driving your site and business ranking down.
To get that data you need to make the best decisions for your SEO strategy, you can’t go wrong with Ranktracker’s full suite of SEO tools. They’re incredibly easy to use and require very little technical know-how.
If you have some basic SEO knowledge and understand how to use a website editor, then tools like Backlink Finder (comming soon!) for link building, Rank Tracker, the Web Audit tool, and the Keyword Finder, can give you all of the data and research you need to run a class-A SEO campaign.
By investing in a local SEO strategy and the right tools for the job, you’ll be practically unstoppable! It truly is an investment that will not only pay for itself but one that will turn a profit when you’re getting more customers than you ever could have imagined before.