We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Google’s local search engine results pages (SERPs) are as competitive as they are important to the well-being of your business, especially if you’re running a brick-and-mortar shop.
Fortunately, there are a few shortcuts you can easily employ to generate additional, organic search query traffic. This will increase your SERP ranking, and your local SEO efforts by extension.
1. Include Local Results in Keyword Research
The first step of a successful SEO campaign is no doubt keyword research. Google puts out an excellent free tool for this purpose, intuitively dubbed “Keyword Planner”. Be advised the outputs of the Keyword Planner will be generic. It won’t generate in-depth queries or location-specific suggestions (we’ll get to that in a moment).
Before teaching you how simulate local search results, it’s important to understand the value of taking the time to do so. Since Google eliminated it’s location filter in 2015, all results show up with a map to the top three locations for that item listed on the home page. For example, if I type “McDonalds”, I’ll first see the link to the corporate website followed by @McDonalds Twitter feed. Then comes the location-specific results. Using my location, Google shows me the 3 McDonalds locations nearest to me, complete with Google Map integration for navigation to any of these locations. This interactive map is what comes up had I begun by Googling “McDonalds near me”. Thus, the “near me” modifier is implicitly added to every search query for first page SERP.
Here’s a little trick of the trade to research your local competition to narrow down what the most effective keywords in that area will be. Enter a word or phrase into the search bar (e.g. “McDonalds”). While looking at the results page for your query, add “&near=cityname” to the URL. Of course, don’t forget to replace “cityname” with the city you want to simulate results from. For example, I’m Googling in Chicago, but want to know about McDonalds in New York City, so I add “&near=newyorkcity” to the query URL.
2. Keep Your NAPs Consistent
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. It’s important for you to ensure these three pieces of information stay consistent across every platform, channel, and website they appear on. The local SEO competition is too fierce to let something this basic slip through the cracks. You can be sure the first 3 businesses listed under the Google Map of any local search (known as a “3-pack”) certainly have their NAPs in a row.
Larger businesses will wonder how – and if – it is possible to accurately keep track of your NAP listings as they amass. Utilize rank tracking software to keep abreast of where your name, address, and/or phone number appear. If inconsistencies crop up, contact the webmaster of the offending website.
Talk about local SEO shortcuts: studies show contact information, including NAP, are the second or third most important criteria in SERPs.
3. Make “Google My Business” Your Business
As easy as keeping your NAPs straight can be, owning and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) page is far and away the easiest thing you can do to improve your local SEO.
Follow these simple steps to get your GMB affairs in order:
- Claim your listing.
- Confirm your identity.
- Enter and check your business details.
- Add the URL to your site.
- Include high-resolution photos of your shop, employees, community, etc. Images are an excellent way to humanize your business and make customers feel familiar with your location before they’ve patronized it.
- Solicit on-page reviews from your happy customers. Google prioritizes high-star rated businesses in its local search results. The more positive reviews, the better.
4. Backlinks are Your Best Friends
Link signals are listed as the single most important factor on local SEO rankings. This includes any reference outside sources make back to your website. Building backlinks are more important than anything else on this list, but take much longer to accumulate. And, unlike setting up a sufficient GMB page, there is no clear-cut beginning and end to link signal building.
Here are some tried-and-true channels for building backlinks, with a focus on local SEO:
- Websites of other local businesses.
- Ratings and review sites like Yelp!
- Listings on chambers of commerce web pages.
- Submit press releases to local news outlets. If they write up your business in an article, their online edition will link right to your website.
- Find blogs or any of the aforementioned sources that link to expired or nonexistent web pages (i.e. broken links) in your field or industry. Contact the webmaster of these pages and let them know you would be happy to offer your business’ URL as an up-to-date alternative to replace the outdated information.
Put these quick tips to use for your business today, and watch your local SEO efforts take off!
Contact KitelyTech today to discuss the details of how we can add value to you and your online business.