Guide to Local SEO in 2019
Guide to Local SEO in 2019
When you’re a business owner, you know that online traffic creates a buzz. Whether your business is shared on social media or liked on Twitter, you also want your website to be the first result when someone searches by your city, state, such as “plumber in Omaha, Nebraska”.
This is called local SEO, and it’s probably the most important thing to upgrade for your marketing strategy in 2019.
Local SEO is a tactical marketing strategy that utilizes local directories and websites like Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook to rank higher whenever a local search is performed. These searches utilize local citations. Local searches typically are queries in Google that look for services or products near the searchers location or near the particular location they search.
Not sure if local search matters for your business? Here’s some statistics:
- 88% of local business searches come from customers on mobile devices who have visited or will visit the store in 24 hours.
- 46% of all local searches are just people looking for information about your products and services
- 97% of shoppers search online to find a local business according to Hubspot.
- Google accounts for over 72.47% all global desktop search, followed by Baidu, Bing, and Yahoo.
There are plenty of statistics out there that all share the same trend. People are searching for places to go and visit, while also looking for local services and products that meet their needs. If you want to be one of those businesses that they click on, then you’ll need to get your content ready for local searchers.
Here’s some local search examples for an AC repair shop in Longwood, Florida.
- AC repair near me
- Find AC repair
- AC repair Longwood
- AC Repair
- Number AC repair 407
- AC repair Longwood Florida
- AC repair, Semoran
Do you see the possibilities? If you have SEO content on-site and off-site related to AC repair in Longwood, Florida, then you’re going to get a lot of traffic whenever someone performs this local search.
Before we get into the guide, here are some quick ranking factors that matter for local search.
Proximity to user’s location:
- Proximity to user’s location: Simply how far is the searcher from wherever your business is located or where you have registered your business on Google maps. This plays a major factor in how well you’ll rank for the area near your store’s location.
- Reviews: Google really props up businesses that have ratings and reviews, because it means that you have traffic. With positive reviews, it also means you’ll be featured in the top results.
If your existing domain doesn’t have your location in it, there are ways to incorporate that in page URL’s, for example:
It’s important to use local citations whenever possible on your site, especially if you only have one location. If you have multiple locations, then your content and site structure should include pages that are specifically dedicated to different locations and related content.
Benefits of Ranking Locally
It’s not just about ranking highly in search engines. You may not see your business rank number one in search for your top keywords. This is about ranking highly and being the most popular choice for a keyword in your LOCAL area. While you may not be able to beat out all of your competitors, you can certainly compete with other services and products in your same zip code and other areas closest to you.
In addition, most people who search online and find your business are likely to visit your website and stop into your store. It’s important that you have the correct information and contact number so that people can get in touch and find out the information that they need to make a purchase.
Your business could be featured in Google if you have all of the right local ranking factors. Google tends to feature businesses that have robust information, customer reviews, and correct information listed in Google My Business.
Getting Started with Local Search
So how can you optimize for local search? This quick guide breaks down the best local search tactics for 2019 and beyond.
The content on your site will be a major factor in how well you rank, but you also want to make sure that your contact information, local address, and local phone number are also on your website.
Here are some other things to keep in mind when trying to rank highly with local search:
- You don’t want to have any duplicate content on your site. Any content should be supportive of the product or service you want to market within that location. The URL of the page should have the location as well as the page title and meta description.
- With every content page, you want to have at least 500 words on the page. We’re not sure how much content is really appropriate, but it seems that Google likes when you have long-form content that includes two outbound links and two on-site links. We target 800-1000 for most pages, and 2000+ for home page content.
- Use local keywords and references in your content whenever possible. If you have multiple locations, then you should describe the products and services available at each location on separate pages.
- For each location page, you should see if you have different customer testimonials to add to the page from that same location.
Most of all make sure that your content is readable and entertaining. You want people to be able to share that content as much as possible.
Audit Your Site for Local SEO
Here are a few questions to ask your team or your online marketing squad in the next meeting:
- What local keywords are we ranking for or what keywords should we be ranking for locally?
- Are we ranking for local searches?
- What location do our local search keywords and URLs point to?
- Are we showing in Google when searched locally?
- Is our physical and online address included in our social profiles?
- Are we in any local directories?
- Have we released any press releases locally or received any local media coverage?
- Is there schema markup present for our local address and contact information?
- How many pages on our site are dedicated to local search?
These are just the tip of the iceberg, but as you go through your site, you’ll start to notice where you include your address. Most websites have a contact page, but if you want people to find your site, you’ll need to include your [city, state] keywords in other content pages.
For example, if you are a flower delivery business in Chicago, you should take a look at your site map and see how many URLs include the string “flower-delivery-Chicago.” If you don’t have any pages directly dedicated to this keyword, then you’re not trying to rank for one of your most popular keywords.
There are plenty of factors when it comes to ranking up for local search, but it’s important to make sure that your website is optimized for your location.
Quick Summary of Things to Do
- Check that your schema markup is included with local address and contact information for your business, ensure that it includes a Google map markup.
- Look at your site map and determine how many pages should be dedicated to local keywords related to your product/service and city, state.
Google My Business and Directories
Visit your contact page and verify this information: store location, customer service number with local area code, email addresses (optional), Google Map plugin (optional), and service/store map if there are multiple locations.
Google has many ranking factors, but for local search, one of the most important ranking tools is Google My Business. If you want to rank in Google, then you’ll need to add your business to Google. To do this, you can navigate to google.com/business and sign up. You will need to verify the location through a post card that will be sent to your business location’s address.
Once you’re included in Google My Business, people can now find you on Google Maps easily. The next step is to make sure that you are in other local directories. This is important so that people can find your business, check in when they visit, and also review your services. This is where your customer service team will really need to shine!
Some great places to list your business include:
- Industry-specific sites like TripAdvisor or UrbanSpoon
- Angie’s List and other service-related sites
It is important to remember with directories that you need to include your full information, and you don’t want to add your name to every single directory out there. You should vet the directory first and make sure that it’s relevant to your product, as well as secure. There are plenty of unscrupulous directories out there that will make you pay to join, but you don’t have to pay at any of the free places mentioned above.
- Add your website to Google My Business at google.com/business
- Create profiles in different directories like Yelp
Are You Local Social?
Update your address information on all social sites, especially Facebook
This is the top social media networking site with over 4 billion users. You definitely want to make sure that you create a business page on this website. When you create this page, you’ll include all of the information, like your address, mission statement, and other descriptions, in the about section. The about section is a larger business card basically, so you can think of it as a first impression for what people will learn about your business.
For local search purposes, you want to make sure that you have the correct address and phone number in the about section. However, that’s not all. As frequently as you can, you should be holding events at your business address. Whether this is bi-weekly or monthly, it’s important to have a calendar of events if possible.
In addition, all of your content that you post should be affiliated with the store and its location. If you have a lot of sales running for your store in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, then make sure your event always has the name of the city in the event name and in the location address.
You should also follow businesses that relate to your business in your area or are located nearby. You can share content from businesses that you have agreements with as well. This all goes into supporting local word of mouth and gaining your own visibility with potential followers.
The second largest social network for local search is Twitter. While there are not as many robust features for local search on Twitter, you want to make sure that you have your business location and website address in your profile. Your content should include local sale posts that tag the city and any relevant keywords to your city. For example, you may have a sale for whenever your football team wins under #JacksonvilleRocks. Your city may not have any hashtags yet, but that’s okay, you can certainly create them and start to add them to your posts.
It’s also important that you follow local influencers you think will be important to your business’ success. You can find followers in your area by searching hashtags and locations.
While it’s a very picture-heavy site, you should be on Instagram, posting pictures with hashtags for your local stores and services. Like all the other social sites, it’s important to have your information in the profile description, but you also want to include any hashtags for your local area as well, including hashtags for your own business.
You should tag your content with locations and make sure that you’re using live story features to highlight sales in store.
For the longest time in SEO world, back links were thought to be THE ranking factor. To a certain extent, it still is one of the top reasons that businesses get featured in search results. However, backlinks are a tricky strategy that you have to be patient with in order to see any results.
Here’s how you should build your backlink profile:
- Register your site in Google webmaster tools and check if you have any warnings against you caused by negative backlinks If you have toxic backlinks, disavow them.
- Use a tool to SEMRush to audit your site’s SEO and see how many backlinks you currently have out there. You’ll also get a report on negative backlinks, which you will need to disavow.
- Update any backlinks that are broken or look spammy, which is hurting your ranking score
- Create new backlinks with city and state keywords included in the content
- Try to get backlinks with local blogs and local influencers
- If necessary, you can seek out guest posts and press releases for a premium cost, but you should be careful not to place your site’s on any spammy affiliates.
However, the biggest rule of backlinks is just create great content that people want to link to in the first place. If you want to get linking and sharing your content, then you have to put some content on your site that’s truly unique.
One ice cream store created a very viral (but a little weird) video campaign for “Little Baby’s Ice Cream.” While it was just a local store, everyone now knows about this store’s commercial, and therefore, they’ve shared it and gotten millions of views. That doesn’t just go away. If you measure success by what other people have done virally to gain backlinks, then this is one extremely visible campaign that reached millions just with one piece of content.
You can do the same thing with your business. Get your team together and think about some ideas for videos, blogs, web articles, events, and press releases that you could start. You can put together a calendar and give people different tasks to bring the content together on your site.
Once you start creating new content, don’t forget to make it very shareable, which means including sharing icons to different social sites like Facebook, as well as ensuring the content is posted across different channels. In the title, you should include a keyword and location if possible.
Sharing Your Content the Right Way
Once you have that great content, it’s time to put it out there. You should be sharing on social media already, but you can also send your content to influencers or businesses if you think that it’s something their audience might enjoy too. You don’t want to get spammy with this, so you can start by sharing content with hashtags first to get it noticed and then look for influencers who liked your post or shared it to see what other content they might share from you in the future.
Local Schema Markup and Meta Data
Every page on your site that you want to rank for local search should have the location in the page title, meta description, and schema markup behind the page.
Simply put, meta data helps search engine crawlers understand what your content is and how to define it for ranking purposes. So, if you have a page title and meta description that references your services and city location, then you’re doing well for local search.
You should also make sure that your keywords and locations are all the same and relevant to one another for each page of content. For example, you wouldn’t want to put AC Service Chicago on your AC Repair Longwood keyword page.
It’s also important that you pay attention to how you utilize anchor text in backlinks to your website.
There are different types of anchor text including:
Crawlers aren’t just looking at the obvious content on your page. You’ll need to include structured data that pertains to your contact information, physical address, and store category.
This is specific code that you can add to your website to make it stronger for ranking factors searched by crawlers. John Mueller from Google actually did a recent question and answer on this topic. He talked about using GEO coordinates in your structured data to make it use for GPS to find your business as well as mark your location on Google maps. While Google says it’s not “essential,” we all know that Google doesn’t really want you to know what you’ll rank for at the end of the day.
Add structured data markup to your home page if you only need one address to rank.
If you have several addresses for different store locations, then create a page for each location and add structured data to those pages.
Google’s ranking algorithm definitely looks at relevance and authority as two important factors in how to rank your content for related queries. It’s important to use your Google My Business profile strategically to ensure that you rank first in categories that you select and also in the description you add for your business.
Here’s a quick summary to get started:
- Make sure to pick the right category when setting up your Google My Business profile. You don’t want to pick “attorney” if you’re a law office that handles work injuries. Instead, you would pick “work injury lawyer” or “corporate law firm.”
- Remember to add business description and designate your location area. You can add 1,000 words about your business on your GMB profile, so make sure that you use keyword phrases that are relevant to your site, services, and products.
Check that your business details are complete and accurate. For example, you should make sure that your address and phone number are correctly added to your business location. If you have moved recently, then you should make sure your correct location and information is in your Google My Business profile.
Search engines will look for businesses closest to the location of the searcher at the that they search. If you want to get the highest possible chance of reaching these customers, then you should have location-based keyword content on your site that links to their Google My Business profile as well.
How can you set up this content? Follow this guide:
- Pick a high volume keyword phrase with location keywords attached. For example, it might be “ac repair” plus “your city name,” which would equal “ac repair Longwood.”
- Build a page on your site and link it with this keyword in the URL, page title, meta description, and up to two times in the content body itself.
- Include your business name, address, and phone number on the page as well.
- Build the page URL as follows www.yourwebsite.com/city-keyword-phrase or if you have multiple locations in your site structure, you can change the permalink to www.yourwebsite.com/city/keyword-phrase.
This is important to creating the best content on your site to rank for local searches, but the keyword phrases have to make sense. You don’t want to have “ac repair 32745” in the middle of your content. It just won’t flow right.
If you are building local search content for your business, then you have to start with the audit of your site and see what you really need to work on. You should perform a couple of searches while signed in near your business and see what happens when you Google your business. Do you notice your signage? Do you see your logo? Does your location pop up first? It’s important to see how others are finding you and what they see once they find your business in Google.
What SEO Success Looks Like
The general rule of thumb is that you will see significant progress in 3-4 months. In many cases, we are able to start generating enough calls with your local SEO campaign for you to generate enough new revenue to allow your campaign to start paying for itself. That is the benchmark that we shoot for.
If you are in a highly competitive industry, for example, a remodeling contractor in a city like Dallas, TX, and you are working with a small budget of say, $1500/per month…It can take six to nine months in some cases, to see real results because you are competing with a lot of well-established remodeling contractors that have been engaged in local SEO for a while. Can they be beaten? Absolutely. But you need to have a realistic expectation and we can help you understand that once we have a chat.