Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your website come up in search results when customers make a relevant search. Local search engine optimization helps your website or business location appear in search results when users enter a search at a particular location. This might mean a customer looking for a restaurant in their area, a retail store, dentist office, realtor, and many other local businesses. These local SEO hacks can help you optimize your local SEO, get in front of your customers and bring them into your location.
6 Local SEO Hacks to Bring in More Customers
Many local SEO hacks are similar to general SEO hacks that can help you improve your search position for all users. We will cover some of these tips again, since they are relevant for local searches as well as general searches. However, when you are working on improving your local SEO, it’s a good idea to consider general SEO tips as well.
1. Get On Google Maps
One of the best local SEO hacks to start with is to get familiar with Google’s tools. When it comes to local searches, Google Maps plays an important role. If a user is looking for a business or location immediately, they also want to know how to get there. For this, many turn to Google Maps.
Whether you’ve just opened your doors, you’ve been in business for years, or you recently changed locations, you’ll want to claim your location on Google Maps. Anyone can add a business to Google Maps, however there are more steps involved to optimize this listing.
First, search for your business on Google Maps. If you find it, claim it. There will be data already associated with this listing that will help you later. If your business has already existed for a few years, there is probably already a listing for it. For businesses that just opened, you’ll want to create a listing. Just getting on the map is an important local SEO hack, but don’t stop there.
To claim your listing and actually make Google Maps work for you, you’ll have to verify that you are the owner. This means creating a Google My Business account and taking a few additional steps. This process might seem long, but this will allow you to edit your listing details. Google uses a lengthy process to ensure they’re giving this power to the right person.
Learn more about tools and strategies for improving and measuring SEO
2. Optimize Your Google Maps Listing
Users turn to Google Maps to find your business directly, but also to discover businesses within a category. This might start with a local search, such as “coffee shops near me” or “best restaurants in Lansing.” This tells Google to bring up local Maps listings, so users can find a location more easily. The first three Maps results, sometimes called the “local pack,” get the most clicks and the most visits. Getting into one of these three positions is a powerful local SEO hack.
Though Google doesn’t reveal exactly how their algorithm decides how to rank businesses, they do provide some hints about how to optimize your listing and rise in the search results. Once you have your Google My Business account up and you’ve claimed your listing, do the following:
- Provide accurate, consistent information: Make sure your phone number, address, email, website, and any other information is accurate, up-to-date, and consistent across the web.
- Gather reviews: Google wants to show the best possible businesses to its customers. Reviews and star-ratings help to determine who is best. The top three search results average about 47 reviews and four or five stars.
- Manage your reviews: Respond to your customers’ reviews on Google. Either thank them for their kind words, or address any complaints that they had. Though you can’t remove negative Google reviews made by real customers, you can flag reviews that are abusive or fraudulent.
- Add photos: Photos show customers what your business or products look like, and help them to know what to expect. Adding photos to your Google listing is one of the best ways to entice customers to visit.
- Add posts: Google My Business gives you a number of features to help you show your customers what’s happening at your business. Use posts, events and other features to spotlight special items, offer discounts or other incentives for customers to visit your page or stop in your store.
3. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Users conduct local searches on all devices; laptops, smartphones, and tablets. If your website doesn’t look good or isn’t operable on a mobile device, users will click away quickly. High bounce rates and low mobile usability hurt your search rankings, for both general and local SEO. One of the best SEO hacks you can do for your business is to test your website on different devices, and make sure it is mobile-friendly.
4. Target Location Keywords
Google’s algorithm works to match a customer’s search query with the most relevant and helpful results. The content on your website plays an important role in this process. Keywords within your text content helps users find your website in a search. Google’s algorithm is sophisticated, and the process is much more complex than simply matching words in a query and words on a webpage. With this in mind, it’s important to use keywords naturally across your site.
To capitalize on keywords as a local SEO hack, you’ll want to use the names of locations. Consider how a nearby user might look for your business. If you own a landscaping company in Lansing, for example, a user might search for “landscapers in Lansing” or “landscaping companies near me” or even “best landscaping in Greater Lansing.” Use keyword research tools to find which keywords might be best.
Adding localized content and including these keywords can help your website appear when users enter these types of searches. Consider adding a page to your site focused on a specific location. If you operate in several different areas, add pages for each. Try not to use duplicate content for these location pages, as this won’t help your SEO.
Learn more about keywords and how they impact your search results
5. Exercise Good SEO Practices
As previously mentioned, general SEO hacks and local SEO hacks differ in some ways. However, there is some overlap as well. A few general SEO best practices will also help your local SEO. You’ll want to take a look at your on-page and off-page SEO practices, as well as tools to measure your SEO improvements.
We’ve previously written extensively about SEO best practices, but here’s a quick overview:
- Internal linking: link your pages together so users can find the pages they’re looking for more easily. These links can also help to boost the page’s overall search visibility.
- Meta information: every page should have a title and meta description which, if possible, contains the keyword.
- Use proper formatting: divide your content by logically ordered headings, use paragraph breaks, proper spelling and grammar etc.
- Links: Disavow spam links and cultivate links from other, reputable sites.
- Improve website speed and functionality: Test your website and check your site speed regularly. If your website is difficult to navigate or takes too long to load, it will hurt your traffic and your SEO.
- Keywords: Do keyword research and find which words customers might use to find your site. Use these keywords, naturally, throughout your page content.
6. List Your Information on Directories
Business directories, like Factual, Neustar Localeze, and Express Update, among others, can help you showcase your business and keep your information up-to-date. These sites, as well as other business listing opportunities, can also help you generate valuable backlinks.
If you’ve changed your business location, it’s a good ideal to update these listings and eliminate any duplicates. If you’ve just opened a business, add your location to these directories and listings. This will help you generate backlinks immediately, and also help various map services list your business accurately. In addition to Google Maps and Apple Maps, other popular websites and applications, like TripAdvisor and Yelp, use these directories.
These local SEO hacks can help you improve your visibility on Google and bring more visitors to your location. You don’t have to tackle all of these tips at once. Start slowly, take your time, and measure your improvements. With consistent local SEO improvements, you can rise to the top of a search in your area.