The Complete Guide to Local SEO Success: How to Improve Your Local Rankings and Visibility

Introduction to Local SEO

Local search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for businesses targeting customers in a specific geographic area. Implementing a robust local SEO strategy helps businesses stand out and rank higher when local customers search for products and services.

What is Local SEO?

  • Form of SEO optimized for reaching nearby customers and driving in-store visits
  • Focuses on improving local online visibility and findability
  • Target searches containing location names, zip codes, nearby landmarks

Importance for Local Businesses

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Ranking higher for local searches provides many benefits:

Increased Website Traffic

  • 80% of local mobile searches lead to in-store purchases
  • Higher clicks and traffic from ranking well for searches containing business location

Stand Out from National Competitors

  • Appeal to customers who want to buy local and support community
  • Beat out generic national chains and non-local options

More Calls and Sales

  • Customers can easily find and contact your business
  • Higher conversions and sales from an optimized local web presence

Build Local Customer Loyalty

  • Establish your business as a known local entity
  • Engage the community and contribute to the local economy

Key Elements of Local SEO

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An effective local SEO strategy incorporates:

  • Keyword research for local terms
  • Optimized Google My Business profile
  • Local schema markup
  • Targeted on-page optimization
  • Local link building
  • Positive local reviews
  • Geotargeted social media and ads

Keyword Research for Local SEO

Thorough keyword research is crucial for identifying targeted phrases and terms that customers are searching for locally related to your business category and location.

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Identifying Relevant Local Keywords

  • Brainstorm keywords that contain your city, neighborhood, and street locations.
  • Incorporate industry terminology into location keywords.

Examples

  • “Pizza Restaurant Brooklyn”
  • “plumber Miami Beach”
  • “yoga studio Austin downtown”

Research Long-Tail Keywords

  • Focus on 3-5 word long-tail keywords for better conversion potential.
  • Add more descriptive location names and specifier terms.

Examples

  • “pediatric dentist office Houston Galleria area”
  • “Lexington KY transmission repair shops”
  • “men’s hair salon Greenwich Village NYC”

Use Keyword Research Tools

  • Google Keyword Planner for search volume data.
  • Google Autocomplete for local keyword ideas.
  • SEMrush and Ahrefs for competitor keyword mining.

Benchmark Competitors

  • Research keywords your competitors rank for locally.
  • Identify potential targets based on their rankings.
  • Ensure you can realistically out-optimize competitors for target keywords.

Organize into Keyword Groupings

  • Categorize keywords into priority tiers based on relevance.
  • Focus optimization efforts on top-priority keywords first.

Identifying Relevant Local Keywords

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The first step in local SEO keyword research is brainstorming relevant keywords and phrases that incorporate your geographic location and industry terminology.

Brainstorm Keywords with Location Names

Think of all the different ways customers would search for your products/services along with your city, neighborhood, or street location names.

  • City name – “Denver Dentist”
  • Neighborhoods – “dentist office Capitol Hill”
  • Street names – “Broadway Pizza Place”
  • Landmarks – “Colosseum Restaurant Rome”
    • Airport codes – “SFO airport parking”
  • County names – “Sonoma County Wineries”

Incorporate Industry Terminology

Combine location keywords with industry-specific terms for your business category like:

  • Products – “Brooklyn Fitness Equipment Store”
  • Services – “Birmingham house cleaning services”
  • Brand names – “Honda Dealer Philadelphia”
  • Job titles/roles – “Pediatrician office Miami”

Think expansively about all the “nouns” customers would search to find your business locally.

Tools to Generate Ideas

  • Google Maps searches for location names
  • Related searches at the bottom of results pages
  • Keyword research tools like UberSuggest, SEMrush

Organize Keywords by Theme

Group keywords into categories around products, services, brands, industry terms, job roles, etc. Helps identify optimization focus areas.

Spend time brainstorming all permutations of location keywords combined with relevant industry terminology. This provides the baseline for honing your local SEO strategy.

Local Schema Markup for SEO

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Implementing schema markup on a website provides structured data that helps search engines better understand your business information. This can improve local SEO rankings and visibility.

What is Schema Markup?

  • Code added to HTML that structures data about your business
  • Uses schema.org standards to categorize data
  • Read by search engine crawlers when indexing pages

Key Benefits for Local SEO

  • Enhances how search engines interpret and display your business info in results
  • Rich results like knowledge panels, map listings, carousels
  • Helps validate your business to search engines

Types of Local Schema

Google My Business

  • Creates a knowledge panel that displays in the local pack
  • Links to your GMB listing for directions, calls, etc.

Schema.org

  • For local business schema like postal address, opening hours
  • Commonly added via JSON-LD structured data

JSON-LD

  • JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data Markup
  • Machine-readable format for embedding schema data

Implementation Tools

  • Google Tag Manager to manage deployment
  • Plugins like Schema Pro that auto-generate schema
  • Custom coding in JSON-LD format

Proper implementation of local schema markup enhances how search engines display and understand your business for local SEO.

Google My Business Optimization

Completely optimizing your Google My Business listing is crucial for local SEO success. This helps searchers find and engage with your business profile.

Importance of GMB Listing

  • Displays prominently in local pack results
  • Directs searchers to your website, directions, phone
  • Building reviews signals trust and authority

Optimizing Key Elements

Business Name

  • The exact official business name
  • List alternate names in the profile

Address

  • Accurate street address and suite number
  • Format exactly as USPS-certified

Categories

  • Select all relevant categories
  • Prioritize primary products/services

Attributes

  • Tailor attributes that highlight offerings
  • Include accessibility, amenities, certifications

Compelling Business Description

  • 2-3 paragraphs summarizing offerings
  • Local flavor and expertise
  • Hours, contact info, CTA

Photos and Videos

  • High-quality images of products, services, and staff
  • Interior and exterior establishment shots
  • Captions briefly describe photos

Responding to Reviews and Insights

  • Reply professionally to all GMB reviews
  • Monitor insights for opportunities

Keep your GMB listing optimized with fresh, robust info that matches the website. This drives local SEO visibility.

On-Page Optimization for Local SEO

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Optimizing website content for geo-targeted keywords helps communicate locality relevance to search engines, improving local rankings.

Incorporate Location Keywords Throughout Pages

  • Focus on pages like city service area pages, contact pages with addresses, or location-specific product/service pages where content has a strong tie to that geographic area.
  • Organically work city, neighborhood, street, or landmark names into content to reinforce locality.
  • Location keywords should flow naturally in paragraphs, not just be awkwardly inserted.

Localize Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

  • Include target location names like city, neighborhood, and landmarks in title tags and meta descriptions where possible.
  • This helps drive more clicks from searches specifically looking for that location.
  • Helps searchers know they will find info relevant to that geographic area.

Use Location Names in On-Page Headers

  • Place city, neighborhood, and district names in H1 and H2 header tags.
  • Reinforce location relevance by repeating location keywords in headers.
  • Allows skimmers to quickly identify page locality focus.

Localized Alt Text for Imagery

  • For any images depicting your location, offerings, or local area, incorporate geographic keywords into the alt text like neighborhood, city, and street name.
  • Helps search engines better understand the image relevance to that location.

Optimize Website URL Structures

  • Where relevant, work location keywords into page URL paths and filenames.
  • For example www.site.com/city/service-keywords
  • Creates semantic locality signals around URL structure.

Varying Location Name Terminology

  • Use synonyms like airport codes, landmark nicknames, and popular neighborhood monikers.
  • Reinforces geographic relevance using different but related terms.

Local Content Creation

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  • Location-specific landing pages – Create pages optimized for geographic keywords like “Miami orthodontists” to directly target searches for that location.
  • Neighborhood/city blog posts – Write blog content highlighting insights and local expertise about specific areas within your city.
  • Highlight local expertise – Demonstrate your familiarity with the community through content presented from a local perspective.
  • Share community knowledge – Blog about involvement in local happenings, events, and organizations to establish local credibility.

Well-optimized local content boosts relevance for searchers seeking information on that geographic area.

Social Media for Local Businesses

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  • Geo-targeted pages – Create social media profiles/pages with your specific city, neighborhood or district called out in the name/handle.
  • Promote specials – Post updates about location-specific specials, sales, and promotions for local followers.
  • Engage followers – Interact with local social followers to nurture community and relationships.
  • Contests/giveaways – Run social contests for location-based prizes or discounts to drive engagement.

Social platforms are useful for reaching and networking with hyperlocal customers

Leveraging Local PPC Ads to Drive Conversions

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Pay-per-click (PPC) ads present a powerful way to geo-target potential customers searching for products or services in your area. Combining location-based PPC with broader organic local SEO efforts can significantly boost website traffic, leads, and conversions.

Local PPC Ads on Google

Google Ads excels when it comes to location targeting options and reach. Focus ad creation on standing out in search and delivering a highly localized message.

Key Optimization Tips

Location Targeting

  • Target a service radius around your city, neighborhood, or headquarters using location options in campaign settings.
  • Layer on more precise geographic targeting like city name, zip code, address, etc to hone your audience.
  • Only show ads to users physically in your target locations using location options and device location targeting.

Location Keywords

  • Research relevant geo-targeted keywords using Google Keyword Planner and integrate them into ad groups.
  • Include keywords with city, neighborhood, street names, and nearby landmarks.
  • Bid higher on hyperlocal keywords that indicate immediate buyer intent.

Ad Copy

  • Highlight your proximity and local expertise in succinct, engaging ad copy.
  • For example: “Car dealership 5 minutes from downtown Austin. New and used vehicles available now.”
  • List your exact address, neighborhood, cross streets to establish location.

Landing Pages

  • Send traffic to locally-focused landing pages with city-specific info, contacts, and special offers.
  • Dynamic keyword insertion populates pages with ad-served location keywords.

Location Extensions

Enhance ads with extensions that display your address, phone number, and map snippet to nearby searchers. Configured at the account, campaign, or ad group level based on your priorities.

Harnessing Local Facebook Ads

With over 85% of SMBs on Facebook, it’s a key platform for reaching local customers. Like Google, customizable location targeting gets your ads in front of the right nearby audience.

Location Targeting Options

Cities, ZIPs, and Miles

  • Target specific cities, ZIP codes, and create custom radiuses around your business locations.

Geofences and Businesses

  • Draw digital boundaries around key neighborhoods, commercial districts, competitors, or other POIs.

Localized Audiences

  • Tailor audiences by location, language, workplace, school, mobile device location and other signals.

Creative Best Practices

Attention-Grabbing Imagery

  • Photos, videos, carousels, and visuals related to your local area help draw attention.

Location Mentions

  • Include your business name, city, neighborhood, cross streets prominently in ad headlines and body text.

CTAs with Purpose

  • Drive conversions by promoting limited-time specials, discounts, local events or calls-to-action relevant to nearby audiences.

Tracking and Optimizing Local PPC Performance

Monitor key metrics to continually refine and improve local PPC strategies:

Conversion Tracking

  • Install tracking pixels, tags, or snippets on website to measure actions taken after ad clicks.

Location Performance

  • Segment reporting to analyze conversion rates, CTRs, etc for each target location. Identify best areas.

Landing Page Effectiveness

  • Track bounce rates, time on site, and conversions by landing page to optimized locally focused pages.

Keyword Analysis

  • Evaluate search term performance to double down on winning location-based keywords.

Device Insights

  • Monitor mobile vs desktop performance and tweak campaigns accordingly. Over 60% of local searches are mobile.

Campaign Changes

  • Make data-driven tweaks to location targeting, bids, budget, extensions, creatives, and landing pages to incrementally boost conversions.
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Securing links from locally relevant websites helps strengthen your website’s authority and ranking potential for geo-targeted keywords.

Directory Listings and Citation Sources

  • Claim and optimize your listings on directories like Yelp, YellowPages, Foursquare.
  • Aggregator sites like Acxiom and InfoGroup compile citation sources, so focus on consistently claiming and updating your NAP (name, address, phone number) data across top aggregator databases.
  • Categorize and optimize listings for maximum visibility.
  • Identify local businesses, nonprofits, chambers of commerce etc. where you may be able to contribute content or partner in exchange for a backlink.
  • Guest blog posts on sites with high domain authority and relevance provides value.
  • If mentioning/promoting local partners, request a reciprocal link back to your website.

Guest Posts on Local Blogs

  • Find locally focused blogs that accept guest contributions related to your industry.
  • Pitch relevant ideas and secure backlinks within your author bio.
  • Prioritize blogs with strong traffic and engagement from your target geography.

Local Event/Team Sponsorships

  • Sponsor relevant local events or sports teams and negotiate a sponsor link as part of the package.
  • Get involved with the Chamber of Commerce and secure a link to their membership directory.
  • Donate to local charities that may provide a link on their supporter’s page.

Building quality backlinks from trusted sites related to your geographic service area helps boost local SEO authority.

Generating Local Reviews

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Positive local reviews are crucial for reputation management and establishing trust and social proof in local search results.

Key Review Platforms

  • Google My Business – Critical for ranking in local pack, enable review collection.
  • Facebook – Request reviews from fans of your business page.
  • Yelp – Actively claim and update your free Yelp for Business account and listings.
  • Industry sites – Relevant third-party review sites in your category like health, auto, home services.

Encouraging Customer Reviews

  • Email and text campaigns requesting feedback from customers. Time requests based on service completion.
  • Print/verbal review requests at point of sale. Provide instructions for leaving reviews online.
  • Offer incentives for leaving reviews like discounts, giveaways, or donations.
  • Respond to reviews showing you value customer opinions and feedback.

Responding Professionally

  • Politely respond to all reviews, both positive and negative.
  • Thank happy customers and offer service recovery for unsatisfied customers.
  • Never argue or act defensively for negative reviews. Be humble, apologize, and aim to make it right.
  • Have a protocol for addressing recurring issues mentioned in reviews.

Steadily generating more positive local reviews builds social proof and reputation for new nearby customers finding your business online.

Analytics & Reporting for Local SEO

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Robust analytics and reporting are crucial for tracking the effectiveness of local SEO efforts and guiding ongoing optimizations.

Website Traffic Analysis

  • Use Google Analytics to monitor website sessions, users, and pages per session from target locations.
  • Track traffic to landing pages optimized for geo-keywords.
  • Filter traffic sources to analyze organic vs. paid.

Local Rank Tracking

  • Use tools like SEMrush, Moz, and BrightLocal to monitor keyword rankings for location-based keywords.
  • Check rankings in Google Maps and local pack in addition to organic results.
  • Set up location-specific projects and reports to customize tracking.

Conversion Rate Tracking

  • Use analytics goals to measure conversions from local traffic like contact form submissions, calls, and bookings.
  • Phone call tracking provides insight into call volume from local organic/paid channels.

SERP Feature Monitoring

  • Monitor impressions and clicks on local packs, map listings, and locator badges.
  • Claim and track analytics for Google Posts and other SERP features.

Optimizing Based on Insights

  • Use reporting dashboards to identify high-performing locations, landing pages, keywords, and content.
  • Double down on strategies driving conversions and leads from local searches.
  • Make data-driven optimizations month-over-month.

Robust analytics, tracking, and reporting reveals local SEO ROI and opportunities to optimize further.

Final Words

Implementing an effective local SEO strategy takes dedication, but the payoff can be huge for businesses dependent on nearby customer traffic. By optimizing each aspect of your online presence for local intent and relevance, you make it easy for nearby searchers to find and choose your business. Invest time into perfecting your local keywords, website content, listings, reviews, link profile, and conversion tracking. The localized approach outlined in this guide will help you stand out from national competitors and chains and cement your business as a known and trusted community resource. With a thoughtful strategy tailored for your specific products, services and geographic area, your local SEO success is within reach.

The key points summarized:

  • Local SEO takes work but drives results
  • Must optimize all aspects for local intent
  • Makes you easy to find for nearby customers
  • Outlines strategies to out-perform national competitors
  • Importance of targeted local keywords, content, listings, links, reviews
  • Conversion tracking enables data-driven optimization
  • Following an approach tailored to your business and location is key
  • With the right strategy, local SEO success is achievable
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