Optimizing a website for local search results is a top priority for any business.
Not only does it improve your ranking on search engines, but it can also bring in more customers. Our 2017 Local Search Report showed that 35 percent of all search traffic is local.
Within that group, 53 percent of customers will convert within the next 48 hours of a search.
The process could take some time and it can be intimidating, but you can reap its benefits in the long run. Here are a few tips to get you started on the optimization process.
Local Search Tips
- Take Advantage of Citations
- Spruce Up Your Google My Business Page
- Better, Longer, and More Reviews
- Create an Internal Linking Structure
- Create Schema Markup
- Build a Mobile-Friendly Site
- Optimize Existing Pages
- Spread the Word
Take Advantage of Citations
Chances are that your business is listed across multiple sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Foursquare.
It’s vital that the information on those pages, such as the business name, address, and phone number (NAP), are correct.
Google uses these citations to ensure a business’ authority on the Web, and inaccurate listings can reduce your online presence and even lower your rankings.
You can correct each listing manually, but that could take some time. Fortunately, there are some citation tools that can get the job done.
Spruce Up Your Google My Business Page
One of the most important directories for business listings is Google My Business (GMB). If done correctly, a fully optimized Google My Business page can bring a surge of exposure. There’s even a chance that a business can end up as one of the top three listings, a.k.a. the “local pack.”
To reach that digital mountaintop you’ll need to provide as much information as possible. In addition to NAP data you should also add the following:
- Hours of operation
- Price range
- Website link
- A brief description
Reviews on GMB are also a factor for overall exposure. Make sure you ask customers to leave ratings and feedback on the page. If you’re not on GMB, check out our guide on claiming a page for your business.
Better, Longer, and More Reviews
Reviews tell Google that people actually visited your business, but they’re even more important for prospective customers.
In fact, 90 percent of customers are influenced by reviews.
Specifically, customers are attracted to high ratings and reviews with plenty of text. Research shows that 80 percent of customers only trust 4-, 4.5-, and 5-star ratings. Another study reveals that 800 words of review text is considered fresh content on a web page, which search engines will reward with higher rankings on the results page.
Create an Internal Linking Structure
Internal links make it easier for users and Google to find the pages you want to rank on the results page.
Links a core part of traditional SEO as well as local SEO.
When creating a local strategy ask yourself how many clicks it takes for someone to get from your homepage to a page about one of your locations or a blog post that targets a local keyword (e.g., “Burgers in Atlanta”).
Ideally, users should be able to find one of your local pages in two or three links, and it shouldn’t take more than four.
By adding internal links and structure the site, you make it easy to find the pages you’re targeting. You can also create a hub page that list all your restaurants, offices, or locations. Create a link to that page in your navigation or footer to make sure that the user is never more than a click away from finding a location.
Create Schema Markup
A back-end solution for improving local search is implementing schema markup code. This is inserted into the site’s HTML code, and it provides more information to search engines.
Schema can be optimized for local search by adding your contact information, marking up any events, and generally helping get you indexed in more search results.
If you collect reviews directly from your customers you can add schema markup to these reviews when you embed them on a location page.
If you already have schema markup in your code, you can use Google’s Structured Data Tool to check for warnings and errors.
If you don’t know how to implement code, there’s no need to worry. Once again, Google comes to the rescue with its Structured Data Markup Helper. Follow the steps on the page, and you’ll have optimized markup code in a few minutes.
Build a Mobile-Friendly Site
It seems like an obvious tip, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Smartphones changed the mobile landscape, and now most people have a small computer inside their pockets. Businesses need to take advantage of the situation and create sites that can cater to the mobile audience
Don’t believe us? Look at the data.
Our survey showed that 57 percent of all local searches are done on mobile devices. A large group within this statistic are millennials who are 50 percent more likely to make searches on the go and are twice as likely to search for a business to visit immediately.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, rectify that problem immediately. You are missing out on a large group of potential customers.
Optimize Existing Pages
Website presentation is crucial for success, especially for businesses ranking in local search. The best place to start for site presentation is with updating each page’s title and meta description.
These elements appear in search results and serve as a sneak preview of your content so they need to be unique and compelling to attract customers.
Another way to improve your pages is by adding some location information in the title and description. This is helpful for those who are searching for businesses in your area.
If you have multiple locations, make sure that they each have their own landing pages. Not only does this help the customer experience, but it also tells Google to rank the business in multiple locations, which further increases your online visibility.
Other must-have elements on the site are pictures. Our local search survey showed that people care most about profile photos when searching for local businesses.
Spread the Word
Local search requires local outreach, and it’s important to get the word out about your business to anyone who will listen. This is especially true when talking with local media.
Try to get some exposure for your business. Talk about your prices and offerings, and show them how you are different from the competition. If journalists are writing a story that ranks businesses in the area try to get on that list, preferably in the top spot.
With any luck, enough people will see the rankings and look for your business on Google, which can increase your local search rankings.
Local Search Optimization Gives Businesses an Advantage
The sooner you optimize for local search, the better. Even in this day and age, many businesses are ignoring or are not optimized for local search.
Research shows that 58 percent of businesses don’t optimize for search engine optimization, which means they miss out on new opportunities, customers, and most importantly, revenue.
By optimizing now, you gain a significant step over the competition. You can attract more customers and rise up the search engine rankings.