8 Tips to Help You Dominate Local SEO and Increase Your Website Traffic
For local businesses, Google can provide a wealth of highly targeted local customers that have a purchase intent. This traffic can be leveraged to make the phones ring off the hook, push foot traffic through a brick and mortar location’s doors, and generate sales and conversions online.
While the technical components of local SEO are constantly changing the end goal remains the same — drive sales and customer acquisition by ranking for highly targeted keywords that have local intent.
It doesn’t do a car dealership located in Dallas, Texas and good to attract Google traffic from Los Angeles, California looking to buy a new car. Throughout the entire Covid-19 deal and the pandemic, we have seen a huge increase in the number of local businesses inquiring about search engine optimization.
A surprisingly large number didn’t know too much about local SEO, aside from the fact that they knew they wanted to be ranked at the top of Google Maps and they wanted to get there as quickly as possible.
As many brick-and-mortar locations were forced to close they turned to online sales in an attempt to keep their business above water. Even many restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms and had to shift their entire focus to online orders.
This made me realize that there is still a big mystery about local SEO and what it takes to rank locally for your desired search terms.
Here is a very simple to digest list of eight local seo tips any local business can implement and see a positive impact on its search engine optimization, leading to improved rankings and increased traffic.
1. Optimize Your Google My Business Description
Your Google My Business listing is how your business is found in the Google Maps results. The algorithm that determines what shows up, when, and in what position uses GMB profile data. It’s free to set up a listing and you more than likely already have a profile.
But, that doesn’t mean that it’s optimized correctly, and the majority of clients we work with don’t have their Google My Business profile optimized properly — at least not for the keywords that are going to help them attract more business.
A car dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina isn’t going to want to focus on the keyword “car dealership” because it’s too broad and doesn’t have any location intent behind it. Instead, they should focus on optimizing the business description for “car dealership in Charlotte” and then work in several long-tail variations like “Chevrolet dealer in Charlotte” or other manufacturer keywords.
It’s also important to include the surrounding area and even work in zip codes, and always experiment with adding additional words and phrases. Often the slightest description change will trigger the biggest push up in the Maps results.
2. Audit Your On-Site SEO for Each Internal Webpage
On-site optimization isn’t the big mystery it was once believed to be. Many simple factors play a big role in how your internal webpages rank. There are many guides, like Moz’s on-site SEO guide, that explains all of the main components, such as page title, URL, headings, alt-image tags, etc.
Some tools can help cross-check the main on-site factors, and if you are using WordPress as your CMS for your blog the Yoast SEO plugin is a great way to easily ensure each page is optimized fully.
It’s easy to do moving forward for each new page you publish on your blog or your main site, like services pages, etc. — but if you have hundreds of older pages it can be exhausting to just think about going back and optimizing each page.
Break it down into several days, and buckle down until it’s done. Imagine if each page you spend just five minutes optimizing attracts a few more visitors each month. Across your entire website, this can be a significant increase in traffic numbers.
3. Interlink Your Blog Content with Individual Location Pages
Internal linking is a very important part of SEO, as it helps Google understand your website better, and without getting too technical it can help push your pages up — by all working together.
I always suggest local businesses use a silo approach, by creating one main page for the topic and then several pages for each sub-topic — interlinking each. For example, a local landscaping business might have a page dedicated to “landscaping services in Los Angeles” and “landscaping services in Calabasas” — two local areas they serve.
They would then created pages bases on the Los Angeles main page and interlink them. An example of this would be:
They would then create the same pages for the Calabasas area, with different content, but targeting the same keywords, and interlinking those pages to the main “landscaping services in Calabasas” page.
Over time, this strategy helps to push all of the pages up in the SERPs, and as the website’s authority increases so does each page’s exposure in the organic search results. This strategy applies to every business, not just service providers.
A local sportswear store can use the same approach and publish location-specific pages for every category they sell. For example, if they serve a local radius consisting of ten towns they would want to create ten pages for each.
Let’s look at an example of how they would target the main keyword “men’s running sneakers” for each of the ten areas:
It’s that simple — the reason most don’t do this is because of the time and organizational effort required. If you want to truly excel at local SEO you cannot be lazy. It’s as simple as that.
4. Set Up Search Console to Monitor for Mobile Errors
Google puts a lot of weight on mobile results, especially when it comes to local results. Why? Because a large number of searches that display local-intent are performed on mobile devices. Someone might be out running errands and they need to find a local store that has a particular item — so they turn to their mobile device.
If someone is driving and wants to find the closest pizza place they use their mobile phone. Website speed is important and so is a mobile-responsive design, but those two things are common knowledge. Honestly, if your website isn’t responsive you are behind several years.
There are more factors than just being fluid and responsive — and Google Search Console is an easy and free way to make sure you are alerted if and when Google detects an issue with the mobile-friendliness of your website.
If it finds a problem you are alerted right away, giving you time to correct the problem before it hurts your rankings or visibility. Sometimes it is something as simple as a font being too small, or a button being too close to another option.
Simply having a responsive theme and layout isn’t always a guarantee there will never be usability issues. I’ve seen third-party plugins cause issues and eventually penalize a website, so don’t take any chances. It takes less than a minute to verify your website and connect it to Search Console.
Make sure your alerts are set to email notifications. Anytime there is a mobile issue address it right away.
5. Build High-Quality Directory Links
For a time there were a lot of low-quality directories popping up. Most of them were built by SEOs strictly for link building purposes. They didn’t receive traffic and they weren’t actual business directories that consumers used to find local businesses.
Google soon caught on and devalued these links and issued several penalties to sites that were using these directory networks. These still exist and many Fiverr gigs sell them — thousands of business directory links for $5. They are dangerous and this caused a lot of people to shy away from directory links altogether.
Not all are bad though, and you should always try to get links from the best directories that are nationwide and broad, meaning they accept all businesses, as well as niche-specific directories. For example, a local fishing charter business might be able to score some links from organizations that list registered and licensed fishing charter captains.
From painting and contractor directories to medical directories — there are some available for every business industry imaginable. Go after as many quality ones you can identify. There are also some paid ones, like the Better Business Bureau, that not only get you a nice authority link but can also be leveraged to build trust and credibility.
6. Publish Local Long-Tail Content
I often hear local business owners tell me that there aren’t a lot of keywords with high search volume for them to create content around. This is an excuse, and if you think outside the box you can attract a lot of traffic that will be introduced to your business for the first time.
Creativity is important. Let’s take a local restaurant in a small town for example. If they only target keywords and long-tail versions of “restaurant in [town]” the amount of organic traffic they attract is going to be minimal. Instead, publish long-tail blog content targeting keywords such as:
These are just a few examples of search terms that can introduce people to your restaurant that have a high likelihood of being interested in giving your place a try in the not so distant future.
I’ve seen some of the best local SEO content strategies structured this way, as they create somewhat of a local guide. By providing helpful information that person makes a mental note of the business and it’s the first thing that comes to their mind when they require what you offer. It’s so simple, yet highly effective.
This is also easy content for a local business to write in-house, and if the content budget is tight, this is something that can be done just with some local knowledge. Again, you either do it or make excuses — nothing is stopping you from creating a lot of long-tail content using this strategy.
7. Build High Authority Links to Your Most Profitable Internal Pages
I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll more than likely say it several million more throughout my SEO career — links are the number one signal in Google’s algorithm. If you want to rank, you have to build links.
Local SEO content tends to rank high with perfect on-site optimization and a handful of authority links. It’s important to prioritize what pages you want to build links pointing to based on how profitable they are.
Don’t just base your link building on search volume. One of your internal pages might be optimized for a keyword with 3,200 monthly searches but it converts poorly. On the other hand, you might have a page optimized for a search term with 320 monthly searches but it converts higher than any other page. This would be the page you want to build links to and push it to the top of the SERPs.
It’s important to track as much data as possible, and Google Analytics is a great way to see what pages generate the most conversions, whether it’s leads or direct purchases. Numbers don’t lie — channel your link building efforts to the pages that make your business the most money.
8. Audit Your NAP Across The Internet
Google pulls from its directory, which is why your Google My Business profile must be 100% accurate, but it also scans the top directories, which is why you need to routinely audit your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) across the internet.
Some businesses can handle this manually, while others with a lot of citations or multiple locations, can benefit by using a tool. Moz Local and Bright Local are two decent options. They will show you where there are discrepancies, allowing you to fix them and create a consistent NAP throughout cyberspace.
Using one of those tools is also a simple way to find new listings that you can build, helping you to earn more links. Remember, consistency is key, down to the smallest of details. For example, if your address is “Suite 500” make sure that is how you enter it on every listing. Abbreviations like “Ste. 500” or “#500” can hurt you. Stick to one format everywhere.
Local SEO doesn’t have to be confusing. For many local businesses, especially those in small markets or industries with low competition, the list of tips above can help position them at the top of the local SERPs.
When you push the industry jargon aside and explain everything in a way that the average business owner can understand it becomes clear that local SEO is more technical and calculated than secret tactics like some try to make you believe.
Do you have any questions after reading these tips that you need clarification on? Drop your questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them and help you better understand local SEO.