— September 16, 2019
Whether you like it or not, the modern digital customer uses search engines to find ‘near me’ products and services. An infographic by Go-Gulf shares that 46 percent of all search queries on Google are local.
For a local business, there could be no better place than the 3 Pack of Google Maps. This is because, a study by Advanced Web Ranking reveals, that the first, second, and third results on Google’s SERP receive around 33 percent, 15 percent and 9 percent of clicks respectively. But, as always, getting on the top of the SERP isn’t a cakewalk.
Local search is a highly competitive field that numerous businesses are trying to excel in. Though there’s no sure-shot method to land up in the Google 3 Pack, the effective strategies shared in this post will turbocharge your local SEO strategy, enabling you to get an edge over your competitors.
1. Pay Attention to Google’s Factors for Local Ranking
The search engine giant, Google, determines the local ranking of a website based on its relevance, proximity, and prominence. So, if you want to rank high in the local search results, your website should be relevant to the search query, located in and around the user, and well-known in your niche (high authority).
If your business doesn’t appear in the local search results it means that you need to optimize your website for local search. Focus on these three major ranking pillars to boost your local business ranking.
Add complete and accurate details of your business to help Google understand your business well, match your listing with the search query, and improve its relevance. Use Google’s markup helper to create structured data markup and highlight relevant data, such as company name, address, contact number, website address, and opening hours.
Effective keyword research can help you get organic audience for your business. Since getting the result from a different city is difficult, you can use these tips to find suitable keywords to be used in your site content.
- Add the ‘near’ parameter in the URL. After the query, enter ‘&near=cityname’ to get results of the target location.
- Get the best location results by using the ‘UULE’ parameter.’
- Target specific GPS coordinates using tools like Valentin App that converts the street address into geo-coordinates and passes them along to Google. The algorithm then geotargets your keywords via GPS coordinates.
Google uses location tracking technology to guess the user’s location based on the IP address or GPS. Besides adding location modifiers to the semantic core, include the name of the city, state, or district and postal code to optimize your website for local search and improve its proximity ranking.
Finally, check the technical condition of your site to enhance its trustworthiness and reputation. Diagnose and prevent SEO issues and take effective steps to improve the site’s speed, crawlability, mobile-friendliness, and security. Pay attention to your site’s inbound link profile. Explore link building opportunities to improve your backlink profile and hence your online reputation. We will learn more about link building later in this post.
2. Create Local Content
One of the most effective local SEO tactics that often gets ignored is creating local content that’s relevant and useful. Here are a few tips for creating kickass content for your local audience.
Have a Location-Specific Landing Page
Customers feel special visiting a website or a blog that speaks to them. Include a region or city-specific landing page to rank higher in the local SERP and boost conversions.
Check out how Indochino, a menswear retailer, has a dedicated location page to boost the UX for their customers and drive organic traffic in a specific city or region.
Address Customer Concerns with FAQs
FAQ pages do an excellent job of addressing all customer concerns in one place, enabling customers to make an informed decision. Bonus – it allows you to improve your SEO by including the relevant keywords, helping you rank higher in the local search engine results listing.
Notice how the Bank of America has a FAQ page for every postal code in the U.S. Even though the questions and content may not be hugely different for each city, it does make the customer feel special.
Lastly, add popular and the most relevant FAQs to your Google My Business page, making your listing stand out and generate more traffic.
Introduce Special Offers for Locals
By offering special discounts to customers in a target location you can make them feel special and give them a reason to try your brand and stay with you. Check out how Walt Disney World (Orlando, FL) gives residents of Florida a strong reason to visit their theme park.
Post Targeted Blog Content
If you have some valuable information to share with your local audience, a blog can work wonders. An active blog can help you engage your audience and improve your local ranking. Further, you can use this platform to share business updates like an inauguration of a new outlet, a special product offer, a new product range, or ‘how-to’ guides that relate to your niche.
Lastly, use your blog to share information about local events using your targeted keywords to boost business visibility in the local area. That way you get to link to other local businesses and influencers and create quality content for your social media page.
3. Update Your Google My Business Page
Google My Business page allows businesses to share critical information, such as business name, address, and phone number (NAP). Further, it allows you to claim your business listing and promote your brand through images and customer reviews.
An updated Google My Business will draw the attention of the target audience, thereby boosting your brand visibility. Make sure your Google My Business page carries accurate information pertaining to your business. Create an impressive business description and incorporate your target keywords naturally. Also, remember to include a few high-quality images of your business, products, and services.
NAP (business name, address, and phone number) is one of the on-page signals Google uses for local listing rankings and local organic rankings. Make sure your NAP is consistent on every website it is listed on.
4. Get Active on Local Listings Sites
Getting listed or cited on community bulletin boards or websites, such as Facebook, Bing Places for Business, Yahoo Local Listing, Yelp, and YP can significantly improve your brand reputation and online visibility. Make sure you include information like business hours, product information, business location, reviews, and directions in these online business listings.
Google trusts businesses with maximum listings. So, stay active on the local listings sites to perform well in local search and get free advertising and exposure for your business.
5. Focus on Link Building
A strong link-building strategy has always been the cornerstone of good SEO. However, did you know that link signals are a critical ranking factor for local search too? Check out the 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors post by Moz for details.
Procuring high-quality links from authority websites can attract relevant traffic and generate leads for your business. Explore link-building opportunities from local business websites, local directories like Yelp, local press, and chambers of commerce.
Thorough competitor research can help you know which sites are linking to your competitors’ site but not to your site. You can use this information to steal your competitor’s links and improve your link profile.
Crawl your competitors’ site for broken links. Tools like Screaming Frog can help you locate your local competitors’ 404 pages and server errors. Filter the relevant broken backlinks linking to a local authority site you are targeting. Create awesome content that can replace that link with yours. Next, inform the authority site owner about the broken link profile and propose replacing it with a link to your post.
Building high-quality backlinks takes time. Be consistent with your link-building strategy and look for opportunities to collaborate with local influencers.
6. Build Social Proof through Reviews
Online reviews boost brand reputation and act as social proof, encouraging potential customers to use your products or services. As you can see in the screenshot shared below, Google reviews and stars are openly displayed on the 3-Pack.
Hence, make sure you ask customers to leave a review for your business. Make it easy for them to review your business. For instance, if you send them an email, include a prominent link or button that takes them to your Google My Business profile, allowing them to leave a review.
Similarly, you can add a QR code on your receipts, business cards, and promotional brochures, allowing users to leave a review for your business.
Finally, manage your negative reviews in prompt and professional manner. Understand the customer’s point of view and get in touch with the customer to resolve the issue. Once you have addressed their concerns, it is always a good idea to respond publicly, acknowledging the customer’s concerns and the steps you have taken to resolve it.
Every business owner desires to improve business visibility and reputation. However, getting to the top in a local search can be an overwhelming task, especially in the competitive and constantly evolving digital landscape.
Use the techniques and strategies shared in this post to rank high in local search and strengthen your reputation.