Local SEO: How to Get to the Top of Local Search Rankings

Want to get your local business to the top of online search results for your specific city or area? In this article, we’ll show you how.

What is local SEO?

Local search engine optimization (SEO) means optimizing your local business’s ranking in search engine results and maps so as to appear higher in the results than your competition.

Google is the largest search engine, with 92 percent of global search queries within the past year and 88 percent of U.S. searches over the past year. It stands to reason, then, that most of your customers will be using Google, and you should keep an eye on their thinking on local SEO.

As a starting point, read Google‘s article, “Improve Your Local Ranking on Google,” which is full of great tips to help your small business rank in Google results.

Here are six things you should start doing now:

  • Get a free Google My Business account to get a Google business listing and begin connecting with customers across Google Search and Google Maps. You can also claim and utilize your business listings on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
  • Make sure your Google My Business profile has complete and accurate information about your business.
  • Verify your location/address.
  • Keep your hours of operation accurate.
  • Manage and respond to reviews — good and bad. There’s no better way to overcome a negative review than by publicly showing that you care and are willing to make things right.
  • Add attractive, high-quality photos of your business, products, and/or services.

How to gain search engine prominence

How does Google determine local ranking? Results come from “relevance, distance, and prominence,” according to Google’s article on local SEO.

“These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search,” the company states. “For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.”

You can’t control relevance (your Italian restaurant won’t rank high in “Chinese restaurant” results) or distance (how far away you are from the person searching). However, you can control your prominence.

“Prominence,” as Google defines it, “refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking.”

Here’s what you should do to control your prominence:

1. Wow your customers

Your top priority is to create an exceptional customer experience. Wow your customers with the quality of your products, services, and customer service. When customers love you, they talk about and recommend you, online and offline. This creates new and repeat customers. It also boosts your SEO because when people talk about your business online, this is known as “citation building.”

They also give you good online ratings. Higher-rated local businesses rank higher in search than lower-rated ones.

2. Blog

If you have a WordPress.com site, you’re probably familiar with pages and posts. Pages are the static content on your site: Home, About, Our Products, etc. You’re naturally limited with how many pages your website has.

However, there are also posts, which are dynamic blog articles. There is no limit to how many blog articles/posts you can create. Each time you create another high-quality, search-engine-optimized blog post around your local business’s primary keywords (example: ice cream in YourTown USA), you improve your local search rankings.

Two articles that can also help you rock your blog strategy are “The right way to get high-quality backlinks for your website” and How to create successful SEO content.”

Now go get started!

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Aaron von Frank

Cofounder and CEO at GrowJourney.com, a USDA certified organic heirloom garden seed subscription service. Writer at TyrantFarms.com, Edible Upcountry Magazine, and other media outlets.

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