By Elin Enrooth
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your online presence to attract traffic from searches in your geographic location. It is critical for small businesses, especially home service providers that provide services to homeowners in a certain area, as local searches account for 46% of all Google searches. However, it has become more competitive to rank by location as more and more businesses recognize the need to optimize for local search.
The Local Pack refers to the search engine results page (SERP) feature that includes a map and three listings related to your query with their NAP data (name, address, phone). The Local Pack appears in almost 30 percent of all first-page SERPs, making it the most frequently-displayed SERP feature.
While your ideal goal should be to rank as high as possible in the Local Pack for your location, it has become more difficult in recent years. Google has slowly taken away prime spots from local businesses on the first page of the SERPs by decreasing the number of results in the Local Pack from seven to three.
The Local Pack appears in the top spot in the SERPs and usually provides the user with all of the information they need, causing users to overlook the organic results below and give the top three businesses all the traffic. So, it’s pretty important to do all you can to compete for a spot in the Local Pack.
Local results are based primarily on the following three factors.
Google uses a combination of all three of these factors to determine a user’s search results. For example, if the Google algorithm determines that a business that’s farther away is more likely to have what the user is looking for, it will rank higher than a business that’s closer to the user’s location.
Location-based SEO, also known as geo-targeting, is critical in order to rank for your geographic location.
A Google Business Profile is a free method for businesses to optimize its SEO strategy and improve its local ranking. Although it’s important for all businesses to have a Google Business Profile, it can be most beneficial for small businesses.
Bing Places for Business is a similar feature on Microsoft’s search engine, Bing. Like Google, business owners can update their information and add photos to enhance their profile. However, unlike Google Business Profile, a Bing Places for Business listing doesn’t include the capability to create posts or manage user’s questions and reviews.
To make it easy for users and search engines to find you, set up your NAP. This stands for name, address, and phone number. This should be included as crawlable HTML text on your site. The most common location for the NAP is in the header or footer.
The NAP should be consistent throughout the web to further verify the information Google has about your business. Users don’t only search for businesses on Google. They also use Facebook, local directories, and other search engines, so the NAP on your site should match what’s on all of these sites as well. Inconsistencies will confuse Google and result in a poor user experience, negatively impacting your ranking.
Each page’s title, meta description, and content should be optimized for the local area. Title and meta description tags are HTML elements that you can customize to reflect the content of your webpage.
The headers in the content of each page should include location keywords, such as the city, state, or neighborhood.
If you have multiple locations and want to rank in each location, create separate local landing pages for each.
A mobile-friendly site will better the user experience and make it easier for users to read reviews, find location information, and contact your business.
Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to determine how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device.
Inbound links present a powerful opportunity to boost your local SEO. Links allow Google to further verify your company’s credibility and help raise your domain authority.
One way to research backlink opportunities is to use the Ahrefs Link Intersect Tool. This is a free tool that will allow you to discover what sites are linking to your competitors and not you. The more credible sites that link to your competitor, the higher they are likely to rank. Use this information to seek credible links for your site as well.
Local websites that link back to your site are some of the best links to earn.
It is crucial to be aware of your competition and know how they’re performing online.
Although SEO is important, the business that ultimately excels at user experience and customer service is likely to always come out on top. This can't be faked with keyword stuffing or other poor SEO tactics.
If you genuinely care about ranking well in your area, consider working with a digital marketing agency.
Ready to chat about what we can do to get your business in the local pack?