Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully after reading this article you will know how to rank in local search, or at least have a good understanding of what it will take to have your business website perform well in the organic search results, as well as the maps listings.
Attaining good rankings in local search is pretty straight forward, and if you follow this plan there is no reason you cannot see major improvements in your rankings and traffic.
Before jumping into my local rankings steps, I want to point out that it is crucial to rank for your brand. If you try to start ranking for keywords that are related to your niche and city it will look unnatural and could cause some issues for you, so when implementing any SEO campaign, focus on securing your brand by building out as many social profiles as possible (200-300 is a good number). A great site to use to see what profiles to build is Knowem.com. You can use their list to build out the profiles yourself, or hire them or an SEO company to do it for you.
Another thing you MUST have in place before diving in is claiming your Google My Business Listing. Get your listing claimed and optimized (try to find info to do this yourself or outsource with a reputable SEO company) is crucial. I could write another entire article on optimizing that listing, but I will leave that for another day. Just get it claimed for sure, that is a must.
The being said, it’s time to get to the nuts and bolts regarding how to rank in local search. Here is a bulletproof plan of attack:
Local Directories – Great foundational links you can get pointing to your website will come from local directories. Your local Chamber of Commerce, and the BBB are a great place to start. Yes, these will paid links but they will go a long way and will help establish great trust to your website. Any other local business listing websites will also help tremendously, so locating them and getting a paid listing on those is a good idea. An easy way to find those is to search Google for city + tourism, or city + business listings and see what that turns up. Any local directory that is location specific will definitely help.
Citations – Citations are websites like Yelp, Manta, CitySearch, HotFrog, YP, and many others. These listings are vital to attaining good rankings in local search because they will continue to help establish trust to your website as well as help push your Google My Business listing up in the maps rankings. Win-Win. The links you get from these directories are called “nofollow”, meaning they don’t pas link juice, but they are great links to get from high domain authority sites and are a critical component for ranking success. There is no set number of citations you will need to push your listing up in the maps, some niches are tougher than others. Obviously getting in the top 3 for personal injury attorney in Chicago will be much harder than getting there for plumber in Des Moines. Use a tool that will help identify the top listings citations (like whitespark.ca) and get all of the same ones they have, and then some more. The key thing to understand when building citations is NAP, which stand for Name Address Phone #. On a text doc, copy and paste your NAP info directly from you Google My Business listing and make sure you input it exactly the same across every citation you build. Inconsistent NAP info is a killer in local SEO, so keep that in mind when building these out.
Video – Videos are another great way to get some fast traffic and rankings. Google is the #2 most used search engine in the world, and Google owns them, so creating a strong video presence is a good idea. Optimize your videos by placing your target keyword at the beginning of the title and say it in the video at least once, preferably right at the beginning. At the bottom of the video, place your NAP info and a link back to your website. These are also great links from a site (YouTube.com) that Google loves.
Blog Comments – Blog comments will likely not be enough on their own to get your website ranked, however, if used properly they can be a great way to get some relevant links pointing back to your website. The way to do this is to search Google like so – city and “leave a reply” or niche and “leave a reply” and make some comments on sites that come up. No need to use any keywords, you will get all of the relevance you need from the sites that come up using that search string. Just use your name, and leave a well thought out comment that is something useful the site owner will likely approve.
Press Releases – Used properly, press releases can be a great way to build authority, and diversify your link anchor text. Don’t skimp here, use a reputable site like PRWeb and use their premium press release package.
Reviews – Encourage your customers to leave reviews, especially on your Google listing as well as Facebook, Yelp etc. Reviews are crucial for ranking in the maps, especially in the tough niches so any way you can get people to leave reviews is worth exploring.
Target Long Tails – One thing many businesses do is overlook long tail keywords. They set their sights on the main ones, which happen to be toughest to rank for. Target some longer tail searches that get searched less because they will have less competition, meaning you can get ranked for them with less effort.
Get Social – Use sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn and be active. This is not going to get you ranked on your own but it is a good way to get your business out there. Drop your link to your website often when posting on these sites, it will encourage people to visit your website, and Google loves seeing traffic come in from those big social sites.
Other things you should consider is making sure you have a website that is mobile friendly, and check to see that it loads quickly. Both of these things are definite ranking signals, and are something your web designer should be able to handle.
I realize that this is a lot to take in. I also realize that it is a lot of work, but if you go the extra mile and do these things you will have a fantastic chance to rank really high in local search, and be that business that scoops up all of that traffic coming in from Google searches.
If you think you can take this on yourself you can save thousands of dollars a month that an SEO company would charge you, but I can tell you first hand it is time-consuming and tedious, and very important to get right. If it seems like an overwhelming undertaking, consider hiring a reputable SEO agency to do the work for you so you can focus on running your business.