How to use SEO to boost your local rankings

Tips on local ranking boosters for businesses big or small

16Aug

If you know anything about marketing, you know that SEO optimization is a vital aspect of any comprehensive marketing campaign. However, many businesses and agencies choose to put this focus on a national or even global scale rather than focusing on a more local campaign which can be potentially more effective.

So, with that in mind, what can you do in order to help boost your SEO rankings at a local level? There are a number of both technical and simple methods to achieve this:

Claiming Google My Business

One of the easiest ways to improve your local search quickly is to ensure you have ownership of your local Google My Business. Considered a directory, it will be the first thing many people see when they Google your business name. It’s free and can help you build natural exposure. If you build enough authority you will even appear in the local listings for certain, organic, keywords as well as on the map as a ‘nearby’ business.

Claiming this page is simple and only requires you visiting the page to set up (google.com/business). You will need to go through the subsequent verification process and once completed Google will send you a verification postcard to ensure you have a physical address. A P.O. box or similar will not be accepted, as you need to prove you have a legitimate business address in order to qualify for Google My Business.

Once you have claimed ownership of your listing, you can then move on to optimize it for listing purposes. This includes filling out information such as the business description, working hours, payments, logos and plenty of nice photos of your business. Ultimately, the listing needs to be as informative and attractive as possible for potential customers.

Bing also has a similar set up with Bing Places for Business. Depending on the level of traffic you gain from this source it may or may not be worth your time to complete this also.


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Reviews matter

In the online world reviews matter. One bad review won’t make or break your business, but if they pile up then you could face a loss of business as a result. This is because many people trust an online review in the same way or more than a personal recommendation according to certain surveys.

There are plenty of ways that you can help monitor and prompt the reviews you receive online. It is incredibly important that no matter the review, negative or positive, you respond politely. The way you respond can easily determine the general opinion about your business (especially if you are overly defensive against negative reviews), so it’s important to remain calm and collected for responses.

There is also an indication that highly positive reviews left on your Google My Business page actually affect rankings. A number of good reviews can, ultimately, help place your business on the map for certain valuable keywords. So, it does pay to ensure you have good reviews as it both improves your reputation and Google presence.

Local coverage

One thing that can improve your local rankings quite rapidly is local coverage by reputable news sources. Often, such sites have a high domain authority and pass over a good amount of authority to your own website. Lucrative links such as this tell Google your website is relevant and even newsworthy for your targeted keywords, which then boosts your rankings.

Plenty of people use such strategies on a mass scale with activities such as guest posting. However, targeting high-authority local publications is the best, most legitimate, way to ensure your local rankings improve exponentially.

Structured data markup

Structured data - or schema markup - can be added to important pages on your website in order to provide more information to search engine crawlers. It can provide information such as the products you sell, reviews, services and so on to include whatever relevant.

Astonishingly, only around a third of websites are actually using this tactic in order to improve rankings. As such, it could give your business an edge when it comes to local listings. The fact is that Google encourages this use of markup, so any website that does so is bound to be seen more positively by its crawlers as a result.

This can either be done using coding. Or, if that seems too daunting, there are other tools such as Google’s Data Highlighter which can be used for the same effect.

Ultimately, whether you are commercial property agents or the local dentist, there are plenty of ways that you or an agency can work to build your local rankings. Doing so can certainly give you the edge over many other local businesses, as many will be too focussed on core keywords and not the more localized variants. Narrow your focus and you may find yourself with much more SEO success than ever before.

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