Grow Your Local Business – Local SEO Guide

by | May 3, 2020

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Local SEO Guide

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the process of optimizing your possessed properties to gain traffic from location-based searching. The lightning growth of mobile internet users has made local optimization a vital focus for a variety of businesses, most important for businesses with brick and mortar stores. It is estimated that 43% of all Google, 25% of all Bing, and 25% of all Yahoo searches are location-oriented.

In the search engine, there are three types of non-paid local results for mobile and desktop searchers. They are localized organic, pack/carousel, and maps. Localized organic searches are the traditional organic search result for keywords that contain geographic modifiers. The pack refers to the portion of the search results that are strictly for local searches.

The pack (Carousel) is a separate set of listing that call out specific points on the map contained within the search result page. The map part refers to searches generated through Google/Bing maps. Below are the diagram outlining the differences.

google organic and ads pack

If you want to rank your business on the local listing as given in the above image. The first thing you need to do is to claim your business on Google My Business.

Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.

    • You can manage how your business information should appear across Google, including Search and Maps, using it free.
    • Interact with your customers (New or Old) and tell them your journey/story of your business.

Benefits of Google Business Profile

Manage your information

You can manage your information about how you want to display to visitors when they search for relevant services or products you offer. The consumers consider a business, which has verified the information by Google Business Profile, as a reputable service provider. When people look for your business on Google Maps and Search, make sure that you give them access to information like hours, website and street address and contact no.

Interact With Your Customers

You can read and reply to reviews from your customers, and upload photos that you want to show to the viewers. Business owners who add photos to their listing receive 42% more requests and turn up to directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks through to their website than businesses that don’t.

Understand and Expand Your Services

You can access insights, where you can get all the details of customer’s behavior, customer’s location. You can also see details on how many people called your business directly from the contact number given on local search results. When all set, seamlessly create and track the performance of Ads Express campaign to spread the word about your work. It is easy to start and FREE! to use.

Local SEO will be helpful for:-

Organic search results are a tough place to fight for top ranking. What about local search results?

Trust me even harder.

Besides traditional SEO, there are various local SEO ranking factors, which small businesses and even larger franchises have to worry about when jockeying for the top positions for localized keywords.

These factors include:

  • Google Business Profile – category, keywords, location, etc.
  • Mobile Signals – mobile-friendly site, clicks, check-ins
  • On-page optimization – title tags, meta descriptions, NAP, content
  • Link building – trust flow, authority, amount of links linking to
  • Off-page local signals – citations, listings,
  • Reviews – quantity, quality, source strength, variety
  • Social signals – localized Facebook profiles, Twitter and Instagram accounts, etc.
  • Personalization – your search history, likes, previous reviews, etc.

In a nutshell, Google has compartmentalized these into three main local ranking factors:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

Why does a local business need SEO? Local SEO is helpful for small business, which helps to develop quick, robust, and user-friendly website that rank higher on search engines, which also drives traffics to the website and convert them into a potential customer, which eventually increases conversion rates. SEO helps small business to build brand awareness as search engine users are more likely to trust a site that is on the first page of search engine result pages (SERPs) than brands which are not.

If you own a small business, you should utilize SEO to build a strong web presence and bypass your competition to gain new customers for your business and take it to the next level. Regardless of what type of business you run, for instance, it’s a law firm you wish to take to the next level, SEO is one of the best marketing strategies that will help you dominate your law firm’s marketplace.

Here are some businesses that can be beneficial from local SEO:

Cafes and Restaurants: Local map listing and reviews by the customers benefit this type of business. Nowadays people are too much dependent on the internet whenever they want to search for a service, they Google it. If they want to explore food from a new restaurant or cafe, they look for reviews on Google. People have turned to the internet to find the best local businesses and local deals. So, if you run this type of business then, get yourself registered on Google and become a trusted service provider and attract hundreds of new customers.

Beauty Parlors: This one is very simple. People search for terms using keywords like best+beauty+parlors+location/area+near+me. These keywords attract Google attention, especially when it’s the wedding season. Therefore, if you own this business you can be on top results if you register on Google.

Repair Shops: Repair shops have many more benefits from Local SEO because of people lookup for services like repair+shop+near me. Local SEO can boost your ranking and business especially when you have your YouTube channel on ‘How to’ tutorials. Because people might be in the middle of the highway, where nothing is available. They might get benefit from your tutorial and if they get successful, there is a chance for them to land upon your physical store.

And many more…

What are Local Map Citations?

A local citation is an online reference to your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). Citations occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms. Citations help Internet users to discover local businesses and can affect local search engine rankings. Local businesses can actively manage many citations to ensure data accuracy.

A partial citation is one that includes only a part of NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) – maybe your name and address or name and phone number. This is better than nothing, but not beneficial as much as full citations. A full citation is one, which includes your business’s complete NAP. It does not matter that the information is listed horizontally or vertically. Below there is an example of the full citation.

Eg: 55 Village Center Place L4Z 1V9 Mississauga, Ontario (+1 833-815-2505)

Citations to help your local SEO strategy, it is important that it exactly matches the NAP on your website and on your Google My Business page. Which format do you choose does not matter but selecting one and sticking to it matters. You should have a 100% address match. You need to be 100% consistent in the name (abbreviations? Ltd?), address (plot no, floor?), and contact number (space, or no space) used when building citations.

Why are Citations Important?

Here are some of the reasons to describe why citations are important.

Validation: Citations show validity, which is the number one reason why Google’s algorithm considers them. Otherwise, anyone can put up a website and say they have mastery in a particular niche, but a citation can prove to search engines that the company is actually something of value.

Community: It shows that you are a part of a community, which will hugely improve your local search engine rankings. In this sense, you are validating to Google that you are real because it is difficult to pretend to be in a local paper. So not only is this just another stem of showing validation, but it is a way to get your name out there to your community, which is appreciated by Google.

Smaller Niches: Citations work great for businesses in a smaller niche that might not have a website. Which is becoming less and less common these days, but small business in small towns are sometimes still in the dark about Google. Citations are trusted heavily in these situations because Google knows it is all they can find.

Strengthens consistency: As many times Google sees your business is consistent online, the better. Phone numbers are changing at some intervals of days. Therefore, citations are a great way to prove that you are a solid company (and if users like this, Google likes this).

Finding your citation is not easy always, but keeping track is a good idea. Set up a Google alert for your company so that every time your company is mentioned online you will get an email. When it comes to directories and yellow pages, just search for your business name and check all the info given is appropriate or not.

Components of Local citations

The main components of a citation are the company name, address, and phone number (NAP) as already mentioned above. However, it could also include a link to the landing page of the company. Additionally, a citation may incorporate some or all of the following elements:

  • Business categories
  • Hours of operation
  • Business description
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Taglines
  • Alternate phone numbers
  • Fax numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Geo-coordinates
  • Reviews
  • Owner responses
  • Attributes
  • Driving directions
  • Payment forms accepted
  • Links to social and other forms of media

On-Page SEO

Onpage SEO features

If you search for “on-page SEO” on Google, Moz will tell you through a featured snippet- it is “the practice of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and to drive more traffic through the search engine. On-page refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized, as opposed to off-page SEO which refers to links and other external signals.”

It takes into account all aspects of the webpage when added together, will improve your ranking in the search list. Google becomes more sophisticated, relevance is one of the major factors influencing on-page optimization. Is your page relevant to the query? That the way you need to think when you are developing a page.

Make sure you think and work to benefit your end-user. You have max of 9-10 seconds to impress the visitor, so he interacts with your website. The longer the interaction, engagement, and user stay time, the better their experience.

If you put your efforts into these strategies, you will notice a boost in traffic as well as a rise in search presence. Once everything is clear to you about how it goes into your on-page SEO efforts, conduct an analysis of your site to see how the anatomy of your page is performing.

1. Meta Tags

The most important aspect of an on-page SEO effort is the implementation of tags. Some are not useful to SEO as they once were, but if written and utilized optimally, will improve your traffic.

Meta tags are used to provide a search engine with the information on your page. To gain a high ranking, it has to do with relevance and user satisfaction, but including custom Meta tags will influence the users to increase your click-through rate.

2. Title Tags

The title tag outlines what the page is about. When ranking web pages for particular queries, Google looks at the title tag and compares that to the rest of the content on the page.

There are many tags on your page. The most important is your title tag. The title is the thing user see in the search engine for both organic results and paid ads, and the keywords that appear at the top of each tab in the browser.

The title tag outlines what is the page about. When page rank is done for particular keywords, Google looks at the title tag and compares that to the rest of the content on the page.

Here is an example: If you are working in HTML, the code for the title tag looks like this:

<title>Grow Your Local Business – Local SEO Guide </title>

Still, the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast allows you to create a custom title tag within the platform. Keep your title tags descriptive and short. Recently Google increased the character limit to 70. Best practice will make you ensure you stay below the character limit, so your title can be displayed properly. You can also use Snippet Optimizer to simulate how your title and Meta description will appear in SERPs.

Use a title tag to stand out from your contender, appealing to your visitors. Make sure all relevant information is included, including keywords and location for your business. It is recommended that you use core keywords in the title. Google is shifting toward relevance and semantics in the results. Users first see the title, descriptions then click to find the best answers.

3. Meta Description

The meta description displays what the user will able to read on the page. While it is not a direct ranking factor. The search engine reads the meta description to decide the page title and the viewers that will find value.

An appealing description can bring out competitive merits in the search results, creating a higher click-through rate with a greater chance of a conversion. While there is a chance that Google will neglect the custom description and pull an excerpt of the content on the page, it is recommended that you fill in the meta description for every page of your site.

I came across the best way to check which page is missing a meta description to run your website through Screaming Frog SEO Spider. It shows you every URL under your domain, the meta description, & its length.

In 2016 Google increased the length of description for both mobile and desktop and mobile. Now for desktop, users will see up to 200 characters; while on mobile, they will show up to 172 characters. The users are recommended to keep your description between 165 and 175 characters.

Brief it clearly, what visitors will find on the page. Add your brand; use various synonyms and other terms that will make it simpler for the readers. It is the first interaction for many visitors with your brand. So make it welcoming.

To get good results and steady traffic to your site, it starts with your title and meta tags. Once you start getting clicks, it is on your user experience and quality content to maintain engagement.

4. Heading Tags

Your landing page or blog should have multiple head tags, from h1 down to h6. The most important among all is the h1 heading tag. You should never keep more than one h1 tag on any of the pages. Add multiple h2’s or h3 tag as users scrolls down the page. These are used as subheadings.

Use the headings to show the different sections of the page. You will see the impact from both sides, an SEO standpoint, and a usability standpoint.

5. Internal Links

Internal Links are the hyperlinks that point at (target) the same domain as the domain that the link exists on (source). In layman’s terms, an internal link is one that points to another page on the same website.

Eg: <a href=”” title=”Keyword Text”>Keyword Text</a>

In order to find all internal links on your website, you can use automated tools. For example, one such  tool is Link Extractor by Sitechecker.

6. Content

Content is considered the king of digital marketing. In addition, content determines the business social media users and followers choose to associate with, how visitors engage with your website, and for which keyword search engine find your site relevant.

If you are like similar small business owners, you might have no issue in talking to friends, relatives, customers, etc. about your business.

It’s tough to manage some time to write about your business. It can be a bit difficult to get the ideal words to describe your business that the readers find catchy.

Why Local Link Building is important?

Let’s face the fact: Local link building is difficult. Even if you have the budget and resources needed to earn or build links it will take time. Having a strong link profile is essential to your website’s success in search engines.

You might have heard before that a good link-building campaign is good for SEO, but how does it benefit your SEO efforts? Let’s talk about why link building is important.

Do you know why link building is necessary?

The straight and short answer is to get links to your site from other sites is good for SEO. However, the depth answer is more complicated. Section of Google’s algorithm takes into account PageRank, a system of points awarded to links on the website that link back to your site. Each page, which indexed by Google, is given a score from 0-10, based on their authority.

You can check your PageRank on the website given below, for FREE!

Example: PageRank Checker

Alexa page rank checker

Do you know what a good link is for SEO?  That is a difficult one, as Google claims that different links have different points of attribution. These are two types of links, dofollow and nofollow. Apparently, as the name itself says nofollow, these are not good for SEO, but they are great for marketing in creating brand awareness and site traffic.

The nofollow-dofollow distinction occurs in the HTML of links that are on websites. In the rel= ‘_’ section of the HTML, sites either include rel=nofollow, rel=dofollow, or they do not include anything (which is the same as “rel=dofollow”). Nofollow links are not ‘followed’ by Google, meaning that they are not indexed, and therefore don’t have as much of a point value associated with them.

It’s still not known for sure how Google actually treats nofollow links, but they do offer some benefit to SEO as well as offering larger non-SEO benefits such as brand awareness, site traffic, and general marketing.

Basically, link building is a process of networking with the rest of the internet. For SEO, you need to get as many dofollow links as you can, with a mixture of nofollow in there just to be safe. In return, it will increase your value in Google’s search algorithm, increase your rank in Google search, and ultimately leading to more business from the web. There are many more ways through which you can get these links, from guest blogging to link exchange.

Once you understand what good links are, you can start with the link building for local SEO.

Here are 3 steps to get pointed in the right direction.

Get contest nomination Links:

The first strategy that can be applied is to get links from local organizations that run contests or give out awards. For instance, your local Chamber of Commerce probably has some sort of annual “Best of” prize that notices growing businesses in the business community.

If you get nominated or you happen to get an award from one of these groups, you can be benefited from two accounts. Firstly, you will get brand visibility for the audience. Secondly, you will also get valuable backlinks that have a hold-in local search.

If you want to find some opportunities in your area, try conducting searches for things like, “Nominate a business” + (city name), etc. these awards have a form that you can fill up.

Get Locally Involved:

This strategy is a bit time consuming than the others, but the ending would be significant. Because so much of local SEO is natural, you cannot expect to gain links without doing something in return. One of the best tactics is to get involved with your local community and build offline relations. Once you have done this you will automatically start creating local links as businesses recognize your involvement.

Some effective ways to get involved in is to host or sponsoring local charity events, making a group of your business, interviewing important members of the community, relationships with the journalists, discount services, etc.

Create Controversy:

Being a business owner, have you ever given up on how to please people?

This is often what drives your decisions. After all, you want to make your brand popular among the people. This is not practical in the long-term, though. It is practically not possible to please 100 percent of people 100 percent of the time. Creating a small controversy will help you to build links.

Let’s see how it works. Look for a hot topic in which the market believes in and involves. If you get in deep enough, people will start noticing you. This will eventually open up chances for you to speak with the media for local stories. Once your story is in a local publication, you can try to pitch the idea to an even larger source. Now onwards natural links will start to feed off each other.

Start Today, enjoy the Rewards Tomorrow:

Link building is not a piece of cake. It takes hard work, patience, trial, and errors. If you are not willing to endure the work that comes along with link building, you can never succeed. However, if you understand that local link building is a process and that you will not see instant results, you will eventually find success. Start today using previously mentioned tips and you will reap a healthy harvest in the months and years to come.

What is the importance of reviews in local SEO?

Reviews play an important role on the web now, and very essential for online retailers. They are also important for local businesses, whether they sell their products online or not, thanks to their sheer prominence in local search results.

Just look at this mobile search for cafes in California. The cafes with good reviews take the best organic listings:

importance of reviews in local SEO

Next, are the organic results these are mainly from review sites- Yelp, TripAdvisor, Time Out, Zagat, and so on. Very few cafe sites make it onto the first SERP. While not every local search is exactly like this, the trend is clear.

Certainly, Google Business Profile listings are so dominant that many users will not even look at the other organic results. All in all, if you want to gain a catchy position in the local SERPs, you need user reviews. If you want to click rates or physical visits, you need good reviews.

Do You Know Why Review Works?

To encapsulate, it is the power of social proof. People need assurance and confirmation that their actions are the right ones.

Therefore, when people think to buy a smartphone, they visit and see the average ratings or reviews, which gives them an extra push to purchase. There are so many stats around reviews, which I could pluck almost any number out to show how many read them before buying, how they are trusted more than other sources, and so on.

The bottom line is that they are used a lot, and relied upon by many web users.

This image is from BrightLocal’s local consumer review survey, which is relevant to this article. 88% read reviews to determine the quality of a local business.

online reviews to determine business

Which review source is important for local SEO?

There are many review sources that Google can use, or which play a role in local search visibility.

While Google review is the most important but it does not mean you avoid other review sites. To combine, they generate signals and links that tell Google about the relevance of your business, as well as increase your search visibility. Reviews on multiple sites also backups the information on Google reviews. This shows users as well as Google that you have not just been targeting reviews, but you own a business, which users love.

If we look below the fold on the results for ‘California cafes’ then we can see that the Google reviews were no fluke.

google reviews

How To Get Reviews?

Well, one thing you can do is just sit and wait for the sheer brilliance of your business or product to drive people to leave glowing reviews, but let’s be advance than that.

  • Never fake it
  • Ask customers when they are in your business
  • Email to ask for reviews
  • Use your social channels
  • Respond to negative reviews
  • The most important: Setup a review-landing page.

Can you visualize doing SEO manually? No? We cannot either!

It’s virtually impossible to do any SEO task without the help of a tool. However, with the lots of choices available in the market, how do you know what tool is best for which SEO task? Branding Marketing Agency’s brand new eBook, Essential Tools for SEO, covers the most valuable SEO tools that you should use them. This SEO tool book will be beneficial to rank your business in a prominent position. Go and grab yours because it is totally FREE!

This guide includes information about how much each tool costs, key features, and tips.


Now that you have a better grasp of how Local SEO influences consumer decisions. Implement the local search tactics given above it will help you to get a head start on your competition.

Get started today!

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