Local SEO has changed a lot over the past year. If you want to succeed in local search, then you will need a coordinated and comprehensive campaign that draws on all of the public knowledge about how Google ranks local businesses. It’s a time consuming task, but the end result is well worth it, because you can come away with a huge advantage over your local rivals. In this post, we will explain the most important elements of local SEO and what you need to do in order to perform well.
The first thing you have to know is that recently, Google changed the way it displays local businesses. Now, a Google search will only have three local businesses as the top suggested links. This is down from the 7 that used to make the cut. The change makes things harder on local businesses because there are now fewer spots that will get awarded to the best sites. On desktop search, you can just scroll down for more options.
For mobile search, however, the three local businesses are the whole first page, so they get a lot more traffic. You cannot afford to slip down into 4th place now, because it will mean a big drop in visitors. Now, of course, not all visitors are customers or become customers, but many of them are.
If you want to know how to get one of those coveted three slots, there are a few factors in play. First, you absolutely must have a consistent NAP– name, address, phone number– for your business stored in multiple locations. If you do, then you will have a higher website authority, because Google will have more confidence in what your business is and what its attributes are. Find as many listings as possible and add your NAP to them. It seems like a very trivial idea, but when Google sees the consistent info all over the Web, it will rank your page higher. Don’t have multiple versions or spellings in your NAP data: keep it simple and obvious.
You can do this by hand, but by now there are actually a lot of programs and sites where you can have them accumulate NAP listings over time. With enough patience, you can have a leg up in SERP rankings. It does take time, though. There are automated tools that will attach your NAP to a list of sites they know without any effort from you. It’s a much faster approach as long as you enter the NAP correctly.
Similarly, you have to get listed on local listings sites. This could be as simple as the businesses page for your local church. Whatever the site is, if it is local to your area you need to be on it. Appearing on those listings is a huge boost to your rankings. You can beat a national chain if they are not on local listings and you are. But you do need to be mindful of the NAP at the same time: the two concepts go hand in hand. When you implement both of them together, you get a big increase in local search traffic, which is a great way to land more sales. Each local customer is also a potential word of mouth reviewer, increasing your presence in the local market even more.
This is especially true when visitors share your site on social media. That could be your key to entering the mainstream for a set of keywords.