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Do you want to maximize your business’s success in local search?

Over the last decade, search engines have been placing emphasis on location when delivering search results to internet users. This development is courtesy of the increasing number of location-based searches. 

As a result, Local SEO became a thing. And today, it can make or break your business considering that many people search for local businesses online before they engage with them.

So in this article, we talk about the most important local SEO ranking factors that small businesses should consider.

1. Google My Business.

Currently, GMB is the single most important asset for small businesses across the globe. It acts as the gateway for customers to find local products and services. And considering most of us search online before making a purchase, GMB presents the best opportunity to attract both local and global attention. 

In statistics, the number of “Where to buy” + “near me” queries tripled from 2019 to 2021, 50% of customers who interact with your Google Business Profile will visit your website and 97% of users learn about local businesses online. That alone says how significantly local businesses can benefit from GMB

So what can you do to improve your GMB Listing and rank in local searches?

  • Create a GMB profile with the correct business name, address, and phone number. 
  • Choose a business category that is specific and as niche as possible 
  • Complete your profile fully providing more information for users to read.
  • Make sure you include relevant keywords within your title and description.
  • Add at least 10 unique and high-quality photos to improve your business’ look on Google Maps and the local pack. 

 2. Backlink Profile. 

One of the foundational ideas that enabled Google to rank websites better than its peers was to use links. Today, more than 2 decades later, Google still uses links as a fundamental factor in ranking content. However, these links must be high-quality and relevant to have any impact on a site’s organic search visibility

A good backlink profile is part of off-page optimization factors which account for 75% of SEO. Search engines use them as votes. Together with social media, social signals, and directories among others, they significantly affect the value you can derive from an online presence. 

Here is how…

  • Search engines analyze backlinks based on whether the were placed inside content to offer value to the reader
  • The more quality inbound backlinks you have the higher you rank
  • The authority of the website and webpage linking to you impacts your ranking
  • If you get links from bad networks of websites it might hurt your reputation and thus affect your ranking 
  • Your backlink profile should be diverse (coming from different sets of websites), otherwise, it will look spammy 
  • Your inbound links ought to be relevant; covering the subject matter that’s relevant to your business

3. Online Reviews. 

Do you often ask friends and colleagues what restaurant to try or where you can get the most affordable quality clothes? You probably also go online to look for business reviews before making a purchase. Online reviews have become a central part of a customer’s journey.

According to a study by Bright Local, almost 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before making a purchase online. 97% of users read reviews when searching for local businesses and consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel they can trust a local business. The importance of online reviews cannot be overstated and Google houses 73% of all online reviews.

If you want to clinch Google’s 3-pack listing

  • Start by increasing the number of reviews posted on your profile by encouraging people to leave comments.
  • Share review forms periodically to keep them updated.
  • Never solicit reviews from your customers through discounts or gifts. 
  • Ensure you respond to negative reviews to show concern for customers and desire to improve your services. 

4. Online Citation

Typically, when an SEO mentions online citations, they refer to a group of individual business listings on various sites. Nevertheless, whenever a business’s name, phone number or address is mentioned online, that counts as a citation. So besides business listings, sites, social media platforms, maps and normal websites can function as valuable citations. 

But here’s the catch, 80% of consumers lose trust in local businesses if they spot incorrect or inconsistent contact details online. So for instance, if your Yelp listing is not coherent with your Google My Business Listing, you’ll be confusing your clients. Besides not being able to connect with you, they’ll lack the motivation to pursue services or products from a company that can’t get their address right.

So what should you do?

  • Whenever you create new citations, double-check the details before submission
  • Regularly check for new listings of your business to ensure they provide the correct information
  • Use tools to monitor inbound links from citation platforms
  • Reach out to web administrators to correct any wrong details. 

5. User Experience

Google commands a majority of the internet search industry because of its focus on the users. It does this in two ways; through search personalization and focusing on behavioral signals to offer content that’s most helpful to users. 

Google introduced search personalization more than a decade ago to provide the most relevant results for an individual. Today, while some generic results are the same regardless of who is searching, most are based on factors such as the user’s browser history and physical location. It’s hard to improve the click-through rate for every individual, but you can leverage the design of the website and content to improve the user experience so users can come back.

Meanwhile, Google also focuses on serving SERPS with a reputation of being helpful. If your click-through rates, check-ins, and click-to-calls are low, Google will assume most people don’t get value from you. To boost your behavioral signals you need to optimize content and make it as relevant as possible to the targeted search terms. 

6. On-Page SEO 

Talking about optimization, an obvious place to start is content. Your content quality ranks highly on the factors Google accounts for when determining the best content for users. For a start, you need to write well. Having content with grammatical or punctuation errors on your site shows a lack of seriousness. 

In addition, it must be helpful and relevant to your keywords. This means you are perfectly answering the question brought forth. Use the keywords in a natural flow while ensuring you include them in the

  • URLs
  • Page Titles
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Headings
  • Body 
  • Conclusion
  • Image alt text 
  • Anchor Texts 

Also, make sure your business name, phone number and address information are featured on every page of your website, usually by placing them in the header or footer. 

7. Social Media

Facebook is the world’s most active social media platform with 2.934 billion monthly active users. Whatsapp, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, also enjoy large user bases. With many people spending tens of hours daily on these platforms, social media has become fundamental to any business. Now, it has a significant impact on local SEO. 

Social media sites have high domain authority. So Google pays attention to them. As a business, at the very least, you need to create a social media presence, especially on the top sites currently. Through your regular engagement with the audience, people will start talking about your brand. Google monitors these mentions, both positive and negative to preserve your reputation.

So how can you leverage social media for local SEO?

  • By using Keyword-rich business information 
  • By encouraging customers to share reviews 
  • Posting content consistently
  • Engaging with your audience regularly 
  • Making it easy for users to access the content you reference in your social posts.

Wrapping Up

As the internet takes precedence in how we do business, local SEO becomes more important for businesses hoping to grow and reach more customers. The factors we’ve highlighted in this article have a major impact on how well your business ranks. Each is a whole topic on its own and it might feel overwhelming to apply all the tips at once. It’s more practical however to tackle one at a time and more importantly, be consistent.