No matter how advanced digital technology becomes, we will always be tied to our physical locations. And as the pandemic has painfully taught us, Zoom meetups just aren’t the same as in-person experiences.
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People still heavily rely on local businesses to meet their needs. In fact, a whopping 90 percent of consumers conducted an internet search to find a local, brick and mortar business.
If you haven’t optimized your online presence, however, all those potential customers won’t be able to find you – you might as well be invisible.
This article will take you through some of the fundamentals of local affordable SEO services to help you rank high in SERPs for local searches. While these tricks will help local businesses of all types, multi-location businesses will especially need to pay attention to our section on local landing pages.
If you’d like to shed that invisibility cloak, read on.
Google’s Local Pack
What is Google’s Local Pack?
The Local Pack is the map-based listings of local businesses that are prioritized above the organic search results. In other words, Google’s Local Pack is prime real estate – it’s the equivalent of a beautiful home with a stellar yard in a great school district.
These results will appear when search terms show local intent, such as “coffee shops near me” or “restaurants in Los Angeles”. Even if a person lives in Orlando, for example, and searches for “camper van rentals in Seattle “, Google algorithms consider this a local search.
So, in essence, a local search is any search tied to a specific place.
Ranking Signals for Google’s Local Pack
Just as Google uses signals that influence rankings of websites in organic search results, their algorithm also pays attention to certain signals for Local Pack rankings.
Your position in Google’s Local Pack likely depends on the following signals:
- Google My Business (GMB) listing factors – 25%
- Link signals: backlink quantity, authority, and anchor text – 17%
- Review signals: review quantity, freshness, and diversity – 15%
- On-page signals: website keywords and domain authority – 14%
- Citation signals: NAP citation volume and consistency – 10%
- Behavioral signals: click-throughs, click-to-calls, and check-ins – 10%
- Personalization signals: online ordering/booking, events, native reviews – 6%
- Social signals: GMB and social media engagement – 3%
How Can You Show Up in Google’s Local Pack?
To rank in the local pack, you need to optimize your Google My Business listing. There’s really nothing complicated or technical to it. Just follow these three steps:
- Step 1: Claim your Google My Business profile.
- Step 2: Fill out every section. These will include your name, address, and phone number (NAP); website URL, photos, and hours; business category and attributes; products and services; and from the business sections.
- Step 3: Update your listing regularly by creating weekly posts, responding to reviews, and answering public questions.
Key Elements of a Local Landing Page
If you own a multi-location business, creating a stand-alone local landing page (LLP) for each location is a must. Creating these unique and separate landing pages allows you to link each page to a different Google My Business listing.
Structural Elements of a Successful Local Landing Page
To start, the structure of your page is key. Your landing page needs to have a bold, to-the-point headline that includes targeted keywords and captures the attention of your visitors. Users should know in seconds that they’ve landed in the right place.
Fun fact: only 1 in 10 high-ranking landing pages have keyword-rich headlines. We think that’s crazy, but that also means you have lots of opportunities to out-rank your competitors simply by using a few well-placed keywords in your headline.
The next structural element to consider is the fold. “Above the fold” refers to the main stories that appear literally above the fold of a newspaper’s first page. We now apply this saying to digital content that is displayed within the frame of a device screen.
Users spend about three-fourths of their viewing time in the first 2 screens they see, so keeping the most important information above the fold will increase your conversion rates.
Location-Specific Features of an Effective LLP
To improve your local search ranking, your LLP needs to include features that cater to a defined location. These include:
- Hyperlocal content
- Location photos
- Google maps embed
- Google 360 Tour
- Location-specific social profiles
- Directions button
- Open now status
- Native reviews
- Location hours
The vast majority – 84% – of local searches happen on a mobile device, so you need to make sure your business website is mobile responsive.
Mobile responsiveness is a necessity for all business website types. The broad definition of a mobile responsive website is a site whose appearance and content adapt to smaller screen sizes, such as a mobile phone or tablet.
For local business sites, however, a mobile responsive design would include a click-to-call phone number, floating call-to-action buttons, and mobile-friendly coupons.
Technical SEO: Tips and Tricks
There are many facets of technical terminology in SEO that all businesses should address, but there are just a few simple tricks location-based businesses can use to get their listing to the top of Google’s Local Pack.
- Include a concise meta description. The meta description is the short blurb that appears below the blue link on search engine result pages (SERPs). Include the what and where of your business here.
- Add geotags. Geolocation meta tags are code added to the backend that indicates the latitude and longitude of your location. Be sure these coordinates match your NAP and GMB listing.
- Make sure your NAP info is uniform across all platforms and metatags. Update old addresses or info and ensure spelling and format are consistent.
- Improve schema markup. Schema markup consists of HTML tags that allow search algorithms to provide more relevant results for users.
- Shorten the sales funnel. Allow as few clicks as possible for consumers to take the desired action, whether that’s to generate leads or clinch sales. Only include essential links on the local landing page.
- Add features that increase trust. Embed customer reviews, add client logos, list awards your business has received, and include security seals, such as a Guaranteed Secure Checkout Badge (i.e. a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate).
- Put special offers above the fold. If you are having any sales, running discounts, or offering coupons, highlight them near the top of your page. This can drastically increase conversions.
COVID-19’s Impact on Local Search
The pandemic has completely transformed consumer expectations and behavior. More than half of consumers avoided local businesses that didn’t offer pandemic-friendly services, such as masking up and curbside pickup.
If you can cater to these new consumer demands, your business can still flourish despite the ongoing threat of COVID. In fact, nearly 60 percent of consumers visited a local business for the first time specifically because they were pandemic-friendly.
Some ways you can make people feel safe when they interact with your business include:
- Provide multiple ways to communicate one-on-one, such as two-way texting, Zoom, or FaceTime.
- Specify the safety precautions that you are implementing.
- Keep your operating info updated. Fluctuating store hours and temporary closures have become more common since the pandemic started.
- Highlight services that are offered online and/or currently available.
- List hours of different services, such as delivery and takeout.
Optimize to Thrive
We hope this article helps your local business reach the head of the (Local) Pack. If you need further assistance with your SEO strategy, we’d love to hear from you. SeoTuners is an affordable SEO company based in Los Angeles that offers tailored SEO solutions at affordable rates to businesses based in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and beyond. Let’s chat via phone at (877) 736-1112 or you can fill out our contact form here.