Tips to Optimize Your Website and Improve Local Rankings

 

Many brands with multiple locations often forget about the power of local search. Without local pages, a brand might rank well on Google but is likely not as prevalent in local search results. Considering the growing popularity of mobile devices, a localized search is more popular now than ever before. Studies show that 88% of consumers, who search for local businesses daily on mobile devices, call these businesses within 24 hours. Other reasons brands should rank locally include the following:

  • Google favors smaller, local businesses – Although Google’s rankings strongly consider companies historical data and high domain authorities, it also shows favoritism towards brands that are smaller, more nimble, and that are newly popular in a specific area.
  • Geo-targeting gets more leads – Local residents tend to search according to cities, states, or regions on the web. Businesses that target specific locations must optimize their content in order for Google to deliver to their targeted audience.

With this in mind, consider these tips to improve rankings in local search results:

Optimize Pages for Specific Cities or States

Local optimization means focusing the content of each web page to specific city-focused keywords or search phrases. For Google to successfully index content, each local page must have its own URL. A great way to help Googlebot find these pages is by including them in the sitemap. Sitemaps that have pages with content and URLs that are specific to the locations they cater to can help to improve local rankings.

The tactics for creating these pages often depend on the industry and the types of services and products offered. For example, there could be several versions of city-specific pages for each service a company provides that are localized for both content and URLs. Regardless of your page creation tactic, make sure to add other unique details that differ in the location like hours of operation, accepted payment options, and addresses. In addition to organic search, these pages are also likely to show up for branded keywords and will ultimately help to create a better experience for the user.

Here’s a great example from the company WeWork. By clicking on the “Locations” navigation, you are directed to various pages dedicated to a particular location, as shown below.

Speaking of content optimization, making a page geo-specific doesn’t only mean changing the name of the locality, city, or state for SEO purposes. Geo-targeted content, or content that is targeted at a specific website visitor depending on his or her location, is intended for a highly focused audience. To make the user experience exclusive to this audience, the content for each page should be unique to the city or area that it is targeting. This content will help to garner longer tail keywords, such as “[service] in [city name]” that will help the page’s organic search profile. In the above example from WeWork, this page is focused on “office space in Minneapolis.”

Bonus Tip – Locally focused landing pages can be leveraged in paid search campaigns and may help to improve click-through rates compared to non-local pages.

Use Reviews on Location Pages

Happy customers are likely to leave positive reviews, but it’s useless if potential customers can’t see them. An online marketing strategy can include paid advertisements from local listing websites like Google My Business, which also features customer reviews. Also, many sites have seen success by adding a function where users can leave reviews directly on the site. This will not only add content to the page but will also help with adding location-based keywords, as customers describe their experience in different locations.

Take the company Community Tax, for example, which features its testimonials on both its homepage and on a separate testimonials section on its site, encouraging customers to leave positive reviews:

Here’s another example from the company Executive Enterprise, a business management consultant in New York, which uses its Google My Business profile as a way to highlight good reviews from its customers:

Leverage Google My Business

Location pages that are listed on Google My Business have a better chance at appearing in relevant searches for their areas. Providing the complete business information can also enhance their presence in Google Maps.

To ensure visibility for local search results, Google recommends completing the following tasks while listing businesses on Google My Business:

Enter the complete data – Local search favors relevant information, so businesses with accurate data are easier to match with the right searches. The information on a location page can include, but should not be limited to, an updated business address, category, and phone number.

Keep information accurate – Keep in mind: if users don’t always specify a location in search, Google calculates the distance according to what it knows about the business. The more accurate the information, the more visible the relevant searches.

Another perk of using a Google My Business account is that it helps to improve your knowledge graph for branded searches. Let’s look at two examples from the finance industry, the first from Charles Schwab and the second from GuidedChoice:

Notice how Charles Schwab has a general corporate listing. GuidedChoice, on the other hand, shows the location, pictures of the building, etc., likely because they are attempting to target local customers.

Business NAP Should Be Consistent

NAP is an acronym that stands for name, address, and phone number. For SEO purposes, listing information for a business should be as consistent as possible in top online directories, such as Citysearch and Yelp. It’s also essential for a business’s NAP to be consistent in content and format across all media. While Google does have an advanced data normalization capability that allows it to skim over minor inconsistencies in the NAP, it’s vital to try to keep the format as clean and professional as possible for citation building purposes. Therefore, to increase the chance of ranking well, businesses should make standard formatting a practice.

An example of NAP consistency is shown by Atlas Professional Services, a telecommunications firm located in Florida. Besides abbreviations, which Googlebot can recognize as the same, both of its NAPs are pretty consistent on both its Yelp page and on its site.

Local Citation Building

A NAP can also be referred to as a citation. A citation is only complete if all three elements (name, address, and phone number) are present; otherwise, it is referred to as a partial citation. It is valuable because, in Google’s eyes, the mention of a business with its NAP information gets more credit, and the more mentions a business has across the web, the more likely it will rank better in local search results.

Relevant backlinks from these citations are also important for ranking well in local results and can be helpful in ranking local pages on a site. There are dozens of link building tactics, and Jon Cooper from Point Blank SEO provides an in-depth overview of them here. It is infinitely better to have links in citations rather than no links, so try to include links in citations, as long as they are consistent when building them for your business.



Cat Nilsson is the Managing Editor at 365 Business Tips, a site geared towards helping small business owners grow their business. Cat enjoys writing about a plethora of marketing topics, ranging from SEO to social media to content marketing.