2018 Local SEO Strategy: How to Outrank Your Competitors
Matthew Dodd • January 17, 2018
Think about the last time you grabbed your phone and searched for a nearby gas station, restaurant, or nail salon. You probably tapped the first listing that popped up and either got turn-by-turn directions or contacted the business to get more information. What felt like a natural process for you was actually the result of a well-planned local SEO strategy designed to increase the search visibility for that business and to generate new customers.
Whether you have a brick and mortar location or a service business that operates within a specific geographic area, including local SEO in your digital marketing strategy allows you to tap into the surrounding community and help potential customers find you in their exact moment of need. These tips on how to outrank your competitors through a solid local SEO strategy can make a significant difference in boosting your online presence and ultimately driving more customers to your business.
Make Sure Your NAP is Consistent
NAP (name, address, and phone number) is a simple but fundamental aspect of local SEO. You’ll want to make sure your business name, address, and phone number are listed correctly throughout your website and on any other listings on the internet including Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business. When search engines become aware of discrepancies in this basic contact information, like an incorrect suite number, it can negatively impact your local search rankings.
Build Local Citations
A local citation is any mention of or reference to your business that can be found on the Internet, such as on Yelp, Yellowpages, FourSquare, BBB, Angie’s List, and other authoritative sites that list your website. Just like an accurate NAP, these local citations weigh heavily in Google’s algorithm, so make sure they are accurate on every business directory.
Google My Business Listings
Now that we’ve covered the importance of NAP and local citations for local SEO, let’s move onto the almighty Google My Business (GMB). Google My Business is perhaps the most influential factor in local SEO success. Using GMB is absolutely necessary if you want your local business to rank high in organic Google search results and on Google Maps. GMB will also provide you with data insights on how customers found you for free. Make sure you do the same for Bing Places for Business.
- Enter complete data including NAP, business hours, and categories
- Verify your location(s)
- Keep your hours accurate
- Manage and respond to reviews
- Add photos of your business
Optimize Website Pages and Content for Local Keywords
Let’s say you’re hungry and looking for a pizza place. You’re going to include the name of your city in your search to make sure Google only shows you listings that are relevant. For example, “pizza restaurant in San Diego.” Your potential customers do this, too. Therefore, it’s important to include your city’s name in your:
- Title tag
- Meta description
- H1 tag
- Body text
- URL structure
- Alt text on relevant images
Additionally, the majority of websites that rank on the first page of organic Google search results are HTTPS, so make sure your website is equipped with an SSL certificate. This will inform search engines and users that your website is encrypted and secure.
Mobile Optimization and AMP
Mobile optimization plays a huge role in local SEO. Most people search for a local business or local service while they’re on the go using a mobile device. Hopefully your website is already mobile-friendly, or “responsive,” so your potential customers can get information about your business quickly and easily. If you’re not sure if your website is optimized for mobile, use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test.
Google has also indicated page load speed times as a very important ranking factor. If your site loads slowly, your ranking will drop. Google is pushing for AMP (accelerated mobile pages), which enables websites to load quickly. This is essential for improving readability and user experience, both of which have a major influence in Google’s algorithm.
Schema and Local Structured Data Markup for Local Businesses
Schema markup is a code you add to your HTML that helps search engines display more accurate results for users on search listings. This will increase your website’s click-through rate and improve your rankings in search engine result pages. Here’s a free Local Business Schema Generator. To make sure there aren’t any errors in your Schema code, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
Embedding a Google Map on your website’s contact page is another simple, yet effective way to help boost your local rankings. Not only does this give your potential customers a visual idea of where your business is located, but it also tells Google to pull clues from both your content and the map, making it more likely that your website will rank high in organic search results and on Google+ Local.
Encourage Online User Reviews
Reach out to your hardcore fans and encourage them to leave reviews for your business. Google wants to suggest the best options based on user testimonials. The more positive reviews you have, the more “social proof” you have to offer search engines, making them more likely to suggest your business on the first results page. Never post fake reviews, though. It’s not worth the hassle of getting penalized.
If you get a negative review, which is bound to happen at some point, make sure you stay on top of “review management.” The negative review is not going to disappear if you just ignore it. Address the negative review head-on and acknowledge or solve the customer’s issue. Remember that your response will be seen by the public, so keep it professional.
Get started by collecting reviews through major review platforms:
- Google+ Local
- Trip Advisor
High-Quality Backlinks from Authoritative Websites
High-quality backlinks from authoritative sites can give you an enormous boost in rankings. They’ll give you an increase in referral traffic while building your reputation with Google. Just liked with the user reviews, getting backlinks is more evidence for Google to view your website as a credible business. Put on your PR hat and try to get media attention through local news and publications, or by sponsoring an event or partnering up with local businesses in a similar industry to get other websites to link back to yours.
Voice Search and Digital Assistants
As you probably suspected, 2018 will be an even bigger year for voice search. Apple’s “Siri,” Google’s “OK Google,” and Amazon’s “Echo” are taking over. People are getting more comfortable with performing searches on their mobile phones and in-home smart devices.
This being said, try to focus on writing your website’s content for humans. We often get caught up in trying to rank for certain keywords, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the user’s experience. Rather than stuffing your website and blog with keywords, focus on more conversational phrases. For example, you can title a blog to match an informal voice search.
All of the tips above offer advice on how to how to outrank your competitors organically (as in, not paid for) through optimizing your local SEO. However, you can get some serious leverage using Google Adwords to target people in a certain geographic location. If you’re in a highly competitive industry, a local pay-per-click ad campaign can give you an edge over your competitors.
Local SEO Services in San Diego by Reader Digital
If all of the above sounds like a lot of work to outrank your competitors in the digital space, you’re absolutely right. It takes time and consistent effort to get on top and stay there. But there’s a good reason to do so: it works to bring in new customers. But you don’t have to do it yourself. If you’re looking to implement a local SEO strategy but just don’t have the time to do it on your own, we can help.Reader Digital is a local San Diego SEO company, and our goal is to help local businesses improve their online visibility, web traffic and profit. If you’re ready to stand out in the digital space and take your business to the next level, contact us today for a free consultation.