When it comes to local SEO, your website performance may not be the deciding factor in how you rank. In fact, you can be the #1 search result for your industry without even owning a website. It’s true! You can rank #1 for certain keywords just by claiming your Google Business Listing.
The secret to ranking higher than your local competition hinges on just three things (and your website is #3).
1. Advertise Your Location
Do you remember phone books?
Thankfully, they are a thing of the past (only updated once a year… what a pain). Now we can find current addresses, phone numbers, and even turn-by-turn directions for any business we want just by asking Siri or Google.
Your contact information is pulled from local directories. For that reason alone, you MUST claim your Google Business Listing and keep your business information current. It’s even more helpful if you can claim additional local listings such as Yelp, Bing, and Apple Maps.
You don’t have to pay for their premium listings. The basic one is fine, but you do need to make sure your information is the SAME on all of them. Standardize how you display your company name, address, phone, and domain. This adds to your credibility.
Also… make sure you add local listings for EVERY one of your locations.
What if you don’t want to display an address?
Some service companies don’t have a physical location. That is not a problem. Google will display a service area rather than a business address.
Optimize Your Google Listing for Best Results
Consider this company in the small town of Tifton, GA.
Even though they don’t actually have a website, when you are in Tifton and Google “auto repair” you will see their contact information in the top results of the LOCAL PACK.
The Local Pack is often more important for local businesses than organic results. This listing appears at the top of the search results and includes a lot of juicy information. A person who is searching on a mobile device may never even scroll beneath it and so even if you rank #1 in organic results, it won’t matter if they’ve already viewed ten or so local companies in the Local Pack.
Local Pack results are heavily influenced by your Google Business listing. Therefore, local businesses should treat their Google listing like a mini website. Post links back to your site at least every two weeks. Add high-quality photos and write a business description that clearly tells what your company does, using recognized Google search terms.
2. Understand that REVIEWS MATTER!
It’s amazing how many business owners don’t worry about reviews until they have to recover from a few negatives (and if you don’t have any yet, you will).
Those star ratings are an AVERAGE of all your ratings. So, if you have 10 wonderful 5-star reviews and one really bad one, you will still display 4 1/2 stars. However, if you haven’t coveted those 5-stars then your one bad review can seriously affect your business. Very few people will click through to a company with a 1-star rating.
Ratings Can Affect Rank
Here is an example of how ratings can affect your Local Pack results.
The top result is a paid advertisement (probably because their 4.2 stars cannot compete with the top Local Pack result who has 4.7 stars). Notice that the one at the bottom has 4.4 stars, fewer than the ones above it. If we moved over to Page 2, you would see that the next result is 4.0 and so on.
Reviews matter for ranking but they are just one factor. You could see a 4.2 outrank a 4.9 if their Google Business Listing is better optimized or they have more relevance to the searcher’s intent or their website performs better in the organic search results.
3. A Better Performing Website Will Improve Local Rank
Just so we are clear… Google has 200+ ranking factors they consider when they evaluate a website. Those factors change in importance based on your type of business, the device the search is conducted on, and the searcher’s location. Proximity greatly affects local SEO (see Point No. 1). Credibility also figures highly (see Point No.2) and when you add relevancy, then you hit the trifecta in local SEO.
Google is a business and their customers expect them to search and find relevant answers to their questions. If they start returning addresses for parks and playgrounds when a user queries “swing lessons” then people will not find them helpful. They lose clients, other search engines gain ground, and the world ceases to exist as we know it.
That won’t happen because Google is very good at what it does. Their algorithm looks at all your content and (if you have good content) correctly categorizes your site and matches to user intent.
So, how does your website help you rank in the Local Pack?
The more information Google has about your business, the surer it is on the match. If Company A has a 100-word Business Description and Company B has the same, but Company B also has 5000 words of additional content on their site, then they have painted a better picture of what they offer. Google will probably rank Company B higher (all other factors considered the same).
Of course, all this assumes that your website performs well and has high-quality content.
How can you make use of this information to outrank your local competition?
Here is a checklist for improving your local SEO:
- Get a Free Local Listing Audit – Where are you listed and is your information consistent?
- Claim your listings and optimize them. Designate someone to update your Google Business Listing regularly.
- Know Where You Rank – Google your company and see where you appear in the Local Pack.
- If you don’t appear in the Local Pack or you are not in the top spots, request a Free SEO Assessment and find out why.
- Identify Your Competitors – Online and offline competitors are not always the same. You need to know both.
- Reverse engineer their websites and find out which keywords they rank for.
- Make sure your site is operating at peak performance. Technical SEO is part of our Free SEO Audit.
We can help you with all of this. Just give us a call or email us and we will be happy to run a Free SEO Assessment or help you with your Local Listing Audit. Don’t lose another customer to your local competition. Get on top of your local SEO today.