Is your website not showing on the top of Google's local search results? You need to focus on local business SEO and increase your local rankings.
This article will cover some of the best ways to improve your local rankings on Google. The main focus of the article will be on Google My Business. However, you can apply the same techniques in other places too.
So, let’s begin.
What do you mean by Ranking your Local Business?
Before we get into the ways, we will first see what do we mean by ranking your local business. When you search for something which has local terms such as “Near me”, “near X location” or it includes a particular area name then Google shows you the local search results.
For example, if you search for Ladies salon, Google will show you regular results. However, if you search “Ladies salon near me”, Google uses some ranking factors to show you the exact and accurate results.
The search terms indicate that you are looking for a salon that is near your current location. So, Google will use a couple of factors to decide which local business will rank first.
Our goal is to improve all the factors to rank better.
So, let’s begin with GMB.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is the first step you need to take if you want to increase your local rankings. GMB is a tool provided by Google where you can add/claim your business. Further, you can add information such as open hours, descriptions, photos, and you can also service. Google uses GMB listing to rank local businesses.
GMB is not the only thing that helps you in ranking your local business but it is one of the most important things that you need to do for local business SEO. Therefore, don’t neglect Google My Business.
Make sure you fill all the details in the Google My Business listing. Most importantly, add the accurate location and use high-quality images when you are adding photos.
How does Google Rank Local Businesses?
We all know that keywords and the headline are the two most important things that Google considers when ranking for regular results.
But what about the local business SEO? How does Google rank local results?
Well, they use three main things to rank local businesses.
“How much your business is related to the term that the user is searching for?” This is the first question that Google asks when ranking your business.
If someone is looking for a ladies salon, Google will try to find the businesses that are ladies salon. For that, Google uses the description and the name of your business. Adding more information will help Google in displaying the results.
Never stuff keywords in your business name. Google is smart enough to figure it out. They might not even rank you at all if you do anything against their policy. So, better be 2nd then to be nowhere in the list.
The second thing that Google checks is the distance. How far is your store from the searched location? If the user didn't specify the exact location, Google will use other factors to rank.
Google My Business has two options. One is for your business location and they also ask you the location where you offer your services. So, make sure you add all these things.
There are not many things you can do here. All you can do is enter the exact information when you are filling up your profile.
This is one of the most important factors as well as the most confusing factor. Prominence is a measure of how well known or famous your businesses.
Google is not using one but many factors to determine this. Reviews, what users say about your business, links, citations, directory listings are some of the things that matter.
Famous buildings, museums, schools, and other well-known businesses are more likely to be in this result.
Positive reviews, citations, and directory submissions are the three most important things that will boost your local business SEO. Therefore, you need to focus on all these three things.
This was all about how Google ranks the business. Now, let’s get into our main topic that is how you can rank your business.
Ways to Improve Your Local Rankings
Now, let’s talk about several ways you can use to improve your local rankings. We have already seen how Google ranks local businesses.
It is time to see the ways to fulfill Google’s requirements and rank in the top position.
You should apply all these things in Google My Business as well as in other places.
As you might have got the idea, local SEO is not that hard if you enter all the data correctly and accurately. One of the biggest mistakes that people make here is that they don’t write complete information.
When you are filling your GMB listing, make sure there are all the things properly listed. Even if Google is saying some of the things are optional, you should still full out the information as this will help Google to rank your business.
Make sure you don’t stuff the keyword. You can surely write the keywords in the description. The data should be for humans and not for search engines.
So, complete your GMB profile. The users should directly get the idea of what your business is about just by looking at the name and description. You should clearly state what you do and where is your store located. Further, you can also add information about how users can contact you. This includes physical address, phone number, and you can also add a website.
Moreover, Google allows you to add products/services to GMB listing, you can add your products there to rank higher.
Verifying your Location
Once you add your location in your GMB listing, your next will be to verify your location. Google will send you a postcard with a pin written on it. You will have to enter the pin in your GMB dashboard.
Google might also give you more ways to verify depending on your business and your location. However, the post card is one of the standard ways to verify your location.
Luckily if Google offers you more ways to verify, you can choose mobile verification. It’s the regular OTP verification where you can ether the OTP and you’re good to go.
You can choose to make the location public or private. So, if you are not serving visitors in the location, you can keep it private. You will still need to verify it.
If a user performs a local search, Google will show the opening and closing time of the business. If someone searches for a business in non-working hours, Google will display a “Current closed” sign.
This is decided by the hours you enter. In the GMB dashboard, you will be asked to enter the opening hours. Make sure you write it accordingly. Further, they have special hours. For example, if you work for a couple of hours even on holidays, you can enter it there. Further, if there is an event where you are going to keep your store open for 24 hours, you can add it to the special event.
The main aim here is to be as accurate as possible. So, make sure you add the working hours and don’t forget to mention working hours on special days and events.
The core part of local business SEO is user reviews. Google takes the user’s opinion very seriously. You need to interact with your customers and manage the reviews effectively.
If someone leaves feedback or a review on your listing, you need to respond to them. Google will rank you higher if there are more high-quality positive reviews. For that, you will need to interact with your customers.
If a user asks a question, don’t forget to answer it. As the question is not only seen by that particular user but other users will also see the same question.
Photos are another important factor that you need to keep in mind. Upload high-quality images. Make sure the images are appealing to the audience.
You can upload the images of the products. If you are running a restaurant or hotel, you can add more photos. Adding photos of all types of rooms will surely help your hotel business. Further, if you want, you can also add photos of the outer view. This mainly depends on the location where your business is. So, depending on the location, you can add relevant images.
Product or Service
Now, Google allows you to add products and services in the GMB listing. You can add the products. The users will get more information about the product right on your home page. So, they are more likely to buy it.
All the things that we stated above will apply here. You need to make sure that you use high-quality images and description should contain all the things that users would want to know.
Events and New Features
Google is constantly trying out new features. Some of the features will depend on the event. For example, in this pandemic situation, Google My Business allows you to show information regarding the pandemic. In the same way, it allows you to collect donations if your business is affected by it.
The point is that you can use these features. It doesn’t help you much in ranking your local business but it will surely help the users.
Tips on using Google My Business
If you follow all the ways listed above, you will surely increase your local rankings. Further, there are some of the other things that you need to keep in mind while you are using Google My Business. Here are some of the tips that will be helpful.
- Always focus on users rather than focusing on search engines. You are creating the listing for the users and not for the search engine.
- Don’t write the keyword in the business name. Keep it natural.
- Don’t even include the keyword too much in the description. It will be detected as spam and your business might be blacklisted.
- Photos are the key to win your customer's hearts. Make sure you upload more photos.
- Fill up all the information and verify your business to rank higher.
Bonus Local Business SEO tips
As we mentioned earlier, Google My Business is not the only thing that you need to focus on. If you want to do perfect local business SEO, you will have to spend way more time here.
Ranking your local business might be easier for some people if there is no competition. However, if there are some other businesses in the competition, it will become difficult to rank your local business.
So, here are some of the other tips you can use along with GMB. This will help you in ranking.
- Submit your business to local directories
- Create high-quality citations
- Try to get maximum reviews across all the platforms including local directories
- Media or press coverage will surely boost your local rankings
- Create content for a local search where you can add the head terms in your blog post.
- Stay updated with all the trends. If someone drops a review, make sure you reply to them. In the same way, if someone asks a question, make sure you answer them.
To conclude, these are some of the ways to improve your local rankings. Ranking your local business will become much easier if you follow all the steps. Remember, Google My Business is the most important thing that you need to keep in mind. Your business will probably rank if you follow all the tips of GMB. However, if it doesn’t work, you can surely go with the local business SEO tips that we saw. All of them combined will increase your search rankings.