What makes a local business show above other local businesses offering the same exact services?

They’re both close in proximity and they both have the same service, so why is one business ranking above the other?

This boost in the rankings is contributed to multiple different rankings signals, and in this article, I am going break down 5 Actionable Things You Can Do to Improve Your Local SEO in 2018! I am also going to include a lot of photos, so you can see exactly what I am talking about!

Some of you reading this article may have tried everything under the sun to get your local listing to rank higher. Which is normal, I see a lot of clients from my digital marketing agency that try to rank their local listing before coming to us for help. Most of the time, it is not a lack of effort on their part. It’s a lack of knowing where to put their effort to maximize their efficiency. I am hoping that this article will really help you!

Let’s get right into it!

A good place to start is defining what exactly Local SEO is! There is a good chance at one point or another, you have done a Google search and seen the map results at the top of the page right below the ads. They typically contain the companies name, phone number, website, directions, and reviews of the business. When I say, “Local SEO” this is what I am referring to. This is Google’s Map Pack! Ranking number 1 in the Google Map Pack has the potential to completely change the way you bring in new leads for your business.

So, your next question may be, “How do I rank my business over other businesses?”

Let’s go ahead and get into the steps of ranking your business over your competitors!

Step 1: Create and Verify Your Local Business Listing

It is completely free to create a Google My Business Page (https://www.google.com/business/), and you do not have to pay anything to manage it! Another perk, it should not take more than 30 minutes to complete!

In Google My Business, you will be able to add your business hours, directions to your store or shop. Phone number, website, and different categories of your business to make it easier for people to find your business! It is very important for you to add photos and a well-written description, so the people searching can get to know your business from the Google My Business Page.

It is absolutely crucial to verify your listing. Verifying your listing is the only way to rank in a competitive industry. To verify your listing, Google will send you a postcard with a pin number on it. Make sure you check your mail! I have also seen Google verify listings through text and call as well. Just remember that it is absolutely crucial to verify your listing!

Click the link see more on How to Create a Google My Business Listing for 2018!

Step 2: Don’t Ignore the Little Things: Optimize Your Local Listing

What do I mean by optimizing your local listing? By optimizing your local listing, I mean getting into the nitty-gritty and filling out all pieces of information Google wants! This means adding high-quality photos of your business and your work. Add a description that includes your business name, your service, and why they should choose your business over your competitors. You also need to add different categories for your business. During the setup of your local listing, it has you place a primary category for your business. Now, you need to add subcategories for your business. For example, if you are a lawn care and landscaping company, you would want to put either lawn care or landscaper as your primary with the other as a subcategory. Fill in your business hours, website, and appointment URL.

By filling out all of the information Google asks for, you let Google know that you are in business and that you take your local listing very seriously!

Step 3: Local Directory Submissions: Submit Your Business to Local Directories

There are two different ways we can do this. One costs money but is more automated. The other doesn’t cost money, but it does require a good amount of sweat equity.

I like to do this manually for our clients and our local business listing to ensure that the work is done correctly, but I am going to give you both options for you to make the decision yourself!

Option 1:

There are services out there, like Moz Local, that will automate the submission of your local listing to hundreds of local directories. The cost associated with this service is between $75-$100 per quarter.

For Moz Local, you will need to create an account then add your listing. The add listing button is on the bottom left of the page!

Option 2:

Option 2 is to submit your local listing to the directories with the most ranking power. Moz Local will break down where your local listing lacks in consistency, which directories your business needs to be submitted to that will give you the most ranking power, and they will also give you a score. The goal is to always have the best score possible.

You can check your local listing on Moz Local Here.

Pro Tip: It is absolutely crucial that you have consistency with your brand name, address, phone number and other local indicators. So, whoever optimizes your listing needs to make sure the information is the same throughout!

Step 4: Backlinks: Acquire High-Quality, Local Backlinks

There is a strong relationship between the domain authority of your website and where your local listing shows up in the map pack.

Domain authority is a score developed by Moz to grade your website on its SEO factors. It is a score (100 point scale - 100 being the best) that allows you to predict how well your website will rank in the search engine results. If you want more information about domain authority, I wrote an article about it!

Backlinks are the #1 ranking signal for Google so acquiring authoritative backlinks is a strategy you need to be implemented in your local strategy as well. It will help your local results and your organic ranking power. A win-win all around.

To do this, I suggest reaching out to your suppliers, vendors, clients & customers, and your franchise (if applicable) to have them give you a backlink. The more authoritative websites that link back to your website, the better!

Step 5: Get Reviews

Get reviews, get reviews, get more reviews! Reviews are huge when it comes to establishing credibility and trusting your company. Unfortunately, there is not sufficient data to say that reviews will help improve your local rankings, but reviews will help build trust with people searching for your service. It could be the difference between someone choosing your company over one of your competitors because consumers are more likely to trust a company with reviews!

I recommend implementing a customer review outreach program! This could be an email or series of emails that get your satisfied customers/ clients to write reviews on your local listing. I would really encourage honesty as well from your customers, so tell them that you take your reviews very seriously. This will ensure you are getting the best feedback to improve your business as well.

Now, you do not want to have them do this all at once. If you get 50 new 5 star reviews in two days, it may look a little fishy to Google, and Google may do something to penalize your listing. So, you want to have your reviews come in and look more organic. You’re going to want to spread your customer outreach program emails out at first, then I recommend training your staff to ask for reviews.

When you get new reviews, you should be manually responding to those reviews. Say thank you to the good reviews, get more information about how you can improve on the bad reviews, and stay engaged on your review section in your local listing.

If you are not actively seeking positive reviews, you will most likely only have a local listing with bad reviews which doesn’t help establish trust and credibility for your business!

Bonus Step: Optimize Your On-Site SEO

This step shouldn’t need to be stated, but I see this mistake being made way too often!

You need to have your local listing information on your website! Google does not know you are a web designer in Akron or a lawn care service in Dallas unless you tell them that is what you are!

I like to add the Business Name, Address, and Phone Number to the footer section of the website, and I like to add it to the contact page! I like to weave our local market into the title tag of the website. I also like to add directions to our office on the contact page well to let Google know what cities and landmarks are around us.

Is this going overboard? Absolutely not. As stated earlier, ranking number 1 in Google for a popular keyword is a complete game changer for your business, so there is nothing too crazy when it comes to optimizing your local listing in 2018. Now, you can go overboard by adding your city and service to your website 60 times. You want to make it flow as organically as possible.

In Summary of 5 Actionable Tips to Improve Your Local SEO in 2018:

  1. Create & Verify Your Local Listing
  2. Optimize Your Local Business Listing
  3. Local Directory Submissions
  4. Backlinks: Acquire High-Quality, Local Backlinks
  5. Acquire Reviews
  6. Bonus: Improve Your On-Site SEO

As we sum up this article, I want to say thank you for reading the entire thing through. I know it is a lengthy article but this stuff really works. My Digital Marketing Agency has seen massive growth due to investing in our own SEO, and I have also delivered massive growth to our clients as well. If you have put all the effort in the world to your local listing but you still can’t crack the code to get it ranked, we can help! Fill out our contact form.

Okay, let’s sum up the article! So, you first need to create and verify your local listing! Next, you need to fill out all the information Google is asking for on your local listing. This includes adding a cover photo, video, business hours, website URL, appointment URL, subcategories, and a nice description of your company. After that, you’re going to need to submit your business to local directories. You can do this manually or you can have a company like Moz Local complete this for you for a fee. Also, it may be in your best interest to check your listing’s score through Moz Local as well. Next, you need to acquire authoritative backlinks to increase your domain authority which will also increase your local SEO score. Step 5 was implementing a customer review outreach program. You need to slowly ask your customers for reviews, so the reviews look more organic. Reviews are a great way to build trust with people searching for your service! The last, and bonus, step was to improve your on-page SEO. Make your website locally oriented and add your business name, address, and phone number to the footer of your website.

I hope you have gained a tremendous amount of value from this article. I also hope this will help you rank better in the Google Map Pack. If you want help with your Local SEO, feel free to fill out our contact form! We offer a guarantee on our services, so you can make sure you are getting the best results possible!

Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon!

Nicholas Wolf - CEO of NextGen Marketing

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