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Local SEO: How to Improve Local Rankings On Google

Screenshot of Google homepage so you can learn how to improve Google rankings for your home services business.
Rebecca Riserbato

Every business needs the same thing: to be seen.

One of the best ways to increase the visibility of your home services business is to invest in local SEO.

In this post, we'll teach you what local SEO is, why it's important, how the Google algorithm works, and how to improve local ranking for your company.

Let's dive in!

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO stands for "local search engine optimization." It's the process of improving a website's ability to rank higher in localized Google searches.

For example, when you type "Best Pizza Sacramento" into Google, you'll notice that "The Flying Goat," a Spokane, WA-based pizza parlor, doesn't appear in the local search results. Instead, Google will direct you to a restaurant like "Roma 2 Pizzeria," located in Sacramento, CA.

This is referred to as a local search result because the website for Roma 2 Pizzeria is optimized for Sacramento-based Google searches. On the other hand, The Flying Goat's website is optimized for Spokane-based Google searches.

The same is true for your home services business. When people search Google for plumbers or HVAC techs in your area, does your website show up? If not, you need to invest in local SEO. Your website will receive a steady stream of potential customers when you do.

Why is Local SEO Important?

As we explained in the Beginner's Guide to Local SEO:

"The purpose of local SEO is to ensure your business appears in Google search results when people look for nearby products or services."

This kind of online visibility will do wonders for your business. 76% of people who conduct local searches on their phones visit a business within 24 hours. Even better, 28% of these searches result in purchases. If your company's website can hit the top of Google's local ranking, your customer base and revenue numbers will increase.

Get to Know Google's Ranking Algorithm

There are a bunch of search engines out there. But none of them hold a candle to Google. Case in point: Google accounts for 86.64% of the global search market. Its closest competitor is Bing, whose market share taps out at 7%.

To improve local search rankings, you need to understand how Google's ranking algorithm works and what ranking factor the search engine takes into consideration. Here are the top three things Google analyzes websites for:

  1. Relevance: Google only ranks websites that relate to user search queries. This is why you won't see ballet tutus when you search for mountain bikes. Google analyzes keywords, i.e., the words and phrases users type into search engines to determine relevance. If your website is optimized for the right keywords, it can achieve higher local —more on this in the next section.

  2. Location: When it comes to local ranking, Google analyzes websites for location, too. This is another reason why The Flying Goat, the Spokane-based pizza parlor mentioned earlier, doesn't appear in searches for "Best Pizza Sacramento."

  3. Popularity: Finally, Google considers the popularity of a website before ranking it. Sites that get more traffic, have more backlinks (more on this below), and manage larger social followings have a better chance of hitting the first page of Google search results. Why? Because Google assumes that prominent websites are popular for a reason. So, to better serve its users, Google gives these sites priority.

Now that we've gotten to know Google, let's talk about improving your local ranking.

How to Improve Local Ranking in 5 Steps

Man holding up his hand to camera indicating 5 steps to improve local ranking

Local SEO isn't complicated. If you're willing to put in the work and follow the five steps below, you will improve the local ranking for your company's website. Let's take a look.

1. Perfect Your Google My Business Profile

This profile can make or break your local SEO strategy. Here's how:

  • Create Your Profile: If you don't have a Google My Business profile yet, you can create one for free here. Google will walk you through the entire process.

  • Enter Complete Data: The more data you can add to your profile, the better. Start with key information like your full business name, business category, exact address, phone number, web address, and hours of operation.

  • Add Quality Photos: Google My Business Profiles with high-quality photos get 35% more clicks than those who don't. So add as many eye-catching images as you can.

Once you've perfected your profile, move on to step number two.

2. Edit Your Website With SEO In Mind

Next, take a look at your website. Is it optimized for SEO? We’ll assume the answer is no since you're reading this blog post. Not to worry, here's how to edit your site:

Make it Mobile-Friendly.

Mobile devices generate 54.8% of internet traffic around the world. Suppose your website doesn't look good on the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy tablet. In that case, visitors probably won't stick around for long. This will cause your site's bounce rate to skyrocket, leading to poor SEO results.

In addition, Google now prefers to index and rank mobile-friendly websites. It will be tough to improve local search rankings if your site isn't optimized for mobile devices.

Add Valuable Keywords.

As mentioned earlier, keywords are the words and phrases people type into search engines. Google uses them to help determine which sites to rank.

You need to learn which keywords your customers type into Google when they look for the services you provide. Some of them will be obvious. If you're a roofer, for example, keywords like "best roofers in [your city]" and "roofers near me" are safe bets.

To find less obvious keywords, use a free tool like UberSuggest.

Once you know which keywords your customers use, add them to your website. Just make sure you don't resort to keyword stuffing. When website owners add too many keywords, it becomes unreadable. Always prioritize readability.

Ensure Consistency.

Lastly, make sure the information on your website is consistent across the internet. Is your business address the same on your site as it is on your Google Business Profile? What about on Yelp and your Facebook page? The same goes for all of your other business details, too.

Your local ranking will plummet if Google discovers conflicting information about your business. So be super careful and check for typos and other discrepancies.

3. Implement a Content Marketing Strategy

Woman on laptop hoping to boost local SEO efforts with content marketing.

Another way to improve your local ranking is to invest in content marketing.

How will this help? By creating keyword-optimized content, you'll give yourself extra opportunities to rank in Google search results.

You probably don't want to use the keyword "cost for ac maintenance" on your website—even if you're a professional HVAC tech who fixes air conditioners for a living. This phrase doesn't get enough search traffic to make it worth your website's while.

But that doesn't mean "cost for ac maintenance" is a worthless keyword. So why not write a blog post about this topic instead? That way, you can capitalize on the traffic it does generate while filling your website with other, higher-value keywords.

Content marketing will also help you build relationships with your target customers. They'll read your articles and begin to know, like, and trust your company. Then, when their AC breaks down, you'll be the first business they call to fix it. Win!

4. Collect and Respond to Customer Reviews

Online reviews are critical to local ranking.

If you can generate positive, authentic online reviews on sites like Yelp, Thumbtack, and, of course, Google reviews, your website will appear in more searches. As an added benefit, quality reviews will help convince a potential customer to do business with you, too, once you achieve a high rank.

If you've ever bought anything online, you know this to be true. We all read reviews before making purchases on sites like Amazon and eBay.

The question is, how do you generate positive reviews at a consistent clip? Here's how:

  • Do Great Work: If you provide a quality service, your customers will automatically be more open to reviewing your business. So make sure you're doing great work.

  • Ask For Reviews: Do your customers love the services you provide them? Then all you have to do to start generating reviews is ask for them. 72% of customers who are asked to write a review go on to write one, according to BrightLocal.

  • Offer Incentives: Another way to collect reviews is to offer incentives. You could give reviewers a gift card to Amazon, a discount on their next service, or you could offer a rebate on the service you just performed.

Once you receive a review, respond to it—even if it's less than positive! 53.3% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week.

5. Spend Time Building Local Links

A chain showing what a strong backlink does

Last but certainly not least, build a strong backlink profile for your website.

A backlink is any link that connects a particular website to yours. A backlink profile is a collection of links that point to your site. So, this link counts as a backlink for Google, which will sit in the search giant's backlink portfolio until we remove it from this post.

Google views backlinks as a sign of authority. The bigger your website's backlink profile is, the more authoritative Google will consider your site to be. Since Google generally gives precedent to more authoritative sites, building links is a great way to improve local search rankings.

There are a bunch of ways to build a backlink profile. Here are a few ideas:

  • Partner With Other Businesses: Find businesses in your area that serve similar customers. Then offer to link to their website if they do the same for you.

  • Sponsor Local Events: This is an excellent way to let your community know about your business. It may also earn you a link if the event has a "Sponsors" page on its website.

  • Get the Press Involved: Local news outlets are always looking for stories. Ask them to write a story about your business and link to your website in the article.

  • Invest in Guest Blogging: You can always write blog posts for other local businesses. Make sure you link to your website in the content when you do.

One more thing: Google considers backlink quality, too. Backlinks from spammy websites won't help your local ranking. They may even harm them. So work to get links from authoritative sites. This tool from Ahrefs will help you gauge website authority.

Final Thoughts

If you can improve your local ranking on Google, you'll drive more traffic to your site, book more service appointments, and, ultimately, help your business become more successful. If you implement the five local SEO tips above, you'll be glad you did—guaranteed!

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