Local SEO Tips for 2020
Today you’ll learn 25 actionable Local SEO tips, strategies, and tactics that can dramatically change your rankings in Google local search and Google Maps!
Not only are these local SEO tips highly effective at increasing rankings in Google Maps, but they are super easy to implement.
Plus, most of these local SEO tips can dramatically increase phone calls and website visits from new customers very quickly after implementation.
The Local SEO Equation – check out one of our SEO Secrets podcast episodes where I talk about The Local SEO Equation.
This podcast episode isn’t necessarily a local SEO Tip (so to speak…) but I definitely think it adds value in the overall context of local SEO. If you do listen to it, please let me know what you think in the comments below!
Local SEO Tips Table of Contents
Local SEO strategies are evolving all the time as Google updates their algorithm for Google Maps.
I mention Google Maps because ultimately local search results are derived from Google My Business listings.
And Google My Business listings are part of the Google Maps platform.
As such, I’m going to work on keeping these local SEO tips updated as our strategies and tactics evolve along with Google’s updates.
Without further ado, let’s dive in the most effective local SEO tips that can drive increased traffic, rankings, and new customers directly to your business!
25 Local SEO Tips for 2020
Tip 1 – City Pages for Surrounding Markets
City Pages are how your business gets found in surrounding cities.
When it comes to local SEO for Google Maps, you can only optimize the local where you have a verified Google My Business listing. This is the address and city where your physical office is located.
But what about getting found in surrounding cities or markets?
This is where City Pages come in to help your business get found in surrounding metro areas.
City Pages will only apply to the organic search results in Google. However, an overwhelming number of people in any city will still look to the organic search results to find what they are looking for.
To clarify the difference between Google Maps search results and organic search results, here’s a couple of screenshots that should help:
Tip 2 – Integrate Location Signals
Location signals are data points that you add into your City Pages that help solidify your targeted location / metro area.
For example, let’s say you are a car accident lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia with a verified GMB listing that has an Atlanta address. However, you want to also get found by people in Marietta, Georgia who are searching for a Marietta car accident lawyer.
So you would have a City Page targeting Marietta Car Accident Lawyer, and within that City Page, you would integrate location signals.
Again, location signals are data points that help “signal” to Google the targeted metro area within your page.
Using Marietta, Georgia as the example, location signals would consist of data points such as:
- top rated restaurants
- bars & pubs
- school districts
Basically any landmark or geographic data point that’s specific to your targeted metro area.
After you list out some of your location signals within your City Page, you want link out directly to the landmark websites.
And I strongly recommend ‘do-follow’ing’ those links.
A lot of people get hung up on whether they should ‘do follow’ or ‘no follow’ their outbound links.
I’m of the opinion that ‘do follow’ outbound links gives your website a more healthy, natural presence in search and shows that you are willing to link out to great resources.
And this healthy, more natural presence through the use of ‘do follow’ outbound links gives your City Page more credibility… and more credibility leads to higher rankings, more traffic, and ultimately more customers.
Learn more: What are City Pages?
Tip 3 – Verify your Google My Business Listing.
Before you can compete in Google Maps, your must have a verified Google My Business listing for your business.
This verified listing must reflect your business’s address and location to include business hours, local phone number, and link to your website.
If you are restaurant, you can even include links to your menu. If you are a business that accepts appointments, you can include links to where customers schedule appoints.
The key to a successful Google My Business listing is having complete and accurate information about your business.
If the information is not accurate, or your GMB listing is incomplete, then your business presence in search could suffer due to a lack of relevance.
Here’s a couple of ways you can go about verifying your Google My Business listing, with one of these being released just last year.
- Verify your GMB listing via the verification post card. Here’s a simple guide showing you how to use the post card verification method.
- Verify your GMB listing via video. Video verification was released last year as a way to verify your Google My Business listing, you can see how this is done here.
Tip 4 – Publish Google Posts
Google launched a new product for Google My Business owners back in June 2017 called Google Posts.
Think if this as a way for GMB owners to post updates and information about their business directly in their Google My Business account.
These new Google Posts will appear in the SERP results along your Google My Business listing and are great way to communicate with your audience and customers.
One of the most creative ways I’ve seen businesses use Google Posts is by posting reviews from customers.
You can simply copy the Google reviews from your GMB listing, and republish them as a Google Post.
Other great Google Post ideas are to publish events.
Although normal Google Posts will expire after 7 days, event posts will live on until the end date of your event. Events are the one exception to the Google Post expiration time frame.
Tip 5 – Citation Distribution
Google evaluations your citation distribution and portfolio and looks at the volume, authority, and consistency your citations across the web as a means to determine your rankings in Google Maps / Google local search.
A citation is simply a published version of your business name, address, phone #, and website URL. However, the data used your Google My Business listing is the base citation that Google uses to determine consistency.
If you have citations published throughout the web that do not match your GMB listing data, you will be creating large scale inconsistencies that can negatively impact your rankings and presence in local search.
On the other hand, if you distribute an accurate representation of your citations across authoritative channels, you’ll achieve large scale consistency and authority which will come back to deliver higher rankings in Google local search for competitive, high value keyword phrases.
We no long recommend business listing services such as Moz Local, Yext, and Synup.
The main reason is, these platforms are API driven which means they automatically distribute citations to partner network sites.
In essence, these API citation services are automatically publishing content on other websites, which is something that Google definitely frowns upon.
You can read more about Google’s automatically generated content policies here.
In summary, the more authoritative your citation portfolio, the more likely you are to compete and get found in the local search results for high impact keyword phrases.
Tip 6 – Use LOTS of images
Adding a lot of images to your GMB (Google My Business listings) will increase actions on your listing easily by a factor of 10x. Actions = authority, and authority = rankings.
Images dramatically increase engagement on your local Google business page from mobile devices.
People who find your local Google business page via mobile will find it easy to open your photos and swipe through.
And on mobile, someone can swipe through hundreds of photos on your GMB listing in a matter of minutes.
The Google My Business platform has recently upgraded their photo management section, and it now looks something like this:
Tip 7 – Create a virtual tours
Perhaps the only thing that can generate more actions on your Google business listing than images are virtual tours.
The rise of popularity in virtual reality will only increase in importance of providing virtual tours of your local business.
Tip 8 – Generate more “time on site” opportunities
Understand that Google’s ranking algorithm favors relevance and authority, and the more time someone stays on your listing, the more authority you’ll build into your Google business listing.
Tip 9 – Use videos, images, and virtual tours for “time on site”
Creating more interactive media content such as videos, images, and virtual tours will help you boost the “time on site” metric A LOT!
Tip 10 – Create a strong “About” section
It’s a bit obscure now, but you can edit / create an about section for your GMB listing by first going to aboutme.google.com/, and then appending your GMB / Google Maps ID to the end of the forward slash.
You get your GMB ID by visiting your listing in Google Maps and grabbing the long numbered portion of the URL only.
Then add that page ID to the end of the about URL.
Tip 11 – Use niche category in title
If your main business category isn’t available, include your niche category in the title tag of your GMB listing.
Tip 12 – Include tags
In the “aboutme” description section of your GMB listing (see tip #5 above), included a section called “Tags”, and then list a bunch of your most optimal and related keyword phrases for your local business.
Tip 13 – Link to sub-pages
In the “about” description section of your GMB listing (see tip #5 above), create anchor text links pointing out to sub pages with your website.
For example, if you are plastic surgeon, link “face lift” out to your Face Lift specific landing page within your website.
Tip 14 – Create Citations
Citations are the presence of your business name, address, and phone # published on the web (otherwise called NAP). Increase the relevance and volume of citations to improve your local rankings (check out Moz Local as a start).
Tip 15 – Create exact match NAP citations
When creating your citations, it’s CRITICALLY important that every one matches your GMB / Google Maps listing. Even the slightest discrepency can create volatility and dilute the relevance of your local business data, and in turn your local rankings in Google Maps.
Tip 16 – Publish citations in niche directories
Find directories to your specific metro area, and your specific industry, to get highly targeted NAP citations published.
Tip 17 – Include Schema on your website
When you publish your NAP citation on your website, wrap your NAP in Schema language. I recommend using JSON – LD to create Schema for your website.
Tip 18 – Create City Pages
Create city specific landing pages within your website.
We call these city pages, and they help give your business a high level of relevance and authority for your targeted location.
Tip 19 – Add your city page URL in your GMB listing
In your GMB listing, you have the option to link to a URL. Make sure the URL you use is the most relevant landing page for your business and geo-targeted area.
This is not necessarily always going to be your homepage.
Tip 20 – Embed your GMB listing
Embed your Google maps business listing (GMB) into your city specific landing pages.
It’s also valuable, for some businesses, to embed your Google local listing map into the footer of your website.
Tip 21 – Use Schema on your website
Include another instance of your NAP citation on your city specific page, but wrap it in Schema language (see the JSON – LD comment above).
Tip 22 – SEO for City Pages
Add your targeted metro area as the first instance in the title tag of your city page.
Tip 23 – Link from city page to GMB listing
Within your city page, make sure to include a link directly to your GMB listing.
This is also accomplished when you embed your GMB listing directly into your city page (see point #15 above).
Tip 24 – Start a blog
Start a business blog and write about local news and information relevant to your targeted metro area, and share your content across all social media platforms, including your GMB listing.
One of the latest updates to Google My Business is the ability to add a Post.
You can read more about Google My Business Posts in this quick overview we put together.
In summary, anytime you create a new blog post on your website, you can share that blog post, including a link to the post, as a new update on your GMB listing as a Post.
New blog posts will help you get higher rankings in Google local / Google Maps because each time you publish fresh content, Google will come back to your website to crawl and index that new content.
This helps to build domain authority within your website. And since your website (typically your homepage) is listed as the landing page URL of your Google My Business listing, this domain authority contributes to building location authority.
And the more location authority your GMB listing has, the higher you’ll rank in Google local search results (or Google Maps), and the more productivity you’ll get from your listing in the form of phone calls, direction requests, and visits to your website.
Tip 25 – Get reviews
Over 88% of consumers trust reviews as a resource when deciding what business to buy from or hire.
One of the fastest ways to generate reviews is to send an email to recent customers or clients asking for a review and including a link directly to your GMB listing.
The relevance of local search has been perpetuated by the explosive use of mobile phone usage.
Google will show local search results even when you search a word or phrase previously considered a global search phrase (just type the word ‘lawyer’ into your Google search app on your phone and see what you get).
As such, because of the influence of localization in search, and the fact that over half of all searches are now being conducted via mobile phones, now is the time for every business – large, small, local, global, etc… – to start implementing effective local SEO strategies to get found in Google.
The process surrounding local SEO can be confusing for many business owners.
And again, it doesn’t matter if you are a large corporation, a mid size SMB, or a small local business, the traffic and exposure to your business via search is being impacted by localization.
It’s amazing to think how influential mobile and local search has become for every business.
The truth is, the majority of your customers are nearby and on their mobile phones.
All of this puts a premium on being found in the top local search results, which is achieved when you have a strong local SEO campaign.
The local SEO tips above are a starting point for you to generate more calls and customers for your business.
Finally, here’s some stats to get you motivated to implement some, or all, of the local SEO tips above:
- Local based searches lead over 50% of mobile visitors to visit a store (or place of business) within one day of searching
- Over 60% of consumers use local ads
- Over 88% of consumers trust reviews to help buying decisions
- Business address / exact location is the #1 piece of information local searchers are seeking
- Photos on your Google business listing generate at least a 10x factor of engagement vs. any other element
- 18% of local searches lead to a sale conversion within one day
- over 50% of mobile users prefer a mobile browser to an app
- The #1 ranked business gets 33% of the search traffic and engagement
- Google, by default, uses the location of the person searching to influence the search results
(ref: Entreprenuer, Search Engine Land)
Let me know if you have any questions or comments on the local SEO tips above!
Or if you are ready to grow your business with Local SEO: Get started with our Local SEO Services,
Additional Local SEO Resources:
Local SEO Tips for 2016
These Local SEO tips were shared back on December 31st, 2015.
I’m a firm believer in the 80/20 rule! This is especially true when it comes to local SEO for dominating Google local search. The 80/20 rule implies a small segment of activities can deliver the overwhelming majority of results. This is also sometimes referred to as the law of exponential growth, and is extremely relevant when it comes to local SEO and dominating the local search results in Googles.
One thing I’ve learned over the years in doing local SEO, is there are a few definitive techniques (the 20th percentile), that deliver the overwhelming majority of the results (the 80th percentile).
In other words, there’s a long list of things to consider when implementing local SEO. However, only a few of these things, if implemented effectively, will deliver the majority of your power in ranking in Google local search.
Think of these as local SEO power tips that you absolutely MUST implement if you expect to compete in the local search results.
So without further delay, here are some quick local SEO power tips to dominate Google local search in 2016.
#1: Keyword targeting in your website and Google business page
In order to dominate the local search results in Google, you have to implement your targeted keyword phrases into both your website and your Google business page. Making this happen on your website entails some standard SEO techniques such as meta data optimization. This is the process of including your targeted keyword phrase in the title and description tags of your website’s homepage, the first sentence in your on page content, and in the alt tags of the images on your web page.
But then you need to continue this keyword targeting over to your Google business page. There must be harmony between your Google business page and your business website. Remember that each Google listing has a URL field. And this URL field is where you insert your business website address. So Google will consider the keyword targeting in both your website and Google business page in determining your rankings in the local search results.
You need to be careful that you don’t over-saturate your Google business page title with your targeted keyword phrase. This would cause your business listing to be in jeopardy of being penalized and removed from the search results. From my experience and discussions with Google local support, you can include at least one keyword phrase (called a modifier) in your title. Which leaves the description section of your Google business to include the remaining instances of your targeted keyword phrase.
Creating a consistent keyword phrase relationship between your website and your Google business page is a critical local SEO power tip to dominating the Google local search results in 2016.
#2: Direct Data: Leveraging Schema Language for your NAP
Schema language is a structural protocol adopted by Google, Yahoo, & Bing with the purpose of making it easier to determine certain datasets within web pages. I like to refer to Schema language as direct data that enhances key data sets within web pages. Direct data is particularly relevant when it comes to local SEO.
Direct data, in the example of local SEO initiatives, would refer to data such as your NAP – your business name, address, and phone number. There are many other Schema or direct data sets that can also be leveraged in your web pages depending on your type of business. For example, if your are a lawyer, your law firm’s website and local SEO strategy can leverage direct data sets specifically for attorneys, which you can view on the Schema website at https://schema.org/Attorney.
You can view the full hierarchy of Schemas, or direct data sets, here. There’s even a new paradigm of Schemas called autos that are designed specifically for modes of transportation.
The point in leveraging Schema language, or direct data sets, is they dramatically enhance the authority of your webpages within your local market. Sticking with the 80/20 rule described above, the majority of local businesses (the 80th percentile or more) have no idea what Schema language means. And to be honest, based on my own conversations, most have never even heard of the term. This means, if your business website leverages Schema language for key direct data sets, you would be in the minority (the 20th percentile) and your website would be exponentially more authoritative in your local market. And since Google considers both your business website and your Google business page in determining local search results, this is a key strategy to understand.
#3: Citation Portfolio
Finally, to maximize your chances of dominating Google local search results in 2016, you have to build and authoritative portfolio of citations for your business. According to Moz, citations are defined as mentions of your business name and address on other web pages – even if there are no links from those pages back to your website.
Citations for local SEO are similar to the idea of backlinks to your website for organic SEO. The purpose of building citations is to create a large, authoritative footprint of your local business address across relevant directories and websites. The most authoritative citations to build are those that have meet the following criteria:
- Citations that are published in directories or web pages relevant to your location.
- Citations published in directories or web pages relevant to your business category.
For example, let’s say you own an auto dealership in Alpharetta, Georgia. The most authoritative citations to build for your business would be in a directory that exists specifically for auto dealerships in Alpharetta, Georgia. It’s possible these hyper local directories don’t exist, so you’d then have to expand your citation targeting to the most relevant directories that do exist.
The easy ones to target are the directories accessible through automated services such as Yext and Moz Local. The problem with these automated citation services is that:
- They are easily accessible to all of your competitors, which means you aren’t really differentiating your business by leveraging them.
- The directories where your citations are being published are more global directories such as Yelp, InfoGroup, Axiom, Foursquare, and SuperPages.
But if competitors in your local market are also leveraging these services, your business has done nothing but elevate to the current standard set by your market.
To give your local rankings in Google a substantial amount of authority and power, you need to find ways to differentiate your business from everyone else. And when it comes to citations, you need to get creative in finding the directories that no one else is using (for the most part), and they are highly relevant to your specific location and business category.
In order to dominate the local search results in Google in 2016, you can try to focus on the hundreds of variables that Google considers in their local search algorithm. And certainly over time, you need to be continually striving to improve your overall authority on every aspect you can control.
But, there are definitely a few things you can control, and implement right now, that will give your local rankings in Google a substantial boost above all of your competitors. Keyword consistency between your Google business page and your website, leveraging Schema language effectively within your website and key web pages, and researching to identify hyper local and relevant directories for citations, are sure ways to quickly give your local business an advantage in Google’s local search results.