Local SEO Services
How we rank local, multi-location & international websites
- The importance of Local SEO
- Local vs. Hyperlocal
- Our Local SEO Ranking Process
- Multi-location SEO
- International / Global SEO
The importance of local SEO for local businesses
Local SEO focuses on taking advantage of your key strength – your location. You may be competing with national or global brands, but your biggest strength on search engines is your address and phone number. With the rise of mobile phones, search engines have been able to pinpoint a searchers location, without their input, and show them what they think are the best search results for them.
When you’re looking for Chinese food, you probably type into your phone “Chinese food” or “Chinese food near me” you likely don’t search “Chicago Chinese food restaurants” anymore. That’s because search engines are so good about knowing where you are by pinging your GPS or WiFi connection location, you no longer need to add the city pre-qualifier.
What we do is help those local businesses show up when a user searches something as simple as “Chinese food.” If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you have the ability to outrank your bigger competitors simply from optimizing your local search presence. For some businesses, this is more important than others.
Local SEO vs. hyperlocal SEO
I like to differentiate local businesses from hyperlocal businesses when discussing the relevance of local search optimization. A local business is one that does business in a wider radius than one that is hyperlocal. The hyperlocal business is absolutely dependent on doing business with customers in a small radius, often less than 10 miles, whereas the local business has a wider radius often 25+ miles. This will largely vary based on how unique your offering is and the size of the city / metropolitan area you’re located in.
For example, our company GainTap is a local business. We have a good number of local, Chicago based clients. We want to rank high in Chicago because a lot of people prefer to work with local consultants and firms. They can meet them in person, take calls in the same time zone, do lunch meetings, etc. We’ve met clients an hour or so away from Chicago, driven to the suburbs and signed contracts. Our local radius is around 50 miles or so of the city. But we also have national and international clients as well. We’re a digital marketing firm – we can work with anyone, anywhere. It’s preferred that we rank locally, but it’s not required for our success. This is a huge point of difference when it comes to local optimization.
Now let’s look at a hyperlocal storefront business. Think about a dentist. Unless they have some kind of monetization going on with their website where they’re kicking out affiliate links to toothbrushes on Amazon (yes, this does happen!), they are doing 100% of their business within a few miles of their location. If they’re in a crowded city, they will have a ton of competition around them. Their customers won’t have to travel more than a few blocks before they see another dentist. To these hyperlocal businesses, they absolutely need to improve their ranking signals within a small distance of their location. Here’s how we do that.
How we rank hyperlocal and local businesses
First off – an analysis of the existing site and local competition must be done. This is what gives us an understanding of what’s lacking and how we can best get our client’s business on the map. For example, if they have zero reviews on Google and their competition has 50 positive reviews, that’s a major obstacle. However, if there is literally one competitor, then we should still be able to get our client listed in the top 3 pack on search regardless of lack of reviews.
Using the previous example, getting reviews is important. Some businesses are naturally less inclined to get reviews. For example, most people won’t go online and give their therapist a rating because it is a deeply personal service. This is likely going to be an industry wide problem so competitors won’t be at an advantage here. However, think about a pizza place. People love pizza and they especially love good pizza. They also hate bad pizza. If you run a pizza place, it is much easier getting reviews than a therapist, which can be both positive and negative.
Local on-site optimization
Getting the site tweaked to rank locally is extremely important. It’s one of the major SEO factors that a business owner has direct control over. This can be as easy as adding the business’s location information, local business schema markup and local phone number to the site. Or it can be as complex as building out neighborhood or city pages for areas the business would like to rank in.
Local link building
Getting backlinks to your site is still one of the top 3 ranking factors out of hundreds. When it comes to links, quality beats quantity. However, local businesses will benefit even more by having local quality links. A few examples of quality local links would be:
- Local chamber of commerce website
- Community centers
- Local business organizations
- Meetup groups and events in the area
- Other local businesses
This is an overlooked part of search optimization. Many business owners are specifically looking to avoid paying for advertising by optimizing their site. There is a false belief that search engine traffic is “free.” But when you hire a company like us to optimize your site, you’re paying for it. If you have particularly intense competition, paid search can often give you better, faster results than organic search optimization. We like to use Facebook advertising to hit a targeted, local group of potential customers. This can boost traffic, increase awareness of the local business and send great local search signals to search engines.
There are tons of directories that allow businesses to list their information. The importance of these has been greatly overstated in the SEO community. We’ve seen little improvement going from 35 of the top listings to 80. But if you have a lot of listings out there with old, incorrect info then fixing up these local citations can have an impact on your local rankings. If your business has moved locations, changed websites or updated your phone number, you should check these listings. Or if you’ve never set any up, you should at least tackle the core services.
The process above can be repeated for multiple locations. We see this with some clients who are specifically looking for a multi-location SEO firm. In truth – it’s the same process, scaled out across multiple storefront locations.
International / global optimization
Again, international SEO processes are very similar to the above mentioned local search optimization. There are some important additional steps required to rank pages internationally.
This is key. You need to make sure your site is broken out by country. There are different ways of doing this, but we prefer using the subfolder route:
From there, we can register each subfolder of the site with Google Webmaster Tools and assign it a specific country level targeting. We’d also add language and schema targeting in the code for each set of subfolder pages which gives search engines even greater understanding of the proper country level targeting.