The 7 Key Local SEO Strategies To Improve Google My Business Rankings In 2019

If you’re wondering why your business isn’t bringing in new customers, look no further than your ranking on Google. It can be overwhelming with all the information on the Internet about ranking higher and optimizing your site so your customers can find you. From content creation, SEO (search engine optimization), backlinking, the list of ways to rank higher can feel endless and exhausting. 

As a business owner, you want to succeed, right? 

No one goes into business wanting to fail. It’s important to understand what percentage of small businesses fail–because many do actually succeed. You need to know the facts rather than listening to anyone out there trying to put fear in your mind and convince you to walk away from your dreams.

What Percentage of Small Businesses Fail? The most recent stats from Fundera show:

20% of small businesses fail in their first year

30% of small businesses fail in their second year

50% of small businesses fail after five years in business. 

Before you throw in the towel, you have to remember that many of the reasons why small businesses fail are in your control. For example, ineffective marketing is one of the top reasons why your business may not be getting the attention it needs in order to grow and prosper.

Your marketing is something that you have power over. 

If you don’t really understand HOW to market or WHO you’re marketing to, we’re here to help you. 

Google My Business: How It Works

According to Google, 50% of all the mobile consumers who search for a local business in a day visit it as well. Furthermore, 18% of them end up making a purchase.

GMB is a free tool that lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. That includes adding your business name, location, and hours; monitoring and replying to customer reviews; adding photos; learning where and how people are searching for you, and more.

If you’re just getting started with local SEO, your Google My Business listing is a great place to focus your early efforts. After all, when people search for a product or service near them, they’re usually very close to making a purchase — one in two people who conduct a local search (think “watch repair near me”) visit a store that day. So it’s important the information about your business that shows up when people search Google is as accurate, complete, and optimized as possible.

Consider reading: 8 Strategies To Leverage Google Local Guides For SEO (After Google Plus Massive Fail).

Imagine that your exact customer or client has been searching endlessly for a specific product or service. Your business happens to be the solution. And just when they want to give up on trying to figure out which phrases to use to get the answer to their question on Google, YOUR business shows up first in their search results. 

How Does Your GMB Listing Looks Like In Local Results?

Your primary listing at Google that is editable in the GMB dashboard and publicly accessible at 3 locations:

Google Search (knowledge panel) 

Google Maps

Local Finder

Small businesses readily rely on consumers in their own backyards, as opposed to a national audience, to keep their doors open. So what are you doing to ensure everyone in a 25 mile radius knows you exist? If you’re not showing up in “near me” searches you’re likely missing out on a bevy of business and frankly, we’re not happy about it.

When people search using Chrome on their smartphones with an “emoji + near me,” you might be surprised by what they find:

How to optimize your Google My Business listing

You got it! Google knew that I was looking for a great burger joint around my home! 

This is the power of local SEO, also referred to as local search engine marketing. Google has revamped its tools to help local business owners show up effectively to promote and market their businesses online.

What is a “Near Me” Search?

Grab your phone and type in “running store” and you’ll see that Google tries to fill in the rest of the search with “near me”. They figure, whatever you’re searching for you’ll be happier with your search results if it suggests stores that aren’t clear across town from your current locale. Makes sense, right?

Why Should I Worry About Showing Up in “Near Me” Searches?

Think with Google recently reported that “76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.” There’s also been a 500% increase in “near me” mobile searches that contain some variation of “can I buy” or “to buy” over the last two years. Source: Think With Google.  That’s pretty impressive.

If Google knows your business’ location and the user’s search query is requesting for nearby business’ this is precisely why you absolutely need to invest in local SEO marketing alongside standard SEO.

How To Rank Your Local Business In Google? 7 Strategies To Win Your Local Search Rankings 

There are specific strategies that you as a small business owner can implement after reading this article to start showing up in your Google local listings. 

Number One: Keyword Search (The Magic Starts There!) 

Before you put together your list of targeted keywords, you have to identify who your customers are and what they’re searching for online. After you’ve identified the personal traits of your customers, think about the ways in which they are searching for what you have to offer. This strategy will work when you carve out the time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. 

You’ll also want to analyze your competitor’s winning keywords. Why? Because the whole point of SEO is to outrank your competitor’s search results. Once again, take the time to identify your competitors and how they rank for the keywords you’re targeting. 

A very simple way to verify your competitors ranking? Use your mobile and search for their services. Let’s say you have a cleaning business. Type “cleaning business near me” and see what comes up! By studying your local competitors using Google search, you will be able to have insights for your local SEO plan for your website.

It’s relatively easy to identify target keywords that will drive traffic to your Google My Business Listing. The key here is to identify the right keywords that will drive the right traffic to your business. There are many popular keywords tools to help with the local keyword search. We highly recommend semRUSH to create your local business keyword plan. 

Pro tip: If you own multiple locations, you can create a keyword plan considering local seo for each location. 

Number Two: Your Services Pages | Product Description Pages

When it comes to your products and services. Don’t be shy! This is an opportunity for your business to stand out using keywords that your target audience is typing into Google. You want your services to shine and be at the top of the query list.

A few things to keep in mind when writing out your services and product pages.

✔️ Focus on the benefits, not simply the features. You want to speak to the results that your customer is going to gain by working with your business. For instance, as a result of your services, will your customers save more money? Make more money? Get more leads? Then spell it out! 

✔️ Create rich, meaningful copy that speaks to your customers. Don’t be stingy with your words. Write detailed information about your services, the benefits, and how your customer can learn more. Remember, skimpy copy = no sale.

✔️ Make sure your website is mobile friendly.

Pro tip: Use your Google My Business Listing to share your products and services. 

Number Three: Frequently Asked Questions Page 

Many small businesses do not take the time to carefully map out their FAQ page. They think it’s a waste of time. However, FAQ content can provide answers to pertinent questions that your customers may have. It’s yet another opportunity to include SEO specific content, thereby increasing your ranking on Google.

Companies like Twitter, YouTube, McDonald’s all have very clean, simple FAQ pages that answer customers’ most commonly asked questions 

Think about it this way. A new customer is always going to have questions. Your FAQ page is a primary way to remove any barriers (lack of knowledge) that will prevent your customers from doing business with you. The page needs to be easy to read. 

When writing your content, remember to keep in mind that not everyone reads at the same level. This is where the Readability Score comes into play.

Factors such as sentence length, scalability, vocabulary, passive vs. active voice are all things that will either guide your customer to make a decision to work with you, or not.

Pro tip: Readability Score is a reliable plugin that you can use to check to determine what level a reader needs to be to understand your content. 

Number Four:  Videos 

Let’s say you’ve already spent a ton of money on strategizing, producing, and editing videos but it just isn’t getting ranked. What’s going on? 

Video SEO is not the same as standard SEO. If you want your videos to rank higher up the SERP (search engine results page) there are key factors to consider such as: 

  • ✔️Transcribing your video script
  • ✔️Making shorter videos 
  • ✔️Optimizing all video metadata such as titles, subtitles, description, and keywords
  • ✔️Creating high-quality thumbnails

Essentially, if you’ve invested time in producing videos for your business, optimize everything related to it as you would with your content on your website. 

Pro tip: use Google Local Guides to share photos and videos! You will activate the power of Google Maps! 

Number Five: Tags and Meta 

Meta tags are small pieces of text that describe a page’s content. The meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s HTML. Meta tags make it easier for search engines to determine what your content is about, whether it’s relevant and rank it accordingly. Unfortunately, this is where most people fail in the Google local SEO.

Your Google My Business description is a great place to add your tags and meta.

What not to do?

If you’re promoting your pizza restaurant, it’s not like you will be able to write “best pizza in Austin pizza near me best deals to buy pizza order pizza 24 hrs coupons pizza”.   That will be keyword stuffing and will be completely opposite of the results you want!

Make sure you follow the guidelines. 

Business description guidelines (Google is telling you what to do!)

Published content should highlight what makes your business unique. You can use this field to provide useful information on services and products offered, as well as the mission and history of your business

This is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd! Don’t take it casually. Hire a copywriter if you need to.

More advice from Google: 

You should be upfront and honest about the information provided, focusing on content that is relevant and useful to your customers to understand your business. 

Content that’s irrelevant to your business or has no clear association with it isn’t allowed. Refer to our overall guidelines for representing your business on Google.

Content published in this field should not:

  • ✔️Be misleading to users. Do not provide inaccurate or false information about your business or the services and products offered.
  • ✔️Display low-quality, irrelevant, or distracting content. For example, misspellings, gimmicky character use, gibberish, etc. 
  • ✔️Focus on special promotions, prices, and offer sale. Examples of content not allowed include, “Everything on sale, -50%” and “Best bagels in town for $5!”
  • ✔️Display links. No links of any type are allowed.
  • ✔️Display offensive or inappropriate content:

The best way to highlight the importance of meta tags is to highlight the Google search process. 

When you search on Google you’ll be shown many results. But how do you pick? You pick based on the preview. The preview is written, not from your web page but from your meta description. This is a fundamental aspect of the optimization process. Always think about how can best promote your content so that people feel excited and curious to read it.

Number Six: Optimize Your Google Maps Search With Citations

A citation is simply a record of your NAP, which is your business name, address, and phone #, and in some instances your website URL as well.

Google uses citations as a way to validate your business location.  Think of citations as the equivalent of backlinks in organic SEO strategy.

The more authoritative and relevant the citation sources are to your business, the more punch that will give you in boosting your Google Maps rankings.

I also recommend going granular with your citations.

This means finding websites and directories that are either specific to your metro area or targeted to your specific business category.

For example, if I’m a divorce attorney in Austin, then publishing your law firm’s NAP on sources specific to metro Austin and divorce lawyers would help increase the relevance factor and improve your overall location authority.

And the more location authority you have in your business category, the higher you’ll rank in Google Maps.

How do you build location authority?

We think of location authority as synonymous to domain authority.

Domain authority is your ranking power in Google organic search results.

Whereas location authority is your ranking power in Google Maps or Google local search results.

Domain authority is built by doing things like acquiring high-quality backlinks to your domain name or key landing pages within your website.

Location authority is built by distributing your local business data – sometimes referred to as your NAP (business name, address, phone #, and website URL) or your location business citation – across the most authoritative local business directories and resources relative to your business category.

In other words, citation distribution is to location authority as backlinks are to domain authority.

If you want to rank higher in organic search results, you need to build more domain authority.

If you want to rank higher in Google Maps or Google local search results, you need to build more location authority.

Number Seven: Include City Pages in Your Main Navigation

City pages should be incorporated into your site’s navigational structure. For example, create an “Areas we serve” link in the main navigation on your homepage. Or in the “Contact Us” link, include sub-pages to each location.

What is a City Page? 😧

In simple terms, it’s all about opening a page inside your website with /city/.  City pages have been a common strategy to improve local SEO rankings. However, there’s a catch! Your page format! Vital Storm has a great template to format city pages!  It might be advanced but some of you, but here it is! 

Title Tag: keep under 60 characters; give every city page a unique title.

Meta Description: keep under 160 characters, write to encourage someone to click, and do NOT keyword stuff, but do try to use the keyword/city once in logical sentence.

Page Name:

Menu Title: [City]

Title Tag: [Main Service] (Ex: Air Conditioner Repair) + (in/for) [City, State] | [Company Name]

Meta Description: Since [year], [Company] has provided prompt and professional [service] to [City] area residents and business owners.

H1/H2: [City] [Service] (Ex: Expert New York Air Conditioner Repair)

Integrate city pages into your navigation

Integrate city pages into the website’s navigation (service area drop-down, footer navigation, somewhere).

Consider using call tracking and contact form tracking for each city page to help gauge their effectiveness. Consider adding city-specific coupons or special offers.

Do You Think You Need a Google Local SEO Expert? 

I get it. This is a lot to wrap your head around. SEO isn’t something that you’re supposed to know when you start a business. It may seem like a lot of work and headache for you, but for us, this is our zone of GENIUS and JOY.

In 45 days, you would be surprised at the results your business will achieve by working with our company. I help business owners just like you who are driven, passionate, and want to provide solutions to their customers.

It may seem like a far reach to rank #1 in Google. We can make it happen together. I would first need to audit your online presence and evaluate your current ranking, and then, set a clear SEO strategy in place.

Request a Free Assessment and let me see what you can’t see!