Written by Caroline Cox on May 11 , 2022

Looking to ramp up your local SEO efforts but aren’t sure where to begin? You’ve come to the right place. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • What your Google Business Profile should include
  • How to optimize your website for local search
  • Tips for location-based keyword research
  • How reviews factor into local SEO

I recently came across this rather genius business name via an online marketing group:

coffeeshop near me local seo best practices

Whoever named this place deserves a raise, honestly. (Image: Facebook)

Pretty brilliant, right? Someone in the vicinity searches for “coffee shop near me,” and this place is bound to pop up. (Although, reports show Google has figured out this practice, making it less effective than it once was.)

So, what about all the other businesses that can’t use a tongue-and-cheek name? That’s where local SEO comes in. 

Local SEO is how brands can ensure their website content and online profiles are optimized to accurately answer locally relevant or location-based searches. For the latest local SEO best practices, keep reading.

1. Conduct local SEO audits

An audit is a great starting point when venturing into a local SEO project. This way, you can get a firm grasp on where your local SEO stands, while identifying strengths as well as areas of improvement.

Local SEO audits can be more high-level or granular, depending on your goals and bandwidth. Most audits will include steps like:

  • Making sure all locations are represented online
  • Checking page speeds
  • Ensuring location page metadata is filled out
  • Having location pages in your site’s header and/or footer
  • Checking UTM parameters
  • Reviewing local keywords
  • Ensuring mobile-friendliness

2. Respond (appropriately) to online reviews 

Most business owners have a love-hate relationship with online reviews. Their importance can’t be overstated, but it can also be difficult to keep up with them. These days, people have multiple options for leaving reviews online, from Google and Facebook to sites like Trustpilot.

There’s also the fact that, as your business grows, the greater the likelihood is that you may receive some less-than-ideal reviews. This can be due to a misunderstanding, a simple mistake, or a sub-par customer experience. Companies are run by people, after all, and people aren’t perfect.

A BrightLocal study revealed “87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 — up from 81% in 2019.” While you can’t exactly control your online reviews, you can control how your business responds to them. 

To stay on top of your online reviews, we recommend creating a process with these key strategies:

  • Identify where online reviews are being generated
  • Outline steps for a professional, timely response strategy
  • Respond to both positive and negative reviews
  • Have a plan for how to address and mitigate negative reviews when possible

3. Keep your Google Business Profile updated

Formerly called “Google My Business,” your Google Business Profile is one of the most forefront representations of your business online. Because of that, it’s one of the most important local SEO best practices to monitor.

You can start by claiming your business’s profile, if you haven’t already. Once you have ownership of it, you can ensure it’s fully filled out and that all information is accurate. 

A complete Google Business Profile generally includes:

  • Your business name, address, phone number, and URL
  • The industry category your business fits in
  • A thorough business description
  • Business hours
  • Up-to-date photos (ideally of the interior and exterior if possible)
  • Reviews
  • Posts (such as special offers, upcoming events, new offerings, the latest blog posts, holiday business information, etc.)

From there, consider having a local SEO strategy that includes consistently adding photos and posts to your profile when it makes sense.

woman in leaning against back of open car hatch looking at tablet to conduct local search

Optimizing your site for local search means that each location should have its own web pages with location-specific content. (Image: Unsplash)

4. Publish location-specific content

It’s tempting to create overarching content that speaks to everyone in your audience, no matter their location.

But creating content that’s location-specific can be hugely beneficial for your local SEO, even if it does take more time and planning. (That’s what a good content marketing calendar is for, after all.)

As Hubspot explains, “while writing about general topics will attract a wide crowd, sometimes it’s more important to hone your focus and write about local or industry news to attract a local audience.” 

Semrush recommends optimizing content for your area as well, including mentioning area-specific landmarks when you can.

5. Leverage local keywords

Local keyword research is similar to any other keyword research you’d be doing as part of your marketing strategy. In this instance, you’re trying to understand how people search for your location-based offerings.

During the process, Ahrefs suggests taking steps such as:

  • Find service-based keywords
  • Check search volumes (you can search nationally and by state, city, or town)
  • Check for local intent
  • Assign keywords to pages

6. Spot-check for consistency across the web

It may seem like splitting hairs to notice something like “&” vs. “and” in your business name. But the fact is, the seemingly small details matter — especially when you’re focusing on local SEO best practices.

If it wasn’t already baked into your local SEO audit, take time to regularly spot check that your business info is consistent on everything from your Google Business Profile to review sites and social media pages. 

It’s also wise to pay special attention to NAP — name, address, and phone number, if applicable. Not only does this allow everyone who stumbles upon your business to access accurate info, but consistency makes you look more legit in the eyes of search engines.

7. Optimize your website for local search

Even one-location businesses should have an “About” page on their site to give visitors background on their company. But this is even more crucial for multi-location businesses.

Optimizing your site for local search means that each location should have its own web pages with location-specific content. That can look like having unique “About” pages for each with information on that outpost’s details such as hours, address, promos, and more.

The takeaway

The truth is, nearly all businesses can benefit from taking advantage of local SEO. Even if your company runs fully online, you can still target those who want to support local businesses or are in a certain service area.

Put these local SEO best practices in place to keep your search engine optimization strategy well-rounded, competitive, and set up for long-term success.

This entry was posted in Blog, SEO on by .
Caroline Cox

About Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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