Local SEO has become a huge topic in recent years.
In fact, did you know that “near me”, and “buy now” searches are up by 500%? That’s right. They are completely smashing it.
Moreover, with the rise of smartphones, every third search is related to location. And we are sure that you want to attract people looking for “where can I buy…”, right?
This is a golden opportunity for every local business owner to get ahead.
And if you have a local business, you can’t be missing out on it. That’s what we will look at in this guide today.
We’ll talk about local SEO, local rank tracking, and everything you need to know to dominate local rankings.
What Is Local SEO About
Local SEO is a set of strategies to rank high in the local search.
If you have a local business and a Google My Business listing, searchers can find it online and decide whether to visit it. If they type in any local query such as “restaurants near me”, they’ll get a bunch of businesses listed.
These businesses are shown by location and sorted by local SEO score.
That’s right, the more you work on your local SEO game, the higher you’ll rank, which will increase your chances of attracting more customers. And of course, if you give it no attention, you won’t even be able to rank for local searches at all.
What You Must Know Before Optimizing for Local SEO
Before we start working on your local SEO game, you must learn a few things first.
When it comes to local SEO, it’s very similar to organic SEO. The only difference is that everything is local-related.
With that being said, let’s look at a few concepts you should understand.
When it comes to local keywords, they are similar to organic ones.
But unlike organic queries, they are location-related. You can see a great example of the difference between the two below.
While the first one serves everyone, the second one is only for people from London. So be sure to keep that in mind when conducting local keyword research.
Google My Business Listing
The second new thing is the GMB listing – A.K.A Google 3-Pack.
When it comes to organic searches, you type in a search query to Google, and you’ll get a list of search results as below.
But this is different for local SEO.
When you type in a local-based search query, you will get a list of nearby businesses. And this list features the three best businesses – Google 3-Pack.
All these businesses have been registered in Google My Business, and you can see them in Google Maps.
If you rank among the top businesses, there is a big chance you attract more customers…. Which will go a long way in making your business more profitable.
Lastly, there is Google Maps you are probably well familiar with.
We are sure that most of you have used it at least once, whether it was looking for a business or trying to navigate somewhere with a GPS.
No matter what it was, you won’t be found if you don’t perfect your local SEO.
Your business won’t be shown in Google Maps, and your potential customers won’t find you, which can drastically decrease your sales.
The Top Benefits of Local SEO
Local SEO can bring you a lot of benefits that organic SEO can’t provide.
Some of them can motivate you, but some can do wonders for your business, traffic, and sales.
Here are the 5 biggest benefits of working on your local SEO.
#1 Works Well for Niche Marketing
Small business owners can feel overwhelmed competing with giant companies such as Amazon, eBay, or AliExpress.
The struggle is real…You’re getting only a few customers while they’re getting millions.
They are completely dominating the market, and there is only a slight chance that you can ever compete with them, let alone beat them.
Fortunately, if you’re taking advantage of local SEO, you don’t need to compete with them.
Instead, you’ll shift your focus to only local businesses in your area.
You will stop selling to everyone and focus only on the specific group of customers that can physically visit your store.
You will also start to optimize your content and business towards your niche.
And this will, in turn, help you dominate your niche and local-based businesses. You will become a shark in your ocean.
#2 Build Your Business’ Brand at a Local Level
Like the previous benefit of niche marketing, local SEO is excellent for establishing authority and brand awareness at a local level.
If you choose a few local keywords carefully, you can avail the local market and dominate.
It will help you narrow down competition from worldwide to local-based. This means competing with a few local restaurants rather than the best restaurants in the world.
This can have a tremendous impact on your rankings and brand awareness.
Moreover, it can increase your profitability and make you more successful.
#3 Collect Data on Your Competitors from Local SERPs
If you are looking to dominate your neighborhood, you’ll also need to smash your local online presence.
And for that, we will be using a local rank tracker.
It’s essential because it can allow you to track your competitors’ local rankings and compare them with yours. You can then use this information to adjust your strategy and win.
Local trackers are a MUST when it comes to a thriving local business online presence.
#4 It’s a Good Marketing Campaign
Starting a local SEO marketing campaign can be difficult, especially if this is your first time.
You need to learn about local rank trackers, get on the most popular listings, and create your Google My Business profile.
But if you can get all of that right, you can save a lot of money on advertising.
That’s right, creating a successful local SEO marketing campaign can help you big time in promoting your business and increasing brand awareness. You no longer have to run a PPC ads campaign or promote it via social media.
You just perfect your GMB profile, work on your local SEO, and the rest will follow.
#5 Reach out to a Bigger Audience by Optimizing for Local Keywords
Local rank trackers can help you attract a larger audience. This is because by tracking your local keywords, you can dominate local rankings.
More importantly, you can attract the audience that really matters.
These are the searchers who are nearby and want to buy a product from you ASAP.
Attracting them is the most important thing to enhance the profitability of your business. You should also widen your focus on multiple keywords to dominate rankings.
That will establish you as an authority in your niche and help you get more customers.
Only then can you harness the full power of local SEO and local rank trackers.
The Difference Between Local SEO & Organic SEO
Before we jump into the whole process of getting these benefits and taking advantage of local rank trackers, let’s look at the differences between local and organic SEO.
This will allow you to see why you should focus on local SEO instead of organic SEO if you are a local business owner.
You will also understand the differences and see the true power of local SEO.
#1 Local SEO Focuses on the Geographic Market in the Proximity Area While Organic SEO Has a National or Global Audience in Mind
Organic SEO focuses on global scale visibility.
You build content that everyone can read, no matter the location, nationality, or anything else. If the person can speak English, they can become a reader.
Of course, that also means that your competitors are everywhere around the globe.
Local SEO is a bit different, though.
It is very location-related, focusing on a specific location. And if your customers aren’t nearby, you are not targeting them.
This has many advantages but also some disadvantages you need to consider.
For instance, you are attracting 1000x fewer customers – shifting from the whole world to only your location.
But even though you are attracting fewer customers, they are all qualified. Moreover, all of them can buy from you, which makes them your perfect audience.
You also have lower competition, competing only with the nearby businesses.
This can be a huge benefit, especially in the beginning. You don’t need to compete with every business in the industry like in organic SEO.
Instead, you compete with only a few similar-size nearby businesses.
#2 Local SEO Focuses on Making a Business Relevant in Local Search Engine Results
Ranking high in search results is essential.
It will help you establish authority, gain more traffic, and even boost sales. But if you have a local business, do you need it?
The answer is not really – or at least not as much as being well positioned in local SERP.
Dominating local search engine results is far more critical than ranking in organic search results.
This is because you can leverage maybe 5 – 10% of organic traffic to your advantage.
But with local traffic, it is more like 90 – 100%. Remember, local SEO focuses on the audience that lives nearby, not on everyone like organic SEO.
#3 Local SEO Uses Specific Keywords to Reach out to Audience in the Search Area
Using local rank trackers is a lot different from using the organic keyword research tool.
The same goes for keywords.
Organic keywords are very general compared to local keywords. For instance, consider the example keywords below.
All of them are for everyone seeking the information.
Local keywords are different, though. They are tight to the location of the business and usually contain a word or two based on the location.
For instance, if your business is in London, local keywords would look like below.
You can compare these examples with the previous ones and immediately spot the difference.
Don’t freak out, though. The whole process isn’t that difficult as it may seem.
#4 The Strategies of SEO and Local SEO Overlap, So You Don’t Have to Adjust Your Strategy a Lot to Optimize for Local SERPs
Local SEO and organic SEO have their differences.
But, they are both still SEO, which means they don’t differ that much from one another. You should think of organic SEO as a baseline and local SEO as a superstructure.
They overlap each other and can work great together.
In fact, if you are looking for the best results, you should make them work hand in hand.
The strategies you use for building great organic rankings, such as link building, skyscraper technique, and so much more, are also helpful for your local SEO. This is very convenient because it means you don’t have to change up your existing strategy.
Instead, you make only a few tiny changes, and you are good to go. It’s super simple.
The Fundamentals of Local Rank Tracking
After you have a pretty good understanding of local SEO and how it differs from organic SEO, it’s time that we look into the fundamentals of local rank tracking.
In this section, you’ll discover everything about local rank tracking and why it matters.
What Falls Under Local Rank Tracking?
Local rank tracking is a local SEO strategy for improving a site’s SERP rankings. There are a couple of things you’ll need to rank higher such as:
- Brand awareness – searchers must know about you
- Domain’s authority – searchers must trust you
- Constant traffic – searchers must see you as relevant.
Local rank tracking can help you achieve all of these things.
Moreover, if you use it the right way, it can help you skyrocket your Google rankings and boost conversions.
But before you can get that, you’ll need to learn more about the mechanics of local search.
HOW DO USERS SEARCH FOR LOCAL KEYWORDS?
There are a bunch of ways you can spot a local search query with a local rank tracker.
For instance, consider the example below.
If the query contains “near”, “near me”, or “nearby”, it’s a clear indication for the local rank tracker that it’s a local query. So it’s obvious, if you didn’t mind the location, you wouldn’t include it in the search query.
But it doesn’t stop there… There are a lot of other phrases like “open now” or “outdoor”.
If a local rank tracker spots these phrases, it knows that you are looking for something near you where you can go.
(there are also other similar phrases like “pet-friendly”)
Lastly, there are qualitative modifiers like “best”, “top-rated”, or “most popular”. These are one of the most searchable local queries.
That isn’t surprising, though. We all want the best quality, right..? Especially with the food.
On top of that, there can also be geo-modified keywords, including a state or city.
This makes it more than clear to the local rank trackers that a searcher is looking for local businesses in the local area.
So bottom line, imagine being in searcher’s shoes, outside of your apartment.
How would you search for a restaurant, florist, or barber? What questions would you have before arriving at the desired location?
Answering these questions will help you see how searchers would look for a local query.
THE DISPLAY OF SEARCH RESULTS
We’ve covered what local rank tracking does and what local keywords look like.
Now it’s time to discover what happens when searchers press enter and get the local search results from Google.
So if you were to search for “restaurants in London”, you’d get something as below.
It’s a Google My Business 3-pack, as we’ve mentioned earlier. In essence, Google shows you the three most relevant businesses for your search query.
It counters on all factors, which include location, rating, relevance, etc.
It’s important here to keep in mind to set the right GMB category for your business. For example, if you have a barbershop but set it as a “restaurant”, you won’t earn much…
(keep that in mind when creating your GMB profile.)
Also, searchers can look for your business directly by its name. If they do, they will see a big Google My Business listing, as you can see below.
Of course, all of that is only possible with the local rank tracking, and GMB set properly.
Why Is Local Rank Tracking Important, and How Does It Benefit You?
We’ve covered the basics of local rank tracking in the two points above. But how does it actually benefit you to use local rank tracking?
That’s what we will shed light on in the following three sections.
INCREASED LOCAL SEARCH VISIBILITY FOR LOCAL SERPs.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is very true, especially in the SEO world.
If you don’t have the right strategy and fail to use local rank tracking to track your local keywords, you will quickly fall short.
On the other hand, using local rank tracking properly can do wonders for your site.
It can transform your underperforming business into a top-ranking people’s go-to. As a result, you can increase your visibility, gain traffic, and make tons of sales.
Think about that next time when deciding to use a local rank tracking tool.
APPEARING IN GOOGLE 3-PACK, WHICH ATTRACTS MORE TRAFFIC AND PHYSICAL CUSTOMERS
Local rank tracking can be the best thing you can do for your local business. This is because it can allow you to smash the Google 3-pack completely.
The critical thing here is monitoring local keywords as well as your competitors.
Without local rank tracking, you cannot know for what search queries you rank or whether you’ve outranked competitors.
You can only guess and hope you did (which is never good.)
But with a local rank tracking solution, you can be 100% sure. It can track your keywords and tell you the exact ranking position.
You can then make the necessary improvements and smash the local 3-pack.
It’s a must for every serious business owner.
MONITORING YOUR LOCAL COMPETITORS ALLOWS YOU TO ALWAYS STAY ON TOP OF THEM, STEALING THEIR CUSTOMERS AND TRAFFIC
Often you can see a new local business opening.
You may not be concerned about it because you’ve been there longer, have higher credibility, and will definitely outrank it, right?
Well, not really…
In fact, there can be a new business that has just opened up and outrank you in a few seconds if they know what they are doing.
The worst thing about it is you never find out – unless you use a local rank tracking tool.
That’s why it’s crucial to track your rankings and look for any competitors who may be trying to put you down or the ones who have done it already. They are stealing your traffic and customers, so you must take action ASAP.
But without a proper local rank tracking solution, you’ll never know.
That’s why using the right solution is a MUST for every serious local business.
Create Your Google My Business Listing
Before you can take advantage of local rank tracking, you must have an actual business you can track. And that’s exactly what setting up Google My Business is – making your business online.
It allows searchers to find it online, interact with it, and consider visiting it.
How To Set Up Your GMB
The first step of local SEO is creating your online business profile. The easiest way to do so is to create a Google My Business account.
You can easily do that by navigating to the Google business website.
You will first need to create the whole Google Suite account for your business. This includes everything from a Gmail account to Google Drive.
After that, you’ll need to click on “Manage now” and start creating your business.
The first thing you’ll need to set is your business name.
After you take care of that, it’s time to set the category of your business.
There are nearly 4.000 categories, so you can be sure you’ll find the one that suits your business the most.
It’s important to pick it wisely, though. So be sure to take your time on this step.
If you are unsure of which category to pick, you can go ahead and look at the whole list of all GMB categories here.
You’ll then need to select the address of your store.
Make sure always to double-check it. You have no idea how many businesses write an incorrect address to their store.
It will frustrate your customers and significantly decrease your sales.
After that, you’ll need to pinpoint the exact location of your business on Google Maps. Take your time on this step and make it as precise as possible.
It will literally take you only a few seconds but can save your customers a lot of time.
Then you’ll need to add your phone number and website URL and verify that it’s really your business.
The usual procedure is to send you a postcard by mail from Google.
After receiving it, you can verify that you are really an owner of your business, and so you can claim it.
Once you do that, you’ll get your business online, and you’ll show up in Google Maps.
You will also get listed in the SERP if somebody searches for your business. It’s definitely a MUST for every physical business.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Almost every business has its GMB profile nowadays. But only a tiny portion of business owners actually takes time to optimize it and make it top-notch.
This opens up an excellent opportunity to take advantage of it and perfect yours.
Here are 5 steps to optimize your GMB listing.
#1 Have an Accurate NAP
NAP stands for “name, address, and phone number.” For local SEO purposes, you must include this information when creating your GMB profile.
But just writing any NAP isn’t enough. It must be consistent and accurate.
Often, local businesses feature inaccurate addresses, or they feature different NAPs across multiple listings.
That isn’t ideal, though, and may present two major setbacks.
- You may risk customers visiting the wrong location – and you lose them
- You may experience a ranking drop – consistent NAP is a ranking factor
For these reasons, you must make sure it’s consistent and accurate across every listing and business directory.
In fact, if you look at the two most common ranking issues, you’ll come to find out this.
I am sure you don’t want to be like the majority of businesses with an inaccurate NAP.
And that’s why it’s critical that you always double-check your name, address, and phone number when adding your business to a listing.
It’s the only way to achieve substantial rankings and generate more sales.
#2 Write a Perfect Business Description
The business description is the best place to describe your business and help customers know what to expect.
It’s also an ideal place to include some local keywords and do the selling.
You should pay attention to the tone of your description as well as including unique attributes to attract more customers.
After all, why should a customer visit your store instead of choosing competitors?
You must make it all clear in your description.
Remember, its point is to describe, persuade, and rank your business higher.
#3 Upload Relevant Photos of Your Business
We are visual creatures, so a picture is worth a thousand words is very true, especially when it comes to marketing.
We process visual information a lot better and faster and find it much more appealing.
And that’s why it’s a MUST to upload relevant photos of your business to your GMB listing.
(it will also help you rank higher because it’s a ranking factor.)
Of course, this is only true with high-quality, relevant photos. If you upload blurry images that have nothing to do with your business, you won’t get far.
That’s why you should pay attention to the resolution, quality, and relevance.
All of your photos should be sharp and taken from your business or at least have some connection to it.
Adding stock photos may only lure in readers on something you can’t deliver. So make everything believable, high-quality, and relevant.
#4 Monitor and Respond to Reviews
Reviews play a huge role for Google as well as customers.
If you see a business with a 4.7-star rating compared to the one with no reviews, which one are you more likely to pick?
The first one, for sure.
Reviews are very critical, but so is the way you handle them.
You must make sure you respond to every review, especially negative ones.
Most business owners receive a negative review, and they get mad and ignore it or attack the person writing the review.
But that isn’t a good policy and may lead to some severe problems in the future.
So make sure always to be kind and respond to every review.
You should also monitor your reviews and find out your negative-to-positive ratio.
If you see many negative reviews and almost no positive ones, that means that there is something seriously wrong with your business.
The most common reason is your personnel – the customer service.
If this is the case, talk to your employees, and be sure the same inconveniences don’t repeat in the future.
That will help you stay away from negative reviews and replace them with positive ones.
#5 Set up Q&A to Answer Customer Inquiries
Confusion kills sales.
Sometimes your customers may be considering visiting your store, but they might not be sure of something.
And because they are not sure, they decide not to visit it altogether.
Fortunately, you can prevent it by incorporating a Q&A section with your business. Your customers will no longer be confused or indecisive.
Instead, they will know all they need and will have no problem visiting your business.
That will help you be different and make customers choose your business rather than go for competitors’.
How to Take Advantage of Local Rank Tracking
You’ve learned quite a bit about local rank tracking and local SEO.
But we have never talked about the exact strategies and ways to use a local rank tracking solution to outrank your competitors.
This is the last missing piece in your local SEO strategy which you’re about to discover.
Here is the exact process of how to take advantage of local rank tracking.
#1 Use a Right Local Rank Tracking Tool
There is a lot of great local rank tracking solutions on the market.
You can choose them in the form of plugins, web-application, or even standard desktop apps for your operating system.
Each one of them has its own limitations but also advantages to take into account.
For instance, plugins tend to be really easy to use and intuitive, but they are also only lightweight and don’t have a lot of features.
If you’re serious about your business but also your comfort, we suggest using web apps.
They can provide you with the same amount of functionality as desktop applications while still being lightweight and intuitive, like plugins.
We highly suggest using Grid My Business when it comes to local rank tracking.
There are a couple of reasons for that. First, it’s really precise, and you have a ton of features that can help you work more effectively.
Many solutions get their position by the zip code, which may not be so accurate.
With the Grid My Business, you can choose the grid to cover, and we will calculate rankings as they appear in the real world.
(we also support multiple-location which is very convenient for larger businesses,)
It also features additional handy features like analyzing competitors, managing GMB reporting, and so much more.
You can see some of the best Grid My Business features below.
It’s really one of the most complete solutions for local rank tracking on the market.
#2 Insert Your Location & Search Query That Is Relevant to Your Business
Grid My Business is super simple to use.
The whole process of analyzing your business and local SERPs starts with inserting your location and target keyword into the search bar.
So, for instance, let’s say your business is “Di Fara Pizza” and the search query you are checking is “pizza delivery.”
Your input into the search bar would then look like below.
You will then need to further specify the location, as you can see below.
The last step is setting up the grid or the cover of your business.
In essence, you are setting the grid size and the location from which people can go to your business and buy.
Right after that, you hit Run Scan, and our tool will perform an in-depth analysis of your business and SERPs.
#3 Optimize Your Website Based on Your Current Position in the Results Shown
After you get the results from your local rank tracking tool, it’s time to act on them.
If you got great results as we did, you have nothing to worry about. Just keep doing your thing and stay on top of your game.
But if you didn’t get the results you expected, it’s time to do something about it.
You should compare your business to your competitors, find out what they are doing better than you, and improve your business to beat them.
You can also conduct competitor analysis with our tool and learn more about competitors.
The most common reason you may not be ranking well is reviews, your overall local SEO game, and NAP citations.
If you are struggling with local rankings we suggest putting in the time on these things.
Especially with reviews, all you have to do is ask your customers to leave a review, and you can give them a coupon in return.
NAP citations are also extremely easy to fix. All you need to do is go to Google, type in your address or business name, and look for citations.
We are sure that you will find some that don’t match your real location.
If you do so, fix them, and avoid unpleasant situations where a visitor comes to an incorrect location.
But of course, if you’ve followed our tips to optimize your GMB profile, your business is on point, and you are the king of your local rankings.
Either way, do what you have to do to get on top, boost traffic, and maximize conversions.
#4 Some Local Rank Trackers Also Have a Monitoring Feature to Get Periodic Updates on Your Business, or Your Competitors’
Local SEO, together with local rank tracking, isn’t a one-time thing.
Instead, it’s a continuous process you need to constantly put in the effort into if you are looking to succeed.
Unfortunately, that’s not how most business owners see it.
Part of it is because they don’t want to go through the whole process of analysis over again, and they think it’s a waste of time.
And that’s why we incorporated Scheduled Scanning into our solution.
It makes it incredibly easy to scan and monitor your business continuously.
Whether it’s your business, your competitor’s, or anyone else’s, you can stay up to date and observe the rankings effortlessly.
This feature is a true gem and will allow you to save a lot of time and effort.
So make sure you set up scheduled scanning in your rank tracking tool. Keep an eye on the local rankings at least once a week and stay updated.
It’s the only way to substantial growth and great results in the future.
As it gets more competitive in each industry, local SEO and local rank tracking have become much more valuable in ensuring that your business remains relevant.
Local SEO and search engines have also become more sophisticated over the years.
Fortunately for you, you now know everything about local SEO, local rank tracking, and how to rule the local rankings.
Follow the advice you’ve learned above, perfect your business, and become a local king.
Updated: 18 December 2021