How do you get information about the nearest pharmacy that opens at 11:30pm on a Saturday night? If you’re like most people in 2023, you’ll take your phone out of your pocket and start typing something into Google like “pharmacy near me” or “pharmacy in city name”. You will then be presented with a list of pharmacies that are in the vicinity of where you did your search.
Through a practice called local SEO, those pharmacies are able to optimize their websites or map listings and appear at the top of your search results when they are needed most.
If you run a local business that allows walk-in customers, face-to-face interaction with customers, or serves a clear geographic location, then local SEO should be high on your marketing to-do list for this year.
Here we have listed 34 of the most effective local SEO tips that will help your business increase its exposure in local search results.
Google My Business Optimization
Google My Business is an important free tool provided by Google for local businesses to control their presence on search engines and Google Maps. A well-optimized Google My Business listing will allow potential customers to be presented with the most relevant features of your business as well as a number of options to contact you.
After claiming or creating a listing, you will be able to start optimizing your listing, including the categories you want for your business, features to upload images of your location and staff, write timely updates, and respond to customer reviews and questions.
All of this is complemented by a nice analytics dashboard that provides useful information such as what search terms appear most for your listing.
1. Claim your Google My Business Listing
If your business has been around for a while, it may already have a listing on Google Maps. It’s important to check for existing listings first to avoid creating duplicate listings and having to delete them later. Here are the steps to find and claim your Google My Business listing:
Go to Google Maps and type your business name in the search field.
Select your business.
Click Claim this business > Manage now.
Select the verification option, then follow the steps.
If your business is new or cannot be found, you can create a listing from scratch. The best way to do this is to sign in to Google My Business with your Google login and continue the steps.
2. Don’t Use a Virtual Address
This is a quick and easy tip that can save you a lot of time. When creating or moving your Google My Business listing, don’t use virtual addresses. Google’s guidelines don’t allow virtual addresses or post office boxes, so if you use one, your listing could be suspended. Instead, use a home address and hide the location.
3. The Listed Address Still Matters (Even if it’s Hidden)
Areas around registered addresses are more likely to show up in search results than other areas, so if you don’t have a store or office, and have multiple addresses available to mail postcards to, choosing addresses where your customers are located can help.
4. Add Your Service Area
Service areas help inform your customers about the areas you serve. Adding your service area won’t do as much to improve your position on search results as listing your physical location, but it will be useful for your customers to know if you operate in their area.
5. Use Location Pages for Website Links (If You Have Them)
Typically, businesses link their website homepage to the ‘Website’ button on their Google listing. According to Moz, businesses that have more than one location should consider linking to a dedicated location page, as this can improve rankings. (We’ll talk more about location pages later).
This can make sense to customers (and Google), because if they are looking for IT services in Jakarta and you have a dedicated Jakarta office location page for that area, then this is the most relevant page for the customer to visit.
6. Choose Your Business Categories (But Not Too Many)
Choosing the right category has a direct and huge impact on when you appear in search results. Google has over 3,000+ different categories that you can choose from up to 10, with 1 option for the main category. Choosing your category is pretty straightforward, but there are three things to consider when doing so:
Primary categories – These categories have the biggest impact on search results, so choose the best categories that describe your business.
Secondary categories – The more secondary categories you choose, the less impact they have. Google recommends using “as few categories as possible to describe your core business overall from the list provided.” So, we usually recommend using one main category and three secondary categories.
Spying on your competitors – Since there are over 3,000 categories, it can be difficult to know which categories are available, and which ones best suit your business. An easy way to check is to search for the local services you want to feature, then use a tool like GMB Spy to see what categories your competitors have.
7.Get Reviews (Better Quality & More than Competitors)
Reviews are critical to a successful listing on Google My Business. This is because reviews have a direct impact on your search rankings. A survey shows that more than 30% of customers will visit a website after reading a positive review.
Despite their importance, reviews are often overlooked by many businesses. So, getting more high-quality reviews can greatly help you beat the competition in local search results.
Remember to get reviews from your existing, satisfied customers. Google has ways to tell if a review isn’t genuine, including looking at the reviewer’s IP (so avoid asking anyone using the office/store WiFi to leave a review).
8. Reply to all reviews (especially negative ones)
This tip is more about brand management than ranking factors, but it’s still very important to remember. Since replies to reviews are public, you are not only speaking to the person who left the review, but also to others who read it. So, whenever you receive a review, keep the following in mind:
Reply faster – Customers will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Say thank you – Simple
Avoid ready-made responses – A unique and personalized response will go a long way in keeping the customer happy.
Repeat certain points – If the reviewer mentions something they liked, don’t hesitate to mention it in your response. For example, “I’m glad you liked how efficient we were. We pride ourselves on our fast and organized processes.”
If you receive a negative reply, pause for a moment and try your best to understand the problem. Then apologize to the customer and try to have an offline conversation by providing an email or customer service number. While writing your response, remember that you are also writing for future readers.
9. Write General Questions & Answers
Another feature that is often overlooked from your Google Maps listing is the Q&A feature. This is where consumers will ask questions about the business such as “Are you open on Sundays?” or “What services do they offer?”. If you use this feature, keep in mind:
You can’t answer questions in Google My Business.
Questions and answers must be submitted within your listing on Google Maps/Google Search.
Therefore, anyone can reply to questions.
Whenever you receive a question, you must answer it directly in Google Search/Maps. If you are logged into a Google account that is connected to your Google My Business profile, the reply will use the Google My Business logo as an avatar, so the person asking the question will know that the answer came from your business. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Reply faster – Since anyone can provide an answer to any question, it’s important to reply quickly so you can provide an accurate answer.
Write your own Q&A – You don’t have to wait for someone to ask a question. If you already know what customers usually ask, you can write the questions on their behalf and answer them yourself.
10. Upload Photos (Regularly)
Anyone can add photos to your listing, but it is important that you control the image you want your company to portray by uploading photos, including:
Here are some tips when adding photos:
Upload photos every seven days – Photos you upload will be viewable in Google search results for seven days after they are uploaded. After this period, someone can still view your photos by accessing your listing.
Geotag your photos – If you upload photos from your phone, they usually come with embedded GPS coordinates, which Google will use as a local signal. If you’re uploading from a digital camera, you can use websites like this one to add geotags to your photos.
Natural but professional – Google has photo quality guidelines for businesses uploading photos. According to Google, the photos should be “focused, well-lit, have no photoshopped changes, and not overuse filters. Photos should represent reality.”
11. Make Regular Posts
You can think of posts on Google My Business like posts on Facebook or Twitter, even though they appear in Google Search and Google Maps as part of your listing. The beauty of Google My Business posts is that they can help you communicate timely and relevant information directly to your customers.
Like photos, posts help increase the authenticity of your profile. As with photos, new posts are automatically displayed on your page for seven days, so it’s a good idea to post weekly to keep your profile fresh and up-to-date. Some posts you can do include:
Updated business hours (this happens automatically when you update your business hours)
Optimize Your Website Pages (aka On-Page SEO Optimization)
Besides Google My Business, on-page optimization is also very important in increasing your chances of ranking for local searches.
12. Research Local Keywords
Making sure you are targeting local keywords is very important, especially for companies that don’t have physical stores/offices but still serve multiple areas.
The best location keywords usually have the formula “service + location” or “location + service” (for example, “private lawyer in South Jakarta”). Once you have decided on the best location keywords for your business, you should create a page dedicated to those keywords.
Not all location keywords are created equal, so it’s important to enter your keyword ideas into a keyword research tool to see the monthly search volume versus ranking difficulty for those keywords.
13. Spying on Your Competitors’ Keywords to See What Works
Researching keywords can be very difficult – you could spend a lot of time doing it and not get the results you want. Looking at your competitors’ keywords will save you a lot of time and give you an idea of what keywords could also work for you.
Most keyword research tools give you the option to add your competitors’ websites to see what keywords rank well for them. All you need to do is enter each competitor’s website URL. You will then be presented with a list of local keywords that you can also use.
Pay attention to the keyword difficulty level. Most paid keyword tools show how difficult it is for a website to rank for a particular keyword. So, try to choose keywords with good volume but also a reasonable difficulty score that suits your website.
14. Use Google’s Keyword Tools
If you’re on a budget, one of the best ways to search for keywords is to use Google Keyword Planner. Technically, this tool is made for businesses that run Google Ads, but there’s no reason why you can’t sign up for an account and use it to do keyword research for your website.
15. Review Your Competitors’ Pages
Once you’ve found your main local keywords, it’s a good idea to look at the pages that appear for those keywords on Google Search. Look at the top 10 websites and look for similarities. Are they text- or media-focused (images, videos, graphics)? Are they numbered lists like this page, or case studies? How do they use the primary keyword in the title or heading? If you find consistency in the top 10, try to do the same (or better) on your page.
16. Create a Location Page for Each Store/Office Location
This may not be obvious to some, but it’s important to create dedicated pages for all your business locations. By doing this, you can target local keywords for each page.
For example, if you own a dental clinic and you have multiple locations, you should create a page for each of them. Then enter keywords such as “Dentist Bogor” and “Dentist Jakarta” as your page titles and headers. Having a dedicated page for each location helps make your business more relevant to local search intent.
When creating your location pages, keep this in mind:
Use the main local keyword in your title tag.
Use the main local keyword in your page title.
Add local reviews/testimonials to the page.
Add features specific to the location.
Add biographies of staff working at the location.
Include a map and directions to the location.
17. Creating a Service Area Page
If you don’t have a physical location, but serve customers in multiple locations (like plumbers and electricians), creating pages to target different areas is a must. Think about where your customers are located, and create a page specifically for that city (for example, Bekasi Plumber Service).
Since you may have multiple service area pages, try to make each one as original as possible, and mention relevant local information about each one, such as local awards you have won, local testimonials, or how you are involved in the local community.
18. Use Your Primary Local Keywords Strategically
The title tag of your location or service area page is the most obvious section to insert your primary local keyword, but don’t forget to use it (or variations of it) in the following sections:
19. Completing Alt Text for Images on Important Pages
Alt text is an image description written into the HTM. The purpose of the alt text is to help Google read what the image is about.
Filling in descriptive alt text on images helps Google better understand the topic of the page, and it is a good opportunity to add keywords. It is important to write naturally and use keywords only when appropriate. If you are using WordPress to create a website, you can easily add alt text in the media gallery.
20. Include Directions to Your Location
Google is constantly looking for relevancy signals so that it can match websites and listings with the right searches. One of the things Google looks at is who gets directions to your location and where they live.
Adding a Google Maps link to get directions to your location will increase the chances of customers clicking and viewing. This helps Google understand your company’s reach, thus helping to increase the size of your listing area on Google.
To get the link, use an online tool like the Google Maps Directions Link Generator. Once you get the URL, add a link with text similar to “Get directions” below your address.
With 46% of Google searches looking for local information, understanding how local SEO works can be a game-changer for many businesses. Optimizing your website for local searches is not only less competitive compared to trying to rank nationally, but local searches also often result in higher conversion rates.
We hope these tips will help your website increase local traffic, but if you’d like us to handle the heavy lifting, check out our