Looking to boost your local search rankings for your website? Especially if you own a business, local traffic can be exceedingly valuable. In addition, many readers turn to Google and other search engines to find local blogs or information.

So, how do you optimize your website for local SEO?

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is all about optimizing your business and website to rank better for a local audience. Local SEO is especially important if you are targeting an audience that is located in the same geographical area as you are – you need to make sure people know that buying from you means they are buying local.

Best ways to dominate local searches

  1. Engage with online directories and websites
  2. Online customer reviews matter
  3. Consistent, localized website content
  4. Country-level domain extension
  5. Claim your Google My Business

Online directories and websites

Other than Google, there are many other online directories and listing websites that you can’t ignore: Facebook, Apple Maps, LinkedIn, Bing, Yelp, MapQuest, Yellow Pages, Angies List, Foursquare, Better Business Bureau, and many more.

Word-of-mouth and customer reviews

We cannot deny that the majority of local site visitors trust online reviews and personal recommendations – many people turn to social media to see what their friends and family think about a business, so having good reviews on your business’ Facebook page can help draw in potential customers. Positive reviews on your Google My Business page (which we will discuss later) will improve your business’ visibility in the Snack Pack panel.

Consistent, localized website content

Localizing your website means including your location and contact information on your website. If you own a business, typically you would include your business name, phone number, city, region or country naturally throughout your website. The information needs to be crawlable and consistent with your Google My Business listing (again, we will have a full section to talk about Google My Business).

You can also create website content that focuses on local keywords. For example, if you own a coffee shop and want to rank for the term “Seattle coffee shop” you could include this phrase into your web page content.

Consider a Country Code Top-Level Domain

While .com, .net and .org are the most popular domain extensions, you may find it advantageous for your local rankings to register a country-code top level domain. Country code level domains are specific to certain countries or areas. For example, if you live in Canada and have registered your-website.ca, your website will rank higher when being searched within Canada. It also gives a sense of community and trust to local site visitors.

Google My Business

If you own a business, be sure to claim your Google My Business page.

Why do you need Google My Business?

Let’s do an experiment. Open up your browser and open google.com. Type in “coffee shop near me” and you will notice two distinct sets of search results:

The first set of results is called the “snack pack” results. It is a boxed area that appears on the first results page when a local search is made. The Snack Pack box displays the top 3 local business listings most relevant to the search inquiry. The second set of results are the regular, organic results.

Now you want to get into this high-visibility panel, don’t you? Well, that’s where Google My Business comes into play.

The core idea of Google My Business is to make it “easier than ever to update business information across Google Search and Google Maps” so that your customers can find you. To get started, you will need to go to the Google My Business website and click Start Now. You will be guided through the signup and verification process. To make the most of this free service, make sure you include as many details about your business as possible.