• 11 Ways to Improve Your Local SEO

Ways to Improve Your Local SEO

Years ago when people wanted to find a particular business in their area, they would go to the Yellow Pages. Today, people have set aside those massive phone books and have opted to find the products or services they’re looking for online through search engines like Google, Bing, and Yelp. Whether they’re looking for a restaurant, a flower shop, or a tattoo parlor, customers want to be able to quickly find businesses nearby. Search engines have taken note of this and use geographic location as a ranking factor when listing businesses on the first pages. So how does local SEO work? What factors do search engines take into account when ranking local businesses? Here’s a checklist of search ranking factors that you should make sure your website has in order to improve your local SEO and be more visible in local searches.

Ways to Improve Your Local SEO

Tips for Improving Your Local SEO

1. Have a Mobile-Friendly Website

As mobile internet usage has surpassed desktop usage, your business must start implementing local search strategies to compete on the search engine results. In addition, when someone enters a query into a search engine from a mobile device, the location is automatically picked up and factored into the search, and the users are then given results based on their location Google gives preference to websites that are mobile-friendly. This means that if your site is not optimized for mobile usage, it will be docked in the rankings. Check to see if your site is mobile friendly using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

2. Standardize Your Business Name

The name of your business is arguably the biggest factor that will determine how well your website ranks in the search engines, and because people will look to find your business through an online search, it is essential to keep the name of your business uniform on all platforms.

For example, don’t use the title ‘Sweet Shoppe’ on Yelp and ‘The Sweet Shoppe’ on your Facebook page. Not only does this interfere with the search engine’s rankings, but it also confuses potential customers. Make sure to choose only one name that you will enter into all directories, both online and in print.

In most cases, your business name will be unique enough to stand apart from other businesses. However, if your restaurant is named ‘Mickey’s’ you may find yourself competing with a plethora of other ‘Mickey’s’ out there. To differentiate your business, you should use ‘descriptors’, which are additional tags used to identify your business. For example, your restaurant could be entered in databases as ‘Mickey’s Irish Pub Chicago’. Not only will this differentiate your business, but when people search for ‘Irish Pub’s in ‘Chicago’, your site will be at the top of the rankings.

3. Create Directory Listings

One primary focus of a local search strategy should be the creation of local listings for your business. This is a virtual profile of your business which contains key details such as the name of your business, phone number, address, website, and any other pertinent information. Listings on major directories such as Google My Business and Yelp are essential, and will help your business to show up in smaller niche directories. The more directories your business is consistently listed under, the more Google will trust you and the higher you will rank in local search results.

For more guidance on getting listed, download our free guide: Business Listings eBook

4. Use Keywords Based on Search Queries

Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer in your niche. Ask yourself what their biggest priorities are, and what they would likely search for. Knowing your customer is the best way to market your business to customers. Beyond just brainstorming ideas, there are a number of online tools you can use such as Google Trends, AdWords, and Soovle.

  • Google Trends is a tool that allows you to search for a keyword, and look at the number of searches for that term over time. You can even narrow down the geographic location and length of time to get a more accurate reading.
  • Google AdWords is a tool that is designed for business and website owners looking to advertise for their website, to find the keywords that are most suitable to their marketing goals. AdWords will give you very detailed insights into the total volume of searches.
  • Soovle lets you see what other things people are searching when they type in certain words. Like if they’re shopping for “flower shop in Louisville” or “exotic flower shop downtown Louisville”. By finding the words that are searched together, you can use those terms as targeted keywords in your website content.

Another way to find out good keywords is to find out how people are finding your blog. ThriveHive users can easily do this in our platform. This information is also available through Google Analytics if you have that set up on your website.

5. Optimize Content for Search Engines…and Searchers

Creating unique and valuable content is the foundation for online marketing success. A website’s content will determine how many visitors it gets, how long they stay, how well they engage, and how often they return—which are all factors Google takes into consideration when ranking. The higher the quality your content is for the keywords you are targeting, the higher you will rank. This is why content marketing is such an important aspect of online marketing. For help with your content marketing strategy, check out this post.

6. Write Relevant Content

When creating your articles or blog posts, make sure that your content pertains to your business. It should be helpful information that anyone across the industry should find helpful. Also, you should include information about local events and area partnerships, as this will really help to draw in local users. If you’re looking for ideas on blog posts, download our free eBook: 130 Ideas to Rock Your Business Blog.

7. Use Geographically Targeted Keywords

Relevant keywords should be included in your content that pertain to your industry, but also what will be typed into search engines. If you have a bakery, then use relevant keywords as it pertains to the general industry (e.g. bakery, wedding cake, cupcake shop, etc) and for local search (e.g. Somerset county bakery, downtown Somerville cakes, New Jersey bakery, etc.)

8. Build Links

Include relevant links to previous content that you have published on your website or blog (also known as internal link building). For example, if you write a blog about a wedding that you made a cake for, link to the wedding cake section on your Products Page or link it from ‘Specialty Cakes’ on your products page to a blog post about all of the specialty cakes you have made.

9. Perform On-Site SEO

Once you have taken the proper steps to optimize your content, there are a few more techniques to implement before you publish your work for the world to see in terms of on-site SEO:

  • Title Tags: When creating pages and posts on your website, make sure that the title and <title> tag includes relevant keywords for each blog post.
  • Headings: Just as with the title, headings also play a role in search engines. Just make sure that these headings such as <h2> and <h3> fit within the context of the article.

10. Optimize Images through File Names & Alt Tags

An often overlooked technique for SEO is optimizing images. The purpose of optimizing images is so that they can get found online in Google Image Search.  This is done by including relevant keywords in the file name and the alt text or alt tags of the image.  For example, if you upload a picture of a burrito at your Mexican restaurant in LA, change the title of the image to ‘Los Angeles burrito’. Use these terms for Alt Tags in your images.

11. Leverage Social Media

Not only is social media a great way to market your business, but it is also a key factor used in the search engine ranking. Your business should have several social media pages, including a Facebook Business Page, Instagram business account, LinkedIn Company Profile, and if applicable, a Twitter, Snapchat, or Pinterest account (for help determining the right social media platforms for your business, check out this post).

Social media pages help your business rank higher on Google searches because of their domain and page authority.

Use these eleven tips to help your business get found online by customers near you.

For more help with your business SEO and for more local SEO tips, download our free guide below:



This post was originally published June 3, 2015 and updated July 3, 2018.


  1. ravigupta says:

    I have only one word to say,WoW!! In the heart of the article, I’ll say it was Awesome article Am really sure that all these article are stable and best for available options. Thanks for sharing this list with us. I always take your advices very seriously, keep posted

  2. Anca Maria says:

    I need to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for
    magnificent information I was looking for this information for my website.

    Also you can check out my tool fom the website.It’s designed to be helpful but if you have any advice I will gladly

    receive it.

  3. Thanks for this post Emily. After reading this, I actually thought this would make for a really good lead magnet for potential SEO clients. my weakness is still social media, I don’t really Facebook and FB ads seems like such a great approach to reach a local market and very targeted audience.

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