Local SEO increases your business’s local search presence to attract more customers.
Local SEO how-to guides abound. Complexity makes them intimidating.
This guide offers eight tips to boost local rankings.
- Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile
- Do local keyword research
- Optimize local landing pages
- Get local citations and links
- Reclaim lost links
- Get more reviews
- Get featured on local list posts
- Keep your site healthy
1. Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile
Google Business Profiles are free local listings with information about your business. Once claimed, your business profile can appear in Google Search and Maps.
You can claim your Google My Business profile using Google’s free tool.
Manage Google My Business
Google your business name after logging in.
Choose the business
After claiming, you can manage your Google My Business profile.
You can optimise many details here. To keep things simple, let’s look at the five most important optimizations:
Google classifies businesses as storefront, service-area, and hybrid. The “Info” tab describes your business to Google. If you only serve customers at your business address, like a hairdresser or cafe, leave the service area field blank. If you only visit or deliver to customers, like a plumber or mobile hairdresser, clear the address and set your service area (s). If both, add your address and service area (s).
Choose a business category You have many options, some similar (e.g., accountant vs. chartered accountant).
People won’t visit or call if they think you’re closed, so include business hours. Also include holiday hours so people know if you’re open.
Google says businesses with photos get 42% more directions requests and 35% more website clicks. Add them.
Add website Many business owners don’t do this, which is frustrating. Beware.
How to optimise Google My Business in 30 minutes
2. Do local keyword research
Local SEO relies on knowing how locals search for your products or services. You probably know how they do this if you know your industry and customers well. To expand your reach, do keyword research.
Consider a London plumber. Potential customers are probably searching for:
People search for what you do in other ways. By focusing on obvious keywords like “london plumber,” you’re losing money.
Find out how people may be searching for you:
In Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, paste your list.
Report matching terms
Find high-volume keywords
Keywords Explorer shows that people search for “boiler repair,” “boiler installation,” and “drain unblocking” every month.
Keywords Explorer’s search volumes aren’t local. They estimate the country’s monthly search volume.
People search for things in cities similarly, so it’s not a big deal. You want to know how people find what you offer.
Read the guide below for local keyword search volumes.
3. Optimize local landing pages
If people are searching for your products or services, create landing pages for them.
People search for “plumber” and “plumbers”
Bathroom fitting gas boiler replacement
These services need landing pages. How do you boost search rankings?
First, let’s discuss keyword stuffing. This involves repeating keywords as often as possible on a page, resulting in unnatural copy like this:
This is a common mistake on local business websites. Even if it helped SEO, it would likely alienate customers.
“Optimize” landing pages by including searcher-relevant information. This makes sense. People searching for “boiler repair” will want prices.
You can miss important details even if you know your industry and customers well. It’s helpful to see what keywords other similar pages rank for because they often relate to important details.
Install Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar
Google service/product + location
Search for a page like yours (this means a service page from another local business)
Check keyword rankings.
Top 10 filter
Remove sitelink and “people also ask” results.
If we search “boiler repair london,” we find a page with 232 keywords.
We’re only interested in the most relevant keywords, so let’s filter for top 10 and exclude sitelink and “people also ask” rankings.
The notable keywords are:
Boiler repair quotes
emergency boiler repair london gas boiler repair nearby boiler repair
Same-day boiler service
These keywords suggest that searchers are looking for fixed-price rather than hourly repairmen. Searchers want to know if we offer same-day repair, what boilers we fix (electric, gas, etc.), and if we make emergency calls.
This should be on the landing page.
4. Get local citations and links
Local citations are online mentions of your business’s NAP. Moz’s 2018 study ranked them fifth for local queries.
They’re less important now, but worth getting for two reasons:
They promote your business. Local SEO includes optimising for Google, Yelp, Bing, Facebook, Apple Maps, and industry-specific directories.
They may help rank – Although less important, they may still help you rank.
If you’re in the U.S., the three main aggregators are:
Getting citations on these services can lead to citations elsewhere without extra work.
You might also pursue these major players:
Then, focus on industry- or location-specific citations. Local, industry-specific directories and search engines.
Link Intersect can help:
Site Explorer domain
Left-click Link intersect.
If we do this for a plumbing company and its competitors, we see many local or industry-specific directories.
5. Reclaim lost links
Backlinks are a Google ranking factor, but they’re hard to get. Make sure none of your existing links are wasted. You can do this by removing dead links.
Site Explorer domain
Best links report
Add HTTP 404 filter
Redirect the URLs.
For a New York plumber, we see a dead page about drain cleaning with three backlinks (unique websites)
Broken page wastes backlinks.
Their website reveals the issue. They moved “drain cleaning services” but forgot to redirect the old URL.
The site owner must redirect the old URL to the new one to reclaim these links. Our 301 redirects guide explains how.
If there’s no “new” location for the dead URL, redirect it to the most relevant working page.
6. Get more reviews
Get more reviews? Inquire.
Offering incentives for reviews is against Google’s terms. There are ways to increase reviews without breaking Google’s rules.
My old car was recently detailed. He sent me “before” and “after” photos of my car on Facebook.
He didn’t request feedback. Because of the photos he took, I was able to:
Considering the number of photos in other reviews, this approach seems to have worked for others.
This guy could get more reviews by..
… by creating and sharing a Google My Business review link. seems
Google recommends this. So don’t worry about violating their terms.
7. Get featured on local list posts
“Best of” lists exist for even the most obscure products and services. Take this list of the best chicken wing places in Manchester: There are many “best of” lists, such as the top 10 child-friendly wine estates in Cape Town:
Children and wine? However…
Getting your business on lists like this is smart for two reasons.
These listicles rank high for terms like “best _ in .” If you’re on 9/10 lists, they’ll try you.
It generates backlinks, which boost Google rankings.
How to pitch local lists:
Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar
Google for business-related lists.
Find high-traffic blog posts
If you run a London boutique hotel, you might search for “best London boutique hotels.” This gives you directories and blog posts. SEO Toolbar data shows which posts get traffic.
Find the site owner or editor’s email address and send an email like this:
Josh owns Joshtique, a Shoreditch boutique hotel. We weren’t on your list of London’s best boutique hotels.
We just opened, so it’s understandable.
If you’re open, please stay at our hotel so we can be considered for your list. No responsibilities.
Our rooms: [Link]
If you’re interested, let me know.
8. Keep your site healthy
Unhealthy websites can cause SEO problems. Local and national SEO are alike. Google can’t index your content if it can’t find, crawl, and understand it.
Ahrefs’ Site Audit can crawl your site for 100+ issues on a schedule. Ahrefs Webmaster Tools lets you use it for free on your own sites.
It checks for these errors:
Page breaks (4XX)
Unfilled title tags
Orphans (i.e., pages without internal links)
All issues report shows all site errors and issues. Changes between crawls show which issues are getting better or worse.
Ahrefs shows your site’s Health score. This helps you monitor your site’s health without performing a Site Audit.
Local SEO involves claiming, optimising, and attracting Google Business Profile reviews. This increases your Google “map pack” exposure. “Traditional” SEO involves targeting the right keywords, doing on-page SEO, and building local backlinks.