Keywords: local SEO, secrets, ramp upModified Description: Discover the 5 secrets to ramp up your local SEO.

Local SEO (search engine optimization) in your immediate area is important if you operate a service-based business on a regional level.

If so, your success greatly depends on implementing a successful inbound marketing and location-based SEO strategy. That translates into making sure people in your area—town, city, zip code, etc.—find your website easily.

In this post, we will take a quick look at five secrets that can help you ramp up your local SEO. The goal is to drive qualified local leads and customers to your website, social channels, phone, and/or front door.

1. Create a Google My Business Account

A Google My Business listing (aka your business profile) is perhaps the most effective way to rank higher in local search results. When users type a search query on Google, the first three results are the top three local businesses nearby. This is called the “Local 3-Pack” or “Google 3-Pack.” By top, we mean the three businesses that rank highest according to Google’s algorithms.

The listings in the Local 3-Pack have key information a prospective buyer needs to decide on contacting a business. This includes the business address, opening and closing hours, contact number, and customer ratings. Having your business listed on Google My Business helps your chances of being included in this exclusive pack.

To access your business profile, visit the Google My Business page and verify your business by clicking on the “Start Now” or “Sign In” button in the upper part of the browser window.

2. Encourage and Manage Customer Reviews

With online buyers turning more towards self-guided research, reviews have become a HUGE factor when making purchasing decisions. So, if you want to bolster your local SEO efforts, encourage your customers to leave reviews for your business.

The two I recommend you work on first are Google and, for most businesses, Yelp reviews. Google is most important because it impacts your position in search results by clearly showing how many reviews your business has and the ratings customers have given you.

Yelp is the 600-lb gorilla of local business ratings. While many people fear negative reviews or don’t trust Yelp because of stories about their business practices, you can’t ignore this platform.

In addition, make it a point to respond to all of those reviews—good, bad, or neutral. This demonstrates your responsiveness, but responding to Google reviews improves your local SEO!

3. Create a Strong Citation Profile

A strong local citation profile — online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on prominent national and local sites — can improve your business’s ability to rank in local search results and help people discover your local business. So, take the time to get yourself listed on some quality citation sources, including important local business listing directories such as Yelp, Foursquare, MapQuest, and Yellow Pages, to name a few.

4. Create “Local” Content

If you’re considering how to optimize local SEO, there is no better way to grab customers’ attention than by authoring content that speaks or relates directly to local interest. This includes pages optimized for local readers. It could be hyperlocal content based on local news stories, activities, or events. Or, it may simply be pages focusing on local geographic information that helps you connect with your target demographic and rank higher for that specific location.

5. Prioritize Voice Search

A young woman searching on her cell phone for 5 Secrets to improve Local SEO in the street.Make sure you are prioritizing voice search. We are staring at a future when more than 50% of online searches will be conducted via voice search.

In addition to Google, Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are other leading examples.

People are quickly getting more comfortable calling out their searches verbally on Google rather than typing them. It’s faster—by quite a margin. Optimizing for voice search includes the following:

Remember “question keywords.”

Voice search contains a lot of question words. Think of how we typically ask questions verbally. They usually include words like how, who, what, when, why, and where. Sprinkle these keywords into the mix.

Don’t forget long-tail keywords:

Three and four-keyword phrases that would often form part of a spoken sentence. For example, optimizing for “organic oranges” might anticipate the spoken query, “Where can I buy organic oranges in Santa Rosa?” In this case, “organic oranges in Santa Rosa” is the long-tail keyword.

Don’t ignore “filler words.”

In the above example, the word “in” forms part of the spoken sentence. Using filler words makes the query more conversational and human. Examples are “from, in, I, the, of the, on the, to, for,” etc.

However, make sure your content doesn’t miss connecting with readers in your bid to make it too search-engine friendly. User experience may suffer severely if you stuff your content with too many long-tail keywords or try to be forcefully informal. Maintain a nice balance to strike the right chords.

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