Ranking for local search is a worthwhile endeavor. Statistics show that 72% of people who conduct a local search will visit a store within 5 miles of their location. The same stats show a 900% growth in searches that include the words “near me” in the last 2 years. Thanks to smartphones, people can search for a business on a whim, day or night. If your business doesn’t show up in results, a competitor will get their business.

It’s not hard to rank your website for local search, but it does require several foundational elements specific to local SEO.

Men enjoying drinks at local bar

Your content should discuss your location

If you’re like most businesses, you have a blog where you post content related to your industry. Having a blog is a non-negotiable part of SEO in 2019. However, when you want to rank for local search results, your blog content should include keywords and phrases related to your location.

Without resorting to keyword stuffing, review your existing blog posts to identify content you can update with a location-centric message. For example, say you run a flower shop in Boise and you’ve got several articles discussing how to care for roses. Rewrite one of those articles to be about caring for roses in a Boise climate and sprinkle in a few references to Boise landmarks to get better local SEO rankings. Adding a few city-related keywords is leveraging what’s called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).

Having content on your website containing location-specific keywords gives you a better chance at being found in a local search.

Your location should be in your website header

Users looking for a local business search for phrases that include the words “near me,” “by me,” and “in [city].” Sometimes users type in their zip code alongside a search. If you have a Google My Business listing, Google will return your business listing to users as long as you’ve entered your address correctly. However, you want your website to come in searches, too.

Does your website have your business address and phone number in the header? If not, it’s a wise move to put it there. Not only will it help you rank, but the header of your website is the first thing people see; an address in the header tells visitors if they’re in the right (or wrong) place.

For example, say you own a candy shop in San Francisco. Visitors will want to immediately know where your shop is located. Are you in San Francisco, or did your site just pop up in their list of results? Your address in the header saves visitors the struggle of searching for your address or phone number across multiple pages.

If you generate leads through phone calls, it’s imperative to have your phone number in the header. Don’t bury your phone number somewhere on your site and make people work hard to find it.

Local candy shop

SEO basics still apply

The basics of SEO still apply to local search. For example, say you’re a dentist in a big city. Dental SEO isn’t a simple game. Creating content using your location and LSI keywords isn’t enough to outrank your competition. You still need a solid backlink profile, proper page titles and descriptions, and you’ll probably need to run some paid ads as well.

Another SEO basic that applies is turning your website into a local resource. For example, the most popular blogs in any industry are ones that help people solve problems, and provide tips they can use in their daily lives. If you’re a coffee shop, post how-to videos and tips for home baristas. If you’re a hotel, post featured stories about local entertainment destinations, festivals, and anything else that would draw in visitors from out of town.

Don’t forget the schema markup

There are snippets of code you can add to the header of your website to give Google additional information about your business. It helps Google understand the context of your site’s content. Ahrefs.com walks you through the process in step 4.4 of their local SEO guide.

Laptop with code editor on screen

If you have a physical location, you need local SEO

You can’t count on general SEO when you have a local business. When a Google user is logged into their account, Google knows their zip code and automatically factors that into their searches. For example, when a user searches for “Italian restaurant,” even without typing in “near me” or a zip code, they’ll still get local results.

Ensure your local business is listed in results by optimizing your website for local search. If Google doesn’t know your business shares the same zip code as a user, your site will be left behind.