Google is constantly evolving the search experience, especially local SEO. Because local SEO is ever-changing, businesses must do everything they can to adapt or else, they can fall behind their competition. A recent update in Google search results changed the way local businesses are featured in the search engine result pages (SERPS) when a user makes a search related to their relative location. The previous local 7-pack, where seven local businesses were featured in the location-based SERPS has been cut down to a local 3-pack view. This means that local businesses may need to fight harder against their competition to show up in the local listings. If businesses don’t adapt to this change, it could negatively impact their local visibility and traffic.

Below are some tips you can follow to adjust your local SEO strategy to the recent update:

Improving your Google My Business (GMB) listing makes it look better and presents the best possible information to Google and prospects. Be sure to include as much information as possible such as your address, phone number, business hours, email, and even the methods of payment you accept.

Ignite Visibility did a recent survey of 500 internet users and there some interesting results regarding Google My Business. One is that outside of reviews, 81% of people say the business description is the most important deciding factor in Google My Business as well as the interesting statistics that 71% of people look at more than one review before choosing a business.

To further optimize your GMB listing, you should:

Delete any duplicate listings.
Use the correct primary category and use it for all locations.
Link back to specific location pages on your website.
Use a professional email that matches your domain name.
Include a local phone number instead of a toll-free number.
You can take your GMB listing to the next level and stand out from the competition by doing the following:

Write Google posts. Much like mini-ads or social media posts, GMB posts can grab a searcher’s attention. You can post about upcoming events, sales, the latest blog post on your website, and new products you want to feature.
Add a booking button. If you have a business that relies on customers making appointments, you can integrate your scheduling software, which allows people to book an appointment directly from your GMB listing.
Answer questions. Q&A allows people to ask questions about your business. You can answer these questions, which helps people learn more about your business.

86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses and 57 percent of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars. Getting good reviews on Google is not only a must if you want to bring in more customers, but it’s also a major ranking factor for the Google 3-pack. These reviews will appear on your local pack snippets and will display your overall star rating as well as the number of bad reviews. Searchers are even able to filter their search results based on a certain rating.

There are a few tips you can follow to get more reviews for your business to improve your local SEO:

Use in-store signage at your brick-and-mortar location (if you have one) to encourage reviews.
Collect emails at the time of service. Then, follow up with customers a few days later to ask them to write a review about their experience.
Get your staff to mention to customers how much a review would be appreciated, especially when a customer seems happy and satisfied.
On your website, dedicate a page to customer reviews and include links to third-party reviews profiles.

With mobile traffic making up 52.2 percent of all website traffic and half of all local searches happening on mobile, it’s important for your site to display well and has easy navigation on mobile. Like positive reviews, mobile friendliness is a major ranking factor for Google 3-pack. A mobile-responsive quickly loads text, images, and video, adapts to fit the user’s screen, and offers easy navigation on mobile devices. This offers a good user experience (UX) and reduces your website’s bounce rate, strengthening your local business’ web presence and SEO.

backlinks to you website Gaining quality backlinks is still important for ranking in the search engines. Local businesses should not only build standard backlinks to raise their organic rank, but they should also build locally relevant links to boost visibility. You can attract backlinks naturally by creating great, shareable content that attracts readers and provides value. For local SEO, you need quality links from other local websites that are relevant to your business. You can also create a local resources list on your website and add links to relevant pages. You can ask for links to your website in return.

Guest posting is also a great way to build backlinks. You should focus on high-authority websites and ensure that you link back to a useful page on your website. Another effective way to gain links is to get your website listed on local directories in your niche. And remember, quality is always better than quantity. So 5 high-quality links are better than 50 low-quality links.

Ensure that your URLs, keywords, and title tags are optimized for local search results. According to a local SEO ranking factors study, optimization tactics such as having your city name in title tags, URLs, and within page content helped influence rankings. To boost local SEO, you can add your city/region and a relevant keyword in title tags, H1 tags, page URL, page content, and image alt tags.

For each location page, you should ensure that your content is unique. It can be difficult to create unique content for various locations, but there are some tweaks you can make to create unique content for each location page. For example, you can write a short history and include exclusive information about a specific location or put up different pictures and videos for that location.

  1. Optimize for Google My Business.
  2. Engage on social media and add posts to Google My Business.
  3. Ensure your name, address, and phone number are consistent online.
  4. Optimize online directories and citations.
  5. Perform a local SEO audit.
  6. Improve your internal linking structure.
  7. Optimize URL, title tags, headers, meta description, and content.
  8. Add location pages to your website.
  9. Create local content.
  10. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
  11. Get inbound links with relevance and authority.
  12. Participate in your local community.