The battleground for local customers has moved online. Local SEO (search engine optimization) tactics are now some of the most important components of a winning small business marketing strategy.

Why? Because most customer journeys start with an online search these days. 89% of people say that they search for local businesses on their smartphone at least weekly, and 58% search daily. According to Google, around half of these searches lead to a local business visit or inquiry within 24 hours.

So, appearing at the top of local search results is clearly incredibly important. Here are six things you can do to improve your ranking and get more business.

Clean Up Your Google My Business Page

According to Moz, Google My Business signals have the heaviest influence on your appearance in the local 3-pack of Google Maps results. This 3-pack appears on 93% of searches that indicate local intent.

To ensure your Google My Business (GMB) page helps your performance, take care of the following five tasks:

  1. Make sure you’ve claimed your listing; request to take down duplicates
  2. Confirm that your business name, address and other descriptors are accurate
  3. Double-check things like open hours and phone number (if provided)
  4. Use Schema markup to send NAP (name, address, phone number) signals to GMB
  5. Add high-quality images for your business headquarters, staff and operations
  6. Embed a Google Map widget on your Contact or Locations pages

Find Other Easy Local Citations

Every website that links to yours can help increase your local ranking. One easy way to build out these backlink citations is to claim your business listing on other pages in addition to your GMB page. Most of these citations can come free of charge.

You can look for citations from:

  • Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.
  • Your area Better Business Bureau
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce
  • Local/regional trade organizations you belong to
  • Vendor listing websites
  • Charities and local organizations you sponsor regularly
  • Reviews from local publications

Build Out Local Service Pages

Your top service areas all deserve their own local landing pages. Now, don’t get too crazy with this strategy since each new area offers diminishing returns. But if you can isolate, say, five to 10 local service areas, max, then you can create fairly strong ranking signals for different hyper-local searches.

Make sure the pages you create offer relevant, interesting information and read like natural English. Keyword spam and poor writing quality can actually hurt your ranking, as can behavior signals like a high bounce rate.

Write About Local Issues

Speaking of offering value and relevance to local customers/clients, you can turn your website into a local guide of sorts. You can use your website to highlight parallel local business services, for instance, as well as great spots around town to visit. For instance, a local car dealer can point out great drives in the area. A local outerwear retailer can suggest nearby nature hikes.

Businesses of all types can offer suggestions for local things to do around Holidays, like listing the fireworks displays around the 4th and the best neighborhoods for Christmas lights in December.

Flesh out the volume of local content, and you can enjoy more popularity from both loyal readers and local search results.

Develop a Review Strategy

Business reviews also serve as a strong signal in local search. Set a strategy for requesting reviews at the end of your transaction and reaching out to loyal repeat customers for reviews. Respond to negative reviews that hurt your ranking by either trying to resolve the issue or asking the review service remove the review.

Having a steady stream of positive reviews can help you lift your rank over competitors while simultaneously raising your appeal to potential customers.

Start Tracking Local SEO Results for Specific Rankings and Other KPIs

You can’t improve what you don’t measure! Stay on top of your current ranking for select queries and other important KPIs (key performance indicators) like your organic search CTR (click through rate) to make strategic improvements over time. For instance, if you have a low CTR for certain pages, you may want to improve your title tag and meta description on those pages.

You can use Google Search Console to monitor these metrics for free, or you can add a more powerful tool like RankRanger or Ahrefs for a monthly subscription.

These six tips above will get you well on your way towards fixing the things you have control over and gaining momentum on your local search ranking.