The current organic SEO landscape shows the ‘big guys’ and their deep pockets taking over keywords with their ability to outbid the ‘smaller guys.’ If you look closely, though, you might notice that a parallel landscape dedicated to local SEO shows a different scene; one with a level playing field.

Leveled Playing Field

If you’re standing in the middle of New York’s Union Square and do a quick Google search for coffee shops near you, who do you think is going to pop up first, Brad’s Coffee, located five blocks away, or Tad’s Coffee, conveniently located in the same block? Before you answer, keep in mind that Brad spends twice as much on the same keywords than Tad. So, who is it? It’s Tad!

Everyone has a chance to stand out with local SEO because of one simple thing: geography. Google places UX above all else, and they know that you won’t be happy if they send you to Coffee Shop B when Coffee Shop A is much closer.

This is because Google usesrelevance, how well a query matches a business listing, distance, how far the user is from the business, and prominence, how well-known a business is, to determine who appears in the top spots of their search results. And with local searches, smaller businesses can leverage their distance to not only compete with big businesses, but also beat it.

How Can I Win with Local Searches?

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There are a couple of things you can do to come out on top in local searches. First and foremost, list your business! How can you expect to be found if you don’t even have a listing out there? Exactly. Start with the basics, Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and Yahoo Small Business, and then list everywhere else. Just don’t forget to use the SAME EXACT information in each listing, as even the smallest of typos (Tad’s vs. Tads) can result in wasted time and effort.

If you’re a technical person, you can further your efforts by structuring your website with schema markup and implementing meta tags. This can seem daunting, I know, but it really isn’t. Well, the schema markup isn’t, at least. For the meta tags, you might want to consider getting in touch with a friendly web developer who can help you out.

So, how do these two things relate to local SEO? Well, schema markup tells search engines like Google what your information means. It tells them that (xxx) xxx-xxx is your phone number, 123 45st street is your address, and so on. And when you structure your data, Google and their web crawlers like you more.

Meta tags, on the other hand, are HTML elements that reflect your site’s content. Delving deeper, title tags tell users and search engines what the page’s content is all about, and your description goes further and summarizes the content. For example, do a quick Google search for dogs, cats, pizza or anything you want. In the results page, the blue text is the title and the text under the URL is the description. These two tags are extremely important for local SEO because you can include your location in them. Even better, you can also use your targeted keywords here for more benefits.

One more thing… MOBILE. Smartphones are everywhere, literally. Adults have them, teenagers have them, even toddlers have them. Optimizing your website for mobile users is of utmost importance because they’re the ones who’ll find you with local SEO. They’re on the go and want to find establishments near them, not across town.

Something else to remember about mobile phones is that they come with their own keywords. Okay, maybe not their own keywords, but things like voice search (thank you, Siri) are changing the way we search. With text-based queries, you’ll run into searches like, “coffee shop nyc” or “coffee nyc.” Voice-based queries are different because they include intent. So instead of using shorthand, you’ll use full sentences such as, “where is the closest coffee shop?” This means that you’ll have to modify your research and include long-tail keywords.

Want to Read the Rest?

To start implementing successful strategies about what you can do to improve your local SEO, feel free to read and download an Local SEO eBook that includes the tactics above and more!