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Four Ways to Improve Your Local SEO with SEMrush

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Four Ways to Improve Your Local SEO with SEMrush

Nikolai Boroda updated
Four Ways to Improve Your Local SEO with SEMrush

For a local business, it can be hard to compete with the big names online, but if you are strategic in your approach and have the right tools, you can easily grow the visibility of your brand and increase your sales.

Here are Four Steps That Can Help with Local SEO:

Take Control of Your Online Presence

We will start with a simple yet important thing that a lot of business owners ignore — Digital Knowledge Management.

It is not enough to simply put the facts about your business on your own website — you need to make sure that information is correct and consistent across the many search engines, apps, maps, social networks, voice assistants, directories, and other intelligent services that consumers are using to search.

First, let’s figure out:

What is digital knowledge?

Your digital knowledge is made up of the public facts about your business. This includes location-specific information like name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP data), along with more complex information like hours of operation, and whether or not you are pet-friendly.

It appears, not only on your own website, but also across Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Apple Maps, Yahoo, Bing, and the rest of the search ecosystem.

Why is digital knowledge important?

When the facts about your business appear consistently across a lot of sources, search engines and consumers both the trust the information more. Higher trust leads to higher local search ranking and can eventually bring an audience of eager and ready-to-buy customers to your doorstep.

The key is to have consistent information in each business listing and keep it updated. However, this can take a lot of time to do manually, especially if your business has more than one location. Also, many of these maps, apps, and directories are constantly crawling for the most up-to-date information, which means you might find the listings you’ve just updated have reverted to incorrect information. It’s a tedious and frustrating cycle.

A SEMrush Solution for business listings:

Working in collaboration with Yext — the leading Digital Knowledge Management — SEMrush developed the Listing Management tool.

To start, enter your business information:

SEMrush Listing Management

Click Check listings, and see all your listings and the status of each:

SEMrush Listing Management

Check your business listings now

See if you are represented in the most authoritative directories

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

The Listing Management tool harnesses Yext’s Knowledge Network to publish data across all the most popular directories and intelligent services — including Facebook, Google, Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Apple Maps, Yahoo, Bing, and many more. Most recently,  Yext added Amazon Alexa to the Knowledge Network. This means you can now ensure Alexa has the most up-to-date information about your business and reach consumers through tens of millions of devices.

When you are done updating your business information, proceed to the on-page optimization.

Optimize Your Website

A lot of people search for local businesses on the go, so it’s critical that you provide a good mobile experience on your website

Optimizing websites for mobile has become more important than ever since Google rolled out mobile-first indexing.

Nice-looking pictures and short descriptions, along with a clean and simple look will hold the user’s attention for longer. Review your website’s interface. Are all the necessary buttons easy to reach? Is the purchase process a 10-step quest or a simple two-click experience? Make sure that all the fill-in forms are clickable and large enough to use on any screen without much effort.

Here is a nice example of a user-friendly, adaptive website with easily accessible fields, and a well-thought-out user interface:

food.gif

Follow Google’s guidelines for creating a mobile-friendly website.

A SEMrush Solution:

Whether you implement a responsive or adaptive design, have a separate mobile version or only provide a desktop one, you should set up the Site Audit tool to check on your website’s health — neither your customers nor Google would appreciate a broken website.

Your site should work well, and most critical mistakes are not specific to mobile devices. However, it would be a good idea to select a mobile crawler during the Site Audit setup process:

SEMrush Site Audit setup

This way our crawler will go for a mobile version of your website.

Also, if you have an AMP version of the website check the box Crawl AMP pages first (available only on Business subscription)

Assess your website’s Total Score and the scope of work:

SEMrush Site Audit total score

Glance at the Thematic Scores, and review your top issues:

SEMrush Site Audit Thematic scores

When you sort out critical errors, go back to thematic reports.

Start with Crawlability — you want all the essential pages of your website to be accessible for the search engines in order to be indexed.

Then move to the Performance report — page loading speed always matters, and it is especially significant for the quality of the mobile experience.

The Internal Linking report is about the informational architecture of your website — you want your users to get the information they need in the fewest possible number of clicks. Structuring your website correctly will also help its rankings by evenly spreading the link juice.

The HTTPS report assesses how secure your website is, which nowadays is vital for every website, not just the ones dealing with sensitive information.

Finally, the International SEO report is a must for businesses with multilingual websites — hreflang implementation is a very tricky business.

Maintaining a healthy website is an ongoing process, but for now, let’s move on to the visibility of your website.

Improve Your Visibility

We won’t talk much here about keyword research, but its importance will not fade away anytime soon. You can catch up on our Keyword Magic tool in this great blog post. Just keep in mind that queries you want to aim for will have local intent (like “pizza near me”), and quite a lot of people will use voice search.

As we have already established, a lot of local search traffic comes from mobile devices, and mobile SERPs are quite different in terms of visibility.

Even if you rank well in the desktop results, being in the top organic results does not mean that you will be seen because of the ads and SERP features taking up the screen space. And on devices with smaller screens, it will be even harder to be seen.

Here is an example of a mobile SERP for the request “pizza in new orleans”:

serp.gif

First, there is an ad with sitelinks and an app, then another ad that also has extensions, then a Local pack with a map and the three results, and only then will you get the first organic result.

As you can see, the best way to gain visibility is to get into the Local Pack.

In addition to actively managing your digital knowledge, keeping that information consistent across the search ecosystem, and the on-page optimization of your website, you can try a few more things to increase your chances of getting into the Local pack:

  • Reach out to the local websites that write local news, cover local businesses, and host local blogs. Try to get backlinks.

  • Encourage your clients to leave reviews online.

  • Check out custom markers on Google; it will help you to stand out.

  • Create posts in Google My Business. 

Track Your Results

Now, when you are done with the hard work described above, it is time to sit back and enjoy the success. Well, not really. Your competition never sleeps. You have to keep working to stay on top.

Luckily, SEMrush once again has a solution for you—the Position Tracking tool.

This tool tracks your website’s rankings for a custom set of target keywords. The data is collected daily, so you are getting the freshest information.

When configuring Position Tracking for your website, you can choose to track any subdomain, URL, or subfolder.

On the first step of the setup, pay close attention to the input form for the business name:

SEMrush Position Tracking setup

Google doesn’t always add website links to the local map packs, especially on mobile SERPs. In these cases, it gets much harder to track your local rankings, but SEMrush Position tracking solves this problem for you.

Insert the name of your company exactly as it appears in Google My Business. Pay attention to the case sensitivity (e.g., if it is “Best Pizza” in the Google directory, “best pizza” won’t do here).

This way you will be able to see if you appear in Local packs, even if they don’t have a link to your website.

The second step of the setup is crucial for local SEO — choosing the device and location you want to target:

Position Tracking Hyper Local Targeting

Position Tracking allows you to target the location by the ZIP code, which means that your targeting can go deeper than at a city level. Tracking SEO results of a local business can be more precise than ever before!

Your visibility and appearance in Local packs is about proximity, so monitoring and managing your search engine performance for your exact location is extremely beneficial. As well as this, focusing on your local queries will spare you the work, and will save you time and money.

To finish setup you need to add your keywords, and, optionally, your competitors. Let the tool gather keyword data and get to work.

Go to the Competitors Discovery to see your closest rivals.

Blacklist domains that are not in direct competition with you (e.g., wikipedia.org), and add others to your tracking campaign by clicking Set as competitor next to the domain:

SEMrush Position Tracking Competitors report

Once this is down, you can easily keep an eye on your competitors, and see how well you perform compared to them.

Another very useful feature of the Position Tracking tool is filtering by SERP features.

Let’s look at Local packs. Filter the words that you don’t rank for:

SEMrush Position Tracking filter for SERP features

Now you have the list of keywords you need to work on:

SEMrush Position Tracking

Another important SERP feature that you need for your website is Reviews. Having stars on your snippets is advantageous as it is eye-catching.

The workflow of finding keywords that trigger reviews is the same as filtering for Local packs. But there is a technical nuance in acquiring it — you will need to add a special markup on the pages of your website.

Conclusion

If you are running a local business today, you must have an online presence because your competitors are not invisible, and they are taking your customers.

Follow the steps we described to get started with local SEO, and share your success stories in the comments section.

Check your business listings now

See if you are represented in the most authoritative directories

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

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Comments

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Bais Naqvi
Very interesting and helpful material to aware and boost your local SEO. thank you NIKOLAI
faisal saleem
Experts are recommending SemRush to improve digital marketing and content marketing, I love this tool
Do agree that this is helpful article. However, even you follow all these steps, you may not sure that your business will rank well with Google local search. For example this project: [link removed by moderator], I have been working for this site 5 years, and still target to local search. It has been ranked really well for the first 4 years, and then it drop suddenly for no reason. Even I try to fixed all local information, it still not rank again. It makes me crazy.
Nikolai Boroda
David Off
Hi, thanks for the comment!
The rules of SEO do change over time, although its idea remains the same, i.e. to provide the best answer to a query.
For example, the majority of people today use their phones to google, which was not the case several years ago. So, following that trend, Google rolled out its mobile-first index, leaving those without a mobile-friendly website at a great disadvantage.
This is just one example of an algorithm change, and there are dozens of smaller ones occurring each day and affecting your rankings. Plus, you certainly have rivaling websites that compete with you for the same keywords.
Anyway, speaking of local SEO, the website you’ve mentioned provides web design services, and I don’t think this is something people would search for locally as it’s more of an online service that can be provided from anywhere really.
Vsevolod Novozhenov
great and useful article. thanks
Nikolai Boroda
Vsevolod Novozhenov
Glad to hear! Thank you!
Rajeev Dave
Great post for Local SEO services.

Thanks for sharing great tips for local SEO, I would be really appreciate!
Nikolai Boroda
Rajeev Dave
You're welcome! Thanks for the comment!
Great article!
Nikolai Boroda
Sam Gwe
Thanks!
White Rabbit
Great post on local SEO and mobile optimisation Nikolai, really thorough and valuable info.
Nikolai Boroda
White Rabbit
Thanks, White Rabbit!
White Rabbit
Nikolai Boroda
You're welcome :-)
Ayan Sarkar
whats your thoughts about having mobile apps rather responsive / mobile website ?
Daria Manshina
Ayan Sarkar
Thanks for the question, Ayan.
The thing about mobile apps is that they require much more effort than just the mobile site.
It does make sense to create a separate app if you goal is not just to create mobile-friendly content (e.g. you are creating an online game). And it’s no use to make an app without an existing high-quality mobile version. Also, besides creating an app for both, AppStore and GooglePlay, you have to promote them on SERP, and on both application platforms.
Still, if personal experience plays big role and you need to gather a lot of data, or, for example, want to provide offline experience to users, then your choice is definitely the app. Still, do not forget it should be of high quality (I guess, you want users to actually use it, and not to install and never open it again?).
Hope this answers your question!
Mindsnoop Marketing
Ayan Sarkar
It really depends on what your business is and what product/service you are trying to promote. A user downloads a mobile app if it is something that he/she would use on a regular basis. The best way to get downloads is through people reaching your website from the SERPs.