Improve Local SEO – A Step by Step Plan for Businesses

How to Rank Your Business for “Near Me”

Have you heard? Google recently released a possum, and “near me” search for local SEO is more important than ever. Get the scoop on how to improve local SEO here.

In this day and age, local businesses require a little bit more than a good phone book advertisement and word of mouth. When the competition embraces the internet, you have two choices: join in, or fade into obscurity. It’s time to improve local SEO.

Search Engine Land’s local consumer review survey found that 85 percent of customers use the internet to find local businesses. That number will only rise as more people gain access to the web.

It’s no surprise then, that to improve local SEO has become a major focal point for local businesses. Keywords aren’t just for the mega-corporations anymore.

New search algorithms and advances in location technology now let small businesses rank for keywords while taking into account location. It’s a much better deal than trying to out rank Lowes for “hardware store” with no other factors involved.

Improve Local SEO - A Step by Step Plan for Businesses

Mobile has been a driving force behind this.

A Google study found that 95 percent of smartphone users have searched for local information. Of those users, 88 percent contact a business from their findings within a day.

Features like Apple Maps and Google Maps make finding a business based on geo-location easy. Just click on the “restaurant” button and voila, there’s your business.

To capitalize on the local search craze, we’re breaking down the best ways to improve your SEO on a “near me” search.

Enter Possum to Improve Local SEO

Early this September, Google silently updated its local search functionality. We in SEO business have dubbed it “Possum” because of the update’s ability to make Google My Business profiles play dead, or “possum.”

What Possum really did is restructure the way local businesses rank.

Businesses received a big boost because Google decided to include areas near, but not within a municipality’s limits, in local searches. The change did wonders to improve local SEO for local businesses.

For example, a business just outside of New Haven, Connecticut wouldn’t have ranked well by adding “New Haven” to its focused on keywords. But now, adding “New Haven” will improve SEO for its local results.

Proximity is taken into account.

We recommend including your largest nearby city or town in your keywords. Always rank among a larger population of people when possible.

Keyword specificity has also changed with the Possum update. Ranking for specific terms is more focused.

It’s in our experience that ranking in a “near me” search will now return more relevant search results.

For example, searching for a local real estate office will return based off of geo-location, but also vary on the specific keyword searched. “Real estate Providence” might return your real estate office, while “waterfront real estate Providence” could return a specific agent’s website affiliated with your office.

Businesses without affiliate pages should also take this into account. Google is running with a 3-pack of local results, leaving little room for error.

In fact, just over 60 percent of people will click on Google’s first three results.

Here’s where it gets tricky…

Broad searches vary by proximity (as we mentioned above), so users searching down the street from each other might see different results.

This is why you should add specificity to your website and its keywords. The search “Massages Burlington Vermont” could change to “Massages under 200 dollars Burlington Vermont,” or “New Age Massages Burlington Vermont.”

The point is to rank for specific keywords so proximity will play less of a role in returning your business. Someone nearby can still find you by searching “massages,” but a user across town can return your business from your specific keyword.

Improve SEO with Mobile Maps

Google draws its mobile map results from its already huge search engine data pool. Chances are you’re already focusing on their mobile platform without realizing it.

So in this section, we’re focusing on the other mobile giant in town, Apple.

Apple’s iPhone is in the hands of 40 percent of U.S. smartphone users. That’s hundreds of millions of iPhone users with the potential to search your business in Apple Maps.

And, search they do.

On iOS, Apple Maps now sees five billion map related requests per week. That’s three times more activity than Google Maps on the same platform.

Currently, Apple Maps pulls its information for these search results from services such as Yelp, TomTom, Factual, and Localeze. Maps complies data and then cross-references it with user location for results.

Filling out complete profiles on Yelp and other business information databases are key to achieving a good ranking.

People who use the maps feature want basic information about a business. Apple, in turn, wants to provide as much information as possible.

Price, hours, and reviews all factor into listings. Don’t ever let Yelp profiles sit unattended. Always provide updated information.

Apple also offers a program called Apple Maps Connect.

With Maps Connect small businesses can update their information with Apple directly. This allows Apple Maps accurate information for hours, location, phone number, web address, relevant category, and more.

We think the program is just as useful, if not more, than Yelp and other services for upping your SEO. After all, giving information directly to the source is better than letting a third party handle your business profile.

Using Apple Maps Connect requires a physical business location, an Apple ID, and access to your businesses phone number. Verification will come through your business phone after updating your records with Apple.

Apple’s ever-growing ecosystem ensures SEO for its maps application will pay off in the long run. Remember, Apple Maps is on macOS and the Apple Watch as well.

Want to Improve Local SEO?

If you’re looking for an SEO company to get your business in the public eye, get in contact with us. We specialize in SEO ranking and can manage your entire online presence.

Google searches? No problem. Apple Maps? Done and done. Social media? We send our Twitter alerts straight to our home screen.

Our goal is to be your one-stop shop for everything SEO related.

If you liked this article, stay tuned for more blog posts. We’re ready to push out some great blog content so you can stay informed on the ever-changing world of SEO.