Local SEO is becoming more important every year. It helps you rank higher locally for certain keywords. A 2017 survey showed that 80 percent of participants used local terms to search for nearby services during the week before the survey. Also, 50 percent of the people who searched for a local service visited a store from the search results within a day. With the right strategies and some research, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to rank higher for relevant local searches. 

One problem with local searches is that most businesses are becoming more informed. Today, you can’t get to the top just by using on-page SEO, using Google My Business and encouraging customers to write reviews on third-party sites. Rest assured that many other businesses are also using these tactics, which means that you’re left with a duller competitive edge if you don’t look beyond the basics. Fortunately, there are a few other innovative ways to boost yourself above your competitors. 

Write Tailored Content for a Local Experience

Do you support or sponsor local school activities, sports leagues, charities or other organizations? If so, mention it in your content. A local focus improves your rank and can show that you understand your community’s needs. If you have a blog, write about local issues frequently. For example, a pest control company may write about the town’s mosquito problem in the summer and may mention specific neighborhoods that are located near streams or along a major body of water. Also, you can create case studies about relevant issues that your company experienced. When you do this, be sure to mitigate ethical issues by not listing any identifiable information about your customers. 

Keep in mind that your locally tailored content is a powerful form of communication, and it should satisfy the four conversational maxims, which are quantity, quality, relevance and manner. This means that you should only write what you can back up with evidence, and you must make your local content as clear and relevant as possible. Also, don’t leave out important information or make it too wordy. 

Use a VPN Server to Explore Local Google SERPs

It’s important to identify your real local competitors rather than your perceived competitors. There may be several prominent local businesses that you can think of and name. Some may have an established history that spans decades or may have a unique benefit that sets them apart. However, those businesses are not always your biggest competitors on SERPs. Small but disruptive startups often take prominence online quickly in several markets. To identify your local SERP competitors, the first and most important step is to use a VPN server to conduct your local SEO analysis. The reason behind this is because you’ll see a more realistic view of your competitors and where your business ranks on SERPs from a completely different IP address. Since people often conduct searches from their businesses, they see their own information listed higher than they would from a separate location. The results look different if Google knows that you’re searching for your own business when you use Google My Business. 

After you connect to a VPN server, search for your type of business and your location. Make a list of the top results. If you see a new startup listed, you can use Crunchbase to find more detailed information about the company. Record your competitors’ website addresses, locations and names. Next, research how they rank locally with the most relevant keywords and key phrases. Analyze website design, links, social media and Google My Business pages for each one. Be sure that your geographic preferences are correctly set. Use the information to help you identify important trends that will strengthen your own SEO strategy. 

If you haven’t listed your business with Google, you’ll need to do that to improve your chances of appearing higher on local SERPs. When Google decides what to put in a local pack, it considers relevance, prominence and distance. 

Use Local Link Building

Although it’s still beneficial to submit your site to multiple directories, most other businesses do that as well. You must work hard to build high-quality local links. When local businesses, bloggers or organizations provide links to your company’s website, Google sees this as a sign of trust and boosts your ranking. There are several creative ways to build local links. 

Start by doing a local custom search on Google. Search for local blogs that are related to your services or products. Search for popular local Twitter users or Facebook pages that relate to your business. Also, search for local school clubs, charitable organizations or environmental groups. You can sponsor a school sports team, a special event, a charitable fundraiser or a community cleanup event. When you sponsor such events, the organizers often provide a link to your business on a blog post, a social media page or a website. Scholarships and sporting events are two categories that lead to increased site traffic from local organizations that post sponsor links. 

If you make local SEO a top priority and put the necessary work into doing it correctly, you’ll enjoy the results. You can even consult your chosen SEO agency regarding the same. Since people who are searching for a service or product along with a location are usually ready or nearly ready to make a purchase, you may also notice a nice boost in sales.