8 Local SEO Tips To Improve Google Search Ranking

As with normal search engine optimisation Local SEO has changed and evolved considerably over the years and here we look at Eight Top Tips (for 2019) to ensure your local search efforts are on track, to improve your Google rankings.

Why Go Local?

Let us consider that for most small businesses there is a geographical (i.e. local) limit to which people will engage with a supplying business. 

There will be a small number of exceptions to the rule. For example, whilst people will travel across the country to dine at Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant the same cannot be said for most other restaurants.  

The same can be said of a business to business transaction in that it is natural human behaviour to look for a supplier that is considered more of a local business to you. As suppliers therefore, focusing your search marketing signals and efforts to a more locally geographic format will therefore yield better results. 

The key to success in this instance is to look at how your website ranks for your keywords and your competitors for the same keywords but on a more localised level, rather than generic (non geographic) or at the national level, which in itself is very difficult for small to medium businesses to achieve in any case.

Going Local Not Loco

We have done the research for you here to save you the headaches. 

It is generally accepted by the Search Engine community that for localised search marketing, your efforts should be directed into optimising the following ranking signals:

Google My Business / Links / Reviews / On Page

By focusing your efforts on these 4 key ranking signals, if your efforts collectively equate to more than those of your local competition, your efforts should (all things being equal) so you perform better.

1. Google My Business Signals

Proximity, Relevance and Authority including business categories, keyword in business title, etc.

2. Link Signals

This includes optimising your Inbound anchor text, the authority of linking domains, linking domain quantity, and contextual relevance etc.

3. Review Signals

This has surged in importance in recent years and the review quantity, review velocity, review diversity of your Google Reviews are increasingly important for local search rankings.

4. On-Page Signals

This includes the presence and consistency of NAP (name/address/phone), keywords in titles, domain authority and the relevance on your content to the search term etc.

Eight Tips To Improve Local Search Rankings

It is crucial to remember that you have to go one better than what is currently ranking on Google for your local search.

So, with this in mind, this guide outline 10 key tips proven to help you ramp up your Local SEO to get your business ranking at the top of the map pack and organic results for a more localised search.

#1 – Have A Business Address In The Target Location

This may sound obvious but if your business location is not in the target area you are facing an enormous uphill challenge to rank for that location.

There are some exceptions to the rule, however.

For instance, some mobile businesses in very low competition categories can feature in the local pack without much of a struggle.

#2: Optimise Your Google My Business Page

Google My Business (GMB) is a free and hugely beneficial tool that when done right will tell Google, and therefore the wider (or more localised) world  about your business. 

GMB is also a key search ranking factor. It is very easy to use and optimise and in addition to boosting your local seo efforts, it can also boost your user engagement and conversions. 

In addition to the essentials such as NAP (name/address/phone) you can populate your GMB page with photos, product/service information, business hours and offers and other relevant posts that are key to making your profile more engaging for your prospective customers. 

The GMB platform also supports direct messaging, Google reviews (with the ability to respond to them) and user Q&As. 

#3: Audit, Create & Optimise Citations 

Citations are online mentions of your business that confirm (and validate) your business and your website.

Quality is preferred to Quantity in this regard. Rather than help, paid-for links on spun out foreign internet directories are not just all but worthless but will likely harm your optimisation efforts instead of help them.

Step #3.1 – Audit 

Audit any existing citations out there and make sure they are correct, up to date and optimised. 

NAP (Name, Address & Phone Number) is of critical importance so audit your past citations if you have changed any of your NAP credentials.

Step #3.2 – Create

The next stage is to create new citation listings in any relevant business or locational directories.

Quality should always be sought and niche directories should be fine if they are authoritive and non spammy and have a quality or editorial process. Do your due diligence and avoid nonsense domains like the plague. 

You know the ones. Links on directories with url’s such as 2uyev38a7.com or best-super-spammy-directory-12345.guru speak for themselves.

Step #3.3 – Optimise

With old and new citation listings and mentions you want to  ensure they are optimised.

To stay relevant many of the bigger, mainstream (more authoritive) directories such as Yell, Hotfrog and Yelp etc have improved their sites and integrated more and more so allow Reviews, Latest News, Social Media links, linking to multiple pages of your website and the like. 

So it pays to audit and optimise to make sure that you are getting the most from whats on offer and if any directories themselves are ranking on the first or second page of Google for your keywords, chances are a listing will only help.

#4: Get More Positive Reviews 

In the most part getting more reviews won’t help you rank higher. They do however play an important role when people are comparing your business to your competitors. 

The exception is with Google Reviews and the Local Pack.

When it comes to Local SEO whilst Yell has struck a UK partnership with Apple Search Google looks to its own reviews and how they influence the ranking signals for location based search.

Your focus should be on getting reviews everywhere that matters online from Google, Facebook, directory sites like Yell, portal sites like Trustpilot and checkatrade.com. Or indeed any other sites that rank for your keywords.

Google may send the majority of traffic your way but ignore the others at your peril as should the ranking changes favour your competitors and see you suffer a ranking loss, having all of your eggs in one basket has rarely been a successful strategy.

#5: Improve Your On-Page Optimisation

With Local SEO it is important to remember that your location is one part of the equation and your keywords the other.

For Edible, it would serve us no purpose to have 200 pages of Liverpool location based content and not mention SEO so bear this in mind. 

Whilst we do rank for SEO Liverpool and Search Engine Optimisation keyword searches in Liverpool Google is assessing your site relevance to the search term just as much as it is your location so your On Page ranking signals need to be optimised.

In an ideal world we can rank ourselves and our clients two to three times on the first page.

  1. An organic Local based result in the map pack directly below the PPC ads
  2. In the 10 places of organic results below the map pack results
  3. In the PPC Adwords themselves

In an ideal world you would want a listing in all of these locations for maximum returns.

Key factors here to optimise your On-page ranking factors is to enhance your page titles, meta descriptions, and main body of content.

This is were old aged tried and tested search marketing skills and techniques come into play and these are SEO basics but this is also what gets results in Local SEO. 

#6: Building Your Domain Authority

As Local SEO has matured and become more competitive, domain authority has become an increasingly more popular metric used in gauging your likely performance, all things being equal, with that of your competitors.

If you have a domain authority of 20 but the first two pages of the Google results are dominated by sites with a domain authority in excess of 40 then it stands to reason that you have your work cut out.

#7: Social Media Outreach

Local SEO has matured and become more and more competitive and whilst Social Media Outreach is unlikely to be the biggest impact upon your results, as a small business it can still make a positive impact, if you are doing everything else.

Whilst your small business blog may reach 500-1000 people a month on its own, building your social standings and improving (where appropriate) your outreach activities will help. In addition to getting your content to a wider audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn your content good be shared or liked. In turn this exposes your content (and your business) to the wider networks of the people who are your 1st level direct contacts.

In such a saturated medium you are never going to go ‘viral’ but a couple of hours a month pushing your content to a few hundred or a few thousand more people each month can make a real difference to a small local business.

#8: Review Your Page-speed & Mobile Responsiveness  

People and Google alike want to see fast websites. Ensuring that your site loads quickly and is both easy to use and to understand on a mobile device is important for SEO. 

With more and more local searches being done on mobile devices as opposed to desk based searches it stands to reason therefore that this is an area of growing importance.

If your site takes too long to load or does not work well on mobile, users will simply bounce away and go elsewhere and so will Google’s valuation of your site.

Recap: Eight Tips To Improve Local Search Rankings

#1: Have A Business Address In The Target Location

#2: Optimise Your Google My Business Page

#3: Audit, Create & Optimise Citations 

#4: Get More Positive Reviews 

#5: Improve Your On-Page Optimisation

#6: Start Building Domain Authority

#7: Social Media Outreach

#8: Review Your Page-speed & Mobile Responsiveness  


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