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How to get onto page 1 for local search keywords – a 2015 review

Are you a business that operates in a local market? This may be in neighbourhoods, cities, regions or a specific country. If you said yes, then you are about to read a guide used by digital agencies for ranking websites in the areas and locations that are important for your business.

The ways the website can appear include:

  • Organic search results
  • Google places listings
  • Google maps

Google’s organic search result for a keyword

Allowing your business’s website to appear for local search keywords can be achieved by optimising the website for organic search. This can be achieved by optimising the on site factors on a page; and furthermore the off site factors.

To achieve this, the website must achieve the following.


Ensure the targeted geographic keyword (or keywords) are included on the web page and across the website.

Ensure that the keywords are marked-up for organic SEO. Ideally, you will be able to use the Google Hummingbird structure to setup the web page and integrate the keywords for semantic search. This means:

  • The keyword should appear within the title tag.
  • The keyword should appear within the meta description.
  • The web page and site is attributed to a geographical location through webmaster tools or through the metatag.
  • That the target geographic keyword is used within the heading tags and the page paragraph content.

Off-site optimisation

To further boost your visibility for a keyword, you will need authoritative links to act as voting signals for Google and other search engines to rank your website’s content for your targeted keyword. The most scalable way to accomplish this is by acquiring guest blog posts from authoritative websites.

Another factor to consider is the content of the linking web page. If the linking page’s content has authority and has geographical content and technical signals such as:

  • The use of the local keywords on the web page.
  • The use of technical signals such as the data centre.

Google places and maps results for a geographic keyword

The algorithm for influencing these results differs from the organic search results. The business needs to be submitted and listed on Google as a business Google Plus profile. Once listed, the business needs to be verified via post. This will take approximately two weeks and the verification code that will be received in the mail will need to be input to verify the address. The process is made clear by Google.

If you have optimised the profile for your business and local search queries, you should start to receive some visibility depending on the competitiveness of your website. To achieve a better ranking position in the Google places results, citation listings will need to be developed. This can be accomplished by:

  1. Embedding the map on your own and external websites.
  2. Gaining publications of your business’s address on external websites.
  3. It is important that the address is exact and consistent so Google will be able to rank you on Google places and listings accordingly.

The impact of mobile search is something that you must consider

Mobile has increased in importance. In May 2015, Search Engine Land announced that Google was receiving more searches through mobile devices than on desktops. When it comes to users searching for local solutions, the local results will be a massive influencing factor in their decision-making. The fact is, websites need to be optimised for local search queries and for mobile devices to maximise the opportunity for them to appear across local search queries.

There is an expectation that local search rankings will continue to rise in importance in 2016

Websites in the USA are seeing a stronger emphasis being placed on local search results. The organic search listings across cities and towns are starting to see the places results at the top of the search listings. Businesses must commit to a local search strategy to maintain and grow their competitive search position as prominence of local search expands globally.