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If you have a local business, local SEO is one of the most fundamental concepts you should master to improve your ranks and get more traffic.
What does it mean to track local keyword ranks?
How is a local rank different from a global rank?
Do you NEED to check your local ranks, or can you get by without it?
These are all critical questions, so we’ll take some time to answer them (and others) in this article.
Let’s get going!
- Why You Should Be Checking Your Local Ranks
- The Main Sources of Local Traffic
- How Do You Rank Locally?
- How to Use ProRankTracker to Track Your Local Rankings
Why You Should Be Checking Your Local Ranks
The first question we have to answer is whether you need to be checking your local ranks.
Many new business owners (and those new to SEO) question whether finding and using a tracking tool is worth their time and money. After all, can’t you just Google the keywords you’re targeting and find your ranks like that?
You ABSOLUTELY need a tracking tool capable of telling you how your keyword/URL combos are ranking globally and locally.
This is especially true if you’re an agency that serves local businesses and has hundreds (or thousands) of keywords to track.
Let’s look at the 3 biggest reasons why.
Your Ranks Vary by Searcher Location
First and foremost, every searcher will get a slightly different SERP depending on their specific location.
Did you know that searchers, even in the SAME CITY can get radically different SERPs based on their neighborhoods?
Yep. That’s why using a ranking tool to check your local ranks is so essential: it allows you to check local ranks for ALL those different locations without having to drive across town just to search your phone.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to get more visitors to your bike shop. You must use a ranking tool to tell you where your business ranks on Local Finder in different parts of your city.
This process improves the accuracy of your data and increases the number of customers you get in your stores.
Local Rankings Drive Local Traffic
Speaking of customers, local rankings on the SERP drive a huge percentage of local traffic. In fact, 46% of ALL Google searches include local intent! That’s a HUGE number of searches per day!
By prioritizing your local ranks on the SERP, you can also get many more people to visit your physical store.
For example, you’re looking for a good coffee shop when you’re out with your friends. You pull out your phone and search “coffee shop near me.” When you click “Search,” Google executes a local search looking for the top-ranked coffee shops in your vicinity.
Nearly 40% of all searchers click the very first option that pops up, which is why ensuring that you have high local rankings is essential. Moving your store from the third position to the first can drastically increase the amount of local traffic you get.
Your Competitors Are Tracking Local Rankings
This may be the most compelling reason to track your local rankings: your competitors are already doing it, and they will beat you if you don’t start soon.
That may sound dramatic, but it’s not. The chances are high that your competitors are already tracking their ranks (and yours, too!), so they’ll be able to:
- Make better strategic decisions
- Write better keyword-focused content
- Get more traffic (stealing it from you!)
That doesn’t sound ideal for your business!
The best way to avoid this nightmare scenario is to start tracking your local rankings NOW! Then, start compiling that data to see where your SEO campaigns can improve with more specific keywords or better content.
The Main Sources of Local Traffic
To track our local ranks successfully, we also need to understand WHERE local traffic comes from. If we’re tracking the wrong sources, we won’t understand how well our strategy is working.
In other words, you might not want to track keywords on Bing if most of your traffic comes from Google (or vice-versa!).
There are 3 primary sources of online traffic that convert local searchers into customers and ultimately push people to your brick-and-mortar store:
- Google Maps
- Snack Pack/Local Finder
- First page SERP on Google
Let’s look at how these traffic sources should impact your tracking efforts.
That’s why you must prioritize Google Maps when tracking your local traffic.
Google Maps has 2 versions:
The mobile version is the most common, so you should focus your efforts there.
As mentioned, many people find local recommendations by pulling out their phones and searching for something nearby. Those are Google Maps searches! To capitalize on those searches, you need to ensure that you have an up-to-date Google Business Profile.
Snack Pack/Local Finder
The Snack Pack and Local Finder results are a subset of Google Maps, and they’re essential if you want to get more traffic.
When you make any local Google search, Google shows you 3 options at the top of the SERP. Those are the Snack Pack, and they’re comprised of the top 3 Local Finder results.
If you click “More Places,” Google will show you ALL the local businesses that match your search. That’s the Local Finder.
You need to use a tracker that can track your rank on the Local Finder so you can make your way into the coveted top 3 Snack Pack positions!
First-Page Google Results
Finally, many local Google searches turn up results for the websites of local businesses instead of their GMB profiles.
In other words, Google just shows you the standard SERP result for that business instead of the Local Finder Google Feature.
What does that mean for your business?
It means that you need to target the Snack Pack AND the standard Google SERP. If you can rank in the top 3 Local Finder results and on the first page of Google for a particular keyword, you are very likely to get a lot of traffic (both web traffic and foot traffic) from that combo.
How Do You Rank Locally?
Unfortunately, just knowing the sources of local traffic doesn’t mean you’ll GET any local traffic.
For that to happen, you must take concrete steps toward ranking locally on each source.
In other words, it’s time to talk about targeting Google Maps, Local Finder, and the first page of the Google SERP to ensure your website is visible to searchers in your area.
There are many ways to do this, but there are 2 specific steps you can take over the next few days to DRASTICALLY improve your local rankings and traffic.
Target Local Keywords
One of the best things you can do to improve your local rankings quickly is to target local keywords.
That may sound obvious, but many businesses don’t target local keywords, and it costs them dearly.
What do we mean by local keywords?
Let’s go back to our bike shop example. Let’s say your shop is in Atlanta, GA. Instead of targeting the keyword, “bike shop,” you should target the keyword, “Atlanta bike shop” or “bike shop in Atlanta.”
These small changes drastically narrow the number of websites competing for the same keyword, giving you an edge.
You can get even more specific by including terms like your neighborhood, street name, or other local identifiers.
Find Out What People In Your Area Search For
Second, you should find out what people in your area are searching for instead of just guessing at it.
In other words, people in different areas type different things into their search bars on Google. So you need to find what your local people are searching for and target those words.
For example, people in Michigan probably aren’t searching for t-shirts in the winter, but people in Texas probably are. Little differences in locations can lead to significant differences in search behavior!
One of the best ways to discover what people are searching for is to steal keywords from your competitors. You can also use dedicated tools on ProRankTracker to identify local search trends. We’ll talk more about both options later in this article.
How to Use ProRankTracker to Track Your Local Rankings
Now that we’ve discussed the essential factors you need to understand if you’re going to capitalize on location-based SEO, let’s talk more specifically about how to track and improve your ranks with a tool.
ProRankTracker is one of the best (and most reasonably priced) rank-tracking tools on the market. It has industry-leading features without breaking the bank even for smaller businesses.
In this section, we’ll show you exactly how to use ProRankTracker to quickly check local ranks and improve them. We highly recommend that you sign up for ProRankTracker’s 30-day free trial so you can follow along with the tips you see here.
Add Location Data to Your Tracked Terms
First, you need to tell ProRankTracker what location to check for each keyword/URL combo by adding location data to each tracked term.
There are 2 places where you can do this:
- Add Wizard
- Advanced Add
The Add Wizard tool is the fastest way to add 1 or 2 new keywords. Just input your keyword and URL, then select a precise location for each new term. You should also remember to select the device type and GMB information if relevant.
Using the Advanced Add is more detailed and takes longer, but it allows you to bulk add if desired.
Steal Your Competitors’ Local Keywords
One of the best ways to grow your keyword strategy is to steal keywords that are already working for your competitors.
The best way to do this is to use ProRankTracker’s Rankings Discovery tool.
Add your competitor’s URL to be tracked, with at least one term, then you’ll be able to select that URL in the discovery tool. This will show you the keywords they rank for.
After using the Rankings Discovery tool, use the Keyword Suggestions tool to expand your new list of keywords even more. The Keyword Suggestions tool shows you long-tail, high-value keywords based on the keywords you’re already tracking.
Using this method, you can quickly steal traffic from your competitors and grow your keyword strategy.
Use Reports and Notifications to Stay Up to Date
You probably don’t want to spend hours every day tracking your ranks. A lot of days shouldn’t require much SEO work–assuming nothing terrible happens.
On those days, reports and notifications come in extremely handy.
ProRankTracker offers over 20 reports and notifications that all serve different roles.
For example, you can set up a daily report that sends an overview of the previous day to your email inbox each morning. Or, you can set up a notification that alerts you when any of your keywords drops by a set number of positions on the SERP.
Using these reports and notifications lets you ensure that your local ranks IMPROVE over time instead of just watching helplessly as they fall.
Use Rankings Views
The heart of ProRankTracker’s system is the Rankings Views that you can (and should) use to track your ranks regularly. ProRankTracker offers daily updates on EVERY plan, so the Rankings Views can change quickly and offer you great insight into what your ranks are doing on the SERP.
There are 5 Rankings Views:
- Dashboard shows you a quick overview of all your ranks.
- URL View shows each URL you’re tracking and each term being tracked for that URL.
- Term View is the exact opposite of URL view, showing you each term you’re tracking and each URL targeting that term.
- Daily View shows you a graphical representation of how your ranks have changed over a set period.
- Full SERPs show you an interactive SERP that breaks down every rank’s movement, giving you a detailed look at how the SERP changes daily.
Using all these Rankings Views together allows you to understand your ranks fully. If you followed step 1 in this section and added location data to each term/URL combo, these Rankings Views will give you a new perspective on how your searchers’ locations impact your ranks on the SERP.
Speaking of understanding your ranks, understanding is the first step to improving.
The problem with many businesses’ SEO strategies is that they’re taking blind shots in the dark because they don’t ACTUALLY know what’s working and what isn’t.
Tracking local ranks in ProRankTracker allows you to pinpoint the exact areas around you where people are most engaged with your site by adding location data to each tracked URL/keyword combo.
It should be evident by now that tracking local ranks is super crucial for the success of your business. Without it, there’s no way to target searchers in your area intentionally.
Following the steps outlined above, you should be a pro local tracker in no time!