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Outrank Your Competitors: Essential Local SEO Tips for 2024

Dominate local search and attract more customers with these powerful SEO strategies.

In today’s digital world, a strong online presence is essential for local businesses. As people increasingly turn to search engines to find local products and services, ranking high in local search results is crucial for success. This comprehensive guide explores essential on-site SEO practices to help you outrank your local competition and boost your business’s visibility.

Understanding Local SEO

Local SEO is a branch of search engine optimization specifically focused on attracting customers through local searches. Unlike general SEO, which aims to improve a website’s ranking for broad, national, or international keywords, local SEO focuses on optimizing a website for searches with local intent. This means targeting keywords that include geographic qualifiers, such as city names, neighborhoods, or zip codes. For example, a restaurant in La Crosse, Wisconsin, might target keywords like “best pizza La Crosse,” “Thai food near La Crosse Center,” or “family-friendly restaurants La Crosse WI.”

Local SEO also involves optimizing a business’s online presence beyond its website. This includes claiming and managing listings on local directories, building local backlinks, and encouraging customer reviews. All of these factors contribute to how search engines understand a business’s relevance to local searches and influence its ranking in local search results pages (SERPs).

Here are some additional examples of local SEO in action:

  • A plumbing company in La Crosse could create a web page specifically targeting “emergency plumbing La Crosse” and “24-hour plumber La Crosse.”


  • A dental office in La Crosse could build local backlinks by getting listed in online directories specific to La Crosse, such as the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, local church / places of worship websites, a local newspaper website or local community calendars.
  • A HVAC company in La Crosse could encourage customers to leave positive reviews on Google My Business and other local review platforms. By doing so, they can not only improve their ranking in local search results but also build trust with potential customers who are reading reviews online.

Website Optimization

Since most people use mobile devices to browse the web, Google now prioritizes mobile-friendly websites when ranking search results. This means having a website that works well on phones and tablets is crucial. To ensure your website is mobile-friendly, make sure it loads quickly, adapts to different screen sizes, and avoids features that don’t work on mobile devices. 

Additionally, Google considers how fast your website loads and how stable it is (avoiding unexpected layout shifts) as ranking factors. You can use various tools and techniques to improve these aspects of your website and ultimately achieve better search engine ranking and attract more visitors. Here is a list of some free tools you can use:


  • Pingdom Mobile Website Speed Test: – Analyzes your website’s mobile loading speed and offers actionable recommendations for optimization.

Core Web Vitals:

Leveraging Local Schema Markup

Schema markup acts as a powerful tool for local SEO by providing search engines with clear instructions on how to understand and interpret information about your business. Implementing local business schema can significantly improve how your business appears in search results, potentially increasing click-through rates with rich snippets highlighting key details like your business hours, address, location on a map, customer reviews, and ratings. Additionally, schema markup can help search engines better understand the specific services you offer and the unique characteristics of your business, potentially improving your ranking for relevant local searches.

SSL – Secure Website

In today’s digital landscape, website security is paramount not only for protecting user data and maintaining trust but also for achieving better search engine rankings. Search engines like Google have made it clear that they prioritize secure websites, especially when it comes to local SEO. A website with proper security measures in place is a critical factor in boosting your online visibility and outranking your competitors.

Having an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate and enabling HTTPS encryption is one of the most crucial aspects of website security. This protocol ensures that all data transmitted between the user’s browser and your website is encrypted, safeguarding sensitive information like login credentials and payment details from potential interception by third parties. Search engines recognize HTTPS as a trust signal, indicating that your website is safe for users to browse and conduct transactions.

The benefits of having a secure website for SEO purposes are multifaceted:

  • Improved search rankings: Google and other search engines have explicitly stated that they give preference to secure websites in their ranking algorithms. By implementing HTTPS, you can potentially gain a competitive edge over non-secure websites in local search results.


  • Enhanced user experience: Visitors to your website will see a clear indicator (usually a padlock icon in the address bar) that their connection is secure, instilling confidence and trust in your brand. This can lead to higher engagement, longer dwell times, and potentially lower bounce rates, all of which are positive signals for SEO.
  • Protection against data breaches: With cyber threats on the rise, having a secure website is essential for protecting your customers’ data and maintaining their trust. A data breach can severely damage your business’s reputation and potentially lead to penalties or loss of rankings from search engines.
  • Compliance with industry standards: Many industries and regulatory bodies now require websites to implement HTTPS encryption to ensure data privacy and security. By adhering to these standards, you not only improve your website’s security but also demonstrate your commitment to best practices, which can be a differentiating factor for local businesses.

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, prioritizing website security is no longer an option but a necessity. By implementing HTTPS and following other security best practices, you can not only safeguard your business and customers but also reap the SEO benefits of being a trusted, secure online presence.

Local Listings and Citations

Google Business Profile 

In today’s digital world, where people turn to Google for everything from finding directions to researching local businesses, a Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is no longer optional for small businesses and nonprofits—it’s essential. 

This free tool acts as your organization’s online hub, providing a central location for potential customers and supporters to discover who you are, what you offer, and how to connect with you.

Think of your Google Business Profile as your digital storefront, visible to anyone searching for your business name or relevant keywords. It allows you to showcase crucial information like your address, phone number, website link, and operating hours, ensuring potential customers can find you easily. Additionally, you can leverage your profile to share updates about your organization, post high-quality photos and videos, and even accept online reservations or appointments (if applicable).

The benefits of claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile are numerous. It empowers you to:

  • Increase visibility in local search results: A well-optimized profile can significantly improve your ranking in local search results, making it easier for potential customers and supporters to find you online, especially when they search for terms related to your offerings or your area.


  • Build trust and credibility: By providing accurate and up-to-date information, you establish yourself as a legitimate and reliable organization. Positive reviews and ratings displayed on your profile further enhance trust and encourage potential customers or donors to choose you.
  • Engage directly with your audience: Respond to reviews, post photos, answer questions, and post updates to directly communicate with your audience and foster a sense of connection. This allows you to showcase your responsiveness and commitment to customer or supporter satisfaction.

By claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile, you take control of your online presence and unlock a powerful tool for connecting with your target audience, boosting your visibility, and ultimately achieving your organizational goals.

Citations (directory listings)

In the realm of local SEO, citations play a critical role in boosting your business’s online visibility and credibility. Citations are essentially online listings or references to your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on various directories, review sites, and local business databases. These citations act as digital footprints, helping search engines verify the accuracy and legitimacy of your business information.

The significance of SEO citations lies in their impact on local search rankings. Search engines view citations as a trust signal, and consistent, high-quality citations across multiple platforms indicate to the algorithms that your business is legitimate and relevant to local searchers. Conversely, inconsistent or incomplete citations can harm your local rankings and make it harder for potential customers to find you online.

Beyond their impact on search engine optimization, SEO citations also offer several direct benefits to your business:

  • Increased online visibility: By being listed on popular directories and review sites, your business becomes more visible to potential customers actively searching for your products or services in their local area.


  • Improved brand credibility: Accurate and consistent citations across multiple reputable sources lend credibility to your business, instilling confidence in potential customers.
  • Enhanced local search results: Complete and optimized citations can improve how your business appears in local search results, potentially including additional information like operating hours, photos, and customer reviews.
  • Better click-through rates: Compelling and informative citations can entice searchers to click through to your website or business listing, driving more qualified traffic.

To fully leverage the power of SEO citations, it’s essential to maintain consistent and accurate business information across all citation sources. This includes regularly auditing and updating your listings to ensure they reflect any changes to your business name, address, phone number, or other critical details.

Encouraging Customer Reviews

Customer reviews hold immense power in local SEO, influencing both your search ranking and potential customers’ trust. Actively encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google Business Profile and Facebook. Responding to reviews, positive and negative, demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and strengthens your reputation.

Reputation Management

Just like a positive reputation in the real world can open doors and attract new customers, a strong online reputation can significantly benefit your organization. Positive reviews, testimonials, and media mentions act as social proof, validating your credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of potential customers or donors. Conversely, negative reviews or online negativity, if left unaddressed, can deter potential supporters and damage your organization’s image.

By actively managing your online reputation, you can:

  • Build trust and credibility: Positive online reviews and testimonials serve as powerful endorsements, assuring potential customers or donors that you are a reliable and trustworthy organization.
  • Attract new customers or donors: A strong online reputation can significantly influence the decision-making process of potential customers or donors. By showcasing positive feedback and addressing any concerns, you can increase your appeal and encourage engagement.
  • Mitigate negative feedback: Even the most reputable organizations can face occasional negative feedback. By proactively monitoring online mentions and promptly addressing negative reviews, you can minimize their impact and demonstrate your commitment to customer or donor satisfaction.

Keyword and Content Strategy

Optimizing for Local Keywords

Identifying and strategically integrating local keywords into your website’s content is fundamental to local SEO. These keywords should reflect the search terms your local audience uses to find businesses like yours. Include them in page titles, meta descriptions, header tags, and body content, but avoid over-stuffing to prevent harming your ranking. We recommend targeting 1 keyword or phrase per page.

What this means in a practical sense is that if you want people to find your specific service in a Google search, it is best to have a page dedicated to that specific service, versus having a single page with all of your services listed within it.

Having a page focused on a single service makes it easier for Google to know what your page is about, but also makes a better landing page for providing potential customers with your understanding of their problem, the solutions you offer and why you are the best option. While it does take more time and cost more money to have additional pages designed for you, this is definitely a worthwhile place to invest in your business.  

Local Service Pages / City Pages

Creating local service pages is an essential strategy to enhance your online presence and attract new clients. These dedicated pages act as targeted landing points, providing in-depth information about the specific services you offer, tailored to the unique needs and interests of your local audience.

Local service pages offer several key benefits that can significantly impact your organization’s reach and success. They allow you to:

  • Increase visibility in local search results: By incorporating relevant local keywords and location-specific details throughout your service pages, you improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results for queries related to the services you offer. This increases your visibility to potential clients searching for businesses like yours within your vicinity.


  • Showcase expertise and build trust: Local service pages provide an ideal platform to delve deeper into the specifics of your services, highlighting your unique value proposition, experience, and qualifications. This in-depth information showcases your expertise and builds trust with potential clients, making them more confident in choosing your organization.
  • Target specific audiences: Unlike generic business pages, local service pages enable you to tailor your messaging to resonate with the specific needs and preferences of your local audience. This targeted approach allows you to address their pain points more effectively, increasing the relevance and impact of your message.
  • Drive conversions and engagement: By incorporating clear calls to action on your service pages, you can encourage potential clients to take the next step, whether it’s contacting you for a consultation, booking an appointment, or making a donation (for non-profits). This targeted approach streamlines the conversion process and fosters engagement with your organization.

So for example, let’s say you are a single-location business located in Onalaska, but want to target customers in La Crosse. You cannot set up a Google Business Profile for La Crosse, but you can create a page or blog post on your website showcasing your services to customers and the La Crosse community.

You can post photos, case studies and testimonials from people or businesses you have worked with in La Crosse. You can also include memberships, partnerships, sponsorships and other local relationships that demonstrate your dedication and commitment to the community.

You can then repeat this process for other surrounding communities, like Winona, West Salem, Sparta, Tomah, La Crescent, etc., making each page unique and valuable to the person viewing  the page. Do not repeat the same content for each page and just change the city name, as this could lead to your efforts being wasted or worse, a penalty from Google.

Local Content Marketing

Create high-quality, locally relevant content that is informative, engaging, and optimized for local search. This could include blog posts about local events, news, or topics of interest to the local community; articles highlighting your expertise in a way that benefits local readers; or videos showcasing your products or services in action within the local context. Regularly publishing fresh content that demonstrates your understanding of the local community and its needs can help you establish your business as a trusted and valuable resource, attract potential customers searching for information online, and improve your website’s ranking in local search results.

Local Video Marketing

Create and optimize video content with a local focus to:

  • Showcase your products or services in action: Create engaging videos that demonstrate how your products or services can benefit local customers. For example, a local bakery could create a video showcasing their baking process or highlighting their most popular pastries.
  • Highlight your community involvement: If your business is involved in local events, charities, or initiatives, create videos that showcase your commitment to the community. This can help you build goodwill and connect with potential customers who share your values.
  • Provide valuable information for your local audience: Create educational or informative videos that address common questions or challenges faced by your local target audience. For example, a local plumber could create videos on DIY plumbing tips or how to prevent common plumbing problems.

Voice Search Optimization

With the rise of voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, optimizing for voice search queries is becoming increasingly important. People tend to use more natural language and ask longer, more specific questions when searching by voice. To optimize for voice search:

  • Use natural language: Write content that sounds natural and conversational, as if you are speaking to a friend.
  • Target long-tail keywords: Focus on longer, more specific keywords that people might ask out loud, such as “what are the best family-friendly restaurants near me?” or “what time does the La Crosse Public Library close?”
  • Answer questions directly and concisely: Aim to answer questions in a clear, concise, and informative way, ideally within 30 words.
  • Optimize your website speed: Voice search results are often delivered through voice assistants on mobile devices, so ensure your website loads quickly on all platforms.

Link Building

Building Local Backlinks

Building a network of local backlinks is crucial for strengthening your local search presence. This involves acquiring links from other local businesses, churches / places of worship, directories, and organizations, emphasizing your business’s commitment within the area. Local link building is a powerful strategy for boosting your local SEO performance.

Local Partnerships and Sponsorships

Partnering with or sponsoring local organizations, events, or teams can be a win-win situation for your business and the community. By collaborating with local charities, sports teams, community groups, or schools, you can not only build valuable backlinks to your website but also:

  • Increase brand awareness and exposure: Partnering with established organizations or events allows you to reach a wider audience within the community and get your brand name in front of potential customers who may not have been aware of your business before.
  • Build goodwill and establish yourself as a community partner: When you support local causes or initiatives, you demonstrate your commitment to the community and its well-being. This can help you build positive relationships with local residents and establish your business as a trusted and valued member of the community.
  • Create valuable networking opportunities: Partnering with other local businesses or organizations can open doors to new connections and potential collaborations. This can be beneficial for expanding your reach, exploring new marketing opportunities, and fostering a sense of community among local businesses.

Tracking Results

Track Your Results and Adapt

Monitoring your local SEO efforts is essential to understand their impact and identify areas for improvement. Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console provide valuable insights into your website’s performance in local search results, allowing you to refine your strategies for better outcomes. Both services are free to use.