Improving your Search Engine Optimization ranking is difficult enough, but when you factor in the local angle, it becomes even more challenging.

That’s the goal you’re striving for: to have your business appear to customers in your neighborhood that are looking for your services. Fortunately, Google has made it somewhat easier and there are actions you can take to help your own cause.

Google made the largest change to its algorithm in 2015, when it geared its search features toward mobile users, an ever-increasing segment of search inquiries. Those changes reduced the top number of results from seven to three—commonly called the ‘three pack’—removed specific street addresses and included hours of operation and reviews into its priority information categories.

To improve your changes to appear within the top three Google search results, you need to work within those parameters. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you have a physical address in the town you’re targeting
  • Make sure you’re up-to-date and fully utilizing Google My Business. It’s free and not time consuming.
  • Be consistent. Make sure your basic information is the same across all your sites, including your name, address, phone number and other contact info, as well as your hours of operation
  • Include a map to your business on your web site. In addition to the map, consider including basic driving directions along well-known routes
  • If you operate a chain of businesses, like oil change or auto service shops, make sure each location has their own web page
  • Provide a separate web page for each service; the more relevant content you show, the higher your SEO ranking will be
  • Content is still king. Make sure yours is fresh, relevant and unique
  • Optimize your reviews; Google’s search algorithm relies heavily on business reviews, since the majority of first-time customers read reviews before they decide to purchase a product or trust a business for service
  • Reach out to the community. Seek inbound links from organizations like local business groups or chambers of commerce. Sponsor local events, host a business meet-up, make a donation or put on a neighborhood clean-up day—events that will gather some exposure for your business and, most likely, additional web traffic to your site.
  • Leverage your keywords. When you’re updating Google My Business, make sure to use relevant keywords in your description and sprinkle them throughout your web site. Think about the questions potential customers would ask in a search bar and try to answer them, organically, through your content.

Trying to grow your online reach strictly through organic search results is difficult, but by paying attention to the details and applying some strategy, it can be done. What do you think? Do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comments!