4 Steps to getting on the first page of local organic search results.

Mar 16 2020 | Julie Warshaw, PayPal Editorial Staff

If you’re ever searched Google for a restaurant or dry cleaner “near me,” you’re probably familiar with the local three-pack – the three listings that appear under a map on the first page of results. So, how does a business use organic SEO to get one of those coveted spots?
When you shift your focus from global to local, you reduce the number of sites you’re competing with. And with less competition, achieving number-one status in search results becomes a lot more feasible. Optimizing for local search is a no-brainer if you have a brick and mortar location, but a business without a physical storefront can benefit from local optimization, too. Do you sell organic juices at the local farmer’s market? Do you offer lawn or maintenance services in your town? Any business conducted centrally can benefit from a local SEO strategy.
  
Now that you know why you need to optimize for local search, let’s move onto how.

 
  1. Get listed.

Make sure to claim your business’s name, address, and phone number – or “NAP” – listing in top local business directories, search engines, and social media platforms. Refer to our handy checklist below for the NAP listings that carry the most weight for SEO.
 
 
 
When you’re creating your directory listings, make sure to fill out every relevant section so that your listing is complete; things like your hours of operation, accepted payment types, and so on. Be prepared to provide an accurate description of your business with a few of your target keywords sprinkled in. You should also upload your company’s logo and if the directory allows, a few high-quality photos of your business – consider showcasing your storefront or some of the products you sell.
 
And remember to be consistent across all listings.  If your business has a suite number, do you say, “Suite 4” or “Ste. 4”? Whichever you decide, make sure it’s entered the same way in every listing. Variations can confuse search engines and result in a lower rank on organic search.
 
Tip: To get listed in GMB and Bing Places, you’ll need to verify the physical address of your local business (no PO Boxes). Google asks you to provide your address at sign-up, then mails you a postcard with your PIN number. Once you submit your PIN number, your business will be verified and you’ll be able to create your listing. Bing is a little bit more lenient and allows you to request your PIN via phone or email.
 
Now that your business is listed in all the right places, let’s tackle the next step: optimizing your website for search. If you already have an SEO strategy in place, great! Let’s tweak it to get you ranking locally. And if you haven’t done any SEO for your site, don’t worry – local SEO is a great place to start.

 
  1. Optimize for mobile.

 Are you tired of having marketing professionals reiterate the importance of making your website mobile-responsive? It may seem like we’re nagging, but it’s really that important – especially for local SEO. Think about the times you’ve used search to find a business “near me.” Were you on a desktop or mobile device? If you want to get your website in the local 3-pack, you’d better make sure it’s optimized for mobile search.
 
  1. Include location keywords in your content.

Your title tags, meta descriptions, and headers may already target a keyword, but what about a location? Updating your tags to include the target location makes it clear to both search engines and potential customers that your business services a specific area. Think about how a page's title and description will appear in the search results. In order for organic SEO to be effective, your tags need to read naturally, so avoid keyword stuffing.
 
The rest of your website content should also align with your local optimization strategy. This might be something as simple as adding your location to the existing content and alt text on a page, or it may be a little more intensive, like creating a whole landing page. An easy way to add localized content is by publishing blog posts. Google particularly loves what’s known as ‘evergreen’ content – content that is always relevant and helpful. Come up with an editorial calendar of topics to support your organic SEO efforts and include long-tail keywords that contain your target location.
 
By following the steps we’ve outlined this far, you’ve laid a solid foundation for local optimization. Now, comes the fun part: Reviews!

 
  1. Encourage and respond to reviews.

Reviews and testimonials are vital for local SEO. While it’s helpful for online shoppers to see reviews on your website, those reviews may not show up on organic search. But do you know what will? The social media pages and directory listings you created in the first step!
 
Engaging with customers on review platforms will give your listings traction and help your local business get better visibility in search. Most businesses get the majority of their reviews on Yelp, Facebook, and Google, so those sites are a great place to start. And don’t be afraid to encourage customers to leave reviews. Consider offering a discount or some other incentive to get the ball rolling. You may even find that just asking nicely does the trick.
 
Of course, the occasional bad review is inevitable. And while you can’t necessarily control what a local customer posts about your business online, you can control what happens next. The top review sites measure a business’s responsiveness, so be responsive! Good, bad, neutral – regardless of the review, a speedy response will benefit your SEO in the long-run. Depending on the situation, you may even find that a quick response results in an updated review.
 

Crossing the finish line.

When it comes to organic SEO, there is no finish line. (Sorry.) But! It's a lot easier to defend a top position in search than it is to get there. By following the steps above, you'll put your business on the right track to reaching number one. 
 
About PayPal for small businesses.
For nearly 20 years, PayPal has been a proud partner and platform for over 24 million merchants as they launch, scale, and grow. From access to fast funding to getting paid online, learn how our payment solutions can also help your business.

 
 
The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.
 

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If we can't verify your personal information, we will ask you to send us documents which confirm your identity via your PayPal account. Please see the guide below explaining what documents we can or cannot accept.

Personal Information Verification​
Proof of Identity
Documents must include information such as first and last name, date of birth, issuance and expiry date, as well as the document ID number. The name on this document must match the name you've registered on your PayPal account.
 
Acceptable Proof of Identity documents are:
  • Driver’s license
  • Passport or passport card
  • State or Government Issue ID
Unacceptable documents:
  • Military IDs
  • State medical cards, student cards
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Note:  If you've recently changed your name and the information on your identity document doesn't match the information on your account, you may have to provide additional documentation to show the name has changed.
 
Proof of Address
A proof of residence document that confirms where you live. This document must show both your full name and residential address. We can only verify physical addresses, not PO Box addresses. 
 
Acceptable Proof of Address documents are:
  • Utility bill (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Cell or landline phone bill (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Motor vehicle registration (Dated within last 12 months)
  • 401k/Brokerage Statement (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Copy of Grant Deed on Home or Lease Agreement for Home
  • Bank or credit card statement (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Identity card or driver’s license with physical address listed (must be current)
Unacceptable documents:
  • Envelopes
  • Military IDs
  • Invoices, receipts, all waybills
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Proof of SSN/ITIN
A document that confirms your 9-digit SSN/ITIN, assigned by the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration.
 
Acceptable Proof of SSN/ITIN documents include:
  • Social Security Number card
  • Letter from IRS assigning SSN or ITIN
  • 1099 Form (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Employer-issued W2 (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Paystub with complete SSN (Dated within last 12 months)
  • 3rd party prepared tax documents (Dated within last 12 months, and signed by 3rd party preparer)
Unacceptable documents:
  • Envelopes
  • Self-completed applications
  • Self-prepared tax documents
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Note If you don't have access to any of these documents, you can go to your local Social Security Office and request a letter which will verify your Social Security Number.


Business Entity Verification 
Proof of Business Identity
A document that confirms your business entity’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Tax Identification Number (TIN). The business name on this document must match the full business name on your PayPal account.
 
Acceptable Proof of Business Identity documents include :
  • Copy of IRS Letter assigning EIN/TIN
  • Screen print of EIN/TIN assigned real-time during online application
  • Previous year’s business tax return, prepared and signed by 3rd party preparer
  • Current bank statement displaying truncated EIN/TIN (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Current credit card statement displaying truncated EIN/TIN (Dated within last 12 months)
  • Other government-issued documents displaying full business name and 9-digit EIN/TIN (Dated within last 12 months)
Unacceptable documents:
  • Self-completed applications
  • Self-prepared tax documents
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Proof of Business Address
A proof of address document that confirms your business entity’s correspondence address. We can only verify physical addresses, not PO Box addresses. All documents must be dated within the last 12 months.
 
Acceptable Proof of Business Address documents include:
  • Current utility or phone bill
  • Current insurance or tax statement
  • Government-issued business license/permit
  • Current Certificate of Good Standing (Active Status)
  • Current bank statement displaying full business name
  • Current credit card statement displaying full business name
  • Other registration document filed with Secretary of State (i.e. Certificate of Incorporation, Partnership Agreement, or comparable business registration document)
Unacceptable documents:
  • Envelopes
  • Invoices, receipts, all waybills
  • Expired, partial or obscured documents
Proof of Business Existence
A current document issued by the Secretary of State (or equivalent agency) showing that a business entity has complied with the applicable provisions of the laws of the state, is in good standing, and is authorized to transact for business. The business name on this document must match the full business name on your PayPal account.
 
Acceptable Proof of Business Existence include:
  • Government-issued business license/permit
  • Current Certificate of Good Standing (Active Status)
  • Other registration document filed with Secretary of State (i.e. Certificate of Incorporation, Partnership Agreement, or comparable business registration document)
Note: All documents must be dated within the last 12 months.