Local SEO can be a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes and is a great way to ensure you are effectively promoting your business in the communities you serve face-to-face.
In short, Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website’s online presence to draw more traffic from relevant local search engine queries.
While it is especially important for small businesses, local SEO is also necessary for national chains to best market local storefronts to the consumers in that area.
If your business is locally-based or your company has regionally-based local offices – such as a retail store or other space customers frequently visit – optimizing your website’s SEO should also factor in making sure those customers can find you in person.
In this article, we will define local SEO, discuss what local search is, and give you some tips to boost your local SEO.
Defining Local SEO
Local SEO employs similar best practices but focuses on optimizing your website’s online presence to draw more traffic from relevant local search engine queries.
It’s important for businesses to operate on a regional as well as a national level. And while national SEO is used to help you rank in search engine result pages (SERPs) across the country, local SEO prioritizes appearing in location-specific SERPs.
The goal of local SEO is to ensure you are effectively promoting your business in the communities you serve by getting your website in front of the customers you see face-to-face.
It’s always important to make sure customers can easily find you when doing relevant local searches, but it’s even more important in today’s pandemic business world.
A recent Bright Local survey found that 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year. And 34% of those consumers searched every day.
That means that if you are a local business and you aren’t optimizing your SEO for local search, you could be losing potential customers every day.
What is a Local Search?
A local search is exactly what it sounds like: users submit a search limited to a certain geographic area, and that search is matched up with local businesses.
For example, “cheesesteak restaurants in Philadelphia” or “best diners in New Jersey.” A local search typically includes information about what the web user is searching for (“cheesesteaks”), but also a location which may include a city, state, or zip code (“Philadelphia”).
Local searches usually trigger Google to return organic search results and a “local 3-pack,” under which there is a “view more” option.
The 3-pack is a listing of three featured local businesses right at the top of the search results, and they rotate based on the searcher’s IP address. Still, if you want a shot at showing up, it helps to be listed in the top 20 local search results. That’s where your local SEO strategy comes in.
4 Ways to Maximize Your Local SEO
Now that you know what local SEO is and why it’s important, we’ll cover some of the best ways to boost your website in the local SERPs.
This list is far from extensive, but it does cover several of the most common methods for boosting local SEO.
Whether you’re a new website or a business hoping to improve its local search engine rankings, these tips are an effective way to reach potential customers in your local communities.
Optimize Your Website for Local SEO
The first step to maximizing your chances of showing up in the local SERPs is to make sure your website is optimized for local SEO.
That means providing consistent and accurate information about your business and making it easy to find.
The best way to do this is to provide all the pertinent details about your company on your contact page.
A good contact page should include your business name, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Email addresses should be clickable on all devices, and all phone numbers should be clickable on mobile devices.
If you have a single-location business, your contact page should focus on local, relevant information.
Businesses with more than one brick-and-mortar location will want to create individual location pages for each location. Along with all the information above, location pages should also include individual store hours, unique shop descriptions, transit, and parking information, as well as any local promotions.
Content for location-based pages should be unique to that location and target local keywords.
Additionally, it’s important to have an official Google Maps location attached to each location page.
For an added local SEO boost, consider adding positive customer testimonials. Google considers them a signal of trust and they reassure customers that you’re a trustworthy business.
As mentioned above, it is essential to make sure all the information you provide on these pages is consistent and accurate. The last thing you want is a customer searching for your business and finding inaccurate or conflicting information.
Utilize Google My Business
Once your contact page is complete and you’ve optimized your website for local SEO with consistent and accurate information, you will want to use the same information to create and complete a Google My Business (GMB) account.
GMB is a free tool, and it lets you manage how your business shows up on Google Search and Maps. It includes features like your business name, location, hours, photos, and customer reviews.
How Does Google My Business Work?
Setting up your Google My Business Account is simple.
You just have to create an account and claim your business. Once you’ve filled out your details, you’ll get a real-life, snail-mail postcard from Google confirming the address you’ve specified for your business (you can also request a phone call or email, but getting a postcard is fun).
GMB ranks businesses on several factors including relevance, distance, and prominence:
- Relevance: Relevance determines how well your business fits what the customer is actually searching for. It pays to be as clear as you can in your business description, so Google knows what you actually do.
- Distance: Google shows searchers results that are closest to their actual physical location first. In addition to listing your business address on your profile, it helps to link to other local content to give Google a better idea of where you are.
- Prominence: Bottom line – the more popular you are, the higher you’ll rank. If you want your business to show up top-of-search, you need to get a lot of website visitors, quality links to your page, and top-notch reviews.
To edit your information, simply go to the GMB dashboard, click the listing you’d like to work on, and then select “info.”
Be as detailed as possible with your information, making sure to include hours, phone number, website, and the area you serve…and don’t forget to add media!
According to Google, businesses with photos see 35% more clicks to the website and 42% higher requests for driving directions in Google Maps. At a minimum, make sure to choose a quality cover photo, as it shows up front and center on your listing.
Also note that anytime your information changes (say, you get a new phone number), you should go in and edit your profile. One of the worst things you can do for rankings is to have inaccurate or outdated information show up in your search results.
Additionally, Google is just one of many search engines. You should also claim your business in any other search engines or local directories, as well as claim any social profiles that belong to your business.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Think about the last time you searched for a local business. Did you sit down at your computer to do so, or just do a quick search on your phone? Chances are it was the latter option.
In fact, 46% of all Google searches are local, and 60% of those searches are done using a smartphone.
Data shows that appearing in the SERPs for those local mobile searches can be extremely valuable as well.
Just how valuable? If the goal of local SEO is to get customers in the door, very valuable.
When performing a search for local businesses on a mobile device, 88% of customers either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
The takeaway here is if you aren’t making your site mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on tons of potential business.
The good news is that optimizing your site for mobile devices isn’t too difficult, especially with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
The tool is free and it allows you to simply enter a URL and then test how easy it is for a visitor to use your page on a mobile device. Use it to make sure you’re not losing business to an unfriendly mobile site.
Create Local Content
Another good way to pop up in local searches is to create local content. Hopefully, your website already has a blog, so you should be ready to share local content right away.
If you have your blog ready to go, start writing content around local events, people, places, and things. You can even look into local teams, organizations, and events to see if sponsorship opportunities exist.
Creating local content is a great way to start link building. When mentioning other businesses or business owners in content, reach out to them to see if they would be interested in linking to the content on their site.
Also, don’t be afraid to tap into your customer base for help.
Reviews and testimonials can go a long way. The same Bright Local survey cited above reported that 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 – up from 81% in 2019.
If you are familiar with your customers or know someone is happy with your service or product, ask them to leave a review for you on Google, or if they would let you include a testimonial from them on your site.
Finally, once you’ve spent time creating great local content, don’t forget to share it on social media. Social media provides a great way to interact with customers and potentially increase reach through backlinks and shares.
You should now know what local SEO is and some ways you can improve your website’s local SEO.
Want to learn more about SEO? Check out What Are the Different Types of SEO?