“Customers are searching for the best products and services near them and want answers fast.” This is where local SEO gets its importance.
Remember the last time you checked for restaurants near you? Or when you needed to get to a nearby grocery store. Or when you recently moved and checked the hangout spots in your new location?
You will get results that point to these specific businesses within your location. You can even go as far as checking the estimated distance.
Local searches quickly became ‘the trend.’
As a business owner, you need to leverage visibility within your geographic region as much, if not more, than global visibility, mainly if you focus on sales because local searches result in more than 70% of sales for business owners.
People searching for restaurants near them are not looking for blog posts or social media pages; they need a place to eat. The same goes for most local searches as well.
In fact, according to BrightLocal’s most recent local consumer survey, 78% use the Internet to find information about local businesses in their area more than once a week, and 21% search locally every day.
However, as much as local SEO seems essential to every business, the concept is still not comprehensive enough for business owners to understand. Hence, there is still the question of what business owners must do to leverage local search.
In this local SEO guide, I will show you how you can leverage local searches as a small business owner for increased visibility and sales, tools for local SEO, and how they work.
I will answer your most urgent questions on local SEO and show you how to optimize your business, website, and content for local searches.
Let’s get right into it.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of enhancing your local businesses’ ability to be visible on search engines, appearing in local search results, and increasing sales. It is hugely beneficial for businesses with a physical location or, at best, that cater to people within a specific region.
Local SEO goes beyond having and optimizing your website; it includes practices like listing your business in a local directory, having and optimizing your Google Business Profile (GBP), and content marketing for your website and social media platforms.
Local SEO increases your business’s potential to appear in searches within your geographic region. So, if you own a hair salon and someone in your area searches for hair salons, your business can come up on the search result page for that exact search.
This gives you potential customers who might be ready to pay for that service instead of someone only searching for information.
Local SEO vs. Organic SEO
Local SEO and organic SEO are aspects of SEO that involve different but complementary strategies that help to enhance the online visibility of a business or brand.
As complementary as these strategies are, they are different in their focus and objectives.
However, implementing them for your business will increase your rankings in search engine result pages (SERPs).
Local SEO focuses on ranking a business for local searches using local keywords and directory listings. In contrast, organic SEO is focused on the global visibility of a business in online searches, establishing the trust, authority, and expertise of a business.
Local SEO also focuses on searchers within a specific region, which is usually the best and most effective option for small businesses because you avoid the competition for generic keywords and get traffic to your site through specific and streamlined keywords. In contrast, organic SEO targets users regardless of location.
Local SEO vs. Organic SEO:
|Factors||Local SEO||Organic SEO|
|Focus||Local search results||Organic search results|
|Target audience||People who are searching for businesses in a specific location||People who are searching for products or services, regardless of their location|
|Keyword||Local keywords, such as “coffee shops near me”||Broader keywords, such as “coffee shops”|
|Search intent||The search intent is usually transactional||The search intent varies based on the searcher.|
|Content||Content that is relevant to the local area||Content that is relevant to the products or services you offer|
|Backlinks||Backlinks from local websites and citations||Backlinks from high-quality websites|
|Goal||The goal is to get into local listing packs||The goal is to appear at the top of SERPs|
|Devices||Mostly from mobile devices||Mobile devices and Desktops|
|Conversion||Website clicks, phone calls, online purchases, and on-site purchases||Website clicks, online purchases|
|Conversion rate||As high as your visibility rate and proximity to the searcher.||High for only the top-ranking results|
The best way to improve your website’s ranking in the SERPs is to combine local SEO and organic SEO. By optimizing your website for both local and organic search, you can reach a wider audience and attract more customers.
Types of Businesses that Need Local SEO
Here is a list of some businesses that need local SEO in their strategies:
- Restaurants and Cafés
- Local Retail Stores
- Law Firms
- Real Estate Agencies
- Medical and Dental Practices
- Local Gyms and Fitness Centers
- Florists and Flower Shops
- Home Cleaning Services
- Landscaping and Gardening Services
- Computer Repair and IT Services
- Physical Therapy Clinics
- Tutoring Services
- Bookstores and Libraries
- Music Instructors
- Catering Services and Event Planners
- Car Rental Agencies
- Bike Shops
- Bicycle Repair Services
- Jewelry Stores and Boutiques
- Photography Studios
- Moving Companies
- Antique Shops and Vintage Stores
- Personal Trainers and Fitness Instructors
- Dry Cleaners and Laundry Services
- Coffee Shops and Cafeterias
- Pet Supply Stores
- Local Breweries
- Yoga Studios
- Retail Stores
- Auto Repair Shops
- Daycare Centers
- Event and Wedding Planners
- Local Artisans and Craftsmen
- Computer Repair and IT Services
- Physical Therapy Clinics
If your business caters to a local audience (even if it is not on this list), you need local SEO.
Benefits of Local SEO
Local SEO has several benefits, especially for product or service-based local businesses.
Here are some:
a. Boosts your online visibility
Local SEO boosts visibility by helping your business appear in local search results when potential customers are looking for products or services in your area. With the right local SEO strategies, you can even get your business featured in the Google Map Pack and appear prominently on search results.
b. Enhances credibility and trust
Local SEO can lead to more online reviews and ratings, which will significantly impact the decisions of your potential customers.
Positive reviews build trust and credibility, encouraging more people to choose your business over your competitors.
c. Attracts more targeted traffic
Your website/business page will receive more relevant and focused traffic if optimized for local terms and phrases. People who use local phrases are specifically and actively looking for what you have to offer, which increases the possibility that they will convert.
Local SEO is more cost-effective than traditional advertising and other digital marketing strategies. It targets a specific audience, reducing wasted marketing efforts and costs.
Local SEO is also less technical, and although some aspects might require some technical knowledge, you can see meaningful results with just a few changes.
e. Measurable results
Local SEO efforts can be tracked and analyzed using various tools and analytics platforms. This allows you to measure the effectiveness of your strategies and make data-driven decisions to improve your local search performance continually.
f. Improves conversion rates:
Local searches have been known to have higher conversion rates than generic searches because most local searchers are active, and the search intent is usually transactional.
With local SEO, you increase the chances of conversion because you focus on active searchers.
g. Reduces ad costs:
Local business owners are always worried about getting enough visibility and sales. Because of this concern, they usually run ads on platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
However, with local SEO focused on local searches, results are swift, and there will be little to no need to create a budget for ads in your marketing campaign.
Local SEO strategies require targeting more localized keywords and increasing your relevance and prominence in your local community. This increases your chances of getting more localized backlinks, especially when you create blog content that targets these keywords.
Google’s Map Pack/Local Pack
I can’t talk about local SEO without mentioning Google Map Pack because this is the goal of local SEO.
What Is Google’s Map Pack?
The Google Map Pack, or the Google Local Pack, is a prominent feature in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) that shows local business listings and a map in response to location-based search queries.
When a user performs a search with local intent, such as “restaurants near me” or “plumbers in [city],” Google will present the Local Map Pack, displaying the top three local businesses that match the search criteria.
The Map Pack usually appears near the top of the search engine results page. It is displayed alongside the Google Map, making it easy for the searcher to locate and engage with local businesses.
The Map Pack is highly valuable for businesses targeting local customers because it provides an excellent opportunity for increased visibility and easy customer engagement. Being featured in the Map Pack can drive more foot traffic, phone calls, and website visits, which, when played right, can lead to increased conversions and revenue for your local business.
For businesses aiming to improve their presence in the Map Pack, optimizing your local SEO, having an accurate and well-maintained Google Business Profile, and receiving positive customer reviews are crucial strategies to improve your chances of being listed in this section of Google’s search results.
Features of Google Map Pack
Here are some of the most important features of Google’s Map Pack:
- Local Business Listings
The Map Pack shows three local business listings that match the search query. These listings provide essential details like the business name, address, phone number, and website link.
- Google Map
Right next to the listings, you’ll see a map with markers indicating the locations of the businesses. This is what a searcher uses to determine the distance of your business from their location.
- Top-of-Page Placement
The Map Pack appears at the top of Google’s search results page. It’s one of the first things a searcher sees when they search for local keywords, local businesses, or local services.
- Local Intent
The Map Pack shows up when you search with local intent, like “coffee shops near me” or “dentists in [your city].” The purpose of the Map Pack is to help searchers see what’s closest to them.
- Customer Reviews
Each business listing often includes customer reviews and ratings. They help customers see what others think of your business.
- Quick Contact Options
Customers can easily contact businesses since their phone numbers are usually listed. You can even include a “call” button for one-tap dialing.
- Business Photos
Many listings also feature photos of the business, which is advantageous and allows your customers to get a glimpse of what to expect from your business.
How Google Map Pack Works
Google Map Pack is the top result for local searches. Appearing in Google’s Map Pack is like appearing in the featured snippets for organic searches.
How does this happen?
Google considers three crucial factors to rank a local business in the Map Pack:
Relevance refers to how well a local business listing matches a user’s search query.
Google assesses whether your products, services, or content are closely related to what the user is searching for.
To improve your business’s relevance for niche-specific keywords and local searches, you should use accurate and descriptive information in your Google Business Profile, formerly Google My Business (GMB), including relevant keywords in your business name, description, categories, and other attributes.
For example, if a user searches for “Italian restaurants,” Google will prioritize local restaurant listings identified as Italian restaurants in their GMB profiles.
Prominence refers to the popularity, reputation, and visibility of a local business, both online and offline. It considers customer reviews, ratings, citations, backlinks, and online presence.
Businesses with positive reviews and high ratings are often seen as more prominent and trustworthy. The number of online mentions and links to a business also contributes to its prominence.
Google considers how well-known a business is in its local community and industry. Prominence helps Google determine how likely the business will provide a positive user experience.
For example, a local restaurant with numerous positive reviews, several local news articles mentioning it, and a solid social media presence is more likely to have high prominence and be among the top results for a local search.
Proximity, also known as distance, refers to how close a business’s physical location is to the user performing the search.
Google aims to show businesses that are closest to the user’s location.
When a user searches for a product or service, Google considers the distance between the user’s and the business’s locations to provide the most convenient options.
Users searching for “restaurants near me” or “gas stations nearby” will see results based on location.
For businesses targeting local customers, proximity is vital. Businesses in a specific area have a better chance of appearing in the Local Map Pack for relevant searches.
It means the search engine result for a local search with the same search phrase in the same country can vary based on the searcher’s city, town, or current location.
How to Optimize for Google Map Pack
Here are some tips for optimizing your business for Google Map Pack:
1. Claim and verify your Google My Business (GMB) listing:
Ensure you have a complete and accurate GMB profile. Claim your listing and verify it with Google to gain control over the information displayed for your business.
2. Choose the right business categories:
Select the most relevant categories for your business to improve your relevance for specific search queries. Avoid generic categories like restaurants and select particular categories like ‘Italian restaurants.’
3. Use accurate business information:
Ensure your business name, address, phone number (NAP), and other details are consistent across all online platforms representing your business.
4. Add local keywords to your GMB profile:
Incorporate local keywords in your GMB profile description to enhance your relevance for location-specific searches.
5. Add high-quality photos:
Include high-resolution photos that effectively highlight your business, products, and services. Photos are necessary to increase credibility, attract attention, and boost engagement.
6. Encourage positive reviews:
Provide excellent customer service and encourage your customers to leave positive reviews on your Google Business Profile.
7. Respond to reviews:
Respond professionally to positive and negative reviews to show your customers you value their feedback.
8. Build local citations:
Build citations (mentions of your business) on local directories and websites to increase local prominence.
9. Write localized content:
Create blog content that targets local keywords and addresses the needs of your local audience. This content can also display some of the products and services you offer.
10. Embed Google Maps on your website:
Embed a Google Map with your business’s location on your website to help with local SEO. It also increases your chances of making it to the Google Map Pack.
11. Create a mobile-friendly website:
Ensure your website is mobile-friendly since local searches are often performed on mobile devices. It increases your chances of ranking on local search engine result pages.
12. Include structured data markup on your website:
Implement structured data markup on your website to help search engines understand your business information better. It also allows your content to be displayed in an organized way, which can improve engagement.
Earn backlinks from local websites, businesses, and organizations to increase local authority and prominence.
14. Engage with your local community:
Be active on local social media platforms and engage with your local community. Participate in local events or sponsor local activities to increase your local visibility.
15. Create location pages:
If you have multiple locations, create separate location pages on your website for each one.
16. Monitor your insights:
Monitor your GMB insights to understand how users engage with your listing.
17. Encourage check-ins:
Encourage customers to “check in” on social media platforms, drop reviews, and even create short videos of their experiences when they visit your business.
Local SEO Algorithm: How It Works
The local SEO Algorithm leverages location, making it different from normal or generic searches.
When someone does a local search, the local SEO algorithm will use the user’s IP address, GPS details, or location settings on their phone to determine the searcher’s location.
When the location is determined, Google will then rank businesses that are relevant to that search based on factors such as
- Proximity to the searcher: This has to do with how close the business is to the searcher’s exact location.
- How popular the business is: This factor shows the prominence of that business in its niche.
- The relevance of that business to the search: If the business offers the same service as what the searcher is looking for.
- The GBP business listing shows if the business has a Google Business Profile (GBP) listing.
- Reviews from customers: Google focuses more on positive reviews and the quality of the reviews to ensure they are not spam.
- And several other factors (Read to the end to see the ranking signals for local SEO).
Local SEO Statistics that Matter
Here are some mind-blowing statistics about Local SEO you should know:
- In Google’s blog about “Mobile’s Growing Role in a Shopper’s Purchase Decision,” it was discovered that 76% of people who conduct a local search on their mobile devices visit the store within 24 hours. A whopping 28% of these searches result in a purchase.
- Google also states that 30% of all its searches are related to location.
- According to Backlinko’s search engine ranking study of 11.8 million Google search results, it was discovered that 86% of searchers depend on Google Maps to find the location of a business.
- In a 2022 local survey by RioSEO, 83% of the respondents search for local keywords daily, compared to 76% the previous year. This shows a 7% increase in local searches from the prior year.
- RioSEO says nearly 74% of searchers use Google Search/Map to find local businesses.
- According to FreshChalk, Yelp appears in the top five search results for 92% of Google searches about a local business.
- RioSEO and Forsta researched over 64,000 US retail business locations and discovered a 25% increase in GBP listing views and searches in the second quarter of 2022.
- Here are some other important local SEO statistics from RioSEO’s 2022 Local Search Consumer Behavior Survey:
- 66% of local consumers want to travel ten miles or less for a product or service.
- The average person reads six reviews before visiting a business.
- 63% of consumers said first-party reviews (reviews on a brand’s website) influenced their purchasing decisions.
- 77% of local consumers expect a response within 48 hours when they reach out to a brand through a business listing or website.
- 65% of searchers are looking for addresses and directions to a business location, 56% are looking for local reviews, and 54% are looking for the current hours of operation.
- The top three local searches were retailers (25%), service providers (18%), and restaurants (15%).
Local Search Ranking Signals
Here are some of the known ranking signals for local SEO:
i. GBP Listing
Google Business Profile (GBP), previously known as Google My Business, is a free tool by Google that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google Search and Maps.
To appear in local searches on Google, you must be listed on the platform because Google Search and Google Maps use your GBP details to present results to searchers.
If your business isn’t listed, it will not appear in local searches, even if they are in your vicinity.
Listing your business on Google gives it the element of trust it needs to attract new customers and increase its visibility.
ii. GBP Categories
Your business category is the primary keyword for your business and will go a long way in helping your business rank for relevant searches.
The Google Business Profile category is part of your profile that shows your business type. It is an important ranking factor because it reflects your niche and determines the exact search your business will appear in.
There are over 4,000 business categories in GBP as of 2023.
To select your GBP category, you can choose more than one category. For example, if your category is ‘restaurant’ and you focus primarily on vegan food, you might want to select a secondary category that reflects this.
This is advantageous because the competition for ‘restaurants near me’ will be higher than for ‘vegan restaurants near me.’
iii. GBP Images
Adding images to your Google Business Profile visually represents your business. It shows your potential customers the visual details of your business and will improve its visibility in search rankings.
- Tips to consider when choosing your GBP images
- The images should be high-quality and clear.
- The images should be relevant to your business.
- The logo should be consistent with your business across different platforms.
- The images should be of an appropriate size and dimension.
iv. Bing Places for Business
Bing Places for Business is just like the Google Business Profile, with the significant difference being that they are available on different platforms. GBP is on Google, while Bing Places is on Bing.
It is a platform developed by Microsoft that allows local business owners to create and manage their businesses’ listings on the Bing search engine. The platform aims to enhance their businesses’ online visibility in local search results.
Listing your business on Bing is free, and you can complete your listing in just three steps:
- Claim your listing:
Bing believes it already has a listing for your business, so it gives you the option of claiming an existing listing or creating a new one.
Using the bulk upload tool, you can also create a listing for all your business locations (if you have more than one).
- Complete your listing profile:
All you need to do to complete your listing profile is fill in the necessary and accurate information about your business. You can include high-quality pictures of your business, your business logo, and any other pictures that are relevant to your niche.
You should also include your services, hours of operation, and how customers can reach your business (phone number, address, website, social media).
- Verify your listing:
Verifying your listing is crucial for you to be able to protect it from unverified changes.
You will receive a PIN to verify your listing at your business address, email, or phone number. You must also input a valid address if you list your business on Bing Places for Business. And you can choose to hide your address from search results.
v. Online Directories
Online directories are online platforms that list/showcase businesses, organizations, and individuals. For example, you can have an online directory that lists ‘Lawyers in a City’ or ‘Local Restaurants.’ You can also find listings of charity organizations, NGOs, etc.
These directories are used to find businesses or professionals and contact information, such as addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
You can also use them to find websites, product information, and reviews.
Note: Most directories list businesses or professionals in a specific niche. So, you need to find the widely used directories in your niche.
Why online directories are important for local SEO
Online directories might not impact your local SEO in such a big way, but here are some benefits of listing your business in online directories.
- Gets Links
You can get backlinks from websites that write blog posts about your services. Suppose a blogger is compiling a list of the ‘best restaurants in San Francisco’ and your restaurant is listed in the local restaurant directories. In that case, seeing your business and adding it to their list will be easy.
- Increases Awareness
Listing your business in major niche directories will increase your brand’s awareness. If someone who uses these directories sees your business in more than one directory, it will stick to them, and they’ll easily contact you when they need your services.
- Drives Traffic
You can get significant traffic from online directories, either from backlinks or from customers who are active in these directories.
- Increases Trust
Listing your business in major online directories can help increase your customers’ trust. They will transfer the trust they have in these directories to your business.
- Types of online directories to list your business
There are different online directories where you can list your business. However, you need to list your business in well-known and relevant directories to your niche.
Niche-specific directories are more beneficial than generic directories because customers using a niche-specific directory are more likely to pay for your service.
Nevertheless, widely known and used directories also offer similar benefits.
Here are some online directories to list your business:
1. Apple Maps
Apple Maps is a map service by Apple, first released in 2012 as a replacement for the previous Maps app.
At first, it had inaccurate maps and poor navigation, but it has since been improved and offers new features such as street view, transit directions, and flyover modes.
Apple Business Connect supports both small businesses and large enterprises. It also has showcases and actions that can help you deliver timely information, share offers, and encourage customer engagement by ordering food, getting tickets, or booking reservations.
You can also use the Business Chat feature to communicate with your customers directly on Apple Maps.
Here are some benefits of using Apple Maps:
- It is integrated with other Apple services, such as Siri and CarPlay.
- It is constantly being updated with new features and improvements.
The Apple Business Connect User Guide is a detailed guide showing you how to create a listing for your business using the Apple Business Connect Platform.
Apple Business Connect User Guide showing best practices for uploading an image.
Apple Business Connect User Guide showing how to create an enterprise account.
2. The Real Yellow Pages
The Real Yellow Pages is a widely known business directory that lists businesses and organizations by category. Currently, Yellow Pages has over 250 different subcategories, with categories such as
- Home Services
- Medical Services
- Auto Services
- Legal Services
- Pet Services
- Restaurants and Catering
- Beauty and Personal Care
- Arts and Entertainment
- Travel and Recreation
- Financial Services
- Clothing and Accessories
- Community and Government
Listed businesses on the Yellow Pages have their name, phone number, address, operating hours, business photo, website link, and ratings displayed during searches.
You can also add your years of experience and a concise business bio, which will be displayed alongside your business in the result pages.
People can search for businesses based on category, location, and the exact services offered, making it an excellent choice of online directory listing for any business owner.
To list your business on the Real Yellow Pages, get started via this link: Claim Your Yellow Pages Business Listing
Foursquare is a popular tool/social media site that uses the user’s geographic location to discover places of interest closest to the user.
The selling point of this platform could be its ability to give personalized recommendations based on the user’s browsing and check-in history.
You can list your business on the Foursquare City Guide platform and allow yourself to be found by over one million users.
When a user searches for a business on Foursquare, it shows a large map view, the rankings of each business, and basic information about the business.
vi. Listings on Review Sites
According to this Harvard Business Review study by Michael Luca, it was discovered that “a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue for independent restaurants.”
This study also found that customers respond more positively when the ratings contain more information than just the stars.
This study reflects the benefits of listing your business on review sites. Beyond listing your business, you should work on giving quality to your customers because, according to the Harvard study, customers are more responsive to visible changes.
Here are some review sites you can use for your local business:
Yelp is a free site; however, businesses can pay for advertising, which can help increase their visibility and attract more customers.
According to the Comscore Media Metrix for March 2022, more than 80 million people visit Yelp monthly to find restaurants, home services, and more. Also, according to a Yelp survey, 57% of users contacted a business they found on Yelp within the same day.
This is an insightful statistic because it shows the number of audiences you can reach by listing your business on Yelp. Having several positive reviews will also help you dominate search results.
To list your business on Yelp, you only need to create a listing for your business and add accurate information. Another important tip when using Yelp is to respond to reviews and messages as soon as possible.
You can and should include pictures that reflect your business. For example, you can upload pictures of your dishes if you own a restaurant, upload pictures of your customers (with consent), upload pictures of your office, etc.
Ensure the pictures are high quality, have the proper captions, and are relevant to your business.
If you want to register for Yelp Ads, you can do so for as little as $5/day, and you also get to customize and track your ads.
- Angi (formerly Angie’s List)
Angi is an online service that allows customers to research, hire, and review local service providers. It offers a paid membership plan priced at $29.99 a year, but, you can create and manage your listings for free on the site.
It is available as an online platform and an app (for Android and iOS). However, there are several limitations to using Angi, including availability issues.
Angi is available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Angi operates in all 50 states of the United States and the District of Columbia, but in Canada, it only operates in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec.
To know if Angi is available in your area, visit the website and enter your zip code. The website will show you a list of all the local contractors in your area listed on Angi.
To list your business on Angi, visit the website and click on Join our Pro Network. You will see the option to ‘List my Business,’ and then you will fill in the accurate information that best describes your business.
After this, add your location’s zip code and click ‘Get started.’
vii. Number of Positive Reviews
The number of positive reviews across different platforms, primarily from GBP, is an important ranking signal for Google for local searches.
Google believes that having many positive reviews reflects how good your business is and its relevance to customers in that niche.
This means if you have 500 positive reviews on your profile, Google will likely rank you above someone with only 100 positive reviews.
viii. Quality of Positive Reviews
As reflected in the Harvard Business Study, customers respond strongly to reviews that contain more information, and so does Google.
Google considers the fact that it’s easy to buy reviews by paying someone or using several accounts to drop reviews on a profile. The countermeasure to this type of spammy review is to evaluate the quality of your reviews.
Here are some factors Google uses to determine if your reviews are of high quality:
- Niche keywords in your review: If you offer SEO services, your reviews should have keywords relevant to that service, e.g., SEO, marketing, etc.
- The authenticity of the review: Are the words AI-generated, or do they reflect emotions?
- Name of city in reviews: The location matters because we are talking about local SEO.
ix. Response to Reviews
You need to respond to all your positive and negative reviews because it reflects an excellent work ethic and professionalism.
It is also important to respond to these reviews as soon as possible.
You can set review alerts to be notified when someone drops a new review on your profile so you can respond to it immediately. Also, you can employ freelancers to help you respond to reviews if it’s a lot.
When replying to negative reviews, you should resolve any complaint or, at least, respond professionally and understandingly. Encourage your customers to leave reviews of your services, and you can even share the positive reviews on your social media platforms so more people can engage with your business.
x. Social Listings
Your social media platform is the freest and most fully customized listing platform ever.
Optimizing your social media profiles to reflect your business is one of the best ways to increase your visibility and optimize your business for local searches.
Social listings have to do with your profiles on your social media platforms that display your business information. It is important to have your social media links in your GBP; however, Google sometimes automatically adds your social media information to your profile if the details are consistent with what you have on your profile, and it also helps if your social media accounts are verified on the platform.
There are different social media platforms, each with pros and cons. Hence, you must create a buyer persona and determine what social media platforms are saturated with your target audience.
When you discover the best social media platform that applies to your target audience, the next thing is to create an account, optimize it, and include your business’s NAP and other crucial details relevant to your business, like achievements, mentions, collaborations, partnerships, etc.
After this, create content that aligns with your audience and engage them with giveaways, Q&A sessions, sales, etc.
This is not a factor you can easily control and is, unfortunately, one of the most vital ranking factors for local searches.
It concerns how close you or your business is to the searcher. Except you can open business locations in every location of the world, you cannot control the proximity to the searcher.
However, if you offer online services, location doesn’t matter, but Google will still rank you lower if you are not in the same geographic location as your searcher.
Here’s a tip for you if you run a virtual service:
Include your zip code, state, and country in your business information.
If you notice in specific searches when a limited number of businesses are available in a particular location, Google will show you businesses in the same state or country.
So, instead of leaving your address as ‘X, Jacksonville,’ make sure to include ‘Florida, United States.’
And even if you run a physical business, it’s also crucial that you indicate your state and country in your location details.
xii. Consistent NAP
As you utilize several local SEO strategies, it is important you maintain consistent business information across all platforms.
Having different NAPs (name, address, and phone number) for your business on other platforms is similar to having duplicate content. The problem is that you will compete with yourself for a position in search results because Google might see your businesses as different.
You can add multiple locations for your business on GBP and manage them all from one place. However, you must select your primary business location before opening other locations.
xiii. Quality of Inbound Links to Associated Websites
Inbound links are another name for backlinks, which are links from another website to your website.
It is best for your local SEO strategy if your inbound links are from high-quality sites that Google has established as a trusted domain.
The problem with getting backlinks from high-authority websites is that it is always hard because, as a local business, your relevance might still be within your local area. Also, it is challenging to develop content relevant to big, authoritative websites due to budget or the lack of experience needed to create such types of content.
However, there are ways you can build the quality of your inbound links to establish your local authority and increase your rankings. Regarding local link building, some factors are not as important as if you are doing generic link building.
For example, in local link building, a backlink from a small local website can do you much better than a big, well-known website just because it is irrelevant to your location or specific to your business category.
Here are some tips when you are doing link-building for your business:
- Diverse links
Do not get all your inbound links from a single website because it is well-known and has a high domain authority. Instead, gather relevant and organic backlinks from authoritative local websites.
- Links from local sites
Focus on getting links from authoritative websites in your geographic area, like local news blogs, local bloggers, local event pages, or community websites.
This doesn’t mean you ignore high-DA websites. Instead, you concentrate more on getting local links because they increase the local relevance of your business.
It indirectly tells Google you are validated by people in your community who might have had direct access to you and your business.
- Anchor words with local keyword
In Search Engine Journal’s Local SEO ebook, it was written that getting an inbound link from a highly authoritative website that contains the name of your city or neighborhood and the main keyword of your business is the “holy grail” of links.
- Link back to a relevant page
As you focus on getting backlinks from local and known websites, it is crucial to ensure the backlinks are correctly linked back to the relevant pages like your location page or your landing page.
You also have to ensure there’s a CTA on the linked page.
xiv. Keywords in Listing Title
Keywords are also an important ranking signal for local searches, especially if the search term matches your listing title perfectly.
Hence, it is important for you to thoroughly think out your listing title instead of just putting in a random title.
A way to develop a good listing title is to create a buyer persona to know who your ideal customer is based on the products/services you offer and carry out keyword research to find out what keywords your ideal customer is sure to search for.
xv. Mobile Responsiveness
The mobile responsiveness of a website is crucial when it comes to SEO because more than half of what is done online is done via mobile devices.
According to a 2014 Search Engine Watch Study, it was discovered that customers use mobile devices for immediate, on-the-go searches, and 4 out of 5 of these searches result in a purchase.
While those statistics might experience changes, they still strongly emphasize the importance of a mobile-friendly website to support your local SEO strategy.
You can use this mobile-friendly test to check the mobile responsiveness of your site.
xvi. Structured Data Markup
Google has stated that when a searcher searches for a business on Google Maps or Google Search, it can display a knowledge panel that showcases specific details about the business, like the business hours, different departments, reviews, and more.
If you are wondering what structured data is, it is simply a code that categorizes your content.
Using structured data markup in your local SEO strategy will not directly affect search rankings. However, it can increase the clickthrough rate (CTR) because Google could use your structured data markup to create a rich result.
An increase in your CTR has been shown to increase your ranking over time potentially.
There are different properties or schema categories from which you can select. It is best to choose the schema category that is most relevant to businesses.
To avoid complicated coding concerning your structured data, you can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper by selecting the data type (articles, local businesses, events, movies, job products, postings, movies, restaurants, etc.) and enter the URL or the HTML source code of the page you want to markup and select ‘start tagging’ button.
It will take you to the page, and you can start tagging the elements you want to markup; when you are done, it will automatically create your markup code.
xvii. Local Content
Consistently create local content that is relevant to your business. This is important to establish your local authority and also as a way to create opportunities for backlinks.
As you create localized content, include your main keyword and location organically.
You can write content on local events and tag the businesses involved to build links. You can also join local volunteers, get featured in local posts, write on topics relevant to your local community, or create a page on your website that references other businesses in the community.
xviii. Keyword Optimization
As you write localized content, it is also important to consider your choice of keywords. You want to get an exact or almost exact keyword your ideal/target audience uses to search for similar businesses in your area.
BONUS: How to set up your GBP (with pictures)
A Google Business Profile is essential to any local SEO strategy. Here is how you can create your GBP page step-by-step:
- Go to https://business.google.com and click on ‘manage.’
- Insert your business name and continue.
- Choose your business type.
Here are the different business types:
- Online Retail: Customers can purchase products through your website.
- Local Store: Customers can visit your business in person.
- Service Business: Your business makes visits to customers.
- Choose your business category.
- This is where you input your business category.
- This shows how to return to your previous pages if you need to change something.
There are several business categories on Google Business Profile, and you get suggestions as soon as you start typing, like the picture below.
- Enter your business address.
NB: This is not a place to add multiple locations that can be done after setting up the account. For this part of the process, insert your primary location.
- Add your contact details and website link (optional).
- You’ve created your GBP, and Google will verify it. After that, simply optimize your business information, add images, and go live!
Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO
Here are some things you need to do for your website to optimize it for local searches:
Include local SEO schema.
A significant way to optimize your business for local SEO is to add a local SEO schema to your business website. Local SEO schema, or local business schema, is a structured markup code available on schema.org that helps optimize your business website.
You can use the Structured Data Markup Helper from Google to automatically create your schema code if you are unfamiliar with schema coding.
Implement technical SEO optimization.
Technical SEO has no direct impact on your local SEO. However, some aspects of technical SEO potentially help to increase your local rankings:
Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are the new metrics that measure your web pages’ loading, interactivity, and visual stability.
Here are the three Core Web Vitals metrics:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures the time it takes for the largest image on your page to become visible.
- First Input Delay (FID): This is when a user interacts with a page after it has loaded.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This is the amount of visual movement that occurs as a page loads (visual stability).
These three metrics show how customer-friendly your website is and directly affect user experience on your site.
If your website has a good user experience, it becomes easier to rank in SERPs.
In local SEO, mobile responsiveness is essential because of the usage of mobile devices by users to access the Internet on search engines. Search engines prioritize mobile-friendly websites to provide an efficient user experience for mobile users.
To optimize your website for mobile responsiveness, here are some tips:
- Use a responsive design.
- Optimize your page speed.
- Implement structured data.
- Reduce image size.
- Reduce CSS files.
Optimize Your URL Structure
One advantage of optimizing your URL is to be searchable on Google. Finding your business won’t be easy if your URL is not descriptive and readable.
To optimize your URL:
- Your URL must be readable.
- Your URL should contain hyphens and not underscores.
- Incorporate relevant keywords.
- Avoid using capital letters.
- Avoid using stop words such as “the,” “of,” etc.
- Create a URL sitemap.
Include Your NAP in Your HTML
In local SEO, NAP consistency is essential across different online platforms because it ensures consistency and accuracy and increases trust.
Including your NAP in your HTML code makes it easier for search engines to identify your business information and readily display it for users.
Here are some places on your website where you should include your NAP:
- Your website’s homepage
- Your website’s contact page
- Your website’s footer
Optimize for Voice Search
Local searches can also be voice searches. Hence, optimizing your website for voice searches is important because it will indirectly impact your local voice search rankings.
Optimize for Local Keywords
Local keywords are search terms used by customers entered on search engines like Google to find your products, services, or information. Implementing local keywords in your website is essential because it will help you connect with potential customers in your area.
For instance, if you own a fashion business in Lagos, your main local keyword should be “best fashion business in Lagos.” This is so you are more specific on the location.
There are several types of local keywords, namely:
- Location-based keywords
- Product/Service-based keywords
- Branded keywords
- Long tail keywords
- Industry-specific keywords
Long tail keywords are more specific and less competitive; they are known to be much more effective in local SEO. For instance, they consist of three or more words: “best SEO coach near me.”
Long tail keywords are essential in local SEO because they can help rank your business higher in organic search results with less competition and help your target audience find you when needed.
All aspects of SEO are important to rank for local SEO. For instance, you cannot ignore on-page optimization.
Here are some actionable on-page optimization steps that will help to increase your local rankings:
- Creating localized landing pages: These pages are tailored to a particular geographic region. The goal is to rank for local searches within those areas while also showing the local customers your products and services that are accessible to them.
- Adding NAP info to the website: You should include your NAP in the header and footer of your website. You should also include them in your HTML to easily access them.
- Creating localized content: Local content with local terminologies and slang is best to capture your target audience. You can use inside jokes that a local can easily understand to engage them.
- Strong call-to-actions: Include strong CTAs in your landing pages and brand messages. This helps the user know what actions to take.
Off-page optimization is another part of SEO essential for your local SEO strategy.
Here are some off-page things to do to optimize your website for local SEO:
- Building local citations and directory listings:
Local citations are any online mention of your business. They are important to make people discover your business and rank higher in local searches.
- Acquiring high-quality backlinks from local sources:
When acquiring backlinks, you need to focus on quality rather than quantity. Here are some places you can get quality local backlinks:
- Local newspapers or other local media outlets
- Local bloggers for your niche
- Local event/tourism pages
- Other local businesses
- Local charities with volunteer pages
- Managing online reviews and ratings:
Your online reviews and ratings are an important part of your local SEO as they fall under ‘Prominence,’ one of the three pillars of local SEO.
Here are some tips to note when managing your online reviews:
- Send review requests to customers.
- Set review alerts.
- Respond to all reviews (positive and negative).
- Promote positive reviews on social media.
- Join industry review sites.
Local SEO Tools
There are different uses for local SEO tools, ranging from tracking your performance, conducting competitor research, finding local keywords that you can use for your content, and automating your rank tracking.
Here are some tools that are great to have for your local SEO strategy:
Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO toolset that offers a range of features to help you with your on-page, off-page, and technical SEO strategies.
When it comes to local SEO, Ahrefs’ Site Explorer helps you analyze your local competitors’ websites and see what keywords they are ranking for, which can help you identify new keywords you can target.
You can also use Ahrefs to discover keywords based on location, which is excellent for localized keywords. You can track online brand mentions or niche-specific topics on which you can create content.
Ahrefs has four (4) different pricing options:
- Lite: $99/month.
- Standard: $199/month.
- Advanced: $399/month.
- Enterprise: $999/month.
If you pay annually, you get two free months, and a paid version of Ahrefs gets you access to their core tools, including:
- SEO Dashboard
- Site Explorer
- Keywords Explorer
- SERP Comparison
- Site Audit
- Rank Tracker
BuzzStream is a link-building and outreach tool, which is excellent if you want to build the quality and quantity of your inbound links.
This tool allows you to manage your email outreaches from one place and helps you automate many processes, saving you time and increasing your productivity.
It can automate processes such as:
- Researching prospects
- Discovering email addresses
- Sending follow-up emails
- Tracking your reply rates
BuzzStream has four pricing plans:
- Starter: $24/month.
- Group: $99/month.
- Professional: $299/month.
- Custom: $999/month.
The starter plan includes contact info discovery, email templates, email scheduling, automated follow-ups, Chrome extension, link monitoring, and email performance reports.
You can try out the first three plans for free and reach out to the company if you want a solution customized to your company’s needs.
Whitespark Local Citation Finder
Whitespark offers a way to build new and relevant citations by showing you relevant places by country.
It analyzes your competitors and helps you discover new opportunities based on the results. You can find and track all your online citations and identify new citation sites to submit your business.
There is a free version, and like all free versions, it has limited search results and offers only one campaign and three (3) searches per day.
The paid plans come with four different prices:
- Small Business: $33/month.
- Specialist: $41/month.
- Agency: $49/month.
- Enterprise: $124/month.
If you opt for a yearly plan, you can save up to 20%.
Birdeye is a platform that focuses on helping businesses reach their customers, optimize customer experience, and increase conversion rates.
With Birdeye, you can manage your listings in major directories from a single dashboard, send automated requests to customers to review your business, and use this to increase trust in your business.
Birdeye also allows you to create new listings on over 50+ platforms, determine the accuracy of existing business listings, and synchronize them across the platforms.
Birdeye pricing is based on the number of business locations and needs, and you can schedule a pricing appointment instead of going for the prices you get.
Here is the standard pricing for a single location:
- Standard is priced at $299/month and covers listings, reviews, and campaigns.
- Professional, priced at $399/month, has everything in standard plus interactions.
- Premium is a custom quote plan covering surveys, ticketing, insights, and benchmarking.
Moz Local Search Tool
Moz Local can check your citations across several platforms, including Google, Google Maps, Facebook, Bing, and other local search engines and directories.
Moz alerts you when there is missing or inaccurate data so you can fix them.
Other cool features of Moz Local include syncing and managing your listings, profile optimization, automatic duplicate deletion, and alerts and notifications.
Moz Local Search Tool can help you with your local SEO strategy by helping you track your existing citations. All you need to do is enter your business’s name in the tool, and you will see a list of complete, incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate mentions of your business online.
After this, you can proceed to fix these issues manually.
There are three pricing options for Moz Local:
- Lite: $14/month.
- Preferred: $20/month.
- Elite: $33/month.
However, Moz allows you to pay annually and save up to 25%.
How to Use AI for Local SEO
Leveraging AI is important in today’s digital market.
Using AI for your local SEO is also an important part of your strategy because it helps you save time by automating several tasks. You can automate repetitive tasks, track performance, review responses, and even create chatbots for customers to enquire, get answers, and enhance customer experience easily.
You can use AI-powered tools such as Birdeye that automate responses to clients and allow you to send bulk messages. Several AI-powered SEO tools can be used to automate some SEO processes.
Here are some ways to use AI for local SEO:
a. Content Creation
You need to optimize your prompts for maximum output because these intelligence tools work with the data fed to produce an output.
This means that, to a considerable extent, what you get from these tools is based on what you input.
You can use AI to create optimized content in a certain tone for your audience. You can create email templates for direct outreach, outlines for your blog posts, FAQs, and other content types.
b. Keyword Tracking
There are several AI-integrated tracking tools and software today. In fact, most SEO tools have some form of artificial intelligence integrated into them.
Tools like SE Ranking, Rank Tracker, SEMrush, and Ahrefs can help you track competitor keywords, keywords you want to rank for, and those you already have on your website. This allows you to know what keywords to include in your content campaign, the difficulty level of some keywords, and the average position of your keywords in SERPs, respectively.
c. Online Brand Mentions
With any of these tools, you get alerted whenever your brand is mentioned online.
This allows you to manage how your brand appears on any platform. Suppose your brand is mentioned with a wrong name, incorrect NAP, or other irregularities. In that case, you will get an alert. You will simply message whoever uploaded the information to make the necessary corrections.
You can also contact them if they posted an outdated link or if you have a better alternative for the offer, link, or brand product.
d. Predictive Analysis
You can use AI tools to predict search trends and customer behavior. For example, with Google Analytics 4, you can see predictive insights on your customer behavior that will show you their future preferences.
You can then create effective marketing campaigns based on these insights.
Local SEO Checklist
In case this blog post seems too overwhelming for you, here is a checklist you can use to know the actionable steps you need to take to have your business optimized for local SEO:
- Identify your exact product/service category.
- Create and optimize your GBP profile.
- Maintain NAP consistency.
- Create localized landing pages.
- Add Google Maps to your Contact Us page.
- Create listings in other online directories.
- Create listings on review sites.
- Generate honest customer reviews.
- Respond to all reviews.
- Conduct a content audit for your website.
- Conduct competitor keyword research
- Do your keyword mapping.
- Identify localized keywords.
- Publish local content on the website.
- Conduct a detailed on-page SEO optimization.
- Create localized link-building strategies.
- Conduct an SEO analysis of your website.
- Add business address to website footer.
- Use local business schema markup
- Make your website mobile-friendly.
Local SEO FAQs
1. What is local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing a business’s website and online presence so that it ranks high in local search results.
2. What are the benefits of local SEO?
- Increased visibility in local search results
- Increased traffic to your website
- Increased leads and sales
- Enhanced brand reputation
- Improved customer satisfaction
3. What are the most critical factors for local SEO?
The most important factors for local SEO include:
- NAP information
- Local business listings
- Local keywords
- Inbound links
- Local content
- Localized landing pages
- Social media mentions
4. How can I improve my local SEO?
There are many things you can do to improve your local SEO, including:
- Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.
- Create high-quality content relevant to your business and its target audience.
- Get backlinks from high-quality websites in your industry.
- Use local keywords and phrases in your website’s title tags, meta descriptions, and content.
- Optimize your website for mobile devices.
- Track your results.
To remain visible and searchable, you need a solid local SEO presence to connect with the right individuals.
Most importantly, it is cost-effective, enables you to reach customers ready to buy from you, and delivers targeted search results.
Are you ready to be the ace of local SEO?