What Is Local SEO And How Does It Work?
A website is an effective tool to reach a target audience across the world. And SEO tactics help website owners to rank their website on the first page of search engine results so that whenever users search about them directly or with related services, they are visible to them. But what if you own a local business and want it to rank higher in a specific area? This is where the concept of Local SEO comes into the picture.
If your business is serving people in one or more geographical areas or you maintain office premises there, then Local SEO is something that you should be aware of. In this blog, we are explaining what Local SEO is, how it works, and many more.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO stands for “Local Search Engine Optimization” is the process of optimizing your website for a specific local area. For example, imagine you own a shop or restaurant and you want your services to rank higher for certain search queries made by the local audience. Here, local SEO helps your business become visible to that local audience through local search results on Google. It indicates that you are serving a target audience within a specific geographical area.
If you are performing Local SEO for your website and user searches for your business or related keyword, then your business will be visible underneath the first three listings that are Google Ads, followed by Google Maps with three local listings, known as Map Pack. Local SEO helps grow your business ranking in the organic results on Google.
Getting found online by your local audience increases chances of converting potential local leads into sales especially in the Covid-19 pandemic where people are more willing to connect online than offline
How Does Local SEO Work?
By optimizing your business for the local searches, you put your efforts to let Google know through all kinds of signals that you are located in a specific area and are willing to be approached by the local audience in that area. But how does Google work?
Google has various ways to rank a website but it also considers “user behavior” while conducting certain searches. In simple words, when a user searches about your business on Google, it takes the user's location into account automatically without any requirement of adding extra words like “near me” or “nearby”. And provides them with the most relevant search engine results within that specific area. Creating the right Local Business Schema Markup under Local SEO allows you to create local landing pages to help people find your business online. This involves a little bit of technicality but Local SEO Plugins can help you.
Local SEO Tactics
There are a lot of areas you can work on to further optimize your website in the local search engine results and to reach local audiences living within the area your business is operating from. For example, content, link building, social profile pages, and technical SEO of your website. A professional & reputed SEO agency can help you with this. However, the following are the steps that you are required to perform for Local SEO:
1. Set Up Google My Business
Since there is an availability of several search engines like Yahoo, Bing, etc, Google has always been the first choice of searchers when it comes to searching about any product or service. So, to make your business visible to the local audience, the best approach would be strengthening your presence on Google.
When anyone searches about any product or related services within a specific area by inserting keywords, Google shows the results in a decided format which is Google ads, followed by Google Maps with 3-local packs and then organic results depending on the performance of Local SEO being utilized by the businesses in particular locations.
3-Local Pack simply shows the additional information about businesses such as operating hours, contact information, website URL, photos, reviews & many more. If you want to be visible in the eyes of the local audience, you need to supply this information to Google so that it could recognize your existence within a certain location and provide users with the relevant results based on queries being made by them. The best way to provide your business’s information to Google is to set up a Google My Business account. We have a complete guide on How To Set Up Google My Business. Take a look.
Optimizing a business’ GMB page is the best way to attract a local audience to your website or business if you have a physical store operating within a geographical area. Here are the steps that you need to follow to optimize your GMB page:
- Sign Up and Fill Up the Form - Go to the official website: www.google.com/business and fill in the required information about your business in the Google form such as Name, Address, Contact no., Website URL, Operating Hours, Reviews, Business category, Photos or Videos, etc.
- Verify Your GMB Profile - Once you have created your GMB page, Google provides you with three ways to verify your business on the GMB account. It can be through Postcard verification, Phone verification, or Email verification. Choose the appropriate way and click on “verify now”.
- Claim Your Profile - If you already have a GMB profile that you want to claim, search for your business on Google and click on “claim your listing”.
This is how Google My Business listing helps your business grow in the local search engine results.
2. Build Local Links Through Local Citations (N.A.P)
Apart from setting up a GMB account, another way to reach your business among local target audiences is through local citations. The concept simply deals with showcasing your business’s name, address, and phone number online (NAP) in a business directory, or on an industry-specific site, blog, or any other local website.
People don’t always use Google to search for products or services locally. They often take the help of sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, Local.com, Google+ Local, Linkedin, or any other directories to find out about you. This is one of the reasons why your business should have a listing on these directories. You can use several SEO tools to check up for listings or to know about other online directories that you need to update.
3. Authenticate Profiles With Local Reviews
Google always considers ranking businesses higher in the SERPs that have good reviews about their products or service by the customers. Good or positive reviews also signify a business’s authenticity and reliability among customers & convince them to buy their services.
To cash this opportunity, spend some time getting these reviews from your previous customers. You can send them emails or SMSs. Add them to your GMB profiles. Positive reviews affect your Google ranking and also encourage users to buy services over your competitors.
4. Perform a Local SEO Audit
Once you have started your Local SEO tactics, it is time to check your progress. Since SEO is an ongoing process, instead of stopping at one point or making some changes, perform a comprehensive Local SEO audit to check where your website stands in the present and what you are required to do to enhance the performance. It includes the following steps:
- Google My Business audit - To check how your GMB page appears in the local SERPs. Do you need to add more information like news or updates?
- Google Search Console Audit -To check whether your site is crawlable or has any errors.
- On-Page SEO audit - Are all SEO elements working efficiently?
- Citation audit - Are all of your citations correct in top business directories.
- Competitor Analysis - Know about your competitor’s SEO tactics & strategies.
- Website Audit - To check the performance of your website online.
5. Boost Internal & External Linking
Quality links from high-domain authority websites help you increase your trustworthiness among the target audience. If you don’t know how to do it, read our Off-Page SEO Guide.
Similar to strong external linking or backlinking, boosting internal linking is also important. It helps users navigate your website, increases searchers’ retaining time on web pages, provides more information about what you do, establishes page authority, and increases ranking. It also includes optimizing your meta tags, title, & description. If you are having trouble with performing all these tasks, take the help of our On-Page SEO Guide.
6. Create Local Content For Specific Location
Take the help of SEO tools like Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends to conduct a thorough analysis of the most relevant keywords that are suitable to your site, niche, and location. Search for different platforms and answer the queries of the local audience in an engaging, informative & productive manner. Avoid writing lengthy pieces of content that customers don’t like or have time to read. It will help them start trusting you as a reliable source of information.
7. Perform Local Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process of determining the specific phrases being used by your local audience to find information about your business or related services within a geographical area. Always find keywords that are buyers' intent. For example, “Shops near me” or “restaurants nearby” etc. Take the help of various freemium keyword research tools online or carefully take your competitors’ strategies into account.
Mobile-Friendly Websites Help Users Connect With You Quicker
As there is a boost in the number of mobile users in the past few months, and local searches go hand-in-hand with mobile searches, optimizing your site for mobile is essential. Make sure that your websites are mobile-friendly so that users can access your services & products anytime from anywhere.
How Is Local SEO Different From SEO?
Local SEO can be defined as a sub-discipline of SEO. The main difference between local SEO and traditional SEO is none other than a geographical component. Let’s understand this way:
Traditional SEO focuses on ranking your website on Google search engine results without adding a local component. While Local SEO is fully focused on making your business visible in local search queries made by local audiences on Google such as any specific areas like towns or regions etc.
Does My Business Need Local SEO?
The answer is quite simple. If your business is:
- Operating within a physical location that customers can visit like a store, office, etc.
- Serving a defined geographical area like restaurants etc.
- That visits customer’s locations to provide their services like plumbers etc. known as “service area business”, then you need to perform Local SEO for your website.
How Does Local SEO Benefit My Business?
Since you have understood everything about Local SEO, now let’s take a look at some of the most relevant benefits of optimizing your business for local SEO. Here they are as follows:
1. It Enables Your Business To Appear In Google’s 3-Pack -
If your business is not visible in the top-5 positions or even on the first page of SERPs, you are probably losing your target audience looking for your products or services. Using Local SEO tactics will help your business get enlisted into Google’s 3-Pack. Google’s 3 Pack is simply the procedure of showing your business in the first three results, following the Google Map for a particular keyword. The more your business is visible in the organic results, the more chances are there of being noticed by the audience.
2. It Attracts Target Audience Looking For You Regionally -
This is one of the main benefits & the foremost reasons to conduct Local SEO for a business. It helps you get founded, reach & connect with the target local audience looking for your products or services within a specific geographical area you are serving. How? Local SEO uses relevant keywords to increase your ranking & market your services in the local SERPs, it increases your chances of being visible to your target audience. This way, you get a more relevant audience for your business. Local SEO makes it easier for the people looking for you to connect with your business based on the Google search engine results.
3. It Drives More Relevant Traffic To Your Business -
The more people visit your website, the more chances of selling your products or services are there. Local SEO makes it possible for you. This is how it's done. When you focus on performing Local SEO for your business, you are simply inviting & serving local searchers to your site. It ultimately increases the chances of getting your business noticed by other potential customers clicking on your website to know about what you offer.
4. It Improves Conversion Rates Through Better Leads -
Getting your business listed locally empowers you to show important details you want to provide to your target audience such as name, address, phone no. website URL, photos & videos, ratings & reviews, operating hours & many more. Customers can directly contact you & avail of your services within a location. It results in increased sales & leads and ultimately boosts your conversion rate. So, giving direct access to your services enlightens your chances of getting more leads.
5. It Reduces Advertising Costs -
This is another major advantage of conducting Local SEO for your business that it costs less compared to other marketing tactics like Google ads etc. It is mostly free and can be an economic way to improve the search of your business locally. However, if you are not a pro in Google algorithms or technical SEO, it is best to hire professional SEO services to help you out.
6. It Helps Your Business Grow -
Local SEO is all about improving your business’s position in local SERPs. When it helps increase sales & leads, it results in a higher conversion rate, which further leads to higher chances of growing your business in search queries. This is how performing Local SEO helps your business growth overall. It is focused on bringing more quality traffic to your business, thus creating a positive environment for your growth.
7. It Helps You Stay Ahead In Local Competition -
Having Local SEO benefits you over your competitors. For example, two companies are selling the same products within a locality. However, one has its business optimized for Local SEO while the other relies on traditional marketing efforts. No doubt, people will more reach the business having Local SEO. This way, it helps your business survive in the local market.
8. It Helps Get Long-Lasting Rankings -
One of the most favorable benefits of conducting Local SEO is to get your hands on long-lasting ranking as compared to other marketing efforts. Though paid marketing lasts for so long, Local SEO is long-lasting. Once your business ranks in local SERPs, you can hold that position for quite a considerable time.
9. It Builds Trust & Authority -
Consumers always trust the businesses having higher ranking with positive ratings & reviews about it on Google. Local SEO not only helps you gain a prime spot in the organic search results but also leaves you with an opportunity to invite customers’ reviews on your business page. Local SEO acts as a free advertising tool for your business to get more valuable clicks than a paid ad.
10. It Pushes For Creating A User-Friendly Website -
Most search engines like Google consider a flawless customer experience while ranking a business in their organic search results. It evaluates the kind of information a site provides to its customers to be ranked higher in searches. Here, conducting Local SEO helps you design a user-friendly website that contains all the necessary information for SEO rankings.
Don’t forget that local SEO is a combination of both On-page & Off-page SEO tactics to grow business in the local areas. If you have just started out practicing, it is best to hire a professional SEO company & discuss your requirements with them.