Let's look at the facts. Local SEO is a big deal.
Look at these figures.
Local searches make up 46% of Google searches.
89% of people who go online use their phones to look for local businesses, and 58% of them do this almost every day.
Isn't that a lot?
So, if you don't optimize your business for local SEO, you're missing out on a chance to make money every time someone does a local search for products and services like yours.
Now, let's go into more detail about what local SEO is, how it works, and how you can use local SEO tips to make your business more visible on search engines and more.
What is Local SEO?
Let's start from the beginning.
What is local SEO, then?
Local SEO is the process of making changes to your website so that it gets more traffic, is more visible online, and makes your brand more well-known.
In other words, local SEO helps you rank higher in SERPs for local searches.
With targeted local SEO strategies, you can get more qualified leads from specific locations and grow your business in the right way.
Importance of Local SEO
The first step to getting these leads is to make yourself known to people in your area. Local SEO helps you do exactly that.
Say you own a bookstore in New York City. That means that people in New York must be able to find your business when they search for "bookstores near me" or any other local search term for bookstores.
Google says that 76% of people who do a local search on their phones visit a store within 24 hours, and 28% of those people end up buying something.
The more people search online for information about your business, the more likely they are to visit your store or trust your brand.
Local SEO can help you get more people interested in your business by making it more visible online. So, local SEO is very important for businesses that want to grow their local customer base.
Local SEO can do great things for your business if you know how to use it right.
How Does Local SEO Work?
Local SEO is basically the same as a normal Google search. When a user does a search online, the search engine pulls the best results for that query from its database.
So, what is different about local SEO?
When doing a local search, search engines like Google use a different set of ranking factors than when doing a general search.
Some of these ranking factors are:
- The place from which a user searches for something
- Google My Business listing availability
- Citations for NAP
- The GMB profile has a list of keywords.
- How people feel about online reviews
- The words that online reviews use
- Rate of check-in at the place
- Shares on social media
If you pay attention to these things, you should be able to move up in Google's Map Pack, also called the Local Pack.
But hold on. What does "Pack" mean?
The Local Pack is a list of the top three search results for a certain query, along with a map of where they are from Google Maps.
That's the exact place you need to look if you want to get more local organic traffic and do well with local SEO.
How to do Local SEO Keyword Research?
As you can see from the above list of ranking signals for local SEO, keywords are a very important part of how local search results turn out.
So, if you want your local SEO to work, you need to do keyword research in a streamlined way.
The good news is that you only have to do local SEO keyword research once.
Alright. Let me tell you what you should do to do focused keyword research for your local SEO going forward.
Google Suggest is a great tool for finding keywords.
"Your Keyword"+near me is a good place to start, but the search engine giant can pull up a lot more local SEO keywords.
Put in a seed keyword and the place you want to target. I'm going to choose New York.
That gives you more specific keywords that potential customers will use to look for your business online.
These are your new chances to show up in local searches and get more people to come to you.
Yelp Suggest works just like Google Suggest.
Enter a keyword from your industry that a user in a certain city or town will use to find businesses like yours. Find "Bookstore" near "New York," for example, and watch the magic happen.
This tool goes a step further and shows you relevant keywords that don't include your search term but are still related to your industry.
So, Yelp Suggest helps you find new keyword opportunities that you might have missed otherwise.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is another great way to find out how often certain keywords are searched for in certain places.
So, you can come up with a keyword strategy that gets more attention and boosts your return on investment.
If you already have a list of keywords you want to target, this tool can help you choose the best ones based on how often people look for them.
On the other hand, use the "Start With a Website" feature if you are just starting out with keyword research.
Google Keyword Planner will make a list of keywords based on the URL of one of your competitors' websites if you enter it.
You can also tell the tool to look at the whole site or just a certain page URL to find new keywords.
Local Voice Searches
Voice search is a big deal right now in the online market.
In fact, 58% of people who want to find a local business use voice searches.
Voice-based searches use natural language more often than keyword searches. Long-tail keywords can help your business show up in searches that are done by voice.
For example, if someone types "best restaurant Houston" into Google, they will probably use "best restaurant in Houston that's open right now" when they do a voice search. That's what sets them apart.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
Local SEO ranking factors can make a big difference, as you know. So, to do local SEO right and get the results you want, you need to get a bigger picture of these things.
Let's look at the most important things to think about for local SEO right away.
Google My Business Profile
Moz says that your Google My Business profile is the most important thing for your local SEO ranking if you want to show up in the Local Pack.
Your local business website, the content you put on it, and the backlinks you make are all important, but your GMB profile is the most important of all.
I'll talk in more depth about GMB optimization later in this article. For now, let's focus on the other factors that affect the ranking of local SEO.
Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) citations are also a very important part of local SEO.
Your NAP citations show where online your business's name, address, and phone number appear.
Google uses these citations to make sure that the information about your business is real.
The more citations you get, the more trustworthy Google thinks your business is.
Because of this, it is more important than ever to get NAP citations on trusted sites and keep them the same.
The reviews you get online are another important factor for local SEO rankings.
You need to get more positive reviews than negative ones because they help you move up in the Local Pack. But don't buy a lot of paid reviews if you don't want to get in trouble with Google.
On the other hand, bad reviews can hurt your business's online reputation and keep you from ranking higher in local SEO.
Even though it's inevitable that your business will get some bad reviews, make sure you respond to them and do what you need to do to fix what's wrong. This act goes a long way toward building trust.
Usual SEO Practices
Local SEO uses all the other factors that Google uses to rank pages, like the quality of the content and the number of backlinks.
"Your position in the web results is also a factor," Google says. This means that SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.
That means that the higher you rank in organic search, the higher you will rank in the Local Pack.
So, make sure that your content and web pages are optimized for SEO and that you strengthen your link profile with high-quality backlinks to get a better ranking in both web results and local SEO.
As I said before, I'll show you how to optimize GMB one step at a time in this section.
GMB places a high value on consistency.
It's a good thing if the information on your GMB profile and your website are the same. That's not the end, though.
The information you put in your GMB profile should be the same as what is listed on your NAP on other sites.
If you do that right, Google will think your business is trustworthy.
On the other hand, if your business information is different in one or more places, that's a red flag.
How did it turn out?
It hurts your local search engine optimization.
So, make sure that you are always the same everywhere. BEWARE. Even the smallest mistake in the information about your business will have a huge effect on your local SEO.
Use All Possible Data Points
Based on how complete your GMB profile is, Google gives you a score.
By filling in the basic information about your business, you should be able to get a good score. But you shouldn't stop here if you want to rank for high-volume keywords in your industry.
I'll tell you what people miss out on a lot when they fill out data points. That will help you avoid making mistakes and be more precise about your business.
Let's look at category choice.
Google will ask you to choose the main category that best describes your business. You can't make your own primary category, and you only have a few options to choose from.
But once you choose your main category, Google lets you add any other categories you want.
Hard luck. Many people don't fit into these groups.
These other groups are VERY, VERY important.
The keywords and search terms your business wants to rank for are directly affected by these categories.
So, don't forget to use more categories to improve your local SEO.
Also, put accurate information in the "Products" and "Services" sections. These parts tell Google and other people online what you're selling.
Update Critical Business Data
Make sure that your GMB profile has the most up-to-date information about your business, such as business hours, holidays, etc.
This factor doesn't have a direct effect on your local SEO.
So why should you care about that?
I'll give you a real-life example. Let's say a customer checks your store's hours on your GMB profile and then comes to your store, only to find it closed.
One, the customer will go to one of your competitors instead of you. Two, if the customer is upset because you gave them false information that was out of date, they are likely to write a bad review about your business.
Now, that bad review can hurt your online reputation and hurt your SEO ranking in your area.
Respond to Reviews
As I said before, online reviews are a big part of how local SEO works to rank websites.
Make sure you answer each and every review. By doing this, you show your customers you care about them.
Even though good reviews are what you want, you should also know how to deal with bad ones.
Sometimes, you can even lessen the impact of a bad review by giving a good response that gets to the heart of the problem.
Not everyone takes the time to write their own reviews. Because of this, you should ask your customers to write reviews.
Also, make sure the process is quick and easy for them. No customer wants to spend time looking for a place to write reviews.
Send a review link to your customers via email or text message. So, it should be easy for them.
Okay. How do you make a link to a review?
I have two ideas.
First, go to Google Maps and click on Place ID Finder.
Once you tell the platform where you are, it makes a place ID for that location.
Then add your place ID to this URL: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=
Now you have the link to your review.
Two, log in to your Google My Business account and go to the "Get more reviews" section to make a short review link.
Tell your customers about it and ask them to leave reviews.
That's a piece of cake, right?
Local SEO Tips
Now that you know more about local SEO, it's time for some local SEO tips to help you make the best strategy possible.
Share on Social Media
Social media is a great way to spread the word about your business and make it more visible online.
Also, once you have a perfect Google My Business page, share it on your social media accounts so that your followers can learn more about your business.
Run a NAP Audit
As I said earlier, your NAP citations should be the same everywhere, including your GMB profile, website, business directories, and local listings.
Use a good citation tool like WhiteSpark to find all of your current and past (if there are any) NAP citations so you can fix the ones that are wrong and make sure everything is consistent.
Why are NAP Citations Important?
NAP citations make it easy for both people and search engines to find the name, address, and phone number of your business online.
What if your business is listed in two different places with two different addresses or phone numbers? Which one will the person using it rely on?
It's not true, right?
NAP citations are an important ranking factor for local SEO, and Google doesn't like information that confuses or misleads users.
So, Google will think that your business is not trustworthy, which will hurt your local SEO ranking.
I know it's a business owner's worst nightmare. To keep that from happening to your business and instead boost its credibility, it's important to make sure that all of your NAP citations are exact matches.
Optimize Online Directories and Citations
Any difference, like a misspelled word or an abbreviation, can mess up your local SEO.
Go ahead and use trusted data aggregators like Express Update, Foursquare, Neustar Localeze, and Factual to make sure your citations are consistent and to improve them.
Also, ensure you remove duplicate listings to avoid potential issues.
Perform a Local SEO Audit
SEO is a process that never ends. So, once you're done with the basics of local SEO, you might want to do a local SEO audit.
A complete local SEO audit includes a GMB audit, citation audit, Google Search Control audit, on-page SEO audit, website audit, and competitor analysis.
Your website is a big part of how well your local SEO efforts work.
In this section, I'll tell you what you need to do directly on your site to get local organic traffic.
Optimize On-Page SEO Elements
Optimizing your title tags, headers, meta descriptions, and content for search engines is part of on-page optimization.
Take, for example, a new blog post.
It is a newly indexed page on your site that you can use to target a certain area by using keywords related to that area.
That makes it possible to move up in the SERPs for a certain search term.
Right? If you rank higher in organic search, you should also rank higher in the Local Pack.
This is the reason.
When you create new content, make sure to use keywords that get a lot of searches not only in the content itself, but also in the title tags, headers, meta descriptions, and URLs.
If it's hard for you to come up with location-based content, you can use customer success stories and case studies to help with your local SEO.
Add Location Pages to Your Site
If you want to reach people in more than one place, you should make separate pages for each geo-location.
You can give unique descriptions, addresses, business hours, holidays, and more for each location on these pages.
You can also use location-based keywords in your content in a natural way when you have location pages. But make sure that you don't repeat any content.
On the other hand, if you only want to reach people in one place, make an About page that talks about that place (adding location-based keywords).
On top of that, you can add a Google Map to each of your location pages that shows the exact location.
Create Local Content
Google likes content that its users want to read. So, you make content not just for the search engine but also for the people who use it.
From a local SEO point of view, you need to become the local authority in your industry and include local news, updates, and other content that is interesting to the local audience.
What you want to do is sell your goods or services to people in your area. But first, you should win over the trust of the people in the area.
This makes them come back to you for more local information and see you as an authority.
At this point, you can use campaigns with a clear goal to turn these local visitors into your customers.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Google says that searches on mobile for "near me" have gone up by 250% since 2017.
That means that one of the main reasons people do a mobile search is to find local businesses, get directions, and read online reviews.
So, if you want to rank higher on Google for local searches, you need to make sure your website works well on mobile devices.
If your website isn't mobile-friendly, you'll probably lose a lot of potential customers.
Add Schema Markup
Schema markup lets you tell search engines exactly what your content is about when your business shows up in search results.
Even though schema markup isn't a ranking factor for search engines, it can help improve the user experience by giving them quick access to the information they're looking for.
By adding schema markup to your local web pages, you can get more customers to visit your site.
Focus on Your Internal Linking Structure
Both internal and external links are important. External links help your SEO from the outside, while internal links do the same thing from the inside by spreading authority.
By making your website's internal linking structure better, you make it easier for both your users and search engine bots to find their way around.
Build internal links to your local pages to give your visitors more relevant information and improve your SEO rankings in your area.
Local SEO Link Building
As was already said, both external and internal links are important for SEO, and this is also true for local SEO.
Focus on building external backlinks in addition to strengthening your internal linking structure to help your local SEO.
Here are some ways to build backlinks to help your local SEO.
Develop Local Partnerships
Businesses in the same area often work together so that they can both benefit.
So why not use it to help you build links?
Build relationships with businesses in a certain area. Start with the people you already know and slowly add more people to your network.
Then, look for certain pages on their sites that you can link back to yours.
Since you already know these people, it shouldn't be hard to get backlinks from their websites.
Use Local Chamber of Commerce
One of the best ways to get backlinks to your site is to ask for them in places where you are likely to get them.
One of these places is your local chamber of commerce.
One of the BEST things about a chamber of commerce link is that it often comes with a NAP citation.
Talk to your local chamber of commerce today to get another powerful contextual backlink to your website.
Local Event Sponsorship
Sponsorships are often sought by people who put on local events.
If you step up to sponsor a local event, you will automatically get a link on the site for that event.
Also, sponsoring a local event helps you get to know other local businesses better, which will give you more opportunities to build links in the near future.
Local news sites are looking for interesting stories about businesses in their area.
When something interesting happens near your local business, let these people know so they can write about it and turn it into a backlink.
The best way to find good PR opportunities for your business in your area is to use social media.
Take Part in Local Communities
By taking part in local community events, you can let other people in the area know you're there and raise awareness of your brand.
It gives you a chance to get the attention of local media and, in the long run, become a local SEO expert in your field.
Once you reach that point, it should be easy to get links from local online sources.
Local SEO Tools
SEO tools are helpful because they make the process easier and faster for you.
They help you improve your online presence, reach and engagement with your audience, and measure the success of your marketing campaigns, among other things.
Some of the best local SEO tools are:
- Listing Management Tool by Semrush