What Is Local SEO: Ultimate Guide for Beginners

What Is Local SEO: Ultimate Guide for Beginners
Article by Bisera StankovskaBisera Stankovska
Last Updated: November 24, 2022

Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are for local information?

If your business has a physical store or provides services in a particular area, optimizing for local search results can bring customers right in front of your doors.

What is local SEO? In this article, we will answer this and discuss how local SEO works and how it complements your business.

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What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy aiming to improve a site’s visibility in local search results and bring local traffic through your door.

By practicing the best local SEO techniques, businesses can boost organic traffic from searchers in their geographical area.

To understand what local SEO is, you must understand the basics — how Google works and why it ranks pages the way it does.

What is Local SEO: How Local Search Works

Estimations say Google processes over 8.5 billion searches every day. Analyzing them, Google noticed a repeating pattern: people are looking for services nearby.

Google uses your location as a ranking factor for queries with local search intent. Those queries usually contain the name of your city or “near me” added to the keywords.

To see the local search in action, enter the same query, for example, “Italian restaurant near me,” when you're at home and downtown, in the office. You’ll get different results in a map pack — results closest to your location.

Local search became increasingly popular with smartphones and mobile internet expansion.

Since 61% of all searches on Google are conducted from mobile devices, local SEO has become essential for all businesses that offer their products or services on the local market.

Local SEO is an SEO type that will increase your business exposure right in front of people in your immediate proximity.

8 Main Local Search Ranking Factors

Your website has a chance to rank for both: local and national or global search results, but you have to focus on meeting the local search ranking factors.

Although ranking criteria are usually shrouded in secret, software company Moz releases an annual Local Search Ranking Factors Guide that provides insightful information about the elements affecting local search results.

According to Moz’s survey, there are eight local search ranking factors:

  1. Google Business Profile (GBP) factors refer to information on the GBP page, including business title, categories, website URL, but also photos, Q&A, and working hours.
  2. On-page factors include important website elements: domain authority, page authority, NAPs (name, address, phone number), on-page and off-page SEO, quality content and technical and security functions.
  3. Review factors are the customer’s experiences with your business. They include reviews people leave directly on GBP, third-party sites, and your website. Reviews recency, frequency, diversity, authority and format impact rankings.
  4. Citation factors are online mentions of your business. They can be structured (formal listings, for example, in Foursquare, Yellow Pages, and Yelp) or unstructured (company mentions on informal websites that aren’t business directories). Citations are affected by accuracy, distribution, quality and relevance.
  5. Link factors refer to internal links within your website and external links that you’re receiving from other relevant websites. Factors that impact links are domain and page authority, quantity, diversity, relevance and anchor text.
  6. Behavioral factors explain how visitors interact with your pages, which is an important ranking signal. Behavorial factors include click-through-rate (CTR), dwell rate, clicks-to-call, clicks-for-directions and clicks-to-site.
  7. Personalization factors are driven by the user’s search and browsing history, location, social media activity, device, and other Google products, such as Gmail, Google Play Store, Google Calendar, Maps and others.
  8. Negative factors are actions performed on the website that negatively impact ratings. You can conduct harmful activities in each of the seven categories mentioned above and break Google’s rules.

Local SEO Strategy: 11 Ways to Boost Your Local Rankings

The following are the most commonly used methods to improve local rankings:

1. List Your Website on Google My Business Profile

The best way to expose your business on Google is through its business directory, - Google Business Profile.

You can share important information about your company in GBP, such as an address, hours of operation, telephone number, or website URL. Registering on GBP provides you position in Google Maps and local search results.

Optimize your GBP in the following ways to reach its full potential:

  • Create and verify Google Business Profile.
  • Use Google Posts to publish content and interact directly with your local customers.
  • Ask your customers to leave reviews about their satisfaction with your service.

Respond meaningfully to users' reviews. That way, you'll show Google your profile is authentic and provide your customers with a pleasant user experience.

2. Ensure Your NAP ss Consistent on all Platforms

Your NAP (name, address and phone number) should be consistent on each online platform you use (your website, GBP, social media, online directories).

NAP consistency is equally important for search engines and customers. It increases your chances to show in local packs and prevents frustration which can cause losing leads.

3. Create Local Content

The purpose of the content you're writing shouldn't be tricking Google into ranking your website higher.

You should create high-quality articles that provide value for the reader, focusing on local news, happenings, and promotions — anything that could interest local audiences.

You can use some local content ideas:

  • Localized landing page (if your business has more than one location, make a landing page for each).
  • FAQ pages.
  • Case studies.
  • Local listicles.
  • Special promotions for local customers.
  • Organize local events
  • User stories.

4. Optimize Content for Local Search

Each blog post you write allows you to optimize for local-specific phrases and rank in local search results. Implement local keywords in the URLs, title tags, headlines, meta descriptions, content body, image descriptions and alt tags.

Use keywords naturally to boost user experience. Keyword stuffing could get you Google’s penalty since it’s one of the black hat SEO techniques.

5. Interlink Relevant Content

Internal links are important for your SEO rankings because they show search engines the relationship between pages, relevance, and value.

Interlinks help websites build a stronger structure, which should have a clear hierarchy from the home page to all other pages. Following interlinks can help search engines learn what content on the website is most important.

6. Get External Links from Authoritative Sites

External links from relevant and authoritative sources pass link juice and send Google a message your website is authentic and trustworthy.

The easiest way to get external links:

  • Cooperate with other businesses in your niche.
  • Be a guest blogger.
  • Earn them organically by positioning as an expert in your industry.

7. Optimize Online Directories

Listing in business directories can help you build credibility and trust with your customers. Besides GBP, consider Foursquare, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Factual, Merchant Circle and others.

Ensure your citations are consistent in each directory. If there are irregularities in your information, Google might get confused and not show you in search results at all.

8. Ensure Your Website Is Mobile-friendly

Local search and mobile devices are tightly bonded -— customers browse the internet on the run to find opening hours, your business's phone number or exact location.

According to Google, 76% of people who search locally on their mobile devices visit a business's brick-and-mortar location within 24 hours.

With 61% of smartphone traffic, you cannot lose leads due to an unresponsive website.

9. Optimize Loading Speed

Website loading speed has always been one of the most crucial ranking factors since it directly affects user experience, bounce and retention rates.

Aim to achieve a loading time of up to 2 seconds.

10. Engage in Your Local Community

Participating in the local community is an excellent opportunity to get content ideas and external links!

You could periodically sponsor a local event or local sports team, volunteer in a charity organization and award scholarships to the best local students.

Local TV and press always report on these events, which is a great chance to increase brand awareness and get valuable external links.

11. Seek Professional Assistance

If this strategy sounds overwhelming or you're unable to deal with local SEO on top of all your responsibilities, local SEO service providers can get you the needed help.

What are local SEO services provided by SEO agencies? These are tailor-made local SEO strategies implemented to increase local visibility and attract a targeted audience to your brick-and-mortar location.

Why Local Search is Important

What is a local SEO strategy’s value? These Google statistics highlight a local SEO strategy's importance for any business that caters to a particular geographic location:

  • 30% of all mobile searches are based on location.
  • 76% of people that perform local search visit businesses within a day.
  • 28% of those searches end up with purchases.

Local search results bring the right audience to your door — the audience looking to purchase products or services immediately, close to where they are physically located. That is the audience that converts.

You should put effort into local SEO to attract and build a relationship of trust to retain this audience as your loyal customers.

What ss Local SEO: Wrap-up

Now that you know what is local search optimization and how it works, you should use it to increase your online visibility and attract a local audience to your business.

Once you’ve developed a strong local SEO strategy, you can:

  • Improve online exposure and increase the chances new customers will discover your business.
  • Attract targeted traffic that converts.
  • Improve brand awareness.
  • Build trust and loyalty with your local customers.
  • Stand out from your local competition.
  • Improve overall SEO and organic rankings with optimized content and relevant external links.
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