Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has long become a key component in helping companies make their mark in the online world. It's what everyone would like to know the secret of—the recipe that leads to top rankings on the major search results. But since there are a lot of businesses who just want to narrow down their audience and reach a specific area, this is where local SEO comes in.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a type of SEO that focuses on optimizing a business' website for local search results instead of the all-inclusive, generic search results. It is especially beneficial for local brick-and-mortar businesses that need to expand their visibility and online presence, as well as the small business owner who wants to expand their customer base.
Other search engines such as Bing, Yelp, Apple Maps, and the likes are sites that people rely on to find local information. But despite their number, Google holds about 90 percent of the global market share for all search engines. So let's first focus on Google.
Google's Local Pack vs Organic Results
Whenever you search for products or services near you, there are two options that Google will show you—the Local Pack and the organic results.
Of course, you're most probably familiar with the organic search results. But the one being shown above it, the Local Pack, is a collection of three local businesses that Google provides in response to your search query for products or services in your specific location.
What's great about their Local Pack is that they provide you with verified listings from Google My Business (GMB) directory—meaning that the photos, hours, and other information that a business website is showing are exactly what you get on this directory.
Not because Local Pack is shown above the organic results means it's more important than the latter. A study shows that 33% of clicks go to the Local Pack results, while the organic results get to have 40%. What this means is that it pays to rank in both, so businesses need to utilize local SEO strategies to get a spot in both lists.
Relevance refers to how well a location matches the search term. Distance, on the other hand, is dependent on how close or far a business's physical address is from your location. And lastly, Prominence refers to the prominence of the business in its industry and geographic region.
Under these three main factors that Google uses are several different factors that contribute to a business's ranking. Some of them are:
Number and quality of reviews
Quality of inbound links
Number of indexed pages
Social media presence
Google My Business listings
Business profile completeness
Number of local citations
Quality of content
These are some of the factors that Google considers in ranking a business website. What this means is that, with proper local SEO strategies implemented, even if your competitors have been around longer, they might not be as influential as you are—that is to say, it's not impossible to outrank a business that has an established website, if you have a better local SEO strategy.
What's great about local SEO is that there are a lot of things you can do to improve your site's ranking without burning a hole in your wallet. What it all boils down to is being consistent in creating and publishing relevant, high-quality content on your business website and social media accounts.
The Benefits of Local SEO
Having a website and having it optimized for local search results makes a business visible online—which means people who are looking for products and services nearby can easily access them. There's also an added benefit as local SEO helps people discover new businesses. Moreover, it improves the chances of a potential customer choosing your business over other competitors' simply because you rank higher in Google's search results. Apart from these, there are still a lot of other benefits that your business can get if you implement the necessary local SEO strategies. Here are some of these benefits:
Exponential Growth in Website Traffic
First and foremost, implementing good local SEO strategies can give your business an increase in web traffic or visits to your website. What makes this possible is that local SEO helps you get in front of people who are looking for products or services near them, especially when they're using their mobile devices to search on the go.
Increase in Sales and Conversions
When more people visit your website, chances are that a percentage of them will convert to a sale. What's great about this is that you can lessen some of your efforts in creating sales campaigns or advertisements—your website ranking is already getting you sales and income.
Another thing that local SEO does is give your brand more credibility as people start seeing it as a trustworthy company. What they do not know about your company is that it also offers the products and services that they're looking for. What this means is an increase in sales and revenue for you, as well as a considerable improvement to your branding and reputation.
Improved Online Reviews
What customers do after they buy from you or receive quality service from your business is leave reviews on your GMB page. What this means for you is that your business will be shown to more people who are interested in your services and products, as well as improve the number of positive reviews on your business listing.
High Domain Authority
One of the things that Google considers when ranking a website is its domain authority and reputation. So when you utilize local SEO strategies to make your site appear to be more credible and reputable, chances are high that most of the things that are put on your site will be given more credit by Google. This will increase the number of visitors that you get on your site, as well as increase search engine traffic.
46% of all the Google searches are looking for local information, and it shows how important local searches are for small businesses. So if you're not yet optimizing your website for local search, a lot of your potential customers are just going to pass you by.
Who Needs Local SEO?
The most obvious answer for this question would be local businesses, especially the ones hoping to increase their online presence and customer base. But even if your business is already doing great, you might want to consider a good local SEO strategy for the sake of keeping up with the competition. If you have:
A local business that has a physical store that customers go to, such as a health clinic, clothing store, grocery store, etc.
A local business that travels to their client's location, such as plumbers, electricians, etc.
A local business that serves a local market, such as a real estate agency that deals with homes for sale in a specific area.
If one of these examples applies to your business, then chances are that you need local SEO.
Who Doesn't Need Local SEO?
A business that has chosen an online-only platform for its products or services doesn't need local SEO. This is because they can already get organic results from the search engines, so their main concern would be to increase traffic through organic SEO.
Additionally, businesses that serve a broad area and are not limited to a specific location don't need local SEO either since they have nothing against being found in any generic or widely searched keyword. What this means is that if someone who is looking for your products or services is generally searching for something that's not location-specific, they would find you in the organic results instead of having to click on the Local Pack.
These types of businesses are:
Businesses that offer online courses or seminars
Multi-level marketing businesses
Retail stores that deliver goods to a broad area instead of being limited to a specific location.
How Can You Optimize for Getting Found in Local Searches
The most common way of starting to optimize your website for local searches is by making sure that you already have a street address in the area that you do business in. A lot of local SEO strategies will revolve around your address, so having this will make the process work better for you.
Here are some strategies to help you start to optimize your site for local searches:
List Your Address Correctly
Your address is one of the most important parts of your business, and probably the most important when it comes to local SEO. Your listed address should be specific, accurate, and consistent. This way, Google will know exactly where you are, which makes it easier for them to show your website in the local results. This will also work for the benefit of your clients because most of them will be looking to contact you and will look into your contact information first before trying to get in touch with you.
Claim Your Google My Business Listing
If your business currently doesn't have a Google My Business listing, then you need to create one as soon as possible. You should accurately include the address of your business, website URL, the phone number that you want people to be able to contact you on, your business hours, some photos of your business, and some other specific details that you want local customers to know.
Having a GMB profile will let Google know that you are a legitimate business, which could result in your website being listed higher in the local results. Aside from that, it will also allow your clients to have an easy time finding your location or reaching out to you.
Directory Listings and Local Citations
There are a lot of online directory listings and business directories where you can include your business's information. What you need to do is find as many as possible and include your business information there. From the hundreds of general directories sites, you can also try looking for directories that are specific to your industry and local area to increase your chances of being found by your target audience.
While for local citations, these are basically an online mention of your business' name, address, and phone number (NAP) details. Your NAP information should be consistent across all of these citation listings so that Google can easily recognize where you are. It's also a common trick to include your NAP on every page of your own website. This provides consistency about your business' online presence, which will have a positive effect on how well your website performs local searches.
Get Reviews From Customers
Getting reviews from your customers is one of the best ways to improve your website's rankings for local searches. So it's a good idea that whenever you successfully finish a transaction, you ask your customer for a review. What you can also do is try to be as proactive as possible and go the extra mile by offering something that will encourage them to leave a review, such as giving away freebies or discounts. Quality service and pleasing customer experience are the most important aspects of striving for good reviews from customers, so make sure that you deliver on these two.
Get Backlinks and Referrals
Getting links is one of the most effective ways to improve your website's rankings in general, but it's even better if you're able to get inbound links that are relevant to your target audience. What this means is that you should try to look for sites that are related or at least somewhat related to your industry or niche, and you can also try to find sites that have a similar target audience. What you should do next is approach these websites and ask if they're willing to link back to your website for a mutually beneficial relationship.
You can also go the referral route by asking other influencers or professionals in your industry about your business, or even just having them mention it without asking for anything in return. What this does for you is that it will increase your brand's visibility, which will have a positive effect on how the general public perceives your business.
These are just some of the things that you can do to optimize your website for local searches. What you especially need to focus on is creating a good user experience, as this will go a long way in improving how your website fares with regards to rankings. The main thing that people search for when it comes to local businesses are the benefits that they'll get from them, so make sure you focus on providing good service and products.
Frequently Asked Questions on Local SEO
How Much Does Local SEO Services Cost
Local SEO services might cost anything from $500 to $5,000 or more. It all depends on your industry, the competition, and the SEO efforts that you want to implement. The good thing is a lot of SEO agencies will recommend a package that best suits your needs and budget. What you need to do is find a good agency that has a great track record. This means that they should be able to provide references of clients who have tried their services in the past, or at least talk about their experience with these clients.
How do you know if you need local SEO?
You know you need local SEO if you want more of your target audience to be aware of your business. If your business is a physical storefront, then you should definitely consider having it included in local listings. Another factor that you should consider is your competitors might be utilizing this already, so if you want to gain the upper hand, then you should start implementing local SEO in your business operations.
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