Your Ultimate Local SEO Guide

Did you know that 88% of consumers who search for a local business on their smartphone visit the business within 24 hours?

More importantly, 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within a day. The same survey also revealed that searches like “near me” or “close by” increased by 900% in just two years.

That’s the power of local SEO! If you do it well, more people will reach out as they search for your business online. This blog post will cover all the basics of local SEO to help you stay ahead of your competitors.

With SEO you’ll have more people reach out as they search for your services.

What Is Local SEO?

Before we continue talking about why this is important, we have to give a definition of local SEO. Local SEO is optimizing a business’ website to increase traffic and leads from local searches – and making a business listing that will be attractive to people nearby.

It’s similar to organic search engine optimization, which you may already know about from our extensive SEO guide for beginners. The difference is the geographical aspect. Local SEO aims to improve local searches regarding a business’ products or services, whereas regular search engine optimization increases traffic and leads worldwide.

Why Should You Care About Local SEO?

The reason for doing local SEO is simple: to become visible through search engines to as many prospects as possible in and around your area or to those who perform location-specific searches. This could be a user in Orlando looking for an Italian restaurant in Orlando or a user in Australia looking for a Dentist in New York City. They’re both considered part of ‘local SEO.’ Simply put, it’s about finding a specific business location.

It’s important to note that while there may be a lot of overlaps between organic SEO and local SEO, local SEO is quite different and requires additional strategic effort done consistently over time.

In this article, we’ve outlined the main steps you should make to do that below.

Step 1: Local SEO Keyword Research

Exactly as you would work on identifying keywords for organic SEO, it’s crucial to figure out the right keywords for local SEO too.

Local keywords typically include the name of the area or territory the business is in. So if you own a pizza shop in Manhattan, New York, then a few appropriate keywords could be ‘Pizza Restaurant New York,’ ‘Pizza Shops Manhattan Area,’ ‘Pizzerias in New York,’ and any other variations or combinations of those keywords.

You can do keyword research for local SEO the same way you would do it for organic – using the Google Keyword Planner. The tool will give you many options and insights on which keywords to choose and how they perform.

Another savvy option is to use the ‘autocomplete’ option on Google. This is when the search bar auto-populates itself when users search for local businesses. Other search engines have the same functionality, but since Google is the top option for everyone – with over 90% market share – optimizing for only one search engine is a no-brainer. The functionality is visible in the screenshot below:

Use autocomplete to search for keywords

One way is to ask your customers what they’d search for on their devices and using which search engine. This information can give you invaluable insight for your local SEO keyword research. Try to do a journey map of a user who’s looking for your product or service in the area, so you understand precisely how they think to do local SEO with precision.

Step 2: Know Where You Want to Be Found

The next step in the local SEO journey is to know exactly where you’d like to be found by your customers online. You need to have your marketing goals set before you can start working.

The steps below will help you figure it out:

  • Know which search engines people use in your area to find your type of business.
  • Know how these search engines display the results.
  • Define the displayed goal for your local SEO: where you’d like to appear in search results.

Google has two main display zones showing local businesses to users: organic search results and ‘snack pack’ results up on the top of the search page. The image below shows you clearly the difference between the two:

Snack Pack Display Zone:

Google has organic search result

And organic results:

Google has organic results

Snack pack results usually get noticed immediately due to their high visibility on the top of the search page, compared to organic results. It’s like going into a grocery store and purchasing the products that are displayed on shelves at your eye level, not the ones at the bottom. Visibility counts!

It’s not just organic results where local businesses can be found. There are also places like Google Maps, Bing, and Yahoo search engines. Google Map Pack, in particular, is a term that describes a business’s position in Google Maps search results. Local SEO will take a very inclusive approach to any avenue that users may utilize to find a local business. Try to identify all the ways you can be found and make the most out of the search engine algorithms.

Step 3: Prepare Your Local Business Website

Now, it’s time to prepare your website to become a lead magnet for local searches. Here is what you can do:

  • Use local keywords on your website: You must include local search keywords in the most critical places. Include your business address on the website, local keywords on relevant blog articles, and maps with your business location clearly mentioned. Include local keywords in your meta tags and meta descriptions as well. This will ensure you enhance your local presence.
  • Update your contact details: You must ensure your website has a Contact Us page with relevant local business details, like your phone number, address, and other information. You should also include your contact details in the footer of your website so it’s visible throughout your whole site while also assisting with local SEO efforts.
  • Create locally-themed content for your blog: Your website is a medium to educate, entertain, and attract new prospects. The best way to do this is to create excellent content with a local flavour to it so you attract people from a specific location and demographic. Create location-specific content on your blog for the local audience who will appreciate you for sharing your wisdom.
  • Work on local citations: This is integral to local SEO success! Local citations are any mentions of your local business information online. This could be mentioning your business phone number, address, or website information in relevant places online. Consider having a presence on local business directories (like Yellow Pages or Yelp), geo industry-specific platforms, social media, and anywhere else online!

More specifically, your business citations could include your business opening hours, business email addresses, categories, images, reviews, or any other relevant information about your local business.

You have to ensure you’re taking an active interest in your local citations by managing or removing duplicate citations, correcting grammatical mistakes, and removing any inaccuracies that may misrepresent your business information. Make sure you invest time and money into enhancing the quality and location of your citations to boost local rankings.

  • Get backlinks from other complementary local businesses: If you’ve got other complementary businesses in your area, you can work out win-win deals for them to direct traffic to your website. This process is better known as link building, and it’s a pretty good way of increasing your domain reputation.

Step 4: Google My Business Page

This is definitely one of the most important pages for the purposes of local SEO. By having a well-optimized Google business profile, you boost your local search engine rankings and show up on Google Maps, Local Finder, and other local business listings.

The first step is to get on Google My Business! Register and publish your unique page as soon as possible by claiming your business listing. Ensure you fill out all relevant details about your business on the page.

Users who view your Google My Business listing can suggest or make changes to your listing using the “Suggest An Edit” button, as seen in the screenshot below:

Users can edit and suggest information for your business

That’s why it’s vital that you regularly track your listing to check for any unnecessary changes or misleading information.

Google My Business (GMB) wants its users to share their insights with each other to empower them to make the best decisions regarding local businesses. That’s why they ask, “Know this place?” and invite users to answer a few questions that may help them and other users. GMB aims to foster a community of businesses through user-generated content.

GMB also allows users to ask, see, and answer questions through the “Questions and Answers” feature. This offers transparency to users regarding the overall customer experience provided by local businesses.

GMB also allows local businesses to create business posts. These posts show up in the form of images and small bite-sized ads when people search for a specific business on Google Maps. 

Create posts with Google My Business
Image Credit: Moz

You can create posts for multiple purposes, like events or sales promotions. Using a combination of text, images, and videos, along with customer reviews, will boost your chances of being found on local searches.If you’re a business that relies on customer appointments, GMB offers the ‘bookings’ feature, allowing users to book appointments with local businesses without leaving Google. They can just book the appointment while conducting the local search:

Allow your customers to book appointments in your business
Image Credit: Moz

You can also enable customers to message your local business through the messaging feature on GMB. Answering customer inquiries when they are searching for you can be a great way to give them a reason to visit you by providing responsive customer service.

Perhaps, the most important aspect of GMB is that it helps customers form an opinion about your business reviews. As Oberlo found out, 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. On the other hand, people might generally trust online reviews, but they can remain skeptical when reading them. For instance, studies have shown that both negative and positive reviews are trusted more than 90% of the time!

Due to these reasons, it’s critically important that you seek customer reviews. You must ensure they’re genuine and are provided by your target audience. That’s the only way to build a long-lasting reputation in the market. Do not incentivize reviews. Most people can sense a fake review from a mile away.

Photos, videos, and business descriptions are a great way to add visual and text appeal to your business listing. Try to humanize your business listing as much as possible, as people like to deal with people. Show them who you are as a local business, and your users will love and respect you more for it.

Use your GMB listing as a way to engage your prospects. The more engagement you drive through your business profile, the higher your chances for positive local SEO.

Step 5: Get Customer Reviews & Ratings

Reviews are not just limited to your GMB listing. Online reviews can be anywhere on the internet.

Make a list of all possible reviews websites, search engines, and social media pages where people are talking about your business. Once you know where the social action is happening, you can invest time in online reputation management and actively seek reviews in all of these online mediums and platforms.

If you receive a negative review, don’t worry, but ensure you understand why you’ve received it and take the necessary steps to resolve the problem. Turn the customer experience around if you can!

Customers that search a local business through their smartphones, visit that place within 24 hrs

Step 6: Mobile SEO

Most searches are conducted via mobile devices, so optimizing your local business for mobile SEO is an absolute must.

  • Make your local business phone number clickable: Don’t just type a phone number, but ensure customers can just tap on it to call you.
  • Create a responsive website: Having a responsive website will ensure it’s accessible on mobile phones, tablets, and other devices your customers may use.
  • Consider voice search: As many people now talk to their phones using AI technology, you must ensure your business shows up in the local search results if a user gives their mobile device a voice command.
  • Don’t forget about online maps: Ensure your local business shows up on all maps on all devices as accurately as possible. You don’t want any inconsistencies here!

Step 7: Form Local SEO Partnerships with Other Complementary Businesses

Partnering with a nearby sports attire store could be great if you sell sports equipment. You can form a local SEO partnership by offering them incentives to refer customers online.

This can be achieved through guest blogging on your desired partner’s website and including links that lead to yours. Not only can this be mutually beneficial, but it’s also of value to your customers who want an integrated experience to meet their needs.

Building your business profile on local directories can cover more ground quicker than waiting for local search results to bring you up. Of course, monitoring how well your site does through Google search console, among other SEO tools, is vital to completely understanding your optimization’s effect.

Make sure you are building high-quality links. Don’t just build a local online SEO partnership with anyone. Do it because they’re authentic and because you can work out a mutually beneficial outcome. If your reasons for building a partnership are strong, you won’t go wrong.

Step 8: Find Out Where Your Competitors Are Going for Local SEO

Check what other local businesses are doing for local SEO to drive traffic to their website. As a local business owner, you’ll want to know what’s happening in your field of work and make any necessary adjustments and additions.

Find Out Where Your Competitors Are Going for Local SEO

There are plenty of local SEO tools to check how websites attract traffic. For instance, Ahrefs backlink checker will give you the top 100 backlinks to any website, which will help you analyze a competitor’s top traffic sources to aid your local SEO campaign. This information can be invaluable and can help you reach more potential customers and boost your local rankings.

Once you know this, you can search for similar traffic sources for your local business. Or you can decide to choose a different path. The idea is that you empower yourself with the knowledge, tools, and strategies to generate traction for your business in the best possible situation.

Local SEO is a lot of things. From ensuring that you’re visible on many business directories to displaying all the correct information on your website and ensuring that you’ve done solid keyword research beforehand. All that deems local SEO important, primarily if your business is situated in a high tourist area, where there will be thousands of local searches daily.

This blog really covered all the local SEO basics you need to apply to your own business. All the local SEO ranking factors remain exactly the same as the regular SEO too. Finding the right keyword research tool and laying down a solid SEO strategy will do wonders for your business profile and will attract many local customers to your place.

Are you working on your local SEO? How has it been going for your business?

María is an enthusiast of cinema, literature and digital communication. As Content Coordinator at HostPapa, she focuses on the publication of content for the blog and social networks, organizing the translations, as well as writing and editing articles for the KB.

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